Can dating and politics mix?
You might think that red and blue can’t coexist, but what if we told you that there are ways to make dating someone with different political views work–and, dare we say, work well?
These days, there are plenty of reasons to convince yourself that being with someone who leans too left or right of your views isn’t a good idea. While sharing similarities with a partner is a benefit, no two people like exactly the same things. And politics are no different.
So, can you date someone with different political views? The quick answer is yes. Dating someone who feels differently about, say, taxes or the minimum wage doesn’t have to mean the end of your romantic future together. You just need to know how to incorporate these differences into your relationship and what to be aware of. (What exactly is dating, you ask? We have tips on that, too.)
Here, we share some helpful suggestions to keep in mind as you navigate the political-romantic landscape.
The older we get, the more stuck in our ways we become. We develop a routine, we settle down somewhere, and we are typically surrounded by the same people (because making new friends as an adult is hard!). It’s easy to find that your political views are solidified, too.
But when you’re dating someone with different political views about climate change or whether estate taxes should be a thing, it can be helpful to keep an open mind. Being receptive to your partner’s ideas, perspectives, and thoughts–even if they differ strongly from yours–can make potentially prickly situations much more peaceful.
For example, when the conversation starts tiptoeing toward politics, don’t disengage and definitely don’t get aggressive. Ask your partner questions nicely, like “Why do you think that?” or “I’m not sure I understand. Can you explain?” Getting more context and learning why someone thinks a certain way helps you to more fully understand them.
This is important in your non-romantic life, too. If we only interact with like-minded people, we’re building a bubble around ourselves, meaning that our views are less likely to change. Learning about other people’s lives, backgrounds, and perspectives spurs us to challenge our own beliefs and helps us to develop empathy for others.
This is not only good advice for dating someone with different political views but also for any type of relationship. If your partner wants to talk about something that happened in the news or a general political topic, listen to them (as long as it’s not triggering–more on that later).
Maybe they want your opinion or just want to air a grievance with how a court decision, bill, or election turned out. Give them space to share their views without interjecting. Okay, this is often easier said than done. But try to just sit back and listen–you might just learn something new.
Practice healthy arguments
We hate to break it to you, but you’ll encounter an argument in every relationship. There’s no perfect partnership, and that’s part of what keeps things interesting.
But one of the differences between a healthy and an unhealthy relationship is the way that you argue. We’re not talking about bickering over how to load the dishwasher or how early you need to leave for the airport. We’re talking about how you argue about the things that matter to you most, which, in this case, include potentially divisive political topics.
Couples with different political views: Treat your partner how you want to be treated, with patience, grace, and respect. When your partner brings up that potentially divisive issue, avoid immediately going into defense mode. Take a deep breath, patiently listen, and respond with grace. Don’t talk to them like their view is wrong or condescend. If things become too heated, suggest a time-out.
Healthy arguments can also involve challenging their beliefs–but in a kind way. Explain your perspective and opinion, and ask what they think. But make sure that you’re open to their challenge, too. Sometimes you’ll need to compromise, which may mean tabling the argument for now. And that’s ok.
Be okay with disagreement
Having political differences in relationships is all fine and dandy, but it also means that you already disagree on something. While that can be intimidating, especially if you’ve just started seeing someone, ask yourself if you’re ok with [healthy] arguments any time certain political topics come up or when election season rolls around.
If your perspectives on political issues will always be a point of contention, maybe this person isn’t the right fit. If you think you can eventually be ok with their take on your personal hot-button issues, then it might be worth seeing where this dating relationship will take you.
Set and maintain boundaries
A helpful tip when you’re dating someone with different political views is to set healthy boundaries. But how do these differ from other types of relationship boundaries? Ask yourself these questions:
- Is there a certain time of day that you don’t want to discuss anything that could possibly lead to an argument? Discuss setting this boundary with your partner, and kindly remind them if they start to bring something up at the off-limits time.
- Is there a news station that you absolutely won’t watch or listen to? Make sure that you and your partner discuss who gets to watch what on TV and when. And don’t overlook the power of headphones.
- Is there a specific topic that you just don’t want to discuss? Name it, and don’t talk about it.
Know your deal breakers
While it’s good to have an open mind, ask questions, and expand your horizons, you should also remember your deal breakers. Is there an issue that you feel so strongly about that you’d be offended spending time with someone who doesn’t feel the same way? Does their perspective or opinion on something put your way of existing into question?
Keeping your values close doesn’t always mean that you can’t date someone with different ones. But they do serve as guiding points for who you feel safe with. If different values, political beliefs, and so on would make becoming intimate with someone too emotionally difficult or triggering, it might be best to move on.
Focus on the things you share in common
Whether you’ve just met someone and are in the love vs. infatuation phase or you’ve been dating someone for a while, try to remember that disagreeing about politics isn’t the only thing you have in common. Focus on your shared hobbies, musical interests, foods–you get the idea. If you can get past your political differences in a relationship, try to stay past them. Prioritize doing and talking about the things you both love together.
Dating someone with different political views is doable! By using our list of best practices, you can make a politically different partnership last. Just make sure to keep your values and beliefs as your guideposts.