My boyfriend voted for Bush. Yes, for Bush. And he'd vote for him again if our Constitution allowed it.
Now let me duck while you spit at me. No, please go ahead. Really, I'm used to it. When this happens—the attacks, the spittle—I sometimes enlist a coping strategy. I tune out and think back to when I discovered that J was one of Them.
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When we met three years ago at a New Year's Eve party, politics never came up. We flirted, and after midnight we made out in the coatroom. The next day he called to ask me out. I agreed to brunch, but I told him there was little chance we'd date. I was seeing someone else (he was out of town, okay?), and J was in school in D.C., two hours by train from Philadelphia. The last thing I wanted was another long-distance relationship. I'd already been through two. How To Manage A Long-Distance Relationship
So at brunch when he told me he was Republican, I didn't think about it in terms of would I or wouldn't I? My immediate response was, "Pro-life?" If his answer had been yes, I'd have lost my appetite—and left. But it was no. So I kept eating.
A few months later, the guy I'd been dating was out of the picture, and J and I started the torturous and by now familiar grind of the long-distance relationship—nightly phone calls, and as many flirty e-mails as a hardworking law student and a procrastination-prone freelance writer could manage. Is Steamy Text Messaging The New Foreplay?
Sure, I was concerned that he'd voted for a man who seemed dead set on taking away women's hard-won reproductive rights, killing off our nation's youth, and destroying the environment. But by age 30, I'd dated enough of my own political kind to know that their compassion for the teeming masses doesn't guarantee compassion for their loved ones.
The sensitive activist type I dreamed of as a college student had turned out to be, for the most part, a needy fraud with a victim complex. What's preferable—someone who is a complete ass or someone who votes for a complete ass? After a solid decade of dating within my party, I was open to something new.
And, in the beginning, our political differences played out in jokey, passive-aggressive ways. I sent him a silly "miss you" card that had a picture of a fuzzy kitten. He stuck it on his filing cabinet next to a "Stop Hillary Now!" bumper sticker.
When I visited, it became a ritual for me to cover the Hillary sticker with the kitten. When I wasn't looking, he'd move the kitten back. And so on. Hillary. Kitten. Hillary. Kitten. Claws out. Kinda.
When the Washington Times was delivered in the morning, I'd sit on the couch and point out egregious conservatisms, like how they used the word "illegals" instead of "immigrants." When he turned the TV to Fox News, I'd make fun of the way the producers put "global warming" in quotes like they were questioning its very existence.
Politics came up, but only one issue sent me into paroxysms—I couldn't change his mind on marriage being preferable to civil unions for same-sex partners. His argument was based on semantics. Mine was driven by emotion. After many rounds of talking in circles, we agreed to disagree. 9 Things To Say During A Fight
But the biggest stressor, I was discovering, was my friends. It started when a good friend—an old friend—chose not to invite us to her family's beach house where I'd visited, often with a boyfriend, nearly every summer for a decade.
She didn't think it was a good idea for J and her husband to be in such close quarters for a prolonged amount of time. She was afraid of what her husband might do if the talk turned to politics. "It's better if we do something else together first," she said, "like dinner.
Then there was the friend who'd recently moved to D.C. When we met her and her boyfriend, E, for brunch, a discussion about Condoleezza Rice quickly escalated. I grew more and more uncomfortable as E yelled at J over the table. I tried to change the subject. J didn't. He explained his position coolly as E's face grew redder and redder. J wasn't upset afterward, but I was. 3 Tips For Introducing Boyfriend To Friends
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