General election years are always tense because we don’t know who will be president. However, the last few elections have been especially tense and divisive because of the growing hatred between political parties and the resulting contempt for people in the other party.
As politics continues to be a big part of everyday life, people are talking about it more and more in their relationships. This can be tense when two people have different political views.
So how do you navigate political differences when you and your partner or potential date don’t share the same views? Is it even possible?
We’re going to find out, as well as talk about the ways in which your political differences may damage a relationship and what you can do to minimize the harm.
Have a Conversation
Online dating apps ensure that we know the political leanings of the person we’re meeting early on in the relationship. If we meet someone in public with whom we instantly click, we may not discuss political leanings until much later, when the novelty has worn off and we’re no longer in the honeymoon phase.
When we get along well with someone, sharing their political ideas is not uncommon. However, some of us may have a chat with our significant others that leaves us wondering, “You voted for WHO?!”
You may have found yourself in a relationship with someone whose voting preferences differ from your own. If so, we’re here to help you figure out how to work through these differences for the sake of a long, happy, and healthy relationship—or why you shouldn’t be together at all.
Consider How Much You Care About Politics
Are you a person who can’t get enough of politics? If you fit this description and attempt to date someone who doesn’t share your political beliefs, things could get complicated—or downright ugly.
Even if you aren’t a political junkie, the last six years have completely upended the landscape in this arena—those who aren’t glued to MSNBC or FOX News still have firmly held views. Dating app profiles will state outright, “No Trump supporters” or “Conservatives only.”
- Amber Artis, a professional matchmaker in Richmond, Virginia, who has worked in the field for over 20 years, told TODAY that she has seen a similar trend. “Smokers and Trump supporters” are the two things that turn her clients off the most, she said.
- On the other hand, Trump fans avoid dating anyone who voted for Biden. Artis said, “She spoke with a gentleman today who has conservative political beliefs and he told me that he did not want to date ‘a crazy liberal.'”
A recent study from Dating.com indicated that 84% of singles claimed they would not even consider dating someone with opposite political beliefs, and 67% admitted to abandoning relationships due to conflicting political views, reflecting the polarity Artis noticed, but on a far larger scale.
Know Your Dating Expectations
In a recent survey, It’s Just Lunch found that half of the singles polled agreed that dating someone with different political beliefs is acceptable for casual hookups but not for serious relationships.
Perhaps politics doesn’t have to play as significant a factor in your dating app swiping habits if you’re just seeking some casual fun, as opposed to a serious long-term commitment.
Keep Your Politics Vague to Start
On dating apps, demonstrate your enthusiasm for politics as well as your willingness to engage in political discourse with anybody who shows an interest. You might find a special unicorn who is willing to talk about it and learn from the other side in a reasonable way.
Choose the Right Time
Maybe you shouldn’t start off a conversation by making an accusatory remark about who they voted for and why right away. Discussing politics is a great way to assess if two people are compatible, but it’s crucial to do so with tact.
You may have a firm stand on your political beliefs (as many do), but showing respect for the views of others is usually the most effective way to approach the topic. It might lead to a more fruitful exchange of ideas.
Find Common Ground
It’s easy to assume you have nothing in common if your political beliefs differ. Still, it’s vital to remember that there are likely some things you do agree on.
“The ideal way to talk about political differences as a couple involves both partners sitting down and talking about the dreams and goals you have in common,” Dana McNeil, Ph.D., a San Diego-based licensed marriage and family therapist, tells Today. “This creates an atmosphere of finding similarities and sharing values. The goal is to find ways that you will navigate the major issues without tearing down the other person’s character.”
There’s a reason why you and your partner got along, so it’s crucial to focus on what makes your relationship strong while also trying to solve any problems that have come up because you have different political views.
Limit Political Talk
Once you and your spouse have found a way to talk about politics openly and constructively, it might be beneficial to establish rules for when and how often the subject will be brought up between the two of you.
A relationship benefits from an occasional, healthy dose of conversation and debate. Nevertheless, if one person starts bringing up politics daily, it may become a source of strain.
We think it’s a good idea for you and your spouse to establish a time limit for political discussions.
Listen to Their Views
This one might be impossible for someone who sees a red MAGA hat and reacts like a bull to a matador taunting it with a bright scarlet cape. And that is fine! You know what your limitations are, and that’s absolutely your call.
But if you’re already in a relationship and want to stay in it, you need to listen to their point of view and vice versa. Communication is vital for keeping relationships going well, but most of us aren’t naturally good at it. Developing the skills of active listening and empathetic response requires time and effort.
“Empathy allows you to understand and embody your partner’s values without shifting your own,” relationship expert Candace R. Cooper tells People. “It allows you to see the full picture without assuming or creating your own judgment of what your partner’s beliefs are.”
Remember What You Love (or Like) About Them
Even if you don’t believe it, having the same political views is not necessary for a healthy relationship.
A formula for the healthiest, longest-lasting relationships includes things like embracing your partner as they are, having honest conversations with them once a week, keeping things passionate, and always being willing to say you’re sorry.
The two of you can get past, or at least accept, your different political beliefs if you can find a way to balance each other out, have fun together, and communicate openly and honestly–not to mention having angry makeup sex after a heated political debate.