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Liz Senn’s Women of a Certain Age: Do you like me? Check Democrat or Republican – Salisbury


Liz Senn’s Women of a Certain Age: Do you like me? Check Democrat or Republican

Published 12:00 am Saturday, November 12, 2022

A child of the 1980s, I’m still waiting for the cute boy in class to pass me a note. But as our social climate becomes increasingly polarized, current dating and relationship standards seem to demand a political manifesto upon entry.

This deepening gap brings tremendous changes to our daily lives, even affecting how we choose romantic partners and navigate long-term relationships.

The challengers – dating singles

You may like piña coladas and getting caught in the rain, but typically light-hearted online dating profiles are getting heavier by the swipe.

Dating apps have long offered party preferences as a filter for screening potential matches. But the crashing waves of a COVID-19 global health crisis, explosive elections and an attempted coup have created a dating tsunami of political exclusion.

“Must love dogs” now screams, “Let’s go, Brandon!” “Lover, not a fighter?” Only if you’re liberal. “Swipe the way you voted!” End of discussion.

A few minutes spent on local Facebook Dating and OkCupid profiles offered additional insight into singles’ political preferences. Names have been changed or deleted to protect the privacy (and love life) of the individual.

Right-wing conservatives – read my lips!

“I’m conservative, pro-gun, pro-Trump, and love my country,” announced Blane, age 48. “No Liberals.”

“Would like to find someone long term and build wealth together, which means I don’t date Democrats,” explained 35-year-old Terry.

“President Trump Supporter. Making America Great Again!” proclaimed Donald, age 55. “If you voted for Joe Biden, please pass on by.”

Leftist liberals – feel the heat!

“If you support Trump, swipe left,” said Jeff, 54. “I’m moderate, but we simply wouldn’t have the same world views.”

Craig, 45, cites “Trumpism” as having already damaged relationships with family and friends. “I despise Trump for seducing those closest to me with hatemongering and conspiracy theories,” he said. “So don’t think I’m going to let you bring more of that into my life.”

“Libertarian!” yelled Mark, 36. “Don’t tell me what to do or how to live my life!” Not sure if his comment was directed toward big government or potentially controlling girlfriends.

“I believe the conspiracy theory that aliens want to transport Trump back to the home world by UFO,” said Dan, 38. I eagerly swiped right, but Dan has yet to accept my marriage proposal.

Pundits – My friends weigh in

According to a study about how politics influence dating habits, political differences would make three out of five people dump their partner. However, the friends I polled prefer a more bipartisan approach.

“I’ve seen far too many profiles with, ‘Do not even think of messaging me if you voted for XXXX.’ Really?” said a Charlotte man friend. “Willing to eliminate roughly half of potential dates right off the bat?”

“I’m not concerned with my date’s politics unless they’re going to talk about it all night long,” said Gastonia gal pal.

“Differences are good,” stated a friend in Wilmington. “The issue is people taking everything so personally,” she said. “I skipped anyone on dating apps who mentioned loving or hating a politician or party.”

The talking head – full disclosure

As a dot-com dating veteran, I can attest that many online hopefuls are already angry about being single — cheating exes, gold diggers, rampant ghosting — and they’re not afraid to talk about it. Is the added layer of political passion sparking the flame? Or adding fuel to the fire?

My online profile reveals simply that I am a registered Independent. To reduce the noise, I feel more detailed political discussions are best via private messaging. That said, a two-time Trump voter will most likely not make the cut, but neither will the eco-friendly guy who buried his ex in a compost pile.

Despite the hype, I learned that two left votes don’t always make a right. Hours spent on exciting political discussion become meaningless if other, more fundamental factors, are absent. I found that core traits like emotional availability, respect for women and even proper dining etiquette, will trump politics every time.

Incumbents — married and longtime partners

Current singles have the luxury of screening for political dealbreakers upfront, but what about married couples and committed partners? What happens if political views change or differ during the course of a relationship?

“I have a friend who is married to someone on opposite poles politically,” said Charlotte book club friend, Jinny. “What I observe is that there is little joy in this relationship. She is wearily patient with her husband. I think they just don’t talk about it.”

Bipartisan strategy — agree to disagree

As a child, I recall some animated, albeit one-way political discussions between my Grandma and Grandpa during Sunday dinners. She would angrily rant about Reaganomics, stock market losses, and the many foibles of Jimmy Carter, heedless of the soft spoken, and often more factually accurate responses from her husband. Regardless of the topic, Grandma’s closing argument ended with, “But I didn’t vote for Nixon.”

I don’t know if Grandpa voted for Nixon, but the discussion was over, and somehow, not voting for Nixon validated any and all of Grandma’s political claims. With grace and diplomacy, Grandpa would calmly respond, “Yes, Betty. Let us differ in love… could someone please pass the vegetables?”

Political debate — rules of engagement

Relationship therapist Anita A. Chlipala, LMFT, said, “it’s inevitable for people to grow and change, and couples need to be flexible to accommodate the ways that their partner changes throughout their relationship.

“When approaching a political discussion,” she recommends, “prioritize understanding your partner’s views and work to find common ground.” Asking questions about your partner’s position, values and experiences, ideal dreams, and wants and needs can set the tone for a respectful, productive conversation.

Partners may never agree on politics — or anything else — 100% of the time, but mutual respect is key, said Chlipala. “However, if you feel criticized or feel like your partner has contempt toward you, and they are unwilling to accept your perspective, then it’s time to consider ending the relationship.”

Bottom line? Though the vote can swing either way, don’t immediately call the romance race if you and a potential or current partner have differing political opinions. Mutual commitment to understanding, empathy, and a healthy sense of humor can be a win-win for your relationship.

Brownley Elizabeth “Liz” Senn is a local freelance writer with credits in The Charlotte Observer, The New Bern Sun Journal and The Knoxville News Sentinel. You can pass her a note – or a political manifesto – at brownley.elizabeth.senn@gmail.com. Special thanks to Brad Kammer for inspiring this column with delightful enthusiasm. He and his lovely wife Sasha are both amazing friends and a total power couple.

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