If you’re single and currently in the dating scene and even relatively involved in what’s going on in the world, chances are you’re encountering some uncomfortable political questions in your dating schedule these days. Usually these questions come in three forms:
- The blunt ask. “Are you a Democrat or a Republican?”
- The coded none-of-your-business question. “Who are you voting for?”
- The even more coded and you’re not sure how to respond question. “So what do you think about Obama/Romney?”
Given the fact that elections these days stay right around the 50% voting mark, you’ve likely got a 1 in 2 chance of answering any of these questions “correctly” by the standards of your date. That’s why I’d advocate a total ban on political talk on dates – at least the first few, until you get to know someone.
Here are my tips for avoiding (and later including) political talk in your dating cycle:
- On a first or second date, if you’re asked a political question, calmly say, “I’m sure we can find something more fun to talk about. Tell me about your favorite restaurant in the city.” Deflecting is often easy when you’ve just met someone.
- On the third or fourth date, you might need to be a little more honest and combine that with some diplomatic language. Try something like, “I find politics fascinating, but I don’t know if it’s dinner conversation. Are you reading any good political books lately?” By talking about books or magazines, you might be able to gauge their political affiliation without getting into a debate.
- After a few weeks and quite a few dates. This is the point you’d better find out if you’re on the same side or opposite side of the political spectrum. Relationships on opposite sides of the aisle can work, but only with acceptable boundaries in place. Rather than talking about politicians or votes, perhaps talk about issues saying something like, “I feel strongly about (insert issue here). I don’t want to get into a debate, but I wonder what your thoughts are on that topic.”
- When you’re committed. I think James Carville and Mary Matalin have it right. Rumor has it, they have only one room in their home where they’re allowed to talk politics. If either of them doesn’t want to talk, they just don’t go in that room. Whether you’re on the same side or opposite sides of the spectrum, talking politics can be cumbersome to any relationship. So give it a finite amount of time or space dedicated to it. For instance, I hate the pundit talk. I literally can’t handle it. So when the conventions were on, I agreed to watch the speeches with my husband, but if he wanted to watch the commentary afterwards, he had to do it on his laptop with earphones in. We had great discourse during the speeches and I was allowed to form and keep my own opinions without Wolf Blitzer weighing in.
Political talk and relationships can be a sore spot for many. So tread lightly and set good boundaries early, and you’ll be successful in the long haul, even if you have different beliefs.