The Politics of Dating: Do Differing Views Automatically Set You Up for Failure?
As we get older, it becomes more and more difficult to separate what we believe politically from other aspects of our lives. From the cost of items at the grocery store to your everyday conversations about work, what’s happening in the political world tends to find a way to creep in.
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That’s because politics, whether we like it or not, affect pretty much every facet of our lives. Sometimes the effects are direct, such as a change to federal tax policy that alters the amount of money taken out of our paychecks, and sometimes indirect, as in the case of tariffs on foreign goods that occasionally have something to say about the price we, as consumers, pay for certain products.
In much the same way as the all-encompassing arm of politics affects our financial fortunes, it also has a penchant for reaching its grubby little paws into our dating lives, as well. How your political views and those of your partner (or potential partner) align has the power to determine if your relationship with flourish or flounder — granted that you give it that power, that is.
When judging how your personal politics may or may not sway your romantic leanings, there are two key components to consider. First, it depends what kind of relationship you’re after.
“If you are involved casually or dating someone in a manner where you are enjoying mutual companionship, but the desire to have a future together is beyond the scope of the couple in question, then voting for different parties is a moot topic,” writes dating coach Frank Kermit.
“If you are at a stage of your life where you are past the point of seeking a life partner to have children with, and aren’t even looking for a live-in partner, then those relationship categories of non-committal casual couplings really do not require that the partners be on the same page at all when it comes to politics.”
Only when it comes to serious dating do your political affiliations and beliefs truly play a role. That brings us to the second point: if it is a serious, long-term commitment you’re after, how much agency you give your political beliefs will determine how big of a role they play in your relationship.
This is to say, if you and your partner disagree on a major issue and you decide that is the hill you’re going to die on — what you believe is right and what they believe is wrong, and there is no other way of looking at it — there’s likely no way to come to a resolution; your views are so disparate, so extremely opposed, as to be irreconcilable.
On the flip side, you and your partner could disagree on something but decide to listen to one another in an attempt to better understand where the other person is coming from. Even if you still disagree in the end, at least both parties have had their chance to be heard.
“My partner and I have opposing political beliefs but we’re both moderates, which helps us to better understand one another,” says San Francisco-based dating coach Emyli Lovz. “If he was an extreme Republican, I think there would be a lot of morals and values out of alignment. It works for us because I studied politics in college and learned the value of having a two-party system. Whenever we have a misunderstanding about a political issue, I try to get curious, rather than combative. I want to know why his perspective is so different than mine, what factors influence his opinions.”
According to Thomas Edwards Jr., founder of The Professional Wingman, political disagreements can actually present unique opportunities for couples.
“Inside of a relationship, disagreements create an opportunity to learn something new about your partner,” says Edwards. “Debates are set up to determine who’s right and who’s wrong, but that can easily turn into an argument if your politics are strongly tied to your beliefs and you want to prove your partner’s wrong. Instead of trying to create a win-lose situation, seek knowledge and understanding, which will allow each partner space to express themselves openly and as judgment-free as possible.”
And when you’re not seeing eye-to-eye on a key issue, try to fall back on other areas of your relationship, particularly those areas within which you and your significant other have forged deep bonds.
“Regardless of our partner’s political party or positions, talking about and connecting with them around the deeper levels of experience, trauma, values, and emotions that drive our, and their, choices is more likely to lead to deeper intimacy and connection, understanding, and healing — even when we disagree,” explains Chris Luna, head dating coach with Craft of Charisma.
What, then, are we to make of the scenario where diametrically opposed views are involved? Is there any hope when two potential partners are on extremely opposite ends of the political spectrum? The short answer, unfortunately, is not really.
According to Lovz, extremely opposed viewpoints are essentially anathema where relationships are concerned. “Studies show that when two partners are opposed and extremist, the relationship is doomed,” she says. “This is because our political beliefs are tied to our values and our values run deep.”
For that reason, she recommends getting your political beliefs out in the open right from the get-go. That way, neither of you will be blindsided later on, and you can more easily make a determination in terms of how your and your potential partner’s values might line up.
All this in mind, here is your one takeaway: yes, it is possible for those with opposing politics to fall in love — it just might take a little more work than usual to keep things afloat.
Then again, no one ever said relationships were easy.
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