How To Handle A Relationship With Someone Who Has Different Political Views Than You

In this day in age, we typically know the political stance of someone that we're seeing pretty early on — online dating makes sure of it. But if we happen to meet someone out and about who we just "click" with, this topic might not come up until later, as, in the beginning, you're lost in the honeymoon phase. Oftentimes, if we're getting along with someone that well, it's more than likely that the two of you will have coinciding political views. But for some of us, we might have a conversation with our partner that leaves us asking, "You're a member of the what party?!"

If you've found yourself in a situation that sounds pretty similar to this — or your longtime partner has changed their views over time — don't fret. It may seem like all is doomed, but luckily enough, there are options you have that can keep this relationship going. In fact, relationship author and expert Jonah Lehrer has a lot to say on the subject of love, particularly on how to make a relationship last. "A 2010 study of [23] thousand married couples found that the similarity of spouses accounted for less than 0.5[%] of spousal satisfaction," Lehrer explains in his book, "A Book About Love" (via Time Magazine). "In short, what we think we want in a spouse — someone who is just like us and likes all the same things — and what we want in real life are fundamentally mismatched."

If you've found yourself with a partner who won't have the same names checked off on the ballot as you do in the next election, we're here to break down some ways to handle it for a long, successful, and healthy relationship — or help you discover what may not be so healthy of a match.

Ask yourself how much politics really means to you

We all have people in our lives that eat, sleep, and breathe politics. Maybe that's you — which is great — but if it is and you're trying to date outside of your political views, things could get a little messy. Richmond, Virginia-based professional matchmaker Amber Artis spoke with Today about some of the most common requests she gets from clients in the dating pool. According to Artis, "smokers and Trump supporters" are the words she hears the most from people in regards to who they absolutely would never date. On the other hand, those on the opposite side of the fence had similar notions. "I just spoke with a gentleman today who has conservative political beliefs and he told me that he did not want to date 'a crazy liberal'," Artis tells Today.

That being said, sometimes we have to ask ourselves what's truly important to us. Is finding someone who makes you smile every day worth more than which party they're registered as, or is it vice versa? On this, Seattle Times asked readers, "Is it possible to have a healthy relationship with someone who has opposing political views? Do politics factor into your relationship?" One reader replied, "My friend is a Republican military veteran and his wife is an Obama Democrat. They make fun of each other but in a cute, mild way," he writes. "Also, my parents have the same split. Although my dad didn't vote for Trump, as a lifelong Republican he still votes GOP for other offices. My mom thinks he's ridiculous, but they don't really argue politics much. I think it's healthy and great." Some people can make it work. Some.

Find common ground in shared values

While it may seem like having differing political views can mean you don't share anything in common, it's important to keep the things you do share in check. "The ideal way to talk about political differences as a couple involves both partners sitting down and talking about the dreams and goals you have in common," Dana McNeil, Ph.D., a San Diego-based licensed marriage family therapist, tells Today. "This creates an atmosphere of finding similarities and shared values. The goal is to find ways that you will navigate the major issues without tearing down the other person's character."

In fact, according to professor Katherine M. Hertlein, Ph.D., reminding yourself of that person's character could play a huge role in this relationship (via Today). She shares with us that people don't vote for someone because they're a bad person — they vote for someone because this is who they believe is going to do the most good in the world. Heirtlein calls this "an 'assumption of good intent,'" highlighting the importance of knowing that your partner, just like you, "wants the best for humanity."

At the end of the day, there's a reason you and your partner were drawn to each other; you should focus on the things that allow you to thrive as a couple while figuring out ways to work through any weak spots in this commitment.

Listen to your partner's point of view

According to The Clinic on Dupont, healthy relationships depend on communication, but this isn't a skill that most of us are just born with. It takes practice to learn how to listen effectively, and learning to show empathy can take some time to master. "Empathy allows you to understand and [embody] your partner's values without shifting your own," relationship expert Candace R. Cooper tells People. "It allows you to see the full picture without assuming, or creating your own judgment of what your partner's beliefs are."

