On Brooklyn. Blue. Sky., the passion Skylar and Blue shared for writing and for each other allowed them to overcome most of their differences. But when the topic of politics was raised, it became clear that these two came from very different worlds.
At a time when Black Lives Matter was challenged by the concept that all lives matter and assault of women was juxtaposed with the possibility of a woman becoming president, Blue was surprised to learn that Skylar voted for Donald Trump.
In my 12 years of dating and relationship coaching, I’ve helped many people navigate differences in culture, income and religion but few factors have divided relationships more than the current political climate and the election of President Trump. To help navigate the political divide, I reached across the aisle to Black Trump voters for their advice on dating someone of a different political affiliation.
“In a perfect world, being aligned with someone that finds your political thinking the same as theirs is the holy grail that you're always searching for,” says conservative radio show Host Wayne Dupree.
Dupree, who is currently divorced for the second time, shares, “I wasn't politically aware the first time I was married but the second time we both had our way of thinking about politics. My ex-wife considered herself conservative also but I would classify her thinking as more libertarian than conservative. I noticed the split in our political affiliation during the Obama presidency. Although we didn't talk politics that much, when we did…she thought the criticism was created to hurt the first Black president.”
Some couples who differ regarding political issues get a thrill over the friendly debate spurred on by social media or TV news. Yet, in an instant, those little digs can hit a chord and the next thing you know, someone’s sleeping on the couch.
Dupree remembers, “Supporting Donald Trump wasn't the cause of the second divorce as we didn't talk politics that deeply, but she would tend to bring up situations and I would try to explain. I interviewed Trump at least five times via my radio show and she watched his TV show The Apprentice religiously when it was on television. If she talked to me about Trump, it would include something about 'racism' or something she might hear on television or read on a blog.”
Political beliefs are often deeply ingrained and difficult to shift or sometimes even reason with. As with any trait of your partner that you dislike, trying to change them will often cause you more stress than it’s worth.
Dupree believes, “To have a successful relationship that includes politics, it's a must to turn down emotions and speak with respect of the other's view.”
When one partner’s political affiliation changes during the course of the relationship, however, it can have devastating consequences.
JaVonni Brustow, founder of PopGlitz.com, and self-proclaimed outspoken Republican, told me, “I became engaged prior to the 2012 election, around the same time I registered as a Republican. It was at this point my then-fiancé told me if I became a Republican we would break up. He kept his promise.”
Since then, Brustow found it easier to date since his political stance was public knowledge and he’s now in a relationship with a fellow conservative.
In some cases, you might want to avoid labels altogether. Dupree feels, “Political parties separate and cause a divide.” He said, “I think my ex-wife classified herself as an independent but I never knew because I didn't ask. I thought it was important for her to choose what she wanted because it wouldn't have been a stable home arguing all the time over political naming.”
If you’re passionate about your political position, you need a group of like-minded people with whom you can share your thoughts.
Dating site OkCupid found that political affiliation is one of the primary deal-breakers for its users and responded by including filtering questions about politics on its profiles.
If your views are not aligned, don’t force your partner into engaging in a political conversation or hearing your rants. Find others who share your view. When those close to you don’t subscribe to your beliefs, you can always find friends on Twitter.
The most injurious thing you can do to the relationship is to say, “I told you so” when your candidate wins. As much as you might want to and as much as it is probably warranted, celebrate quietly when you’re together.
Money is already the No. 1 thing that couples argue about and nothing gets under a spouse’s skin more than wasting their money — which is certainly how they will view giving it to the other political party. If you have a shared bank account, invest your time to canvass, make phone calls or fundraise instead. It’s still extremely valuable and can come from you and you alone.
Ultimately, it all comes down to communication. Brustow remarks, “As is the case in any relationship, always look to find the commonalities you both have. Stop trying to tear down the other side. I’ve spent years in Washington being able to communicate with, be friends and share different perspectives on issues with liberals because I listened when they spoke, understood their issues and tried to be civil. Getting along with the other side isn’t hard and, believe or not, all who vote against you aren’t evil.”
It’s not impossible to have a relationship with someone of a different political affiliation as long as you approach it with an open mind as well as an open heart.
Binge-watch BET.com's first scripted original series, Brooklyn. Blue. Sky., here.
Damona Hoffman is a certified dating coach and TV personality (from #BlackLove and A Question of Love on FYI TV.) She gives weekly dating and relationship advice on The Dates & Mates radio show and podcast.
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