Some of the most exciting relationships are with people drastically different from us. Dating someone who grew up in the countryside when you spent all your time in the city can show you a whole new perspective. If your partner loves to go out and dance, when you’re more of a bookworm, you will never run out of things to teach other or talk about.
It’s healthy to have some differences from the person you are dating.
But politics can make things personal.
For people who consider themselves politically engaged, most of us staunchly identify with one party or ideology. Because we have put in the work, going to town halls, voting, going to rallies and talking to other like-minded individuals, it can lead us to believe that we are in the right, 100% of the time.
And being politically active is good! But, sometimes it can make things harder when it comes to interpersonal relationships. This is especially true for when we are convinced that we are never wrong on our political beliefs, and then our loved ones have different ideas from us.
It’s much easier to hold our tongues around strangers than it is around our loved ones.
Everyone wants to value their partners opinions. We want to be able to talk to them about these things, and support one another. But this just gets so hard when we are convinced their opinion and beliefs are wrong.
These kinds of differences can become really frustrating, especially when both sides are diametrically opposed and neither person seems able to listen with an open mind. When this problem comes up, no matter how infatuated you are, it could seem like this sign spells out doom.
Politics do not have to mean the end of your relationship!
This at least is according to Jeanne Safer. She’s a psychologist and writer who calls herself a Democrat. Her husband on the other hand, is a Republican and is even an editor at the famously conservative National Review.
But they have been married for over forty years. So, something must be working okay. She set out to describe their relationship and offer advice for people in a similar position in the book she wrote: I Love You, But I Hate Your Politics: How to Protect Your Relationships in a Poisonous Partisan World.
Jeanne says it’s harder for people on different ends of the political spectrum to get along these days.
Jeanne aptly summed up the current state of political divides by saying in an interview:
“People do not talk across party lines.”
Which is not great for anything, especially not our relationships. And Jeanne says that we are all buying into this dream fantasy where our close relationships will all share the same beliefs and values as us. But of course, this cannot be true.
Our relationships are strengthened by our differences.
It can be quite beneficial to be in close relationships with people who are different from us. But, learning to discuss your varied opinions on politics in a civil manner can be a valuable skills to learn. If you aren’t yet at that point, however, you can always peacefully say, “We just see this very differently.”
Jeanne and her husband are a good example for maintaining a relationship that has different political beliefs.
Try following her advice the next time a political conversation gets heated. It will help your relationship, and might even enable you both to see things from the other side better!
To learn more about navigating a relationship like this, read her article here.
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