So how exactly do you show empathy to make sure your partner is being heard? One of the best techniques to try is paraphrasing, as reported by Positive Psychology. For example, if your partner is telling you their perspective on a new bill passed by Congress, your reply might be something like, "So it sounds like you feel that the bill is going to help open up more jobs and eventually lead to higher employment rates around the country, right?" Ending the statement with a question will allow your partner to know you're "listening with an intent" to understand, not just mindlessly hearing what they're saying.

By the same token, using certain phrases can help your partner better listen to you as well. Using "I" statements can emphasize how important something is to you, according to Danielle Moye, a licensed family marriage therapist. "For example, 'As a Black woman, I feel that lawmakers should continue to pass bills to make it illegal to discriminate against hairstyles and textures.' In an interracial relationship, the partner who benefits most from privilege may want to be curious about what this stance means to their partner," Moye shares with Today.

Limit talk of politics at home

Once you've figured out how to communicate to your partner about politics in a healthy manner, it can be helpful to follow guidelines pertaining to how often politics is mentioned within the boundaries of the relationship. Having regular, healthy doses of discussion here and there can be great for a relationship, but if you or your partner begin to bring up the political stuff too often — i.e., daily — this can cause some tension.

CNBC Make It asked experts how to handle political talk that may pop up in the office; though, the phrases they mention can extend over to relationships as well. For instance, it explains that if someone is discussing something you simply feel uncomfortable with, you can say, "I'd rather not discuss this topic. Mind if we ditch it?" Or, acknowledge their point of view and change the subject with phrases like, "I differ in opinion, but that's an interesting point you make." Audra Jenkins, a chief diversity and inclusion officer at Randstad U.S., enforces that phrases like this can allow who you're speaking to — in this case, your partner — to feel heard and can prevent an argument from erupting.

In addition, setting a time limit for how long you and your partner engage in political talk can be beneficial. Psychologist Rebekah Montgomery explains to Cosmopolitan that "hours of arguing is draining and unproductive — it also makes it unlikely to keep your cool." Meanwhile, Dr. Montgomery tells The Everygirl"It's helpful to make a commitment to yourself to either disengage from political discussions, give yourself a time limit, or have a set of boundary-setting phrases (like 'I would rather not talk about this so we can enjoy our time together')."

Focus on what's truly important

While the 2020 election may have changed the way daters look at the opposite party, experts agree that moving forward is the best route to take. "It's very important for people to expose themselves to those who disagree. It will expand your horizons," Dr. Jeanne Safer, psychotherapist and author, tells The Knot regarding her 40-year marriage to journalist Richard Brookhiser. Safer and Brookhiser met in New York City as members of a singing group while sharing their love for journalism, but Brookhiser wrote for a journal of Safer's opposing political party.

"Something I find troubling is a lot of people won't even consider going out with somebody who has different political views," says Shafer. "It's very good we didn't have dating apps for Republicans and Democrats decades ago, because I wouldn't have met this man. I would've met him in the singing group, but it would've been a lot harder. People are missing a lot of things. You learn a lot from another person, especially if it's a smart person. We learn from each other in a lot of ways, not politically, but in other ways."

In fact, notes the most important aspects to making a relationship last, and sharing political views was not one of them. Things like accepting your partner as they are, having genuine weekly discussions, keeping things sexy, and remembering to always say sorry are at the forefront of a recipe for the most long-lasting, healthy partnership. If you and your partner balance each other, have fun, and share intimacy and conversation, seeing all these things through should be the main priority for you.

Remind yourself that communication is key

While active listening goes hand in hand with good communication, healthy communication styles go beyond just listening skills. In fact, communication doesn't even always involve speaking. According to Better Health Channel, in non-verbal communication lies much power. Our facial expressions, posture, and overall body language can speak just as loudly as words might, and a lot of the time we don't even realize what we're doing. Your partner will know when something you're saying is genuine based on much more than "what you're saying."

