You spend months dating and getting to know someone before things really settle in and get serious. Endless days and nights are spent hanging out, flirting, texting and discovering more about your significant other. Butterflies and daydreams take up your time until you’ve gotten close enough for the conversations to get heavier.
Right when things seem to be going smoothly and you think you’ve found the one, the big bomb drops.
How could it be? Someone you thought you were getting to know so well finally tells you they don’t hold the same political values you do. Whether it was Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump they voted for, here are some tips on how to date outside of your political spectrum.
1. Be open minded
In the honeymoon stage, most habits are forgivable. Because it is a learning period, you tend to forgive your honey for things you might not be accustomed too. This is a great time to remember you might need to forgive them for having a different opinion than yours as well. Take a step back and remember why you fell for them in the first place.
Not only will this allow you to learn more about them, it may benefit your relationship overall to allow room for individuality. Dating yourself would be boring anyway.
A big part of learning and understanding is the ability to consider things with an open mind. Your sweetheart may change your mind on a couple things and you might enjoy the variety in opinion.
Celebrate your differences and welcome them. Follow current events and challenge each other to think outside of biases and stereotypes when it comes to politics.
2. Schedule time for discussion
Maybe the relationship is all lust and you and your partner don’t spend a lot of time chatting anyway, meaning you won’t ever have to discuss who they voted for in the primary or who got their presidential vote in the end.
However, if you do spend extra time discussing hot topic issues and intellectual discussions are a popular theme for you and your boo, find the time to practice healthy debate. Similar to having friends outside of your political preferences, healthy debate can improve a relationship.
If you feel strongly enough about a certain subject, try to change their mind. On the other hand, allow them to change yours.
Make sure the discussion happens at the right time and under the right pretenses. Avoid having political debates in the bedroom and bringing down the mood (unless that’s your thing).
3. Knowledge is power
Too often in today’s political climate it is easy to surround yourself only with the policy and values you align with. Though this makes sense when rallying and supporting a cause, it also leads to a lack of diversity and knowledge.
The ability to understand your opposition is strategically smart and helps you round out your own values. In the end you may understand your partner a lot better and be able to change their mind on some occasions.
The less you know, the dumber you are (literally).
4. Take time for yourself
Healthy maintenance is about balance. Maybe politics is something you two do separately. Finding time for yourself away from your partner is always important, though most don’t like to admit it.
This time spent apart can give you the opportunity to represent your political preferences without creating conflict. Spend it with like minded friends, or on your own, and allow yourself the breathing room.
5. Stay logical and respectful
While debating on whether Brexit was a good idea, email etiquette and ethics, health care systems or Russian interference, stay level headed.
Keeping a level head can be easier said than done, but is not impossible. Remember this is the person you’ve been getting to know for months. You’ve passed the physical attraction and moved on to intellectual stimulation.
That stimulation could come from respectful debate. Set ground rules and boundaries and duke it out verbally if you must. Remember it is alright to agree to disagree.
6. Table politics as a discussion
You and your partner are not the Senate, the House of Representatives or even a speech and debate team. Some debate is healthy, but does it need to be with your significant other and specifically about politics?
Consider whether or not it is worth it to have an argument over something someone has already made up their mind about. When debates and arguments are no longer logical or respectful, ask yourself if the argument is really worth the trouble.
Also ask yourself if maybe you’re reacting to quickly or harshly and if the discourse can be figured out at another time, or be figured out at all. If you find yourself preparing speeches and valid points to pit against your partner far too often, maybe this has become a rivalry rather than a relationship.
7. Don’t do it
You know yourself better than anyone. If politics gets in the way and things are really bad, consider parting ways. The situation is not always salvageable and the differences are not always easy to overcome. At least you gave it a shot or cut things off before they got painful. Either way, communication is key and knowing your limits is important.
The person you choose to be with can be based off multiple qualifications and standards. There are some cases where you find out that you and your boo are just too far on opposite ends of the spectrum to date each other. A part of getting to know each other sometimes includes discovering that things will not work out.
At the end of the day, you know your own limits. If you need your prospective romantic interests to share your political values and beliefs, don’t date outside your preference. If you find yourself interested in someone who throws the curveball at you, try to leave some room for excitement in your life.