A couple of months ago I found a guy who I thought was “the one”, as in settle down and get married “the one”. We’re a match for each other in every way except politically. I’m fiercely liberal and he’s deeply conservative. It’s literally a Bernie Sanders vs Donald Trump situation. As a result we avoid talking about anything political because when we do we just end up in a huge fight. I love him but I’m concerned that this political divide is too wide for us to build a bridge across. I’m also worried that a gay man who supports Trump is hiding a big chunk of self-loathing. What should I do?
A Hunka, Hunka Bernie Love
My friend you are proof that love really can conquer all! Or almost all…
Mixed-politics relationships can work. No doubt you have family members or maybe friends who don’t share your political views and you make it work. But that’s just family and friends. A mixed-politics romantic relationship, however, is a trickier matter.
Romance requires an additional degree of intimacy and co-operation, and a successful marriage means both parties need to be working in unison, or at least in sync, most of the time. Look at how hard it is to get Democrats and Republicans to work together in US politics at the moment. Now imagine them being married to each other. That would be a challenge.
There is no way I can provide advice without sounding a bit judgmental about your paramour’s politics – mainly because you’ve told me you’re a proud liberal so you’re the yardstick I have to judge him by. But also because Donald Trump is an orange bag of insane so anyone who would vote for him is equally dealing with some crazy of their own.
Our political beliefs are shaped by our worldview and behind the Sanders and Trump masks that’s what this really is – a clash of outlooks. It’s always best to boil down differences of outlook to specifics. It’s possible he admires something about Trump – his supposed business acumen for example – but doesn’t buy into the rest of it so maybe he’s not a lost cause. Were there specific issues that the two of you argued about? If so what were they? Abortion? Immigration? Gay marriage?
If the two of you are on opposite sides of the last one then your dream of marrying him is unrealistic – you’d have a hard time dragging your “no gay marriage believing gay man” to the same sex altar. If you differ wildly on abortion then you are likely to have different takes on women’s rights in general. If it’s immigration then perhaps your ideal guy has certain feelings about ethnic groups. I don’t want to come out and say he’s racist but then again, Trump himself wouldn’t dance around these matters – he’d just call your man a homophobic, misogynistic, racist pig. Then he’d do that weird thing with his face that makes him look like a melting Cabbage Patch doll.
If you had told me you were a liberal supporting Sanders and he was voting for Ted Cruz my immediate advice would be to run for the hills. Because Cruz.
What makes Trump so successful is that he’s so serpentine that he’s difficult to pin down and, therefore, to measure. For example, he’s come out both for and against gay rights. Maybe this is why your guy can support Trump – because he’s clinging to some of the lies that the Donald has told?
But I’m going to tell you to run for the hills anyway, right? This guy supports Donald Trump after all! Actually, no I’m not advising you run. Not yet anyway.
First, make sure your view of “the one” isn’t being clouded by sexual attraction. In the past I’ve ended up with men who were completely wrong for me because he was great in the bedroom, or because he was so hot I considered him a trophy that would impress others. I’m saying this because most “fiercely liberal” people I know would not even consider someone “deeply conservative” as a potential partner.
Second, this “don’t talk politics” thing is giving you a false honeymoon. The two of you should totally talk politics whenever it comes up. Talk, fight, scream, argue, debate, shout – go for it! You’ve both been suppressing your true nature and that won’t work in the long term. Maybe allowing the politics to happen naturally will result in the relationship imploding or running its course. Or maybe you’ll find some common ground to bond over and build upon – and you need some common ground or else moving forward will be fraught with potholes and pitfalls.
Get his frank positions on any trigger issues that matter to you – gay marriage, abortion, immigration, Madonna vs Gaga etc. No couple will agree on every issue. But we need to be able to agree on enough to forge a relationship.
How he, and you, handle the arguing will give you clues on what to do next. Remember disagreeing is fine but the two of you need to respect each other’s beliefs. If he is belittling you about your political positions or bullying you to accept his – which would be a very Donald thing to do – then think carefully about whether this thing has a future. But if he really is a self-hating, woman-hating, racist then you should jump off that Trump-stumping chump immediately. Bump that lump with a breakup jump!
In ASK HIMSICAL Kyle Kairouz tackles your questions, providing lighthearted, but thoughtful, answers. Got a question? Let Kyle know!