Furthermore, communication should be an opportunity to learn as much as you can about your partner and how they operate — never a chance to show that you're always the one that's right or your attempt to win battles. "Healthy communication involves speaking with the intent of understanding your partner better," Ibinye Osibodu-Onyali, LMFT at The Zinnia Practice, discloses to Bustle. "It's not about being right or proving the other wrong. It seeks to build a bridge between partners, rather than to shame the other."

A great way to tackle the opposing politics issue is to sit down with your partner and have a meaningful conversation about it. Try not to get upset or lash out, but instead work out a game plan together. Communicate with your partner about why they follow the beliefs that they do and set relationship "guidelines" to abide by. Create your political talk time limits and express what bothers you about things they may say in arguments, giving them a chance to express themselves, too, without getting angry or your feelings hurt.

Don't try to change your partner's views

It can be very tempting to try and get your partner to change their mind. You might not even consciously do it or you might find yourself throwing in passive or sarcastic remarks that express your displeasure at what they believe. But just remember, when you do this, you're disrespecting the person you love. According to, a relationship is a space where each partner needs to sense that they're at home and safe. To feel security within the walls of a relationship means the other person is respected, emotionally taken care of, and satisfied. When you try to change who they are, you're essentially stripping them of all of these key elements.

That being said, there might be some instances where attempting to get your partner to change their behavior is acceptable, per the Mindfulness Muse. These situations include if your partner is verbally belittling you about your political beliefs or they deliberately say things to upset you. In these cases, speaking with your significant other about what upsets you is perfectly fine; this is addressing the way they're acting about their beliefs, not their beliefs themselves.

Utilize therapy

"Trying to make a relationship work when you start off on the wrong foot (or end up on the wrong foot) is not going to work," mental health expert Kristen Rogers tells People. She explains that whether you decide to end a relationship due to political differences or try to make it work, seeking therapy can help you grow — as a couple or as an individual. A third party can help guide you in ways to help with communication techniques, active listening skills, and even other ways to strengthen your bond with another person, whether that be now or in the future with someone else.

A 2002 study concluded that 40% of those seeking therapy did so regarding relationship issues (via Psych Page). From this high percentage, we can conclude that no relationship is perfect. But the good news is that another study found that the benefits of couples therapy can improve a relationship drastically. Of the 877 distressed participants that were part of the study, the lineal modalities that were used to conduct results concluded that there was an overall increase in relationship satisfaction of these participants after just two therapy sessions (via

Additionally, according to Healthline, some of the most common benefits of couples therapy include strengthening your bond, gaining trust, learning new ways to resolve conflict, and keeping intimacy alive.

Know your deal-breakers and limits

As much as it's believed that a relationship can work even if the two members have opposing political beliefs, there are also instances that are simply unacceptable. "It's one thing to have a difference in opinion; it's quite another to be in a relationship with someone whose beliefs are in direct conflict with your existence," Kristen Rogers tells People. She explains that tolerating someone who believes in ideas that aren't fundamental to the core of who you are is a major problem, and tolerating someone like this — just because you're in a relationship with them — is not only unnecessary but also unhealthy.

Ultimately, how much you can and can't tolerate is very idiosyncratic. For example, one Seattle Times reader believes that differing views on human rights in a partnership are simply not realistic. "Neutrality can be maintained on mundane subjects, but when you're talking politics, there is no compromise on fundamental beliefs," the reader explains. "If your girlfriend needs an abortion, and you don't believe in that, it pretty much ends the relationship. If your boyfriend has an unregistered semiautomatic gun and you don't believe in unregulated access to guns, your relationship will never get off the ground. Any conscious person needs to be yoked with someone of similar sensibilities."

All in all, when it comes to making a relationship work with someone who has different political views than you, how willing you are to make this work, your communication style, and how open-minded each person is are all significant aspects that will vary widely by the couple. Utilizing tools like therapy, communication skills, and boundaries can all be highly beneficial to a relationship. Just make sure you know your limits and what is and isn't healthy.