Relationships come in all types and sizes – romance, flings, friendship, family, etc. Yet there is undoubtedly that one topic that threatens to divide even the closest of us… In this post, I explore the possible outcomes of having different political opinions and how much of a deal breaker they really are by asking some of my closest friends.
But first, I feel like a little back story is needed here: Roughly two years ago, I “dated” someone on and off for about a year. Why the quotation marks, you might wonder? Well, the whole thing never amounted to a full-on relationship, though there undoubtedly was a time period where we were both talking about the possibility of taking it all the way. During those talks and discussions, those exciting “what if’s” and “oh but would it work’s” I pointed out that I felt like I knew too little in order to fully comprehend who he was and how he, as a complex human being, worked. We started playing a game of questions and answers and eventually we made that inevitable stop at one touchy subject: politics.
Although I had never thought of different views regarding politics to be a deal-breaker, I was a little taken aback by his opinions at first and judged him for them if I’m being completely honest. I remember sitting down with him and having a very honest conversation about why we had the views we had. It was probably the most open conversation we had ever had and after it I definitely felt like I understood him and his reasoning better. We resumed getting to know each other more and didn’t really dwell on the whole topic for too long.
It was only when I confided in friends about the chat that their expressions of concern did make me feel a tad less certain. What do his political opinions say about his values and him as a person? Do you really want to be with someone who has such a different way of thinking? How can you even trust that he is a good guy after this? These are all responses I was getting from my friends at the time. I would be lying if I said that they didn’t make me feel unsure about the whole relationship.
Being friends with him first definitely made it easier for me to voice my uncertainties to him and really have a discussion about how big of a deal politics really are in a relationship. We came to the conclusion that we would just not talk about them anymore – a big mistake we quickly came to find out. At that time there were a lot of things happening in the world of politics and I didn’t feel like I could talk to him about them anymore. And when you’re with someone (well, kind of in my case) you want to be able to talk about what’s on your mind and us thinking we were avoiding problems by just shutting out that whole topic was actually creating problems that wouldn’t have been there otherwise.
Long story short – we ended things. In the end of our relationship (-thingy) there just wasn’t any room for open communication anymore. We grew more and more distant and felt limited in a way because politics loomed over our relationship like a giant cloud that got bigger by the day.
Where am I going with this, you might ask? Well, I recently started reminiscing about that time period of my life and it made me wonder; What if we hadn’t banned politics from our relationship? Would things have worked out? Is it even possible for two people with opposite political opinions to be in a healthy relationship? Does the same apply to friendships or is there a difference? Knowing that there were a lot of different opinions on the matter out there, I decided to discuss these questions with a few of my friends. Here is what they had to say:
(for all of you lazy people out there; don’t worry, there’s a summary of the core statements down below if you don’t want to read through all of them)
Friend 1: M
In general I do think that two people in a relationship should have similar political views. My own political opinion is important to me and is a component in making me me, that’s why I can’t imagine being with someone who represents a drastically different viewpoint. Of course you don’t always have to be in agreement all the time, I think having discussions is ok, even healthy. But if someone were to have a radically different opinion, it wouldn’t work for me.
I can’t actually imagine that relationships where the people don’t share the same values last long-term, especially if both or only one is politically active, meaning that they actually are an advocate for the cause they support. Like I said, both parties don’t have to agree on things all the time and don’t have to vote for the same party – but I do believe that they should share the same core values.
With friendships I don’t see things as strictly because to me, if you’re in a serious relationship with someone, you will eventually maybe live with them and want to start a future together – you do spend a big amount of time with each other. But if I think about really close friendships, someone whom I can tell everything to, someone with whom I can do anything without feeling like they judge me for it, I do think that you should share the same values.
For example, we both have relatively the same political views aaand you’re one of my besties. I have a friend who I would describe as very conservative and because of that she has certain opinions I just don’t believe in. Due to that I often feel very limited in our friendship because I have to consciously choose my words when speaking to her about “touchy” subjects – because I know she is of a different opinion and I don’t always want to start a huge discussion. Limitations like that can be hindering in a friendship because I get the feeling that oftentimes those friendships can be very surface-level.
Friend 2: F
To me, having similar political views is important in a relationship. You don’t have to have exactly the same but you should at least have the same values in life. I think that if you don’t represent the same values and your views are on opposite ends of the spectrum, it can’t amount to anything long-term. I don’t know if it can actually work, I guess it also depends on how significant politics is for the two people involved.
