Like the best brand of seltzer, politics can be polar — or rather, they can be polarizing. Many people see their political identity as a large part of their being. So if your partner belongs to a different political party than you, you may frequently field questions about how you two make it work. Although politics can be a breaking point for some couples, opposing beliefs don't necessarily doom an otherwise healthy and supportive partnership. If you feel safe and able to speak your mind in your relationship, if you like spending time together and feel like you can always unapologetically be yourself, then the moment behind the voting curtain doesn't need to define your love.
“You can absolutely love someone and not agree with them.” Dr. Joshua Klapow, Ph.D. Clinical Psychologist and Host of The Kurre and Klapow Show says. “The question becomes how much does that impact your daily life.”
There's something to be said not defining humans by one facet of their being — may it be their gender, their reputation in college, or yes, their registered political party. And if you and your boo are making it work, perhaps then for you, love really can conquer all.
Your registered party is not always a steadfast dictation of how you live your life. As, Dr. Klapow states, "Through social convention, we simply lump people into groups and then we proceed to attribute all the overgeneralization that comes with lumping people into groups. If you plan to be in a relationship, you need to know what your partner’s views are, not what political party they ascribe to. They are not the same thing."
For example, your partner may identify as fiscally conservative, but believe that the minimum wage should be raised. They may identify as socially conservative, but openly support the LGBTQIA+ community. Participating in political elections, voting and educating yourself about political issues, and supporting causes that you believe in can be an important part of your life (and you and everyone you kiss should do it!), but who someone choses to vote for doesn't necessarily dictate their personhood. "You cannot ascribe views based on a political affiliation when it comes to someone you are in a relationship with," Dr. Klapow says. "Until you know where they stand on each issue, you know nothing."
Rather than seeing your partner solely as a representative of their party, it can help to talk to them about specific topics and issues, especially ones that are pertinent to you. Dr. Jennifer B. Rhodes, licensed psychologist and relationship expert, tells Elite Daily that "Couples are encouraged to explore why topics trigger them and dig deeper at the underlying value that may not be honored. Figuring that out is more important for decision making regarding the relationship than the political view." Instead of categorizing them based on their voting history, try breaking down your personal feelings and experiences with your partner. There is a difference between holding different opinions, and feeling dismissed, shut down, or invalidated in your relationship.
"When you really love someone, you love them for who they are and accept them for who they are," Dr. Rhodes says. "They are on their own journey and your job as someone who loves them is to respect that journey and stop trying to change them." Loving your partner for who they are, and allowing them to love you the same, can take opening up an honest dialogue about your values and the ability to let go of steadfast, stereotypical ideals. When asked about the ability to respect someone's differences, Dr. Klapow acknowledged the power in holding space for your partner's differing thoughts and feelings within your relationship.
"Respecting a person’s right to think differently, believe differently, prioritize differently, and authentically seeking to understand their perspective versus convincing them of yours is a healthy, loving and mature approach to being in a relationship," Dr. Klapow says. "If you know that your partner disagrees with you, but they see you as someone who has a valid perspective that you are entitled to, then things will be fine."
It's important to remember that there can be a difference between sharing the same core values with someone, and sharing their political believes. In a study conducted by Yale and Stanford University of 1000 participants, researchers found that political similarity held the same influence in choosing at partner as education similarity, and half as much influence as racial identity. From similar childhoods to parallel career paths, there are a number of factors that bring and keep couples together, and for many people being able to share hobbies, family traditions, work stories, or core belief systems, can take precedent over who's currently in office.
"Political is simply a word that describes how groups think about the things that impact our lives," Dr. Klapow says. "Get to the heart of the issues and then decide if can you live with someone who sees certain issues differently than you."
You and your partner may share the same opinions about family, community, or the environment. Or you may have completely opposing views on everything under the sun, but love and respect each other enough to make it work. Whether or not politics is a relationship #dealbreaker is completely up to you. But for a lot of couples, it's possible to share core values without sharing ballots. Relationships are about growth, mutual respect, and holding space for each other to learn and evolve. For you, dating might mean tracking down someone who crosses off everything on your forever-checklist. Or perhaps, you believe a relationship can thrive because the sex is bomb or because you both like the same bad movies.
If you can manage to share a bed without sharing a political party, may the blue and red of your parties create a lovely purple rain over your love. When it comes to who you choose to spend your life with, the only vote that counts is your own.