Election season is that bewitching time of year when your usually adorable partner mutates into a walking, talking political ad. It’s like Halloween but not fun. In fact, it’s the opposite of fun, it sucks. If you’ve never wondered how elections can strain the otherwise lovely bond people share with their significant others, lucky you! You must not care at all about politics, and that must be a very peaceful existence–we’re jealous.
Every November, our social media feeds overflow with political memes, everyone suddenly becomes a policy expert, and dinner debates turn your usually quiet pacifist Uncle Jack into a table-thumping lunatic. Does that sound over-dramatic? Yes. But at least dinner with your uber-passionate relative will be over–but if you are dating someone with opposing political views, you can’t really escape that like you can your red-faced Bernie Sanders-loving Uncle Jack.
Election season can have unexpected effects on our romantic relationships. They say opposites attract (which, by the way, we recently learned is a myth)—but since that’s not true when politics isn’t a factor, where does that leave couples who have opposing politics?!
Politics: Not Just About Government Anymore
Once upon a time, politics was that boring topic your parents and grandparents discussed over dinner while you and your siblings rolled your eyes and kicked each other under the table. But in today’s hyper-connected world, especially after you-know-who was elected in 2016, political ideologies have become so deeply integrated into our identities that you can’t escape them—even if you try.
Your stance on certain issues doesn’t just dictate how you vote when you head into that little curtained-off area; it’s now a reflection of your values, beliefs, and, for some, even your moral compass. It used to be about policy, but it’s snowballed into an entirely different entity. It’s like the abominable snowman, only it’s not the adorable one, Bumble, from the classic stop-motion Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. No, it’s an actual scary Yeti. To some, your politics are who you are, not just who you voted for.
The Boudoir and the Ballot Box: Intertwined?
When two people share a bed but not a political perspective, there can be fireworks—and not always the romantic kind. No, these are cute lil’ sparklers; they can be Roman candles that will burn your romance to the ground.
And while some couples thrive, nay, live for, the heated sparring and yelling debates that differing views can bring out in them (it’s called passion, others? Not so much). These differences and arguments about politics can strain the relationship, especially when discussions devolve into intense debates or outright verbal fights.
The Effect of Echo Chambers
In the age of social media, it’s easy to surround ourselves with like-minded individuals—it’s easier to be part of a hive mind. While this can be comforting, it can also reinforce our beliefs, making us more resistant or downright obstinate to any other opposing viewpoints, no matter how rational the other party speaks about it. When one-half of a couple lives inside an echo chamber, it can cause a rift when their boo doesn’t share those same views.
But hey, it’s not all doom and gloom! Election season can also be a good opportunity for couples to evolve—politics can help partners understand each other’s perspectives and values. The trick here is to approach these discussions with an open mind. After all, if you can debate politics with your partner when one is a Democrat and the other is a Republican in today’s political climate and still love each other afterward? There is honestly nothing you can’t overcome as a couple. We mean that, truly.
Tips to Navigate the Political Tornado
Make it a goal to understand, not to win. Keep the conversation respectful, and remember that agreeing to disagree is okay.
If political discussions become too heated, it’s okay to set them aside. Maybe declare your date nights a politics-free zone.
Educate, Don’t Alienate
Share articles, documentaries, or podcasts that explain your perspective. It’s about offering insight, not proving a point or “winning.”
Love > Politics
While it may seem that political divides are untenable, there are couples that have made it through election season with their minds and romances intact.
Even though it may not seem this way, we are all much more than our political beliefs (well, most of us—ahem, Uncle Jack). Love, mutual respect, and common interests are likely to hold more weight in a romantic relationship than who you voted for in the last election.
Our Final Thoughts
If election season teaches us anything, it’s that love and politics are a potent mix—like tequila and bad decisions. But with humor, patience, and a mutual hatred for political ads, you can weather the storm. Because if a relationship can survive election season, it can survive anything. Probably. We hope.
If you can avoid these political potholes and still come out holding hands, you’re on track for a more enduring partnership than any political tenure. Now, if only there were a ballot to fast-forward past the next election season…