With friendships I do see a difference, it’s also a matter of how close those friends are to you. My best friends all share the same or at least a similar perspective regarding politics.
Friend 3: L
Politics aren’t as big of a factor for me as they may be to some but of course I prefer relationships where we share the same opinions. My current boyfriend and I do have different opinions on certain matters and our relationship still works – we just don’t talk about politics.
I do think that it could amount to a problem when you’re in the process of planning to start a family and living together long-term. However, I do think that this is a very subjective debate, seeing as politics just doesn’t play as big of a role for me.
Personally I don’t think political opinions matter in a friendship because it’s not the only thing you can discuss. If I discuss the matter with friends, I do expect it to be on a neutral basis and without judgement. You don’t necessarily have to have the same opinions but you should still respect each others perspectives.
Friend 4: K
For me personally, having different political opinions is not a deal breaker as long as both parties respect each other’s opinions, try to understand them and don’t fight because of them. As long as my partner doesn’t try to change my opinion and both can share their viewpoints in discussions without being disrespectful, I think it can work.
I even have an example that it can actually work: my grandparents. My grandma was for communism, my grandpa was against it. So they both had opposite opinions and were very vocal about them. Sure, they clashed sometimes because of their beliefs but their marriage still worked because politics weren’t everything in their relationship.
That being said, I do think that it is also dependent on the person on whether it can work or not. I’m not sure if I could be with someone who has “extreme” views but I do think that being with someone who doesn’t share the exact same political beliefs can make you more open towards different opinions.
Friend 5: L
In my opinion it depends on the political view. I think with friends it isn’t as big of a factor, I mean I generally try to avoid political discussions with my friends altogether. One’s opinion on controversial political debate does speak volumes about the person’s mindset and basic values as a human being and I do think that in the political atmosphere we have nowadays, politics has definitely become more relevant in relationships. But I’m not saying that it can’t work.
Friend 6: C
I’m stubborn when it comes to my own political opinion, so having views that don’t collide with each other is extremely important to me when speaking of a romantic relationship. I can’t imagine being with someone who has a completely different opinion than me but of course it isn’t always possible that both people’s opinions are a perfect match – so I’d say you at least have to have similar views and values.
Long-term I just believe that such a divide in opinions could also negatively impact other parts of the relationship. I do think that there are relationships out there that work despite having different views but I think most of them work best when you’re just dating each other. It’s a different story when you live together because politics would definitely come up sooner or later in everyday life. I imagine that it would start to weigh in on the relationship, even if you’re just doing something as mundane as watching the news together. To me it’s just a deal breaker in a relationship because you spend so much time together and like I said, I’m stubborn about it.
I do think that I would be more open towards friendships where the people have different opinions. Because if I imagine that you would suddenly change your opinion, I wouldn’t just write you off because of that. I’d find a place within myself to respect your opinion. But I don’t think I could do that in a relationship, it’s just too important to me to ignore.
Friend 7: A
Sharing the same values is fairly important to me. I’m not very politically active, that’s why I don’t feel like I have the right to say too much about this whole thing but if my boyfriend had an extremely different perspective on issues important to me, I can’t imagine that the relationship would work out long time – I think that it would probably just lead to conflicts. I’m not saying out opinions have to match exactly, but the principles should intersect.
I feel similar about friendships. Conflicts of opinion are okay but if they are too different the friendship will suffer. At least I couldn’t tolerate that forever. I would definitely begin to distance myself from that person, willingly or not. With friendships it’s relatively easy but I do think that it can be harder with family. A close family member of mine and I don’t have the same views and I do notice that we have become more distant because of that. I always try to be open towards different opinions but I do expect the other person to return the favour.
Friend 8: L
Politics shouldn’t influence any kind of relationships, whether it be romantic or platonic. I think that if one person is (or both are) politically active, it’s a matter of personal preference on where you draw the line. But personally, I don’t see any kind of issue with having different political mindsets, even if my partner would be politically active in the community.
As to how to approach a situation where both parties have different opinions – just don’t talk about it too much. I’m not saying leave it out completely, hey, respectful and non-judgemental discussions are fine by me, I mean look at us – we have discussions all the time and still get along. I’d even go as far as to say that those discussions are a reason why we actually get along so well even though we don’t always have the same opinion. We’re both very open people and I enjoy hearing your viewpoint, as you do mine. But in the case of a romantic relationship, don’t turn it into this huge thing in your relationship – that will just get in the way of things.
