I'm writing for some advice on navigating a relationship in this very crazy world. My boyfriend and I started dating about six months ago. We get along wonderfully. We both love being outside, trying new things, and spending quality time with friends, and we never have trouble finding fun and comfort with each other. He is loyal, hardworking, and has shown up for me in terms of effort and love, more than any partner I've had. We both also share similar visions for the future, wanting to eventually get married and raise children.
One thing that has thrown me off a bit is our difference in political views. I'm a liberal democrat and he's a more conservative republican. I knew this going into the relationship but as I was getting to know him as a person and falling in love with him, the differences felt small. As our relationship continues and the midterms approach, my anxiety over politics and current events has grown. My boyfriend has been steadfast, offering support, love, and guidance – even when I'm anxious about issues and candidates that he may have a different stance on. He has even told me that if I feel he's wrong about something, I'm welcome to tell him and explain my stance to him. I'm mostly curious about whether a relationship like ours can thrive, even when we hold different opinions on very hot issues that are constantly on the news. If we have differing opinions on issues or policies, do we have different values? And if we do, is that an issue? I have known relationships, my parents included, who have a wonderful bipartisan marriage, but in these current divisive times, is that possible? Thank you!
"He has even told me that if I feel he's wrong about something, I'm welcome to tell him and explain my stance to him."
How magnanimous of him.
Look ... the answer here is: I don't know. Everyone has their own set of deal-breakers. I can't tell you what differences will affect your relationship over time. Some people wouldn't even write this letter because they'd already be out the door.
I have heard of – and seen – plenty of bipartisan marriages. After the 2016 election (and this letter), I got a wonderful note from a woman in her 80s who explained how she and her husband have navigated these issues for decades. It's honestly one of the best reader letters I've ever received (I'll ask her if I can just run it – it basically starts with Watergate). She told me that she and her husband "used to joke about the fact that we cancelled each other out, but we voted regardless." It all seemed so respectful – and unique. I will say that in their case, they'd both switched parties over time, depending on the candidates. They were much more interested in specific people running for office than red or blue. They seemed to value experience, most of all. And they seemed to have very similar views about how people should be treated.
When I've spoken to other couples and families about this, some tell me that they deal with their differences by avoiding the topics altogether. In some homes, candidates' names and policies are never uttered at all. But that doesn't work for everyone.
If you and this boyfriend have different values about the treatment of people, that will be the biggest deal-breaker. As a couple, you will want a community. You will want to make sure you both support the people you love – and strangers – in a way you can accept. Again, I can't define that for you, but it will help to pay attention to these conversations and how they make you feel. If these opposing views are something you think about a lot, there's a reason.
Readers? How can this work?