Will Differing Political Views Ruin Your Relationship?
By: Caitlin McNulty
Although general election years are always stressful in anticipation for our next president, the past couple elections have been especially emotionally charged due to the increased hostility among political parties and subsequent distain toward members of opposing groups. With politics being at the forefront of our daily lives, it is a common topic of conversation among romantic partners – which sometimes creates conflict when disagreement occurs. Here we’ll discuss how you can actively take steps to minimize political differences’ negative impacts and allow your relationship to continue to flourish by understanding how they can take a toll on your romantic relationship.
When you and your partner disagree on political issues, you may feel strain and stress within your relationship. Political disagreement between romantic partners can generate doubts about your compatibility on core values and beliefs, making you feel less like a team and more like opponents. When you feel more emotionally distanced from your partner, you may feel less committed to the relationship, which could make you less affectionate and appreciative of your partner. However, it is extremely important to notice that these increases in stress are temporary and your relationship is not doomed to fail solely because you and your partner differ politically. It is also important to consider how much your differing political views weigh in your overall relationship satisfaction, which depends on how political you and your partner consider yourselves to be. If politics have not been a major factor in your decision to enter into a committed relationship with your partner thus far, you may be more willing to be in a relationship with someone of a different political affiliation than yourself without it causing relationship-threatening issues. However, if politics are a major component of your life and something you are not willing to agree to disagree on, it may be a more significant detriment on your overall relationship satisfaction.
Because politics is currently taking over our country, it may be easy to conclude that this is the source of all your relationship problems. Research shows that you and your partner are less likely to argue over political issues or be significantly impacted by political stress if you have consistently invested time in maintaining a healthy relationship prior to election season. If you and your partner spend quality time together, lean on each other for support, actively communicate, do exciting things together, and have a healthy sex life, then differing political ideology should not outweigh all of those positive behaviors. Research shows that couples with differing political ideologies are no more likely to break up than couples with similar political ideologies. Therefore, you and your partner’s overall relationship satisfaction will lead to future relationship success or failure, not solely your differing political views.
If you find political disagreement with your partner taking more of a toll on your relationship than you would like it to, you could benefit from changing your mindset and seeing your differing political views as an opportunity to expand your worldview and listen to a different perspective. As much as we would like to think we know exactly what is right, that may not necessarily be true. It could be both educational and healthy for your relationship to hear your partner’s opposing political view. Understanding that political issues are not as black-and-white as they seem to be in today’s world can make you more willing to actively listen and understand where your partner is coming from instead of dismissing their views as wrong and having conflict in your relationship. Having a mature conversation about your political views with your partner will positively maintain your relationship by streamlining communication and leading to mutual respect of opinions. It is okay – and even healthy – to realize that you and your partner, although complementary in many ways, are still two different people who grew up with two different life experiences and learned values. As long as you both respect each other’s opinions on political issues and make genuine effort in maintaining a healthy relationship overall, the current political climate should not shatter the entire relationship you have built to the ground.
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