To sum up all of these statements: Most think you at least have to have similar views and mindsets when it comes to political in order for a relationship to work as they say a lot about the core values of the given partner. In friendships differences in opinion don’t seem to play as big of a role for the majority of my friends. Nearly all of them agree that maintaining a relationship with a person whose perspective is drastically different is rarely possible, if not impossible.
A few prefer to have matching opinions, yet aren’t bothered if that isn’t the case. One of my friends thinks that politics shouldn’t be an issue in relationships or friendships at all, though most do think that big conflicts of opinion can affect a relationship in the long-run. A few think it depends on how important politics is to the parties involved and see a difference if one of the people would be politically active.
Where do I stand?
Are politics everything to me? …..no. I do actually think that relationships can work as long as you stay respectful and open towards your partner’s opinion. I think if you have to ban politics completely from the relationship, you will have a hard time staying together long-term (but I’m not necessarily saying that it can’t work). But if both are willing to learn about and from each other and accept each others opinions without judgement, there is definitely hope. Challenging each other’s opinions can even be healthy for a relationship, communication is key. So maybe having discussions in a non-judgemental and tolerant environment is exactly what it takes in order for a relationship to work out.
Where I would be concerned is when I’m planning to start a family with someone who represents a completely different party or opinion. At least the core values should be congruent or else there will be a lot of conflicts regarding how to raise the child you’re bringing into this world.
As for friendships – I have a few friends that don’t share similar views and I still count some of them to be amongst my closest friends. So to me, it’s not a big issue. Again, both should respect each other’s views and not try to change them. I actually like when people challenge my opinion because it forces me to articulate mine. I also think that you learn a lot about being open and understanding why people think the way they do. Listening is definitely key when it comes to any kind of relationships where there is a conflict of opinion – hear each other out and don’t jump to conclusions or judgement.
I am genuinely interested to read some of your opinions, so please leave them down below. Always remember to be respectful of other people’s opinions in the comment section 🙂
Do you agree with any of my friends opinions? Why (not)? Do you have examples of relationships / friendships not working out because of politics? What about examples where it works despite of them?
18 thoughts on “Having different political opinions”
This is so great, I believe you can have a relationship with someone with a different view, as long as, like you said, you respect each other’s opinions and know that there is that area where you don’t agree. I think people can get really caught up in politics sometimes, and I understand believing something and defending it, but I don’t think hating people on the other side of the issue is the way to go about it either. Great writing! I really enjoyed reading this!
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Thanks for sharing your opinion! I completely agree with you – politics nowadays is SUCH a touchy subject, even more so than before. It causes so much tension between people! Like you, I don’t think hate is the right way to go about things. Aw thank you, so glad you enjoyed it 🙂
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This is a great idea for a post and a great topic for discussion, and something I personally feel very strongly about. A person’s political views show who they are as a person and the morals they have – if someone does not have the same political views as me (not exactly the same of course, but on a similar wavelength) then there’s no way I can be friends / romantically involved with that person. If they support something that I’m horrified by, how could I ever get along with them? If they supported trump or were racist / homophobic / didn’t believe that police brutality was a thing / agreed that children should in fact be locked in cages and stripped away from their parents in America / was against abortion – there’s no way I’d even want to speak to them, absolutely no way. It sounds dramatic but I’m not about to try and create relationships with people who think women should stay in the kitchen or that black lives don’t matter. Absolutely no way. You either have the same political views as I do (again, doesn’t have to be word for word exact, but on a similar wavelength) and we get on, or you don’t have the same views as I do and therefore show me you’re a shitty person with awful morals. Glad you raised this topic, thanks for sharing this .xx
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It doesn’t sound dramatic at all, I agree with you all the way. If someone had extreme views that so against the core of my beliefs and my morals, I couldn’t imagine getting along with them. I guess for me it’s also a matter of what they actually support because if I don’t deem it as “bad” then I am actually quite interested to learn what exactly they believe in and why. But I think there does have to be some correlation in their views and mine. Show me that you have similar values and morals and I’ll be happy to form a friendship/relationship with you. Happy this was something that you could relate to, thank you so much for sharing your own perspective!
