They say opposites attract, so when I first met my now-ex (who was as babely as they come, and as charming as can be) I wasn’t even all that turned off when he shared his political views with me, despite mine being polar opposite.
I figured, ‘we’re young anyway, why should his varying views impact our undeniable connection and chemistry?’ And so, as we started spending all our time together – as most smitten couples do during that appropriately titled “honeymoon phase” – I missed the obvious warning signs that an adult woman should. not. overlook.
Namely, he was an avid Republican Party and Donald Trump supporter, often ‘liking’ and ‘commenting’ on the party’s Instagram posts, DM’ing me links to them with the thumbs up emoji, and yelling put-downs at the screen when comedians and talk-show hosts would discuss and mock Trump. On one memorable visit to our local library, he went so far as to hide a just-released, top-selling book bashing Trump in the midst of the stacks, so no-one could have access to ‘read that garbage and those lies.’
After a few drinks, he would go into tirades about why Trump is a great president, giving him praise for whatever the latest thing the media was mocking him about. Sometimes he would discuss his love for Ford brothers, and even went into a whole spiel calling Justin Trudeau “disgusting,” after the Prime Minister said that he’s raising his son as a feminist. But by that point, I was already well-versed in the art of tuning him out. Because I knew it was all I could do to keep our relationship intact.
Because here’s the thing, I truly loved him. And when you love someone, you often overlook things you really shouldn’t, things you’d really rather not admit are happening, so you can pretend to live in your seemingly picturesque fantasy life. And so his sexist, anti-feminist — at times even racist — comments fell upon deaf ears, because I literally tuned him out.
I learned how to nod my head in [what can be perceived as] agreement as he talked endlessly, whether it be about Trump, politics, or even bad-drivers “who should know better,” while I continued to read my book, lost in a totally different world. I told myself that as long as I blocked out what he said — or when I flat out told him to stop talking because I felt very differently and I’d like to avoid a fight — that everything else would be fine. And it was; until it wasn’t.
In a relationship, if two partners don’t agree, you need to agree to disagree if you want it to work. I noticed by tuning him out and actively not engaging (a.k.a. agreeing to disagree), I, myself, wasn’t a present partner. I was a passive one. And that realization didn’t sit well with me, because although blocking out what I didn’t want to hear (because it infuriated me) was all well and good for a time, it’s not a realistic way to make a relationship work.
I was blocking out what he was saying more often than not, because the truth is politics is something he’s passionate about. It came up daily, nightly, and especially after a few too many drinks, because it was something so central to his being. And that’s just not me. And that doesn’t make me better or worse, it just makes us maybe not the best match.
I do think that opposites attract, like when you’re an introvert and you partner with an extrovert who can help bring you out of your shell, helping you to grow as a person. But the discrepancies between him being so vocally opinionated and my method of using books as an escape from said opinions literally put a wall (mind the pun) between us. The only growing we were doing in our relationship, sadly, was apart.
I am a writer. I am a lover. My entire work and livelihood and passion is all about living an authentic life full of love, truth and loving-kindness, and sharing my learnings to allow others to, in turn, learn when it comes to dating and relationships.
But by silencing my opinions and feelings about things that mattered to me — whether it was politics, supporting women as equals or all the other things he and I differed on — I realized that I was blocking myself more than him. By staying silent out of fear of rocking the boat romantically, I lost my independence, and my voice, the very thing I pride myself on.
Removing myself from this relationship that was no longer serving me, was a necessary act of self-care. I still love him, and getting over the relationship will be no easy feat, but life is all about learning and growing and becoming the best version of ourselves we can be. Now I read my books out of interest and passion and not as an avoidance tool, and I’m more mindful of the role that politics can play in a relationship, so I don’t put myself in the same position again.