All is Fair in Love and Politics

From an early age, we were taught not to speak about politics in public because it’s a “sensitive” topic. Once in a while, you will come across a snarky co worker who is dying to tell you why our economy is falling apart, or an overly enthused history professor that “knows they can do a better job” than the candidates. Overall, most politically charged discussions result in some type of argument that can cause unnecessary tension between people.

While I respect your opinion, here is why it’s wrong. I am guilty of starting conversations with my boyfriend like this when it comes to politics. While avoiding the discussion completely seems like the easiest option, it is probably not the greatest way out. If you are passionately arguing about politics in the first place, it may be a matter that is significant to you in some way. But, where can you draw the line? Is it worth it to argue about a tweet by a politician or a random foreign policy? Probably not. It is different for every couple, but it is up to you both to determine whether the issue will directly affect your relationship. If the answer is no, a friendly debate can be fun, but there is no need for grudges in the morning.

So how do you even bring it up in the first place? You're on a first date and you start to get to know each other: What's your favorite food? What sports do you like? Who are you voting for? This is definitely not the way to go about it. It is not necessary to bring up immediately, but it is also a discussion that is okay to have as time goes on and you begin to feel more comfortable with the person. Socially, being a conservative or liberal can be vital to a relationship. If we're talking about the hot button issues such as gay rights or abortion, it can truly be a make or break scenario in a relationship. For example, I know a girl whose brother is gay and came out to his family when he was young. She unconditionally supports him and works toward promoting equality. I know that if she were to date someone who did not support gay rights, she would no longer be able to pursue the relationship further because of her strong beliefs and family situation. Therefore, these kind of topics need to be addressed early enough so that you can assess the possibility of a future with that person. But, how do you bring it up without sounding too paranoid? You want it to sound natural and not too serious, which is easier than ever with social media. You can start out with a meme or a simple comment on a tweet that is subtle, but allows room to carry on a discussion. People are more willing to talk about things when they don't feel pressured and are in a friendly atmosphere. It is your job to create that feeling with the way you approach the issue regarding your tone, manner, and starting point of discussion. If the person feels uncomfortable, you can leave it alone without feeling awkward that you pressed too much. It was a casual conversation so just as easy as you started it, you can also move on to another topic. Be inquisitive, but not too pushy about it. You are still getting to know the person so be present and don't judge critically right away. Ask, don't analyze. 

Here are some crucial tips for building a relationship through a difference in views:

Be a good listener: When we are set in our own views, we tend to simply nod our heads and not take the time to embrace another perspective. In this case, you’re essentially telling the other person that their opinion does not matter or have any importance to you. Although you may firmly disagree with their argument, it may cause you to at least see their motivation behind it. 

It can be a great discussion at the end of the day: When it comes to entertainment, to each, his own. But, an intellectual conversation can be engaging and exciting opposed to the same “how was your day” shpeel that can become quite dull. 

Language and tone make a difference: Everyone gets heated at times, but if you find yourself escalating towards an aggressive tone, it is best to leave the conversation alone. Vulgar language and a belittling tone can turn the conversation into a huge problem with lasting effects. Remember, this is not a problem between you and her, this is just a general discussion. You are  discussing an outside topic that should not put a damper on your household. You will not gain any significant prize for "being right" because it is not a competitive situation. The other person is your partner, not the opposing candidate.