Living between right and left

Illustration by Aleah Green

Most college students are well aware of what political party they follow and what their beliefs are. For myself, I knew I always had liberal views and there was no way I could ever consider myself to be conservative.

I have never imagined myself to be in a relationship with someone who has conservative views. I always imagined myself dating someone who feels strongly about the same things I do. A little more than a year ago, this completely changed.

I did not find out he was conservative until about two months into dating. At first, I was extremely taken back and wondered how I would continue on with the relationship. As the relationship progressed, there were several instances where our roommates would discuss politics and their views and it would lead to a heated argument or with myself hurt, confused and offended.

For a while, it was hard to deal with the idea. I knew how many Republicans felt about Hillary Clinton and the people who voted for her. I did not like the idea that maybe my boyfriend did not have respect for me for this reason alone.

We decided to have a talk after a very opinionated discussion occurred at his house. I did not contribute to the discussion, and everyone who did was Republican. I am a white woman, and everyone else in the house at the time was also white. If I was a person of color, the discussion might have been different. I realized how much patience it would take in order to still have respect for my peers and to try to not get offended. I lasted about 10 minutes before I had to walk out of the room.

At the moment, I did not know how to feel after hearing Democrats being called “snowflakes,” or what insulted me the most, “lib-tards.” It was a terrible feeling, like the people I was friends with viewed me as idiotic or inferior. My boyfriend knew immediately I was offended and came to have a word with me.

After I explained why I felt hurt and disrespected, we decided we both have opposing opinions and there is never going to be a time when we will conform to the other beliefs. I know I would never change my view on LGBTQ rights or decide to be anti-abortion, and I knew he stood by the Second Amendment and military funding.

I am glad I am dating someone with opposing political views. Sure, two years ago I would have absolutely turned down the idea of dating someone who voted for Donald Trump, but now I am working to understand his reasoning.

There are times when I seriously wonder how my partner can support certain laws or especially the current president, I have learned more than I could have ever imagined about the Republican Party.

The same goes for my boyfriend. We are able to have calm discussions and can explain why we feel the way we do about certain issues. My respect has grown, and even though I still absolutely do not agree with many conservative beliefs, I have a better understanding of the reasoning behind it.