I have been dating my partner for four years now. I truly believe our relationship has lasted with the 200-mile distance standing between us due to the respect we have for one another and our relationship.
Politics never came up between us until last year, when the 2016 election arose.
The topics regarding the election eventually became unavoidable and irresistible to discuss.
I consider myself a devoted liberal Democrat, whereas my partner is undecided.
Our conversations initially begin with curiosity about the other’s opinion on certain debate topics, only to end with frustration and the realization that we don’t necessarily see eye-to-eye.
There have been moments where after my partner and I have certain debates, I question his morality in certain areas. A recent example was during the news regarding the repeal of an Obama administration policy that allowed transgender students to use the bathroom for gender they identify with. I found myself saddened by the news. Although my partner wasn’t ecstatic about the change, he just didn’t think it was that inflicting to society.
But I realize I have to force myself to take a step back and remember not make assumptions. It’s always best to ask questions to understand another person’s perspective and why they feel the way they do about certain topics — odds are they have a valid perspective that you may not have.
I have to think about what I value and what my deal-breakers in a relationship are. A partner that does not participate in politics isn’t one of them. But a partner that does not support LGBTQ+ rights, women’s rights or immigrant rights is definitely a deal-breaker for me. As long as we can see eye-to-eye on those rights, I don’t see why we can’t push pass the rest.
With that being said, I don’t think couples with differing political views are necessarily doomed. It’s just a matter of asking, ‘Are you a strong enough couple to not let it damage your relationship?’
In my opinion, it really comes down to the flexibility and mutual respect. That may be easier for those who are silent and disengaged in politics and harder for those with an obsessive interest.
According to Psychology Today, “about 70 percent of couples share political affiliations. In detail, 25 percent of the sample were Democrats married to Democrats, 30 percent were Republicans married to Republicans and 15 percent of registered Independents were married to other Independents.”
Here are some relationship tips I have learned in the past year:
Discuss issues early on and how they could affect you as a couple. If you both have different views, then you will want to define them as early in the relationship — as soon as possible. I didn’t have this option at the time, but I suggest others take the opportunity if they can.
Be willing to listen to your partner’s opposing views. Listening as much as you speak. Give your partner the same consideration you want reciprocated.
Also, assess your feelings. This doesn’t mean you have to necessarily agree with everything your partner says, but if you can respectfully disagree and understand why they believe what they do, then there is hope the two of you can make it work.
Try not to make assumptions of your partner. With Republicans and Democrats, there are usually common misconceptions, so try to not put them under one stereotype or label.
You partner is their own person so don’t assume you can change their mind. If you plan on trying to change your partner, your relationship will be doomed. It’s never right to assume you can or should change a person and their beliefs.
Regardless of your political opinions, if you two have the mutual respect to disagree then the two of you are headed down the right path.