So what's your political stance? Questions like this one are often avoided in certain situations because of their sensitive nature.
However, in a dating relationship, this topic is bound to come up sooner or later. What if your partner's political affiliation or viewpoints are in conflict with your own? If you do not see eye-to-eye on issues such as the economy, war or social issues, does that spell doom for your relationship?
The following considerations will help you determine if and how your "donkey" beliefs can co-exist peacefully and lovingly with your partner's inner "elephant" (or vice versa).
Unfortunately, when your political views don't align, sometimes your values don't either. This can make things tough. You will need to decide how important it is that your partner shares the same beliefs as you.
Some common pitfalls to dating someone of a different political persuasion include:
-Finding yourselves in polarized arguments
-Being unable or unwilling to compromise
-Having difficulty respecting your partner for his/her beliefs
-Needing to navigate the potential negative impact on your future decisions regarding key life choices, establishing a household, raising children, etc.
Pursuing a dating relationship with someone of a different political mindset on issues can actually be energizing and allow you to give more thought to your own beliefs.
Some positive aspects of dating someone with a different political affiliation include:
-Having plenty of lively conversations where ideas can be discussed
-Seeing an issue from a different perspective
-Encouraging you to test your own beliefs by considering the value of others' beliefs
-Helping your relationship remain dynamic and energized
Tips to make it work:
-Treat your partner with respect. Behaving respectfully is important in any relationship, especially around potentially heated topics. In order for your relationship to be successful, you must feel respected by your partner as well as show respect to him/her, no matter how different your opinions are. How you treat each other is more important than whether or not you agree on an issue.
-Debate fairly. When conversing with your partner about potentially divisive political issues, set some ground rules. Even presidential debates provide a fair atmosphere in which both parties can speak. Give your partner time to voice his/her opinions without interruption and expect the same in return. Avoid personal attacks. If a conversation gets heated or uncomfortable, take a time-out.
-Agree to disagree. Not every conversation needs to end with one of you giving in or giving up. When you both have strong opinions on a certain topic, you are unlikely to change one another's minds. Seek compromise on issues that directly impact your relationship and let the others go. Agree to disagree!
-Focus on what you share in common. It is easy when you feel strongly about an issue to let that energy paint a negative picture about the relationship in your mind. But rather than letting this be your focus, think about all of the wonderful things about your partner that make the occasional political disagreements worth it. Focus on your shared interests, hobbies and joys. Even if your political beliefs play a significant role in your life, accentuate the positive in your dating relationship so the negatives don't take over.
The great news is that despite differences in political affiliation, you can form a healthy and happy bond with one another, especially if you consider how compatible you are in other ways. But in order to have a thriving relationship in spite of these differences, you must be willing to respect your partner for his/her views, set aside differences, and recognize the positive things that each of you contributes to the relationship.