I’ve been dating my boyfriend for nine months. Politics seem to be our biggest issue. He's a republican and I'm a democrat. I recently attended the Women's March with some friends and he's livid. My sign supported Planned Parenthood, and since he's a staunch pro-life person, he feels I want to kill babies. He also thinks I'm too vocal about my beliefs.
This guy means the world to me and I love him to bits. It sounds to me like he wants to break up, but I'm not sure, and I don't want to. What should I do?
Lena T. — Sacramento, CA
Please, break the fuck up already! “Politics” are not your biggest issue. You not being able to express yourself while being exactly who you are (and exactly who you are not) is the root of the trouble. It appears that the fundamental differences in your beliefs married with his dislike of you speaking your mind are killing your respect for each other, and respect is the cornerstone to any good relationship.
You say he thinks you’re too vocal about your beliefs. Well, it seems he’s been pretty vocal about his views, as well. Is it fair to say you’re in a relationship with someone who values what he thinks over what you have to say?
Even if you’re in the Big Mouth Club—I happen to be a card-carrying member myself—it’s important for us to be able to use the phrase, “I understand what you’re saying, and I respectfully disagree.” You don’t have to have the same viewpoint as others to love them and to be in healthy, happy relationships with them, but there does have to be space to be heard and respected on both sides. However, sometimes people’s values are so vastly different that they can’t make a relationship work—and there’s no shame in that.
Here are few things we should all ask ourselves during the dating process:
- Are we a good match?
- Do we agree on important issues?
- Can I be seen and understood for who I am?
- Is communication easy?
To put it bluntly (it’s coming from a kind place, though, I swear to you), you two are failing in this area. Sure, it’s easy when we all agree, but when we don’t agree, there still needs to be mutual respect and the opportunity for everyone to get a turn to share their views and feel heard.
One of the things I most appreciate in my relationship is that my partner empowers me. He is a champion of my self-expression, even when he disagrees with it, and regardless of his opinion, he has my back. I want that for you, too, because when it comes to building a lasting life together, this aspect shouldn’t be overlooked or traded for anything.