Can a Liberal Date a Conservative?

Advice for how to keep the peace in a politically combative relationship.

Dear Monica, I have been dating a man who does not share my personal political beliefs. It was very trying during this contentious election cycle since we cancelled out each other’s votes. Do you have any advice for how a liberal and conservative can live together in harmony? —A.V., Philadelphia

Red and blue can blend together to make purple. It is not about what you believe, but rather how you express yourself.  It is important to be able, in the end, to agree to disagree in harmony. Your priority, as far as the relationship goes, should focus on communication, compromise and caring.

Communication: It is not what you say, but how you say it. It is fine to have a healthy, lively debate. Plenty of people live for verbal calisthenics. What is not okay is belittlement or intimidation of another person with your “correct” views of the world. Wouldn’t it be nice to hear phrases like “I understand your point of view” or “Both candidates have their pluses and minuses”?

Compromise: Compromise is the key to most facets of successful relationships. When it comes to politics, things can get really heated, but topics such as child rearing, budgeting, where to live and how to educate kids can be just as touchy. If you are with a person who maintains that they are always right, clearly this mentality will not just be contained within the realm of politics. This kind of arrogant posture will inevitably permeate into other aspects of life. You need to look within and assess if you can handle these traits in a partner. Ask yourself the following questions. Are you more laid back, allowing things to roll off your shoulders? Are you okay with someone who is more type A? Do you want your opinion to be heard louder? Can you accept someone who has the opposite political point of view from you? There are many examples where harmony can be achieved in a split house during political times. (James Carville and Mary Matalin ring a bell?) Either have civil red and blue dialogue, or if this is not realistic, ban political talk in the house.

Caring: Caring and respect for one another is the key to healthy discourse. It is okay if the two of you don’t see eye to eye, but if your differences means putting on the boxing gloves and going at each other, it most certainly is not. How you speak to one another about an election goes much deeper than Romney or Obama. It goes to the core of your personality and who the two of you are. If you are a peacemaker and open-minded that is great, but being a control freak and never allowing for the possibility of being wrong is not. It is myopic to think of oneself as the authority on everything. Many times this behavior can go hand in hand with fervent political believers.