I've swiped profiles that read “swipe left if you voted for Trump.” Heck, I even saw one that said: “swipe right if you voted for Harambe.” Fucking Harambe, the poor gorilla gunned down because dim-witted parents couldn't keep an eye on their damned kid—not to mention a posthumous presidential candidate.
Politics are a hotbed of conversation these days. I talk to my mom about politics, I talk to random friends and acquaintances on Facebook, Twitter, and beyond about the political climate. I've had conversations with the cashier at Trader Joe's, and I can't forget the shitty kid who threw a ball at my face last week; even that little turd has thoughts on Trump's immigration policy!! It seems to me that political discussion is unavoidable (not like I want to avoid it or anything. I'll take seconds, please!).
With politics being such a central figure in the world, thus dating, what approach should one take? Should you be apolitical? Is that even feasible? I feel like you have to be part zombie and part Duke Nukem for that to be at all practical. It's my opinion that one has to really “luck out” to find someone who's willing to turn a blind eye to political discussion and debate. For that reason, I'm going to focus on dating while being political. Cool?
Dating in your own party pool
This one seems pretty obvious, people tend to date other people with similar values, and that goes for political beliefs. Should we rail against the comfort zone here and date someone of a different stripe? Do you like fist fights and shouting matches? No? Neither do I, which is why I tend to date very liberal-minded women. That's how sites like Trump Singles come into existence. Such sites are meant to attract like-minded folks who can safely join and find someone to go on a date with. Otherwise, you're treated to profiles with the familiar clauses: “Swipe left if you voted for ‘Dishonest Hillary' or Bernie.”
Perhaps it's because I'm more in tune with politics and policy today that I see with greater clarity how people are more rigid in their beliefs, especially politically and that applies to me as well. With a greater polarization of our belief systems, it sorta makes sense that we stick to our party affiliations when dating.
Does it even make sense to try to date outside of your party lines? Personally, I don't think so. On the one hand, I believe that it is healthy to test one's beliefs and to have a healthy discussion over the merits of one's stance. However, some issues will never find a resolution as they are divisive like women's rights over their body.
I mean, even having friends across the party spectrum feels like it's less and less common these days. I do have some conservative friends, but only one of them I can have a sensible political discourse.
I think of Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and the late Antonin Scalia; there couldn't be a more polar opposite odd-couple than those two! They worked together a long time, and they enjoyed each others' company and did things together with their spouses. Given today's climate, that seems almost inconceivable. I think if we were to examine their friendship at length, we would find the basis of what makes for a great relationship and friendship between two people with opposing ideologies possible. If those two can be friends, then I think it's possible for two people so ideologically divergent to find common ground beyond physical attraction.
To debate or not to debate?
Over the holidays, I met up with some old friends for drinks. My friend, Betsy and her boyfriend, Todd joined us. Todd draws a conservative line on economic issues more than social issues. Todd is also from Great Britain and had a front row seat over the row over Brexit. The interesting takeaway here, for me, was that Todd and Betsy didn't agree on the merits of Brexit and it inspired a lively debate. Society and Economy are lovers, in the grand scheme of things. That is, social and economic issues are intrinsically tied to one another which is one reason why the debate is so easy to spark. While my friends disagreed, they were good about respecting one another's opinions even as things became increasingly heated.
The debate is a good thing, too, unless you like to live in an echo chamber. Personally, I do not.
I used to think that debating or arguing sucked; I believed that such fighting was a sure sign of weakness in a relationship, a sign of frailty and immaturity. I maintain that there are times where such fighting is symptomatic of a greater issue.
That said, fighting can be healthy to a relationship when couples can actively listen and respect each other. It takes work on everyone's part to become a better listener, but the reward of doing so is that it can open the way for people to understand the conflict more clearly. I used to shy away from conflicts, and I think it contributed to a couple of relationships flickering out. Fighting also lends itself to greater passion and health of the relationship overall.
Is dating your political opposite even worth it?
I like to surround myself with people who are different from what I am. I don't want to hang out with all web developer, marketer, and business types. I want to talk to artists, singers, do-gooders and more, too. The thing is is that people of different political stripes comprise all of these groups. There are conservative artists and business types, obviously. I think that's an area of conflict with me. I enjoy meeting different people with different ideas about the world around them than my own.
Could I date someone who thinks we should repeal Obamacare? I have Obamacare, so that doesn't seem like a very good idea. Should I date someone who believes that America needs to mass-deport immigrants asap? Given that my grandfather is here illegally (no birth certificate), I'm going to say that also sounds like a bad idea.
There are a lot of non-starters for me when it comes to my personal views, and those views become more rigid with time, I think. I don't believe it is something I would pursue. I'm not advocating that we sacrifice our beliefs simply to have a lover, but it's hard no doubt. Is it impossible? I'm an optimist, and even though I'm not sure how this could be done, I think it can be done, and therefore, yeah, I think it is worth it to try.
Can you respect each other?
If you can't respect each other's opinions, then you're extra fucked. Done. Kaboom! Blow that relationship up and forget about it. You have to listen and discuss things to make a go of things in your relationship.
Also, you can't resort to name-calling. That's a universal “fuck you,” and stops discussions before they can even begin.
Can you live with winning a heart and not changing a mind?
I love my family, and some of them do not share my beliefs, but I do love them. That love can extend to a relationship between two people. I believe two people can share a loving relationship, rife with debate (and respect); so long as you're able to respect each others' viewpoint and leave it alone. People have to come to their conclusions, I feel.
It's a real fucking challenge
Relationships are already hard and people who are politically aligned fight often, usually about other non-political stuff, so don't worry. There's plenty to fight about in any relationship.
Having differing points of view provides a challenge. It's not easy to make a go of a relationship when beliefs are misaligned, but it's not impossible. See the issues for what they are, do your research, listen, and try to understand. Doing so provides the best chance for making a lasting relationship when there are forces that are diametrically opposed.
Photo Cred: Quino Al