Dear V: How to deal with partisan divide in a relationship?

Dear V,

I’m having a problem with my girlfriend lately because she is having a hard time accepting my political beliefs. We are great in every other way, but when it comes to being open and tolerant about the other side, she just can’t have it. She puts me down and calls me stupid for thinking differently from her and she totally buys into the smears against my choice of candidate. And now that Obama won last night, she is giving me the silent treatment and says she’s ashamed of me. Are our differences irreconcilable? Is it possible to date someone’s whose political beliefs are so different from my own?

~In the Blues

Dear In the Blues,

Relationships are about a lot of things, and respect is definitely one of them. (Remember my last column?) Without respect for each other, problems begin to arise, as you have painfully experienced. It’s a shame that your girlfriend is unwilling to acknowledge this need to respect others’ opinions and continues to act so selfishly.

Take us for example. We live in a beautiful, wonderful, honorable country where politics is divided between the blue and the red, yet, in the end, we are able to come together as one nation with one purple heart. We are the United States of America, and that’s what matters. This agree-to-disagree attitude that colors our political tradition is what has enabled us to rise to greatness and to make it through the tough times as a country united.

Much as it’s possible for over 300 million people to achieve a relationship with each other as fellow Americans despite party differences, it’s possible to do the same within a romantic relationship. And it’s not even a rare thing! Look around and you’ll notice Republican-Democrat couples are everywhere. It’s normal, it’s bound to happen, and personally, I love it.

Your girlfriend appears to be having a hard time understanding this. Help her through her intolerance by showing her that it’s okay – more than okay, it’s wonderful – and necessary to accept that there will always be diversity in thought and that that should not be attacked. Instead, take it as an opportunity to learn something new and make a connection with someone whose ideas are worthy of respect, as are yours.

Furthermore, your girlfriend has to pick her battles. Clearly, her efforts have fallen on barren ground. Her harassment has not achieved anything in your relationship, except irking you to the point that you have come to question your ability to maintain the relationship at all. Politics is a really personal thing and whether we like it or not, it’s hard to change that past a certain point in our lives. To throw it all away over such pettiness is, well, simply petty.