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Wellness > Sex + Relationships

What To Do If You & Your SO Politically Disagree

In such a turbulent political climate, people are finding themselves at odds with their loved ones. That’s right, there’s a good chance that even the most smitten couples don’t agree on all the serious stuff like religion and politics. No two partners can agree on everything of course, but what happens when you and your SO’s views are polar opposite? Is it time to call it quits? Before panicking over your romantic future, here are some things to consider before you distance yourself from your SO over ideological disagreements. 

Hear them out first and communicate.

Nowadays, when some people hear you utter even one opinion they don’t like, they shut you out. It’s never a good idea to do that to someone, especially your SO. If you find out that your SO supports someone you find problematic, or that they practice a different religion from you, for example, don’t reject them without hearing them out first. Be sure to resist the urge to reject or get angry with them because they deserve to be heard before they are judged by you, and vice versa. As always, communication is key to overcoming any disagreements in a relationship.

Don’t simplify them into a symbol of the opposing side.

The biggest risk with disagreeing with your SO is when you start to dehumanize them into a set of ideals. You fell in love with the complex being that they are, not their political party or religion. When you realize that you and your SO disagree on an issue, be careful not to automatically associate them with the extremes of the opposing side. You’re not simply a puppet of an ideology and neither are they. As you realize that you and your SO have contrasting opinions, remember they are still the person you were first interested in.

They can test your conviction.

You may think that every couple is supposed to agree on absolutely everything. Realistically though, no couple is a pair of clones. You are your own person with your own values, culture and beliefs––and so is your SO. You shouldn’t compromise your beliefs but stay open to hearing your SO’s perspective and maybe even changing your mind. When you and your SO argue often, it can usually end up where one of you just throws up their hands and says, “fine, you’re right,” even if they don’t mean it. If one of you gives up their convictions just to avoid conflict, then that itself isn’t a healthy relationship. So be sure to stay true to your beliefs, but ensure that the both of you are open to hearing and trying to understand one another. If you both give each other that chance to share and see the other’s point-of-view, then you already have a sweet deal with your SO that you shouldn’t want to break.

The personal could still be political.

Let’s be honest, some disagreements we take personally, and some we don’t care less. If you don’t take certain issues like social justice that seriously, then even if your SO’s views slightly oppose yours, it’s no big deal. These kinds of disagreements don’t impact you and your SO’s relationship directly.

However, knowing where to draw the line when it comes to politics is very important. Shereen Jeyakumar, a freshman at Florida Atlantic University’s Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine, believes that it matters more how serious you are about an issue, rather than just whether the two of you agree. “I think it depends on how core those values you disagree on are to your sense of self. For example, if you define your whole life on social activism surrounding your political ideology, it might be difficult to stay with your SO if he has opposing views. However, if what you disagree on isn’t that important to you, it’s totally OK to be with them as long as you’re respectful of each other,” Shereen says.  At the same time, if an ideological disagreement starts affecting your personal lives and your personal choices, then maybe you should start to worry. For example, if they interject on your personal choices, like going to a place of worship or taking birth control, then they are definitely overstepping their boundaries.

Related: 5 Signs Your Partner is Controlling 

Think about what you specifically disagree on.

Having ideological differences makes you think harder about what you believe. Exactly how deeply do you disagree from one another? For example, do you simply support a political party because your parents did or are there specific people you support for certain reasons? Think about what aspects of your ideology you strongly align with. Maybe you call yourself a feminist and your SO doesn’t consider themselves one. In the US, even people who don’t call themselves “feminists” still support many feminist causes­­––such as birth control accessibility and filling the gender wage gap.  Avoid boiling down your differing opinions to simply “who’s on what team” and think about the specific viewpoints you may share.

Focus on the views you share.

It’s highly unlikely that you and your SO disagree on every single thing. Something had to spark a connection in the first place! You might not agree on some pressing issues, but don’t lose sight of the views you actually share with your SO. If both of you still support the same pro-social justice causes, then having that in common will always bring you closer together. When you look to each other for new ways of thinking, that can make you a more well-rounded and loving couple. At the same time, focusing on the values you share can remind you of what makes the two of you click in the first place. At the end of the day, the goal is to love your SO in all their entirety, differences and all.

It’s their morals that matter.

You and you SO disagreeing on political issues isn’t the end of the world because lots of the time, you and your SO have the same goals, but have different strategies for achieving them. You both usually just want what is best for not only yourselves, but for other people. In this case, you and your SO’s morals line up; you both want to help all types of people, even if you disagree on how to do so. But if your SO’s views make you question their morals, that is a serious problem. You and your SO’s moral compasses should align closely, otherwise the both of you will have a tough time fostering a loving relationship where you both want to reach the same goal. Rachel Minkovitz, a senior at Bates College, is more concerned about her SO’s moral choices rather than just their political ones.

“There’s a difference between having differences in political beliefs and having differences in moral beliefs, and that’s probably where I’d have the biggest difficulties dating an SO who differs from me. Having an SO who doesn’t share my ideologies in so far as human rights and social justice would probably be a dealbreaker for me, because I know that would only lead to a lot of conflicts if I was always trying to convince my SO to fight for causes they didn’t believe in,” Rachel says. Morals are what makes us human after all, they’re central to our identities and they define the way we love other people as well. If you want to share your heart with someone, then your morals have to match with theirs in order to really give true, whole self to your relationship.

“My social justice activism is really important to me and to who I am, especially because of parts of my identity, so dating someone who isn’t of the same belief system would be really difficult, since I generally debate people on these topics, and while I often enjoy the debates, they can be draining,” Rachel says. If you and your SO’s morals don’t match up, it’ll be hard to stay with them and understand them in the long run.

Consider your loved ones’ opinions on your relationship.

If you realize that you and your SO are still meant to be, despite your differences, then that’s wonderful! But maybe your friends, family and peers don’t agree. Friends and close family members tend to have similar views as you, so they may be put off by your SO’s different viewpoints. If your liberal loved ones call you out for being with your conservative SO, then be sure to hear what they have to say.

“If your friends don’t agree with you dating your SO because of his/her views, you definitely should reflect and try to understand why they would feel that way in case they’re seeing something wrong in your relationship that you’re not,” Shereen says.

Think about their opinions but remember, you know your SO best. If you believe your buddies might be jumping to conclusions, reassure them that you and your SO still understand and love each other. At the end of the day, it’s your relationship and if you’re happy with your SO despite your differences, then, in this case, your opinion matters most.

Having contrasting ideological views can seem off-putting at first, especially since we’re so trained to believe that we have to be with someone who thinks exactly like we do. But differences in opinion can be a good thing in a relationship. No matter what political party you support or religion you practice, always try to be with someone who is willing to listen, respects what you believe and even admires your dedication to those beliefs. With these tips, a healthy, exciting, and dynamic relationship is totally possible for you and your (ideologically different) boo.

Iesha Ismail studied as a double major in English and Women's Studies at the University of Florida. Iesha is the High School/Her Future editor, a Feature Writer, and Style Blogger for Her Campus National. She was also the senior editor for Her Campus UFL and senior content editor for UF's Sparks Magazine. She is currently working in editorial for a financial research publication firm, and a guest contributor for Muslim Women Professionals. Iesha loves to observe nature and fashion as inspiration for all kinds writing she's into. Fashion, culture, drawing, and animation are just a few of the passions she plays with on the daily. Whether it's writing colorful stories or sketching in her worn out sketchbooks, Iesha always dabbles in anything art.