Navigating Choppy Waters: Tackling Politics on a First Date

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All that precious time you have spent on dating apps has finally paid off–you are going on a first date with someone you dig. They tick off all of the right boxes: employed, good-looking, funny (so far), and you are excited to see if you two hit it off in person.

And you do! The date is going really well… like, really great. The conversation is flowing; no awkward lulls there, you’re attracted to them, and the vibe is perfect. When all of a sudden *record scratch* they bring up something political.

You knew it was too good to be true! What if they are on the opposite side of the political spectrum? Your mind begins to race as you rattle off all of the “what ifs” before they’ve ended their sentence, because, let’s face it, politics is a very touchy subject these days.

Now hold on; it doesn’t have to end badly. Before you start signaling the bartender for your tab and making excuses for why you’re bailing early, we found some tips for handling political discussions on a first date.

Bipartisan Benefits

Traditional dating advice is that you should never discuss religion, past relationships, or current politics on the first date. Unless you met on a conservative or Christian dating app, that is: you pretty much know where you both stand. 

But these are all important topics if you want to get to know another person, and with politics literally taking over every facet of life, isn’t it good to know where your date stands on them? Maybe not on the first date, that’s fair, but if you see a future with the person, you’re going to have the political discussion sooner or later.

And if they are bringing up politics on the first date, it looks like it will be sooner. Stay calm–it is possible to talk about politics in a reasonable, measured way. 

The Inner Circle, an exclusive dating app, studied its users to see how comfortable people felt discussing politics during a first date. In fact, most singles (62%) are open to discussing political topics on the first date.

Dating expert Julie Spira wholeheartedly agrees with getting political on the first date. “Even though bringing up politics early on while dating may seem too personal, you’re better off just ripping off the Band-Aid,” Spira tells Elite Daily

“For the first time, differing politics has become the number one deal-breaker in relationships,” Spira, author of Love in the Age of Trump: How Politics is Polarizing Relationships, says. “Since politics is so much more than supporting a party, and the issues at stake are severe, [dating success] really comes down to finding someone with shared values.

“If your partner doesn’t feel the way you do about women’s rights, children separated at the border in cages, and healthcare, your values won’t be aligned,” Spira continues. “If you prefer to have a date in a politics-free zone, then treat it the same way as if someone starts to talk about their ex,” Spira explains. “I recommend politely, saying, ‘Oh, I don’t talk about politics until the third date,’ and smile or wink at your date.”

“You might also end up dating someone who you disagree with on certain issues, but align with on core values. Finding a compatible date doesn’t mean you should only be interested in a mirror version of yourself,” Spira offers. “Learning another point of view can enrich your life, and having a lively political debate, as long as you’re not attacking each other, could make for an interesting night on the town. You’ll know in your gut who feels like a good fit politically and who doesn’t.” 

Do yourself a favor, and don’t be shy about bringing up politics on a first date, no matter how attractive and engaging your date is.

 It might make things uncomfortable for a moment, but you’ll thank yourself later. It may be awkward at first, but you’ll be glad you did it in the long run.

Follow These Guidelines

Do Your Best to Listen, Even if You Disagree

This is the first thing I want to make clear: it is the most difficult, at least for me. People shouting over one another and interrupting the moment they hear anything they don’t like is a regular thing on news programs and in real life. 

If politics come up during a first date, it’s imperative to listen, but this is, of course, true of any conversation. How someone responds in an argumentative situation is reflective of how they will behave in any disagreement.

What makes you believe that someone who won’t listen to you when you’re defending your position on women’s rights on a first date would listen to you when you’re trying to explain why you want to book a vacation at the beach instead of skiing in the Alps later on when you’re in a committed relationship?

You’re on a Barstool, Not a Soapbox

On a first date, you should not make another person a prisoner of a lecture. There isn’t a single person on earth who enjoys being preached to (unless they are seated in a pew on a Sunday).

When we become excited about a topic, we often speak before we think, so it’s crucial to practice the art of polite listening so that your lips don’t outrun your thoughts.

Don’t Try to Get Them on Your ‘Side’

Bless your heart if you believe you can change anyone’s mind about their political views. If your date has strong political opinions, you almost certainly won’t be able to see it from your point of view. It makes no difference how knowledgeable you are or how well-researched your position is: it’s not gonna happen.

TBH, a robust political debate is more likely to leave you both more confident than ever that you’re right. A good discussion includes constructive criticism and polite disagreement, yet it manages to end on a pleasant note for all parties involved.

Avoid Politics Altogether

And finally, there’s an argument for not talking about it just yet. We discuss politics with individuals ranging from our colleagues and friends to our parents and even complete strangers on the internet. 

During a date, when conversation and connection are most important and why you met up in the first place, it may be best to put a pin in your political beliefs for an hour or two.

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