Let me tell you a story. I was once a member of an online polyamorous dating group. I will not say where and which one. I don’t want to be petty. There was a question that asked if a potential partner would need to have the same political views. Most gave a very enthusiastic yes. In fact they also made it very clear what kind of politics they disagreed with and how they could never ever be in the same room with someone from the other side of the political spectrum. Very quickly I was attacked for being a shallow person who would date fascists and capitalists. I only said that I would not care much about politics in a partner as long as someone’s view is not violent or extremist. But well that’s the internet for you where tolerance is only a virtue as long as you agree. They attacked me quite viciously and I was stupid enough to try to defend my view. I then decided to delete my post because I felt that nothing good could come from this discussion. Then all hell broke loose, they put the “red flag” on me and I deleted my account. I was in no mood to be part of such a hostile community.
I don’t want politics in my relationships
Nevertheless I wondered if there was something wrong with what I said. I am good at doubting myself. So I spent some time to think this through. I was going to meet new people and I wanted to figure out how I would approach someone with different political views. And here is what I decided for myself.
I think that politics and group identities permeate a lot of our public lives. Online probably more than offline. As much as I like to discuss politics myself it is an exhausting and often polarizing topic. I don’t want this in my personal relationships. As long as we are both tolerant of each others opinions and not extremist or violent I could care less. Well that is not quite right. I do care. I am interested in other views and opinions as long as I am not pressured to accept them as my own. I like to learn how others think about the world. But I have very little need to identify myself with any political agenda or group.
I once dated someone for a few months and she was very vegan. I told her upfront that I was not vegan but out of respect would not consume animal products in her presence. She told me I could have a burger if I really wanted to and that would be fine with her. We both talked about veganism and she gave me a few arguments but without trying to convert me. It was never an issue. I tried her lifestyle but in the end could not commit myself to it. And it was fine.
Polyamory makes it a bit different too for some people
Polyamory can be quite diverse. Some have multiple partners to share their life, even home and children with. Others live alone and enjoy several less (financially or with living arrangements) committed relationships. And many others again have one primary relationship (often with children, a house and planned careers) and several less intertwined partners. I guess the latter is true for many who discover polyamory later in life when such things are already in place and settled. This is also how I view polyamory for myself although I am mostly drawn to the second type as another partner.
Now I get why people want their partner with whom they maybe share (or want to share in the future) a house and children to have a similar outlook on life and that includes politics. But I never considered politics important in a person I might only see a few times a month. We will not make decisions about our careers, how to raise children or where to live and what to buy for our home. In fact I find this very freeing because I can meet people and have relationships with them who would otherwise not be compatible for a committed monogamous relationship. I see this as big advantage to learn about different ways of life.
Now this woman I dated, I could not even imagine living together with her. Not because she was vegan but her whole way of living was just so at odds with my life. But I could totally see having a romantic relationship with her, care about her, spend time with her, stay together for a few nights and so on. I think seeing me as a rather settled person with a stable career and a family was interesting to her because she led a very free but also unorganized and haphazard life (which fascinated me in turn). Had I excluded her because of her political views I would never had this experience. What ultimately caused our relationship to not work were our different views on commitment. It had nothing to do with politics, veganism, refugees or any kind of group identity. For me views on the level of commitment are the primary factor and not politics.
Dating and Politics – no thanks
So I decided this. I will be very tolerant of differing views and I will accommodate someone else’s views as much as I can. But I will not tolerate people in my life who make politics or some group a part of their identity. It is fine for people who like to do this and I am sure they will find others. I do not want this to be a defining part of my relationships though.