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It could be just me, but no matter where you reside, politics seems to be a hot topic right now. Politics used to be a relatively private subject, but it’s now being openly discussed amongst friends, family and even on dates.
Politics and religious views are usually the two subjects to avoid on first dates, but with politics being in the news what seems like every hour of every day across the world, it’s hard not to bring it up as a conversation starter!
I interviewed four top dating experts about discussing politics on dates and how to handle dating someone with differing political views.
It is not necessary to discuss your political views on a first date, as this should be more focused on learning and hearing enough about each other to get a sense of whether or not you actually want to pursue this connection. Too much too soon may eliminate people who would actually be interesting if things were taken at a slower pace. However, as things progress (hopefully they will), politics is an area you need to check out in order to determine compatibility. Maude & Phil Mayes, Authors & Dating & Relationship Experts
There are multiple layers to discussing politics. Discussing what is happening in the world politically is different than discussing your personal values. I believe that political views are private. Private does not mean secret. As we are dating, it’s appropriate to slowly, gradually and reciprocally share private information. As we share vulnerable details and they are handled with respect, safety, and trust then we build intimacy. Intimacy requires vulnerability.
This issue isn't so much talking about politics but rather HOW we talk about politics. If in early dating someone is judgmental or persuasive that may be a sign of their character or potential power differential in relationship. Carrie Krawiec, Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist
With the large number of controversial issues in front of us everyday, it can be tempting to want to share your views with others, perhaps passionately. I would suggest trying to focus your conversations on topics that are more personal that allow the two of you to get to know each other. If things go well between you, there will be time later to talk about your opinions and beliefs about how society should conduct itself. Dan Galperin, Founder, The Man Power Project
"Political views often illustrate how a person feels about the world in general, and are frequently a clue to core values."
Maude & Phil Mayes, Authors & Dating & Relationship Experts
Communication is a key in all relationships. Learn to practice active listening, speak from the "I", share how you feel, and do not argue over differences. Differing views are important to be able to accept, as we are all individuals, in and out of relationships. All people want to be accepted, acknowledged and appreciated. if you are kind and respectful you will find out much more about what is really motivating your date. It might be very rewarding to find out why they have a different political view than you do. Maude & Phil Mayes, Authors & Dating & Relationship Experts
Avoid criticism, contempt, defensiveness and stonewalling. These, according to John Gottman, are the 4 horseman of the apocalypse in relationships. Criticism is attacking the person. Contempt is using swearing, name calling, or eye rolling or other shaming gestures. Defensiveness is cross complaining, rebutting without listening. Stonewalling is shutting down. The appearance of all 4 is bad sign for any relationship.
The spirit of any conversation about differences should be in gaining understanding of where the other person is coming from. What values underlie their beliefs, where did these values come from, why are they important to this person. If the spirit of the conversation is to persuade the person to your side or away from their side then it is not conveying respect or acceptance.
It’s important to be honest if the most honest answer is "I don't feel comfortable talking about this at this stage of our relationship." Better than to allow someone else to talk if you are uncomfortable or to be deceptive and conceal your true values to please your potential mate. Carrie Krawiec, Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist
Redirect the conversation to less controversial topics. Ask questions about the other person - people like to talk about themselves. Dan Galperin, Founder, The Man Power Project
"You can agree to disagree."
Ken Solin, Date Coach, Writer & Author
Do not get into arguments over points of view. Do not raise your voice or become belligerent if your view is challenged. Do not hog the conversation, and do not under any circumstances stop listening to the other person. We have a favorite saying, "Be loving today, you can be right tomorrow." Being right all the time leaves you alone most of the time! Maude & Phil Mayes, Authors & Dating & Relationship Experts
"Judgement, criticism, persuasion, shame, force."
Carrie Krawiec, Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist
If you notice that you have differing views on politics, don't start an argument. Don't debate. Say (with a smile) "Maybe we should talk about something that we can agree on." Dan Galperin, Founder, The Man Power Project
Don’t waste time trying to change a date’s mind to agree with your politics. Ken Solin, Date Coach, Writer & Author
Not necessarily, but, political views do represent a lot about how the person relates in the world and can be a strong indicator of their basic core values. If they differ from yours, they can be true deal breakers, and if so, it’s best to get out; this is a relationship that won't work. However, make sure you have given it enough time to see if this is a true pervading mismatch in core values, and remember, actions must match words when assessing someone's core values. Maude & Phil Mayes, Authors & Dating & Relationship Experts
It depends on the person. If one of you is a political Ideologue, it may be. I think for most, it can be negotiated. The key is being respectful of those differing opinions. Dan Galperin, Founder, The Man Power Project
"I’ll never forget the nightmare dinner date I had with a woman who had strong opposing political views. By the time dinner came we were so angry that we both threw some money on the table and left by separate exits."
Ken Solin, Date Coach, Writer & Author
You have to have reasonable expectations in relationships when dating. You may have certain hopes when it comes to religious views, political views, relationship values, income etc. It is not likely that your partner is going to meet every single item but they may be close on some. Choose what is important to you. If religious affiliation is more important than political identity to you there may be room for acceptance or tolerance or letting go. If you are honest with yourself that you cannot accept someone of different political background than it is your choice and respectfully move on. Carrie Krawiec, Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist
All relationships become negotiations about important issues, but core values and beliefs are non-negotiable. Political views reflect core values and beliefs. Ken Solin, Date Coach, Writer & Author
Hi, I’m Lucy. I am a freelance writer, blogger and mum of two. I like wine, soya lattes and spending far too much money on my kids. My writing is...Read More
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