On our first date, my boyfriend and I had a political misunderstanding that wouldn't be resolved for weeks. I came away thinking he was a moderate who leaned right, while he thought that I was an establishment Democrat. We were both wrong. Now, that misunderstanding is still a focal point in our relationship as it turns out he’s a staunch conservative and I’m a democratic socialist.
The idea that politics is a deal breaker in a relationship has grown significantly, especially after the 2016 election. In today’s world of political fragmentation, “it seems almost unfathomable that even two opposing campaign advisers could cross the aisle and then actually walk down the aisle," an NPR article said. The article's solution to the survival of a healthy relationship is the same as the one I use — simply agree to disagree when an issue gets too heated.
It is hard sometimes. We both have issues that we care about deeply, specifically LGBTQ+ and women’s rights; gun ownership and the Second Amendment. However, while dating someone with different politics is hard, it shouldn’t be a deal breaker. If I had simply written him off for his differing political views, I wouldn’t have even considered him.
Dating or being friends with someone with different politics can push individuals to contextualize and strengthen their politics, morals and the arguments behind them. The goal of any dispute should be to educate the other person, rather than for them to change their mind. I’ve learned a lot more about guns while dating him, and it’s made my position on gun control more nuanced and informed than it was a few months ago.
I’ve talked to him about intersectional feminism and why it is so important to me, and his concept of it has changed to incorporate feminist theory outside of what is found on the internet. At the end of the day, we both want our country and peers to be successful — we just think about it in different ways.
Now, this isn’t to say that politics don’t matter at all. I identify as bisexual, and while my boyfriend doesn’t hold bias against the LGBTQ+ community, there are experiences I've had that he will never understand.
I wouldn’t be dating him if he was prejudiced against any of the communities I am a part of or advocate for. But he hasn’t and won’t hold me back in my fight for the issues I hold close to my heart because he respects my logic and positions.
We shouldn’t let politics be the sole deal breaker for a good match. Dating someone of different politics isn’t for everyone, but it can be an opportunity for growth in views you already had.
It requires a lot of work in terms of keeping political arguments civil, but it can be done. Plus, we don’t gain much in keeping ourselves surrounded by people who agree with us. Sometimes, we need to get pushed and push back to fully develop our ideas, politics and morals.