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I believe that core values, morals and beliefs have to be the same to feel close to someone in a relationship. I believe more and more in this from being in a relationship with someone who passionately stands for the things I do too. Not to say everything is the same and we actually debate and learn from each other frequently which is cool. The biggest thing that opened my eyes to this is the fact that my boyfriend is vegan like me – I found it difficult dating people who weren’t willing to consider what that belief meant to me. So I guess as long as the central ideas are the same debating the details isn’t going to be a deal breaker!
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Ahhh your comment sums up my own opinion so perfectly. Acceptance and respect are key, even if some views might not be identical! Thanks for stopping by and sharing your opinion with me! Hope you have a great summer, Alys! x
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This was such an interesting post to read Fiona! I think for me, personally, I’ve definitely had friends who’ve had seriously opposing political views than I have, and while it’s not a huge defining factor, it certainly is reflective of ways they act and react in other scenarios that helps me understand them a bit better.That said, I’ve been very easily turned off being even friends with someone, based upon political views they may have. If I find out that someone believes they’re above someone based on their gender or skin colour or religion, then I have absolutely no problem distancing myself from them. I’m someone who gets incredibly passionate when talking about some of my political views, especially those that have some sort of human rights impact, so if I were in a relationship with someone who didn’t share the same beliefs as I did, I genuinely can’t see myself being in that relationship long-term. A lot of the time you generally find that political views and opinions are a reflections of what type of person someone is. This was a great post girl xx
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I totally get that. It’s the same for me too. It depends on the political opinion and WHY they have it. We’re someone to be racist, homophobic, etc. I would have absolutely no interest in having anything to do with them. And yes, oftentimes political views do say a lot about the person and their morals. I try to keep an open mind as much as I can and not judge everyone straight away as I do have quite a few friends that for example lean more right-wing (leftie here). And as long as they can explain why they choose to support a party and I can understand their reasoning, I don’t really have a problem. Quite a few don’t support every single aspect of a certain party and I’ve definitely seen that reflected in my friends. I think it’s all about being open and communicating honestly and being eager to learn something about each other. Thanks girl, happy you liked this! xx
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How do you come up with such amazing topics to post about. It’s like I didnt even know something mattered to me as much, till I read your post about it, and I’m just left thinking like hmmm it does actually matter to me.
This was a really interesting post to read, and I think political opinions do matter in some ways, and don’t in others. If it’s an opinion very central to my attitude system, I’d like my boyfriend to have the same opinion. But if it’s an opinion that’s peripheral to the system, I won’t bother as much.
I agree with a lot of your friends when they say that having the same values matters. Because having the same ideas about right and wrong would lead to lesser arguments. Most of all, I think diplomacy and communications matter most in the relationship so that you’re able to work past political opinions.
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THANK YOU SO MUCH! Seriously, it means the world to me that my content can actually provoke thoughts all around the world – and it’s even more rewarding to read those thoughts!
I soooooo agree with you. Obviously I could never be friends with or date someone who supports radical movements and opinions like racism, homophobia, slavery,..etc. But if someone were to vote for a different political party or we just had some minor differences regarding politics and our core values and morals aligned, I’d be willing to listen, respect and learn about why they think the way they do. Like you said, communication is KEY to making a relationship work. It’s all about being open and non-judgemental towards different opinions and trying to understand the other person.
OK, firstly this is an incredibly creative topic. Kudos to you.
I think political opinions don’t matter as long as one of the partners are not actively partaking in political activities.
Politics for the average person, is just a way of continuing a conversation. Just leaving your possible life partner just because he supports other ideologies than you is at the best, misguided.
But if political views are very important to you, then of course you will need someone in your life with the same political views.
But in my opinion a factor like politics shouldn’t get in the way of a relationship. You guys will have other problems to deal with.
Oh, also I have a case study here:
My great aunt used to support communism, and even founded a party to further her cause.
Her husband was a supporter of democracy,and used to support the party opposing her.
They are still happily married
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Honestly, thank you so much! It was a long post to write and do my research on, but I really enjoy writing more in-depth posts.
I see your point. The more the people are actively involved in politics, the touchier the subject can be. I think it also depends a lot on the two people involved; are they open and willing to listen to and respect their partner’s opinion? Or will they feel like they can’t talk to their partner about the topic? Where do you draw the line when it comes to unacceptable views? For example, I could never have any sort of relationship with someone who is a white supremacist or homophobic – those would be differences I couldn’t get past. I guess there’s a lot of factors that are essential and very subjective too.
I love your example! There are so many couples out there who make their relationship work despite of having different views on certain issues. I’d love to talk to one of those couples and listen to what they have to say about the whole subject.
