I think it’s safe to say that no matter your nationality or home town – the entire world is absorbed in politics at the moment. This is an amazing thing and we should celebrate the fact we live in such a diverse society and that most of us are able to freely express ourselves. Sometimes though, whether you lean to the right or the left matters a lot and may even ruin your relationship. Differing opinions on music and fashion can be overlooked and seen as an endearing quirk but political views hit closer to home and are a direct reflection of your personal ideology.
Here are some tips to be able to make political conversations easier in your relationship.
1. To talk or not to talk
You might think the best thing to do would be steer clear of any tricky conversations. Not true. If you’re going to be in a relationship with someone, you’re going to need to accept the good, the bad and the ugly. I’m not saying you should turn up to dinner dressed like you’ve just got off the campaign trails or hit them over the head with a Noam Chomsky book until they submit to your will but if it comes up, go with it. Play it cool and test the waters.
The difficult thing with politics is it’s emotive right? If you listen to a David Cameron type Etonian fellow, they like to make comparisons to family and values – they want to make themselves and their party seem harmless and totally not corrupt so this brings out some really strong emotions from people. It’s cool to have your opinion and it’s cool for your partner to have theirs, variety is the spice of life and all that, just don’t let erupt into a debate about civil liberties over a creme brûlée.
However, if your date shows up in an NRA t-shirt and lectures you on how men are the dominant race and women should be submissive…I’d probably skip dessert and head home early.
2. Broaden your mind
Okay, I’m not saying your political beliefs are wrong. I’m not…but…have you really checked them out? The worst and most annoying thing is people who believe every news article they read, who accept the party line without question. If your partner feels really strongly on an issue, probe into why that is. Has it personally affected them? Do they have further knowledge of the subject they could share? Maybe it’s something you can both investigate together. Take it as an opportunity to watch some documentaries together, snuggle up on the couch and figure out the facts and you’ll probably find…the politics will melt away into insignificance when you realise how many more things you have in common.
3. Opposing doesn’t mean incorrect
Just because someone thinks differently than you doesn’t mean it’s wrong. The beauty about having differences with your partner is that you both have passion and that’s an awesome and pretty rare thing. Rather than be put off and see it as a wedge between you, be thankful you are with someone who is knowledgeable and interested in the world around them. It’s not always easy to express your opinions, especially when they’re contradictory to what everyone else believes so be understanding and thankful you have found someone who gets your blood boiling a little at times, trust me it can be a good thing!
4. Engage in a discussion
If you have differing political or religious views, certain issues are bound to be a touchy subject. If you find this is the case, just avoid those things with your other half. You’re both human and you will both have a mutual agreement on something so whatever that is, share that together. Use your passion for good discussions rather than arguments.
5. Be yourself
When you’re in a relationship, it’s easy to get swept up in each others way of thinking. Their favourite band will suddenly become a regular playlist in your house you find yourself singing along to. You’ll find yourself secretly looking forward to watching Eastenders with them. An important thing to remember when you’re dating someone on the opposite end of the political spectrum though is staying true to yourself. If you have your own beliefs and customs they disagree with and you avoid them to keep the peace it will only harm you in the end. Be true to yourself and what you believe in and respect them to do the same.
6. Accept your differences
Sometimes in life the best thing you can do is agree to disagree. You’ve said your piece and they’ve said theirs. The conversation is going nowhere. Instead of focusing on issues that separate you both, concentrate on the things you do have. You obviously like things about this person or you wouldn’t be with them at all, just because you don’t agree on every issue don’t let it get between you and ruin your relationship.
7. Stand your ground
There are some issues of course you won’t bend on and they won’t either. Some issues that don’t require any further research. You know where you stand on these things and from your stance you will not be moved. This is great and should be commended and your partner should think so too. If you find you’re constantly defending yourself and things you believe in, if you try to change the topic and they won’t stop until you’ve relented then I would bow out gracefully.