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Valentine's Day: Are Conflicting Political Views a Dating Deal-Breaker?

People speak about how much relationships can be affected by politics.

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Ankita, 25, broke up with her boyfriend after he passed a snide remark – “Studying Sociology at Delhi University is turning you into a feminist.”

Gender politics notwithstanding, her political ideology also stood gravely against his radical right-wing outlook, leading to bitter arguments that would often turn personal. The seemingly innocuous comment set off a chain reaction and led to the eventual end of the relationship.

In a 2021 survey, commissioned by Bumble and conducted by YouGov, 46% of respondents claimed they could not date someone whose political views were not aligned with theirs. 
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According to Gallup data in the US, in 2023, women aged 18 to 30 are now 30 percentage points more liberal than men in the same age group, and this gap has widened over the past six years. The study was also conducted in South Korea, the UK, and Germany. Although no data is available from India, the study states that there is a global political divide in urban centres emerging between young men and women that was not present before. 

For instance, Vidushi (name changed), 24, currently studying at a university in the US, also mutually parted ways with her partner after she realised that he thought, “all left-wing movements are left-wing terrorism.”

The decision to part ways was mutual as the gaping divide in their foundational values on politics would not be easy to bridge.

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Finding a Middle Ground

However, despite the data, things aren’t too bleak for 26-year-old Ishita and 27-year-old Aakif (names changed), who struggled initially due to their opposing ideologies, but Aakif now notes, “Earlier it used to be difficult but it was important to not lose trust and understand that change only comes through discussion.”

Ishita, on the other hand, admitted to having a lot of class and caste privilege, which led to her having to unlearn her set prejudices. 

People speak about how much relationships can be affected by politics.

(Photo: The Quint/Suchandra Bose)

While Ayushi, 27, and her partner, who are soon to be married, also have opposing views on politics. They lock horns often with Ayushi being more neutral to left leaning and his ideas being more conservative and traditional. Yet, they have found a middle ground to discuss these issues.

People speak about how much relationships can be affected by politics.

Another couple, Shreya (25) and her partner Snehashish (29) also struggle with keeping things objective. The conversations, if they are not in agreement with each other, turn volatile and they choose to not speak to each other at all – opting to later avoid conversations on the same.

People speak about how much relationships can be affected by politics.

(Photo Courtesy: The Quint/ SB)

No Resolution In Sight

But some relationships could not deal with the heat of politics, like Manya (name changed) and her former partner's. They were together for five years, but their conversations around politics would often turn sour.

She recalls that he would often pass derisive remarks, stating, "Do you even have anything concrete to say? Or are you just saying all of this because it is popular to be against the right-wing parties?"

She shares an example from one of her conversations on an issue.

People speak about how much relationships can be affected by politics.

Another couple faced a similar setback while navigating political discussions. Twenty-five-year-old Madhulika (name changed), while talking about her ex-partner, says, "He would always make it personal." She adds that all their conversations would end with him stating, "You do not have enough experience of the world." Unnecessary condescension or flat-out disrespect did not sit well with her.

Moreover, the arguments heavily derailed from the initial course of the conversation. Now that they have broken up, she states that she feels relieved.

People speak about how much relationships can be affected by politics.

Taking It Too Far

Shehnaaz's five-year-long relationship was marred with prejudices from her partner's end. His preconceived notions around Muslims, although often brushed under the carpet with his conservative, heavily right-wing background, turned an ugly head during conversations around politics and her faith was the weapon of choice.

They are not together anymore.

People speak about how much relationships can be affected by politics.

But How Relevant Is Politics Today?

Aakif, who is currently in an interfaith relationship with Ishita, seems to think the situation isn't positive for future couples with the world teetering on intolerance and an incessant need for homogeneity.

People speak about how much relationships can be affected by politics.

While Ashutosh, 27, who aligns with no specific ideology and supports any government which is doing "good work" for us, perhaps has a more hopeful outlook. He tells The Quint that mutual respect and the ability to not impose your views on others might help keep your future relationships intact. Otherwise, he believes that opposing political opinions would add "flavour" to certain relationships.

Misogynist undertones are often jarringly present during conversations around politics, especially for four of the ten women who have been interviewed. Ankita admits to becoming "emotional", while Madhulika (name changed) attests to being more "logical" during the arguments, but both their partners were condescending towards their views. Their partners' extreme political ideologies underlined their intolerance, which was reflected in the way they spoke. Remarks like, "You don't know enough" and "You are talking like a feminist" was common.

Heated conversations around politics also brought out religious biases in five of the ten people spoken to. Manya failed to adjust to her partner's prejudices. She adds, "It mentally drained me."

However, couples with opposing views who do not let their affection for each other get affected can sail through the murky terrains of having opposing ideologies. Compartmentalisation becomes key in navigating political debates when both parties refuse to relent.

In 34-year-old Kartikey's case, despite his ex-partner being heavily right-leaning and him being neutral, their opinions would sometimes clash, yet they bounced back from it. He clarifies that they did not break up because of their differing political opinions.

People speak about how much relationships can be affected by politics.

So despite present data, couples continue to exist (with or without harmony) with opposing views, although they seem to be the exception, not the rule.

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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