By Kelsey De Melo

Ryerson student Kelsey De Melo and her boyfriend manage to make their relationship work, despite having different political views. (Photo courtesy of Kelsey De Melo)

When I met my boyfriend in high school, I and everyone else thought we were a perfect match. We didn’t have anything to argue about because we didn’t know much about who we really were and what we believed in.

As a high school student, I hardly knew anything about politics besides the name of our prime minister, and even then it was only because I had a crush on him. I remember being opposed to the word “feminism” because I thought boys wouldn’t like me if I called myself a feminist.

Since moving to Toronto and attending Ryerson for journalism, with a minor in political studies, I’ve become an outspoken, passionate and proud feminist. I am not the same girl my boyfriend fell in love with in high school and because of this, we now have something to argue about.

While I am more left-leaning in my political views, he is more right-leaning. We are, however, both extremely outspoken. Over the years we’ve had to learn how to navigate our opposing political views in a way that doesn’t get in the way of our relationship. Here’s what we’ve come up with so far.

Attack the point, not the person

When my boyfriend and I are in particularly heated conversations, we sometimes start looking for ways to discredit one another. For example, he often blames my liberal ideology on the fact that I go to Ryerson—“a very liberal school” as he calls it—as a way to discredit my valid and well-researched points. Instead of attacking each other in this way, it is crucial to remain focused on the argument at hand and avoid attacking the person’s character or credibility.

Listen

This one has been hard for me personally but it’s important to, at the very least, be open to hearing the other side of the argument. To do this, I recommend sitting back and hearing your partner out without interrupting. By no means do you have to agree with them, but listening will allow you to better understand where they’re coming from.

Don’t be afraid to speak up

Unpopular opinion: politics should never be off the table for the sake of avoiding an argument. After one particularly bad argument, we agreed not to speak about politics. But I soon realized this wasn’t fair because I love talking politics and I shouldn’t have to silence my voice to avoid confrontation with the person I love. Don’t be afraid to voice strong opinions in an unapologetic way, just make sure you are always respectful.

Know when it becomes toxic

All this advice comes under the assumption that having political disagreements is worth the love you feel for this person. People say that “politics isn’t personal,” but there may come a time when the conversation becomes so offensive and disrespectful that you cannot stand being around them anymore. While hopefully it doesn’t come to this, ending a relationship due to extreme political differences is justified because, well, politics is personal.

This is a joint byline. Ryersonian staff are responsible for the news website edited and produced by final-year undergraduate and graduate journalism students at Ryerson University. It features all the content from the weekly campus newspaper, The Ryersonian, and distributes news and online multimedia, including video newscasts from RyersonianTV. Ryersonian.ca also provides videos, images, and other interactive material in partnership with the School of Journalism.

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