Dear Dr. Z,
So I started seeing this girl, and everything was fine. Then I realized, as we were watching a presidential debate the other day, that from what I can tell, she is a Republican! What should I do about this? Is it worth continuing or should I move on?
— Liberal at LawrenceYou first need to find out the extent to which this girl affiliates herself with the party and the ideals they support. Test the waters with questions regarding such topics like the war in Iraq or religion. If she immediately reacts with a strong opinion that differs from yours, do not respond with anger, but try to listen with an open mind.
On the surface, this situation may seem like a vote-breaker, but although contrasting political ideals may be problematic, it can also add some spice to the relationship. You may be an atheist and she a fundamentalist, and you two could have a debate about the meaning of life or the afterlife. It may be intense but eventually conclude that no matter if there is something out there or not, you are glad you found each other.
There is also the cliché that says opposites attract and sometimes have the most successful relationships. I don’t specifically know why that is, but I bet it is the zest that’s added to the relationship. If you are always agreeing with your partner and never getting into arguments, it may not always be for the better.
However, there are some potential cons to having contrasting political affiliations as well. One of you might be very involved in protecting the environment by recycling and driving a hybrid, while the other drives a suburban and litters all the time. Keep in mind, though, that in any relationship there is going to be differences in perspectives, which will cause arguments.
Some people have the notion that arguing is terrible for a relationship. If it is a consistent arguing, then yes, maybe you should take a step back. Yet an occasional argument or clash of views can be healthy and even beneficial to a relationship.
Even if you are a donkey and your new friend an elephant, deep down we are all animals. There may very well be some distinct differences at first glance, but it’s all about the gut feeling. Similar viewpoints or basic compatibility do help with a relationship, but similar views on economics aren’t the glue that holds a relationship together — it’s love.
If you are feeling this strong attraction to the opposite political party, don’t stress yourself out too much. Don’t deny the potential for a great relationship just because of some differences on policies.
All in all, I advocate trying this out. I guarantee there are many opposite couples out there that you might think could never survive together, but manage to have an incredible relationship.
Dear Dr. Z,