Pillow Talk: Political rifts in romance

Left or right, red or blue, donkeys or elephants. Every person has their own political beliefs, and sometimes, those do not match the opinions of the one they love. Many couples are strained because of tension surrounding the election. The results can also cause a rift when one person is inevitably disappointed and the other struggles with enjoying victory while being supportive. 

The American Psychology Association discussed the effectiveness of relationships that have different political party affiliations. They did not find voting similarity to be associated with overall relationship commitment, but imply that the differing viewpoints can create a more challenging environment.

A political party could be irrelevant to many when choosing a life partner as people often drift to others who are like-minded. Political affiliation is often linked to other values and behaviors. A study by Yale University showed with voter registration data that 70% of couples share affiliations, but couples younger than 30 have been more likely to have multiple party affiliations. 

“It’s possible a strongly identified young Democrat or Republican, for example, might shift a spouse who loosely identifies with a different party towards his or her favored party as the years go by,” the study stated. 

When relationships influence one’s beliefs and actions, it’s described by social psychologists as the social proximity effect. This idea focuses on how people develop habits and how they affect everyday behavior without the person realizing any change. The theory summarizes that humans are social and want to mimic the people they surround themselves with. It also states that a romantic relationship allows a lot of compromise and develops both sides of thinking. The effect will allow the one with the stronger opinion to influence their partner. 

This year has proven to be a stressful one, and the election added much of that stress. An NPR article stated 70% of U.S. citizens said the elections are a significant source of stress, and 77% shared they are concerned for their country’s future. The strain of this year has either torn relationships apart or brought them closer together. Regardless of the election’s outcome, people in relationships should strive to become closer to their partner and strengthen their bond, setting political strife to the side as much as possible.

The way couples can overcome these differences is to respect each other and their partner’s individuality. Loving someone includes loving all of them. A couple may not agree on everything, but that is an aspect that can keep a relationship interesting. One should support their partner through this time and remember there is beauty in our differences.