Politically Divided Dating
Tips and Advice for Dating Someone with Different Political Beliefs
Dear April Masini,
I have been dating my boyfriend for nearly a year, and we've gotten pretty serious. We've always had good conversations, but somehow politics never really came up until recently, especially with elections around the corner. I always thought we were on the same wavelength when it came to voting, because we're so compatible in most other areas, but when a mutual friend asked us which candidate we were voting for, we both said a different name. I was shocked and I think he was, too. Can it work out between us if we're at completely opposite ends of the political spectrum?"
Signed, Politically Divided Dater
April Masini's Advice :
Dear Politically Divided Dater,
It’s not surprising that the topic of politics hasn’t come up in conversation until now. There are few subjects that can spoil that exciting honeymoon period in the beginning of a relationship the way politics can. Religion is another. If two people are totally into each other, they are seeing each other through rose-colored glasses. The last thing they want to find out in that dreamy-eyed first few months is that their relationship is doomed - that once the happy haze lifts, the love will be lost to opposing political viewpoints or conflicting religious affiliations. Religion is a different topic for a different day. For now, let’s talk politics.
This is one question I hear a lot, and one that draws a response that most people really don’t want to hear. The answer: Probably not. Obviously, a blanket ”No way!” would be unfair, given that no two relationships are alike, and some can withstand more strain than others can. But, in most cases, differences in political opinions cause tensions that are too high to overcome. The reason being that political differences are only the tip of the iceberg - political beliefs reveal a lot more about a person than just a preference between donkeys and elephants.
Republican vs. Democrat: What’s the difference?
With so many political issues in the spotlight right now - war, abortion, gay marriages, just to name a few - the party you choose to affiliate yourself with usually also represents how you feel about these issues. If your boyfriend is a Republican, he sides himself with a party that is historically pro-life. If you are pro-choice, this can be a very touchy subject - one that may end up in a messy breakup battle.
And speaking of battles, the current situation in Iraq has created a great divide between even the least political Americans. Where you stand on the issue of war is going to determine whom you vote for. It’s also going to indicate deeper beliefs about peace, love, and the American way - beliefs that are likely going to get in the way of your harmonious union. This is because politics speaks to everything, from race and economic bracket to what types of music you like, and even the types of sex you might be inclined to have.
I hate to tell you that it’s time to call it quits, but there are some things you need to consider. First, is either of you staunch enough in your affiliations to turn healthy discussions about the White House into no-holds-barred brawls in your house? If you’re both levelheaded and just like a good argument, there’s hope for you yet. But if you’re so set in your opinions that you’ll fight to the death to get your point across, it’s better to get out now. The old saying may tell you that opposites attract, but in reality, ”like” attracts ”like,” and you’ll be better off in the long run with someone who will support you in your cause.
It’s important that you get deeper than which candidate you support and with which party name you identify. It’s more about the issues than it is the name. If the two of you make a list of the top five issues that matter most to each of you and discuss which side of those issues you’re on, you may find that you agree on the critical things that are important to your relationship and your future together. In that case, it may not matter that he prefers Texas to New England, or oil to ketchup.
But if it goes way beyond the running mate, the divide may be too great for you and your mate to bridge. If and your guy do choose to go your separate ways, you may want to take this as a lesson. The next time you’re in that haze filled early relationship fog, ask yourself, do I know if this guy is a Republican or a Democrat? If the answer is no: take off your rose-colored glasses, look him straight in the eye, and ask him.
If you’re still not convinced, check out the column ”Do Opposites Attract?” You’ll see that you’re not alone.