Dating Someone With Different Political Beliefs? Here’s How To Cope
“Don’t talk about religion, politics or money” so goes the old saying.
It’s unclear if that advice is meant for casual acquaintances, people who are in the early stages of dating or well, anyone, EVER.
However, in case you have been buried under a rock or have been living on a deserted island without access to modern technology and news channels, 2016 is not only a presidential election year, but it is also shaping up to be one of the most outrageous and controversial election years of all time.
This is due, in large part to Donald Trump, the frontrunner for the Republican nomination, who has plenty of provocative things to say about just about anything in his path, and Hilary Clinton, who has also experienced her share of controversy. It might be your natural instinct to run in the other direction if your date or significant other voices his or her intent to vote for a candidate that is opposite of your own political favorite, but some experts say it might be better to hold off on that impulse and instead explore how a difference of opinion could lead to a stronger shared relationship.
It’s almost impossible NOT to talk about politics when it’s splashed all over TV, newspapers and your Facebook or Twitter feeds every single day.
However, it is perhaps telling that most people don’t take that much interest in politics unless there is an upcoming election. If you think about it, it is a relatively brief period of time from the initial debates and candidate selection to the ultimate election and inauguration of a new President of the United States. Outside of a minority of people who are deeply rooted in the political process, most people spend a relatively small amount of time either cheering for the person they selected or against the person they didn’t.
You’re a Democrat, he’s a Republican. Is your relationship doomed?
Rather than being an automatic relationship killer, differing political views between couples can actually be a great opportunity to learn more about one another and connect on a new level. Dating someone with different political beliefs can work, and for some, it can even work out quite well.
Fair warning: Couples who are staunch in opposite political thought often have quite a bit to duke it out over. This can lead to stimulating, passionate and interactive discussions that help light a fire in other areas of a relationship. We know that the most successful relationships exist between two people who share the same values regarding specific issues like intimacy, finances, and child rearing. At the same time, if you agreed with everything your partner said or did on a daily basis you would essentially be dating yourself! It is good to differ in some ways, but essential to have the same core values.
Stage of life is also a critical influencing factor in terms of relationship success where each partner has different political views. If a couple is young and looking to build a family together, they are going to be very thoughtful about choosing a partner with whom they align on all important values. Those issues are less relevant as we age and families are grown.
There are a few simple ways to keep political debates fun, productive, and engaging are to have some ground rules, especially if the discussions tend to get heated every time politics become a part of your conversation:
1. Set aside specific times to discuss politics and do not allow for any discussion of politics outside of these agreed upon times;
2. Each person gets a specific amount of time to share their POV with the other person. This ensures that each person gets heard and doesn’t feel that their partner is forcing their opinion on them;
3. Be willing to be open-minded and consider their views – at the end of the day, you might learn something AND it can be fun.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Dr. Ashley Arn is the Lead Matchmaker for eH+, eHarmony’s premium matchmaking service, and has been happily married to fellow eH+ Matchmaker Michael for the past 8 years. She is passionate about helping other people experience the true joy that comes from sharing a deep connection with a well-matched partner. Ashley earned both her Bachelor and Master of Arts degrees in Marriage and Family Therapy, as well as a Doctorate degree in Psychology from The California School of Professional Psychology in Irvine, Calif.