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17 May, 2006
The Politics of Love
Most of us have an image of the kind of person we want to date or marry, but dating sites like Act for Love and Love in War are now saying it's a good idea to add liberal or conservative to the usual list of requirements.
Years ago, I was introduced by a friend to a guy who seemed like a good match for me. He was an educated professional, charming, polite and not bad to look at.
Then he started to talk. He hates Hillary Clinton with a passion because she's an "emasculated female", and vows not to let (?!) his future wife use her maiden name professionally like Hillary does. He believes in deregulation for corporations and tax cuts for the wealthy. He disdains the poor because their plight "is their fault".
He ridicules environmentalists. He's homophobic, and won't live in San Francisco for fear of "being grabbed by a homo". He's a religious fundamentalist who believes Christians are God's chosen people to the exclusion of all others. Needless to say, it was over before we even got started.
I used to believe that love should conquer all, but the experience clarified something I didn't realize before: when it comes to romance, ideology is an important factor for me.
I suppose there are several ways to handle our differences. We can just bypass political discourse altogether to keep the peace. But politics is one of my favorite topics, and I can't imagine avoiding talking about it with a longtime partner.
I can try to convert him, but I don't think he'll appreciate the effort, just as I won't appreciate similar efforts directed at me. More likely than not, we will end up bickering about it, which won't make for a harmonious relationship. One of us can give in, but that builds resentment and can't be emotionally healthy for either one of us.
Finally, we can agree to disagree, like that famous red and blue couple James Carville and Mary Matalin, who after ten years and two children are still together. But they're more of the exception than the rule.
It's just easier and simpler to be with someone who's fits me ideologically. Just one more area of commonality to look for, in the same way that I have preferences when it comes to looks, temperament and attitude.
Do you think political beliefs is an important factor in one's choice of a mate?
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