There’s no doubt about it — finding someone you’re romantically compatible with is tough. Ideally, you want a partner who shares some of the same interests, laughs at your jokes, and has similar hopes for the future. And that’s not even where the list ends. Have you considered what it’s like to date someone who doesn’t share your same political point of view? Things could obviously get ugly.
We have some good news for you. Here at The Cheat Sheet, we believe it’s possible for you to date someone who doesn’t share your political viewpoint — you just need to remember a few of these tips.
1. Don’t abide by stereotypes
When it comes to political parties, you probably have some preconceived notions. But sweeping generalizations really only hurt one person: you. Yes, you will meet certain people who are so left- or right-leaning, they seem almost like caricatures of real folks. But the chances of you dating someone like this are slim. In reality, you’ll probably see someone who has hopes, fears, dreams, and anxieties you can sympathize with — even if they vote for someone else come election day.
2. Agree to disagree
We get it — talking about a political topic you’re super passionate about can get you really fired up. But don’t let your inner fire burn your partner. There are plenty of ways to gracefully have differing opinions without verbally ripping each other to shreds. If you find your discussions on politics end with the two of you not speaking, it’s time to learn the art of agreeing to disagree.
Take a step back from the argument, inhale deeply, and understand disagreeing doesn’t have to be a big deal.
3. Keep certain subjects off-limits
We know you want to share all of your thoughts and feelings with your partner. But when it comes to politics, it’s not a bad idea to set some limits. eHarmony suggests calmly discussing political issues with your partner, then deciding to keep those subjects out of your conversation. Or, you can even choose to avoid political discussions altogether. This also means you won’t be watching coverage of speeches or debates in the same room, as this could be fodder for an argument later on.
4. Remember to listen
We know how it is — when you’re left-leaning and your partner veers to the right side of politics, it can feel like you’re hitting a brick wall during conversation. So, don’t forget to listen. This is someone you’re dating, not an opponent in a debate. As Susan Heitler, Ph.D., tells Psych Central, “Debaters listen to prove that they’re right and the other is wrong. Couples don’t.”
The first step to being a better listener? Put away all distractions and look at your partner. And wait to speak until your partner is completely finished with their thought. When you employ good listening tactics, your partner will likely do the same for you.
5. Focus on what you do have in common
You’re with your partner for a reason. Maybe they tell the funniest jokes you’ve ever heard, or you love to go out to eat together. Whatever the case may be, you’re more than your political affiliations. PopSugar reminds us, “Couples who share similar religious beliefs, cultural backgrounds, passions, or life experiences can put those above their political ideologies.” Politics might be important to you, but they aren’t everything. And don’t be afraid to laugh it off if the conversation starts to turn sour — it’s the best medicine, after all.
6. Bring up the subject early in the relationship
When you’re six months in, planning to move in together, and then all of a sudden find out your partner is on the opposite side of the political spectrum, this can really throw you for a loop. If politics are an aspect of your life you really care about, be sure to bring up the topic early on in the relationship. Glamour explains any value that’s important to you should be shared as soon as you think it’s appropriate, especially if your partner’s potential opposition could be a deal breaker.
7. Don’t try to change them
You might think you can persuade your partner to lean a little more toward your views the longer you date. Or maybe you believe they’ll understand your opinions after you’re married. People do change, there’s no doubt about it. But banking on this change is where you’re bound to go wrong. If you see your partner being in your life for the long haul, Karl Pillemer, Ph.D., suggests you ask yourself this question: If absolutely nothing changed about the person you’re currently with, would you still be interested in being with them 60 years from now?
Essentially, if your partner’s political party really rubs you the wrong way, learn to accept it or cut them loose now. Learning to live with it, but still holding it against them isn’t healthy for either of you.