Politics In Your Personal Life: How To Handle Differing Views
In light of the recent uprising of racial justice protests, the resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement, the current global pandemic and upcoming election, politics are becoming pretty hard to avoid — especially within our personal relationships.
Political conversations are coming up in all sorts of areas they may not have before. They’re happening on first dates, or even as early as within dating apps. Though seeing someone list a different political party than you may be an immediate swipe left, there are plenty of people out there who are willing to date across political lines.
There are are tons of ways that political beliefs can affect a relationship. And you and your partner might not always be on the same side. So in the spirit of bringing people together, ere are some ways to handle different views with your boo.
How Do Politics Inform Your Personal Life?
Before getting into anything else, it’s important to look at the ways that the political informs the personal. You or your date may say that you’re “not that political” or you “don’t let politics interfere with your relationships”. Be that as it may, sometimes politics can seep in without you really knowing it’s happening.
Apart from your registered political party or who you last voted for, your politics inform the way that you talk about social issues. For instance, if you’re passionate about reproductive justice and access to birth control, you may not feel super hot about dating a pro-lifer. If you come from a family of police officers, you may not be able to date someone that wants to defund the police. When marriage and a potential family come into play, it’s a whole other story. You have to be on the same page about public versus private education, where and if you’d want to buy a home, health insurance, and that’s just the beginning.
So what if you want to make a relationship work with with someone with different political views? Here is how to have more productive conversations.
Use Different Words
Political talk can be so divisive because people have really strong reactions to certain words, labels, or groups. If you have an idea in your head of what a democrat or republican is, it can be hard to see the person that’s in front of you without resorting to stereotypes or assumptions. Rather than jumping to labels or terms, try using other words to express what you’re feeling or what you’re passionate about. Instead of talking about democrats versus republicans or the right versus the left, break down the things that you care about, and find ways to discuss that.
If your date says things you don’t agree with, try asking them about where they’re coming from, or how they reached their belief. Do’t rush to call them a name or judge their morality or intelligence. Though you may think their stance is “ignorant” or “uninformed”, try seeing if they’ve considered other possibilities. They may have never thought about politics in a critical way, and with some education and patience, could learn to better understand these issues. Yet, if you write them off immediately with words like “bigot” you may make them defensive.
Get To The Heart Of The Matter
There’s a big difference between the big “P” Political and small “p” political. Big “P” “Political” means Washington D.C., voting, political parties, etc. Small “p” means day-to-day actions, morals and values. Rather than getting caught up in your registered political parties or what representatives you’re voting for, try to get to the heart of issues. Do you both care about access to food and education? Are you both dedicated to helping the environment? Do you both love your families?
Especially now, legislation and big picture politics are important. But at the core of it, politics are really just about people. Try to bring the conversation back to that. Do you both tip food staff well? Do you believe that all people are equal regardless of race, gender, ability, etc. Find the things that you can connect and agree upon, the things that you share, and start to build out from there. When you make the conversations about what you each care about, you might realize that you have more in common than you think.
Know When To Call It Quits
What if you’ve tried communicating through political differences and you keep arguing over big issues? It might be time to look at whether or not the relationship really works. Political beliefs are important, and sometimes they are valid deal breakers in a relationship. Trying your hardest to communicate is one thing, forcing a relationship with a weak foundation is another. Never compromise your core beliefs to make someone else happy, but be open to growing and learning from someone you love.
It’s a delicate balance, and no one has the right answer. But if you approach these conversations with love and openness, you’ll find the right answer somehow!
Griffin Wynne is a non-binary writer, artist, and plain seltzer drinker. When they’re not discussing sex in the ~digital era~ or crying to the Dixie Chicks, Griffin enjoys camping, reading, used clothes, and documentaries about cults. They’re a Capricorn King, a genderless cowgirl, and a ’70s mama who is always down for dollar oysters and road trips. Griffin uses they/them pronouns and has the same birthday as Kyle Richards.