When we selected our March book club pick–Meet You in the Middle by Devon Daniels–we knew it was going to inspire some great conversation. Two hill staffers from different sides of the aisle falling for each other? Some people’s dream….some people’s nightmare.
But as a young politically-minded person in Washington, D.C., I’ve seen my fair share of cross-aisle romances. Some have resulted in beautiful marriages and families. Some have gone up in flames through subtweets and awkward cocktail parties.
In honor of this month’s book–which I hope you’ll read and discuss with us–I wanted to talk to some Republican and right-leaning women who have tried their hand at cross-political dating…some to better successes than others.
Readers, meet Emmalee, Jane, Kails, Ally, McKayla, Anonymous, Grace, and Georgia.
They all identify as right of center, but not all of them would call themselves a Republican.
Here’s what I learned!
Tell us about a time you dated across the aisle. How did you meet? How long did you date? Did politics come up a lot? Did you know you disagreed politically at the start? Tell us about the best argument you had, if you learned something, if you had any issues with attending political events, etc.
Grace: I dated a guy I met my sophomore year of college. We took a class together, became friends, and he asked me out at the end of the semester. We both knew at the beginning that we were opposite politically, so I was shocked when he asked me out despite that. We agreed on a few things, such as smaller government and lower taxes. At least, I think we did. He always said he liked me too much to argue with me. So, I am not sure what he actually thought on some things.
Emmalee: I met my ex at work. On our third date, he told me that he was a communist. As someone who is certainly not a communist, this was alarming. His ideology spoke for itself. His apartment was littered with trash, there were dollar bills all over the floor. He didn’t “care about money” is what he told me. He wasn’t going to college and he wasn’t working, and he didn’t care to take care of himself in the slightest. When I tried to explain that I had high hopes for my financial future and that I was working hard to afford a nice house and nice clothes, he spat on about me being “materialistic”. He was perfectly fine dating me, who was a closeted Trump supporter and certainly anti-communist at the time, but I couldn’t stand his inability to motivate himself and his lack of personal hygiene. When I broke it off I told him it was partially due to his ideology, and he denied ever having been a communist in the first place. His inability to take personal responsibility also really spoke for itself.
McKayla: I am actually currently dating across the aisle. We met in middle school and have pretty much been together ever since (with obvious breaks in between) but we are very much going strong now. Politics doesn’t come up a whole lot but it does sometimes especially with the climate of politics recently.
Jane: We met on a dating app. We talked for 3 weeks and dated for almost a month before I broke things off. It’s always safer for me to assume I don’t agree with my potential partners on politics because of the type of guys I tend to go for, so I did the same with him. I am very open about my politics and he was very closed off about his. He definitely was a Biden supporter but I didn’t really care all that much. Everyone is entitled to their own opinions and views. The only political conversation we ever had was about abortion, which is probably where I have the strongest stance. He was pro-choice and I am pro-life but we were very civil about it. We both definitely had done our research into the philosophy on both sides. I learned a little more about how to counter pro-choice arguments, but that was all I ever got from it.
Ally: I met my husband in college. We dated for about six years before getting married in 2018. He was a bit more apathetic/right leaning when we first got together. Bernie Sanders really changed his mind about politics in a lot of revolutionary ways. While I don’t agree with Bernie, my husband and I “work” because we have our shared Catholic faith that we know transcends politics. When he supports one of Bernie’s ideas, I know it’s because he has a very genuine desire to help people. And he knows the same about me when I support capitalistic ideals. We do have heated debates once and a while, but it always ends just fine. We are open to attending political events together too! Which is nice because my current career is working for a state party. Anonymous: Through mutual friends. We are still dating (going on three years!) politics comes up a lot, and sometimes we disagree, but it has helped us both understand different perspectives and we’ve both grown in our beliefs by having respectful discussions. I think it’s great and I prefer it to past relationships that were more or less an echo chamber.
