Dear Wayne and Wanda,
I've been dating the same guy for almost a year, and with the recent elections, he's started bringing up politics more and more. I try to avoid the topic because I'm not as passionate about it. When I told him I voted differently than him, he flipped out.
I immediately felt bullied and wish I had just lied. I don't really care that we disagree, but I feel like it might be a deal-breaker for him, which doesn't seem fair considering how great we get along otherwise. Any advice?
Wanda: This election was emotionally rough -- and not just for the candidates. Facebook feeds filled with ranting diatribes and toxic arguments, go-to news sites offered ongoing streams of electronic updates, and television promised no escape. With this barrage of activity reaching a Roman Forum-level frenzy, it's no surprise politics started seeping into our relationships, too.
Early on in a relationship -- and I mean the first few dates, weeks and maybe even months -- there are a few topics you can avoid. For example, I prefer a little wooing before he uploads his entire romantic backstory. Religious beliefs can be deeply personal and potentially divisive. Politics, too, have the ability to sink your love boat, even as you've just set sail.
Yet avoiding conflict doesn't alleviate it, and at a certain point you have to talk about these things and decide together whether you can agree on compromises that support companionship. Some people, for instance, are committed to marrying within their spiritual faith, while others don't make that a priority. Others are so politically passionate that they can't imagine truly loving someone who sees the world in a different way.
Your boyfriend may fall into that category -- or he may have just been fired up about the elections. I suggest you find out, sooner than later. You're a year into this guy, and well into the territory of exploring these touchy but significant topics. No matter what happens, you should be with someone who doesn't leave you feeling that lying about your beliefs is a concession you must make in order to get along and be happy.
Wayne: Sounds like it's time to vote this guy out of office -- and out of your life. You might be perfectly capable of having dialogue about candidates and issues without completely freaking out, but your hearing-all-sides, agree-to-disagree attitude will never fly in your boyfriend's narrow-minded world.
It's sweet of Wanda to point out that this year's election cycle was more in-your-face than any we can remember, and that constant buzz certainly added stress in the daily lives of political junkies and the politically indifferent alike. But your problem isn't a political -- it's personal.
Your boyfriend's bullying leaves you with the following options every election season: be yelled at and coerced for speaking your conscious, vote in his favor to get him off your back or lie about your votes and feelings. Not exactly what our forefathers envisioned. And if he's mean enough to pick on you, he won't have a problem playing political tough-guy around your family and friends. Happy Thanksgiving!
Wanda and I have been working on a Dating Deal-breakers column for a while and -- spoiler alert! -- politics ranks extremely high in the polls. (Request to readers: please email us your top deal-breakers for column consideration.) Sure, some relationships can survive or thrive in a heated political environment -- James Carville and Mary Matalin have made a fortune arguing. But I don't think you're wired for that and no one deserves to be bullied.
You have a chance to vote with your brain and your heart on this issue, and make a change you can count on. Dump the bully.
I'm Wayne, and I approve this dating advice.
• Wanda is a wise person who has loved, lost and believes in retail therapy. Wayne is a wise guy who has no use for therapy. Send them your questions and thoughts at firstname.lastname@example.org.