This is the story of Lauren. She’s a Democrat and her boyfriend is a Republican.
Tell us a bit about yourself!
Hi! My name is Lauren. I am 23 years old and I am from a small, conservative town in the suburbs of the San Francisco Bay Area. I now currently live in San Francisco and commute to Berkeley as a program manager for the YMCA.
I love being able to work with teens from all different socioeconomic backgrounds and watch them discover who they are and what they want to be when they grow up. In my free time, I love to listen to live music, discover delicious foods in all flavors, watch Netflix TV show marathons, get outdoors, and explore my beautiful city!
How did you meet your boyfriend?
I was minding my own business in church one Sunday when I looked over to my right and spotted a cute boy I had never seen before. We sat together for the next hour chatting, he asked for my number when church was done, and the rest is history!
When did you discover that you had different political ideologies?
On our first date! We are both members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (more commonly known as “Mormon”). One of the first things he asked was if I was going to vote for Mitt Romney this November. I told him, “No, actually. But he seems like a great person.”
He laughed a little, said, “Good for you!” and gave me a fist pound. I wasn’t fooled though. He is a white male that works in finance. I knew we weren’t playing for the same team!
How often do your political differences come up? How do you deal with them?
They come up almost daily. With the current election so close it’s hard to NOT talk about it. Although we don’t see eye to eye on everything, we DO know that the real reason we work together is because of our shared religious beliefs.
When you both believe in what the purpose of this life is, where we are headed after, and what we need to do in order to get there…it makes things like tax policy seem trivial in the grand scheme of it all.
Are there any issues that you’ve had to declare off-limits for discussion?
Not that we have encountered…yet! There have been some very “colorful” discussions that end with one of us loudly declaring, “I LOVE YOU!!!” Then we laugh and change the subject.
Are there any issues that you think your boyfriend is totally, 100% wrong about?
He once told me, “I’ll vote for anyone that says they want to abolish all taxes. Capitalism at its finest, babe.” I think this speaks for itself…
How do your friends and family react to your relationship?
I don’t think they are too surprised. Our friends and family are a mixed bag of beliefs and ideals. He’s caught some flack from his friends for dating “a raging liberal.” And I have had the same with someone who “hasn’t experienced real life.” Regardless of what they say, in the end they are both happy that we have found someone that we love.
If you have kids together, how will you answer their questions about things like immigration, abortion, gay marriage, etc?
What most people don’t know about members of our church is that we are taught from a very young age that it is important to gain knowledge and understanding of all things for ourselves. We are encouraged to search and ponder about anything we are questioning.
It can be small, “what should I do about this boy I am dating?” to larger and more serious, “is God even real?” We want our children to follow this same pattern. All we can do is show them unconditional love whatever their beliefs may be.
Any advice for other two-party couples?
Remember why you are together. Remember the things that you like and love about one another. Is it how he serenades you to cheesy 90’s pop punk songs? Or when he gives you a wink across the room? Does he help you to become the person you want to be?
Remember, and more importantly, CHOOSE to embrace the things that you have in common and put aside the politics for a night. Or a week. Or forever 🙂
Are any of you dating or married to someone who belongs to a different political party? Or is very ideologically different than you? How do you deal with it?
P.S. How to be less annoyed with everyone + How to fight fair 😉
I did quickly tweet a quick thought but maybe it's best for a comment 🙂
It does ultimately depends, for me personally, HOW different the views are and to have them respected. I'm good at respecting view points as my biggest issue is democracy so I always respect that my opinion may not be 'right'. I had an ex who got really into the ziegiest movement and said I was ultimately a selfish person because I chose to study a business degree!! Needless to say that relationship didn't last much longer. I've met other people who follow that movement who were shocked this was said so I know that within ideologies there is still differing opinions. So depending how extremely Democratic or Republican they are can really affect the situation.
Well said, Morag! 🙂
I agree with Morag. If you disagree about tax and welfare – well then it's not really that big a deal, it's not like you can actually control the effect it has on you once in place. But abortion, gay rights? These are core beliefs that could seriously affect your family one day.
My husband and I have very different political beliefs, which we didn't discover until after we were married and started watching old seasons of "The West Wing" together. Then we would start talking about the show, and end up having huge arguments. Eventually we learned how to turn those arguments into calm discussions and really listen to each other, and ultimately I think all those huge disagreements were good for our marriage, because we both learned that you can still love and respect and listen to someone even if your political beliefs are different.
And in response to anna's comment above – for us, at least, abortion and gay rights aren't the huge, divisive issues that people make them out to be. My husband and I have opposing viewpoints on both those issues, but we've heard each other's arguments on the matter, and even though we disagree, we're both still able to respect each other and understand where the other person is coming from.
I would think it's not an issue unless it effects you on a personal level. Like if one of your children was gay, or if you (or a close relative/child) needed an abortion. I made my views on these subjects crystal clear to my partner as soon as we started dating. I knew no matter how much protection we used I could still get pregnant, and so I wanted to make sure he would be OK with my decision if anything happened.
I'm a liberal married to a conservative and much of this sounds familiar! You sound like you're better at avoiding arguments, though – I have a tendency to take the feminist issues more personally (well, duh), and I have a shorter temper, so I need to be especially careful not to lose it. Because hey, he's my husband, and I love him because (not in spite of) our beliefs aren't exactly the same.
Plus, we learn from each other. I get to teach him about multicultural and feminist issues, and he teaches me about taxes. 🙂
This was so interesting! I think it's quite key that both Lauren and her boyfriend are religious; I would guess that they would both consider themselves Mormon before Democrat/Republican? I am an atheist, and extremely into politics, so my left-wing, liberal politics are core to who I am; inextricably linked to my values, and an expression of what I believe is right and wrong. I was in a relationship for years with someone who was right-wing and conservative, and we fought all the time. I am now married to someone with the same politics/beliefs that I have, and it means the world to me. But I think it's really cool that you guys can make it work!
PS Ruby… please don't reinforce the misconception that liberals don't know about money! 🙂
Thank you for sharing your feelings with us in this great post. There are bound to be differences in opinion between two people but that does not mean they can not love and respect each other.
My Boyfriend is a registered republican from a rural conservative leaning area. I’m a democrat from a small city. We have lots of things in common and he is liberal leaning in social aspects (gay marriage, abortion rights, civil rights, etc) and is not religious. I’m more liberal in the social aspects and apathetic for most other things. He collects guns and hunts, I’m all for gun laws. He’s super into financial topics and is more conservative leaning in that aspect. Going into it, I thought he was more liberal than he is, but it’s really okay. I think the only point of contention we’ve had is over transgender issues, which he is sympathetic to but is very fact based in his thinking (vs. going on feelings). I tend to think about my trans friends and how they feel. We agree to disagree most of the time. It’s fine to believe in different things, just as long as you don’t let it stand in the way of what really matters. How you treat each other and what each person can bring to the table in the relationship.