Can Politics Ruin a Relationship? Tips for Surviving Election Season
Ryan and Taryn have been dating for two years. He’s a conservative while she’s a self-proclaimed “bleeding-heart liberal.”
And as the presidential campaign gets into full swing, the Washington-DC based couple acknowledges that some tension may creep into the relationship ahead of Election Day.
Sound familiar? We asked some relationship experts how couples with different views can get through election season.
Decide if You’re Willing to Date Across the Aisle
When it comes to dating across party lines, experts recommend deciding how important your partner’s political beliefs are to you before getting in too deep.
Wildly different political views “can be a complete deal breaker” says matchmaker Janis Spindel, who also advises that couples avoid talking politics when they first start seeing each other.
“If you have really strong political views, you might not want to waste your time dating outside your political party, says YourTango expert Kate Richlin-Zack. “You’re only asking for trouble. It’s hard to avoid especially when many of the hot button political issues hit very close to home.”
Find Common Ground
Of course, not all couples with different political views are doomed. And if you find yourself in a committed relationship with someone who holds different beliefs, try to avoid tension this campaign season by embracing the positives.
“Focus on what you have in common,” Richlin-Zack advises. “There are probably some issues where you both agree.”
For Taryn and Ryan, their relationship works because they both consider it a team effort.
"We have to work together to work through our differences," Ryan says.
And “it doesn’t hurt to be with a guy who tells you every day that he loves you, even if you are a bleeding-heart liberal,” Taryn says.
Voting Booths Were Made for a Reason
There is a reason votes are cast in private. Political preachers and hecklers are a nuisance. Don’t become one in your relationship.
Address the issue, not the reason your partner feels a certain way about it, advises relationship therapist and YourTango expert Christina Steinorth.
“Just because you have differing opinions when it comes to politics, it doesn’t mean you have to disrespect [each other],” Steinorth says.
Don’t Be an Ass When Addressing the Elephant in the Room
Political arguments are bound to pop up, especially during campaign season. And when they do, don’t lose sight of what’s most important: your partner.
“Your relationship needs to come before your political views,” says relationship therapist and author Laurie Puhn, who also emphasizes that respect for your partner and his or her beliefs should be paramount.
“Realize the goal isn’t to change [your partner’s] mind,” Puhn who is also the author of “Fight Less, Love More” says.
In the end, relationships built on love and respect for each other and each other’s beliefs will last long beyond November 6.
As Taryn says, “If we can love and respect one another, then it simply doesn’t make sense that we would throw away something that is so valuable, so strong and so rare for the sake of a political difference of opinion.”