Dating is difficult enough on its own. Throw in the political fervor of the 2016 presidential election and dating gets just a little more challenging for those who are political followers and registered on either side of the coin.
The months before November are filled with debates, political articles and discussions about the political scene. Upon thinking about all the dating ups and downs that singles go through, I thought “why not throw in some politics” and decided to literally delve into the question of whether the difference between two people on a date with different political affiliations can pan out or cause tension? What does it look like with a donkey and an elephant on a date? Can people with two different political ideologies find a compromise and succeed in creating a relationship, or do birds of a feather flock together?
A recent survey by Match.com looked at some of the political affiliations related to dating. First off, it says that the largest group of singles were, “Democrats with 40 percent, Republicans at 19 percent, independents 15 percent and Libertarians 2 percent.” Their findings also noted that it was OK to talk politics on a date. So, if politics are no longer taboo, how can daters navigate this territory and still end up with a second date?
A study by Dr. Helen Fisher, PhD discusses the differences between what Republicans and Democrats seek in their significant others. “We found that significantly more conservative Republicans singles say they must have someone of the same religious and ethnic background, someone with the same values and attitudes about money, and someone who wants to marry. Liberal Democrat singles, on the other hand, must have someone with a sense of humor and who has a life of their own, someone who can communicate their wants and needs, someone comfortable with their own sexuality and with the same level of education and someone who respects them. And while conservative Republicans are turned off by a date ‘with strong opinions,’ this trait turns a liberal Democrat on.” So, that gives us some information to delve into, from a sample of 5000 singles.
Depending on if you lean red or blue, your beliefs in politics might be an interesting discussion on a date with someone who believes differently. Being able to have a talk where two people don’t necessarily agree on everything can be exciting and insightful. The differences between daters or those in a relationship do not mean that this couple is doomed. If the two can listen and validate the other’s opinion and feelings, half the battle is over.
According to an article by Drake Baer, conflict between couples is useful for growth and a well-rounded connection. John Gottman’s research tells us that there are four components to getting good at these uncomfortable conversations: putting your emotions into words, asking open-ended questions, making open-ended statements and empathizing with your partner.
Being able to go on a date or be in a relationship with someone with different opinions or politics is not a recipe for disaster. Clearly, the research tells us that the objective in having differing views is about the way you discuss it and listen to the other person. There might be fundamental beliefs that two people cannot move on from, but then this is not the right match for you if you can’t respect the differences.
Having healthy conflict and problem resolution skills is something that anyone can learn. Communication can be built upon. A couple can enter couple’s therapy to help build the connection between them. So remember, just because you find yourself on a date with someone with different political views does not mean that you should not try and find common ground. It’s not the differences that break up the relationship — it’s the way they are dealt with.
Democrats and Republicans can have harmonious dates after all.