We all have small disagreements and arguments within our relationships, but when you’re far Left and your partner is far Right…things get particularly messy. Specifically, I am pretty Liberal and my boyfriend is a Moderate Republican. Let me just say that the Republican/Democratic debates, along with the Primaries were rough times for us. We both like to stay informed about the current political climate, but it seriously stresses our relationship sometimes.
But we have made it through over a year together and survived the Primaries, the General Election and the first 100 days of Trump. But sometimes you need to choose yourself over your relationship. If there is a lack of mutual respect for each other’s opinions or they try to change you, then you need to get out of there. Remember that these are suggestions, but the most important thing is to take care of yourself.
Here are some tips on how to deal when your partner has severely different political leanings than yourself.
1. Recognize where they are coming from
His father is a cop and his parents worked hard for what they have. I grew up in Newtown, CT and therefore have a very real hatred of guns, and I also have a parent who had a severe mental illness. Both of our backgrounds make for interesting perspectives and insights, and it is important to address their perspective. Respect where they come from.
But they have to respect where you come from too. He recognizes that I am terrified of guns and that is not something that will change. He gets me and I get him and we remember that when we talk about our differing opinions.
2. Take a deep breath
Remember that life is short, and you have made the decision to work hard for this relationship. Sometimes you get angry and frustrated with their ideas, and there are some ideas that may be deal breakers for you, but always try to discuss them before pulling the cord. You have to decide where the line needs to be drawn. He knows what statements are off limits for me and I know his. This mutual respect is what’s important for beneficial debates.
Let’s be honest, sometimes it’s too frustrating and that’s when we end the conversation and try to remember why we like each other in the first place.
3. Have an open and honest conversation in person
Texting is probably the worst way to discuss your issues. I can’t tell you how many times I have gotten more frustrated than necessary because we were talking over text. Texting doesn’t explain the emotion or physical aspect of the person’s opinions. We are long distance, so when stuff starts to become too much, we stop the conversation and choose to continue it when we can actually talk about it in real life.
When you text, you can become harsher than you mean to be and nobody wants that. Or, sometimes I read a headline and then I text him with a,”hold it, I am not talking about this one yet,” and that’s how it is!
4. When you know that a tense political debate is about to arise, hold their hand
It is always harder to get mad at someone when you are making physical contact with them. Holding their hand or just sitting closer to them reminds you of why you like them in the first place. Something about holding their hand of just being nearer to them reminds you of their humanity.
When debates arise, it can be easy to forget that you’re arguing with someone you love, and you can start to see them as their opinions only. Physical touch combats this issue and helps you keep calm.
5. Actually, listen to them and open your mind
I’m not saying that you have to turn Republican or Libertarian or a Tea Party member or anything other than what you are, but just listen to what they say. Try to see things from their perspective. Try to avoid phrases that are demeaning in nature or negate the validity of your partner’s thoughts and ideas. Don’t say “that’s stupid” or “what a dumb opinion” or “you’re wrong.” These can hurt your relationship.
Instead, ask what the reasons are behind their opinions and why they think a certain way.
6. If you are both too passionate about it and the strain is too much…just take the topic off the table
Sometimes you have to say “Nope, not gonna talk to you about *something outrageous that happened in Congress*” and there you go. It is important to set your limits. Let them know about a certain opinion of yours that is just simply not going to change, and they should do the same.
Mutual respect and understanding are all you need to make it work.
7. Take care of yourself
Sometimes relationships are just not meant to be. Sometimes you have to pack in the towel and call it a day.
If it is too much of a strain on yourself then you need to just get out of the relationship. Now, I’m not suggesting that you should just break it off after one political debate, but if it has been some time and there is no respect for each other than you two might not be meant to be. It’s always important to take care of yourself before you can try to care for others as well.
It’s always easier to date people who are similar to yourself, but what’s the fun in that? I care about my boyfriend so I make an effort to listen to his ideas and try to forget that he’s Republican and I am a die-hard Liberal. We listen and discuss and we have a well-rounded opinion on the American politics of today. But for relationships to work, there always needs to be a high level of respect for both members. So even when they frustrate you, remember that they are a human being who you care about.
Relationships are partnerships, and that means compromise is a vital component.