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Okay Homophobia and White Supremacy are quite extremist views. In a world where equality (or should I say equity?) and respect are promoted these views don’t really have their place. In cases of extremist views the relationship will not last.
See, I don’t think it’ll matter much (it’s either experience or inexperience speaking here) if one partner doesn’t support their partner’s political view. As I said they are in relationship because of their mutual feelings and not political views.
This is very interesting, do more political posts!
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But don’t you think there should at least be acceptance for their individual views between both people? You don’t have to support it but I would think that if you can find it in yourself to respect it (and that your partner is entitled to his/her own opinions) it would make it a little easier on both ends.
I’ll try and see what I can come up with. I was a bit apprehensive at first to write anything political because obviously I don’t want to offend anyone whose opinion might be different than mine. But I really do enjoy writing these posts and this one has gotten great feedback, so I might do more.
Yes true it would make it a lot easier on both ends but it is not nessecary.
Yes more political posts please
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GIRLLLL YOU SPILL THAT DAMN TEA! I loved this post (and it’s so brilliantly relevant at the moment too). Would you mind if I possibly stole the idea (with credit, of course)?
On first thought, my instinctive reaction to the question was “no, difference in political opinion don’t matter too much to me”. One of the characteristics I pride myself on is being open-minded and, being a mixed race girl, I come from two VERY culturally different families. Different races, different cultures, even somewhat different social classes. I can very much understand people’s differing opinions and experiences; like I said, it’s something I really like about myself that I can be empathetic and understand that my opinion is just an opinion and that it being mine doesn’t make it right.
I thought about my parents; my dad is a strong Tory, my mum a strong Labour supporter.
(Just remembered you don’t live in Britain; Tories are stereotypically rich, middle-class white people who live in nice areas, want things to get more expensive, want to cut back on public funding; Labour is the “party of the people”, they’re all about reducing tuition fees, etc.
The two of them can discuss politics happily and it causes absolutely no divide; there’s been no issues with them raising us. And I – very naively – thought “well, often, our politics have the same drive – we just want to go about it differently.”
For example, my dad is a Tory, not because we’re rich (we’re not) or because he wants to privatise the NHS (he definitely doesn’t) – but because of the OPPOSITE of those things. He’s a Tory because, as he puts it, the government NEEDS money for things like the NHS; money doesn’t grow on trees and the only way we can spend it is if we have it. So he supports their policies of cutting back public funding because we don’t have the money to spend, so labour’s promises (in his mind) are completely empty. He thinks keeping tax prices at the level they are is a good idea, not because it avoids him paying more in tax (again, we really aren’t rich) – but because if rich people are taxed more, all they’ll do is move their money abroad. If businesses are taxed more in the UK, they’ll set up shop somewhere else.
(I’m not going to go into my mum’s reasons of supporting labour because…well, it’s Labour. They’re beloved.) But the point is: we can all accept everyone’s political differences because they’re coming from the same moral place. Then, I thought about HOW DAMN NAIVE THAT IS. Because Labour and the Tories, while we may tout them as polar opposites, are basically friends compared to the kind of polarising political opinions of UKIP and SNP. Of Republicans vs Liberals.
And as much as I can understand other people’s points of view – there are some opinions I cannot stomach. If someone supports UKIP, we cannot be friends. If someone supports Donald Trump, we cannot be friends. If someone supports a political party that speaks to their moral code and character, a party that’s main policies are designed to oppress another people, then it’s a definite deal breaker.
(SORRY FOR HOW LONG THIS WAS, I JUST REALLY ENJOYED YOUR POST BBY ❤ )
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AAHHH THANKS MIA, MEANS A LOT. And of course you can write a post about this topic, I personally would love to read an extension of your own opinion!
It’s a very conflicting topic, isn’t it?! I feel like it has so many dimensions to it, so many factors that can play a very significant role depending on the situation, the people and their preferences and other details. If I have learnt anything from simply thinking about this whole subject, talking to my friends about it and coming to my own opinion, it’s that to me it’s all about setting some sort of invisible line. There are simply opinions that I cannot stomach (as you put it). I feel like that’s when you have to ask yourself where you personally draw the line. What opinions and views matter to you, which ones would you be willing to learn about and which ones can you not tolerate under any circumstances. And I love love love long comments, it means I am definitely sparking a conversation, so thank you for taking the time to read this post and then share your own thoughts on it! You are too lovely xxx