Kails: All of my boyfriends have been from across the aisle and most of them just avoided the topic. But my ex boyfriend of 7 years and I talked politics all the time. I actually enjoyed debating with him and it’s one of the reasons we were attracted to each other. I’m very conservative and he was pretty liberal but we both did a good job of respecting the others’ opinions and having an open mind. I met him my sophomore year of college and through knowing him I became better at explaining my point of view. He also opened my eyes to see some things in ways I wouldn’t from my life and upbringing and vise versa. Honestly dating him made me a better person in so many ways, calmly discussing politics being one of them. In 2016 I was so worried to tell him I voted for Trump but he asked me one time why and I explained it and he never brought it up again. He was my rock when everyone else abandoned me due to my political affiliation. He always supported my going to events and talking about politics. He was always proud that I was educated, sassy, and opinionated. I used to think you had to agree politically to be a successful couple but I think you really just at your core have to have respect and open communication.
Georgia: My ex and I dated for two years. When we first met (on Twitter) we were both heavily involved in Republican politics, were the same religion and had many mutual friends in politics. As the relationship progressed, we grew older and we graduated from college, his views slowly became more and more socialist. He identifies as a “Christian Democrat” now, which is essentially a Democrat with conservative social views and extremely liberal fiscal views. At the same time that he was becoming more liberal, I was becoming more conservative. This was ultimately our demise, as we hardly agreed on anything anymore, and could barely stand to have a conversation without it turning into an argument. We couldn’t go five minutes without arguing about taxes, welfare, social security, universal basic income, etc.
If the relationship has ended, would you say that politics played a role in that? Please explain as much as you can.
Grace: I wouldn’t say politics played a role in it. We had some major differences in morals that I didn’t learn about until we’d started dating, so that is what caused the relationship to end.
Emmalee: My relationship with my commie ex certainly ended due to his politics. When your ideology allows you to evade personal responsibility and career aspirations, you might just be a communist.
Jane: Politics was one of the biggest factors in the break up but not because we had different beliefs. Because I am so open with my politics, he hid his views in order to preserve the relationship. I knew he was doing it, but that caused communication problems in other things. Ultimately we didn’t want the same thing out of the relationship, so I left
Kails: Yes and no. The relationship ended because we were too different in what we wanted from life. We loved each other but you have to agree on some basic philosophies. Our expectations just did not match. Politics was just one of the many things we did not agree on and when you look at a future and raising children together it just all added up to too much.
Georgia: Absolutely. We would probably still be together if politics didn’t exist. Politics is just such a big part of my life and something that I’m passionate about. If we fought that much about the federal government’s finances, imagine how much we would’ve fought about our personal finances.
Do you think you could happily marry someone who was a member of the other political party?
What would be your #1 piece of advice for dating someone who disagrees with you politically?
Grace: Don’t be afraid to talk about your views and debate a little bit. Your significant other needs to know what you think.
Emmalee: Don’t do it. It isn’t safe for conservatives to date leftists. I haven’t dated since I broke it off with him, as I have been threatened and spat upon many times by potential partners for daring to be fiscally conservative, pro-life, and many other things that are somehow so terrifying for leftists. Why would you date somebody who most likely will not respect you as an individual? It’s sad, but it’s true. With how polarized things are, the last thing that I want to do is come home after a long day of feeling isolated and under constant attack in my field of work (law, international policy) to somebody who believes in things that make my stomach churn. Maybe it was easier in the past. But right now, it’s near impossible.
McKayla: I would say to just be open minded and to accept the fact that you obviously won’t always agree but to make sure it doesn’t become a huge overreaching part of the relationship.
Jane: Respect their beliefs and make sure they respect yours. If one of you lacks that respect, the relationship will fall apart quickly. It’s honestly best to up and leave if that respect isn’t there.
Ally: You have to agree on values that you both believe are more important than politics. Religion is it for us. Anonymous: Communicate and respect. At the end of the day, a relationship is more than just who’s on the ballot and you can find a lot of common ground with people if you try and put yourself into their shoes.
Kails: Respect each other enough to hear each other out while really listening and be 100% honest. You’ll be miserable if your hiding things or don’t feel heard.
Georgia: Don’t. Seriously, don’t. Why would you want to be in a relationship with someone who doesn’t believe the child in your womb has rights? Someone who wants to throw all of your money away to the government? Someone who won’t defend your household with a gun if there was an intruder? Disagreeing in politics just means you’ll rarely agree on any of the most important beliefs.
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