This post originally appeared on Girl's Gotta Eat, Lauren's chronicle of her dating adventures.
We’ve talked about sex. We’ve talked about religion. It was only a matter of time before we talked about politics, right?
My 28th birthday is this weekend, and I’ve reached the point in my life where I have no interest in wasting my time. Because of this – I like to get down to the nitty gritty on the very first date.
Taboo? Perhaps. But who’s got time to spend with someone that they just don’t align with? Not me. And I bet you don’t either, #BossLady.
I’ve mentioned my wonderful parents numerous times on GGE. If you know them – I know that you love them too.
My (very liberal) father always used to say something when I was growing up that I’ve spent some time thinking about lately.
“I make it a point to never discuss politics, even with family”.
I hear you, Dad. Political beliefs can feel private and personal, and like I’ve mentioned about 375x on GGE, to each their own.
But the older I get, the more I disagree with the ‘I don’t talk politics’ perspective. I think we have to talk about it (in our current political climate, specifically), especially when we’re dating.
People’s political beliefs reveal far more than who they voted for. They’re a gateway into their morality.
A few months ago, I went out with a guy named Joe for a couple weeks. Nice guy.
On the first date, he brought up that his family had recently left the Catholic church (insert my fascinated “ooh, scandalous!”). It lead to a light conversation on religion, which I felt was the perfect segue-way into asking (with gentle tact):
“So who did you vote for?”
Joe got slightly uncomfortable, and struggled to find his words. He finally informed me that he didn’t vote, then quickly changed the subject.
Listen…we all have limits. Joe clearly didn’t feel comfortable discussing his personal political beliefs with me in this moment, so while I was a bit disappointed that he wasn’t open to having that conversation, I let it slide. I figured we’d get there eventually.
About 2 weeks later….we got there. Oh, we got there.
We were having a really nice conversation over dinner, when I decided to broach the subject again. I reminded him that when I’d asked who he’d voted for on our first date, he’d changed the subject.
“Yeah, I wasn’t quite ready to talk about it, to be honest” Joe said. “I know you’re pretty liberal, and I’m honestly more of a moderate. I tend to vote Republican, but didn’t want to vote for either candidate in this last election”.
Moment of honesty: all of the warning bells were going off in my head. But, I remained very calm, and decided to listen and really hear what he had to say.
“May I ask why you tend to vote Republican?”
He very openly responded “sure! I’m fiscally conservative, and I care about the security of our country. Those are my priorities”.
“Hmm”, I considered. “In all honesty, the greatest reasons that I vote Democrat are social: I believe very strongly in equal rights: women’s rights, gay rights, black rights, trans rights, etc. I’m also very passionate about women’s healthcare”.
“Oh, I agree with you on all the social issues”, he assured me. “I’m all about equality – the most important people in my life are women! My mom, my sister, and my nieces. I just wouldn’t feel comfortable having a daughter look up to Hillary as our first female president – a woman who stood by her husband’s side during and after an affair”.
I needed a moment to let that one sink in.
“If I’ve learned anything in my 20’s”, I cautiously began, “it’s that we never know what goes on behind closed doors. We have no idea what’s happened in that relationship, or what happened before, during, or after the affair. Frankly, it’s not my business to judge any of it. Nor do I believe it has any impact on Hillary’s ability to govern”.
We agreed to disagree.
Again, he reminded me “the most important people in my life are women – I want you to know that”.
“I hear you. But what you’re saying is that you prioritize money and security over the rights of the humans who are closest to you in this world”.
We couldn’t really recover from that one. Bye, Joe.
Here’s the thing, you guys. We’re never going to agree with ANYBODY on EVERY issue. But I do think that conversations like these are incredibly important to have – and in my book: the sooner, the better.
Morality is what we’re talking about here. Just because Joe’s and mine differed, doesn’t mean he’s a bad guy. Far from it. To each their own!
It just meant he wasn’t the right guy for me.
We didn’t have the same priorities, and to be honest, I’m a bit disappointed I wasn’t able to figure that out sooner. However, at least it only took us a few weeks to have a mature and respectful conversation about our political beliefs, which revealed moral incompatibilities – simple as that. A clean break.
In that retrospect, our approach to this type of conversation on a date doesn’t differ from our approach to any other subject. We’re learning about someone who’s different than us, and trying to decipher whether or not we could be a potential match. We’ve got to feel comfortable talking about the nitty gritty stuff if we’re looking for a partner – it’s essential to forming open and honest communication habits that are inherent to the success to of any relationship.
Yes, I wanted to respect Joe’s limits on the first date. But can you imagine if we hadn’t discussed this until a few months into dating?
Furthermore, if we’d waited, our feelings for each other could have certainly grown stronger. Feelings that may have prevented me from being able to recognize this moral incompatibility as the deal breaker that I know in my heart it is.
The point here isn’t to make sure you and your date voted for the same candidate. The point is to explore how your cores and beliefs may or may not align.
Keep in mind – the dates that balk when you broach these subjects aren’t likely to feel comfortable talking about a wide variety of issues that are bound to come up in any healthy relationship. Just get your need-to-know information out of the WAY, so you know you’re investing in someone who’s really worth your while. And let the fun begin.
Sorry, Dad. I’m talkin politics, these days.
Have a similar dating story? Or maybe you made it work with someone who didn’t have the same political beliefs as you? Or maybe you refuse to talk politics on a date and for good reason? We want to hear from YOU!