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Why I Decided To Date A Conservative

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Love, Self

I'm a bleeding-heart liberal. But after an internal debate, I decided that love trumps politics.

"OMG!!!" I texted my sister from a Starbucks bathroom to fill her in on the status of my blind date. "He's amazing!" I had been on what felt like hundreds of dates without feeling an ounce of excitement. After one coffee, I sensed this man was different. He was intelligent, funny, kind, ambitious and insanely attractive.

But when I got home and looked at his online profile again, one word popped out that I previously overlooked: CONSERVATIVE. It hit me like a bullet: I am a staunch liberal Democrat. I started to panic, fearing he could be Paul Ryan disguised as Ben Affleck. Even if I were even lucky enough for him to be interested in me, the political lines were drawn. Could I really date someone who was a conservative?

Politics has always been an important part of my life. I was raised by two working-class parents in a strong Democratic family who believed in serving others. In fourth grade, I painted signs for a rally to meet presidential candidate Bill Clinton. I turned 18 in 2000 and cast my first vote for Al Gore in the infamously hijacked presidential election. I attended the inauguration in Washington, D.C. and watched the protesters in front of the Supreme Court in awe. 

I majored in politics and interned for Hillary Clinton when she was a New York Senator. I volunteered for the John Kerry, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama campaigns. I studied feminist theory and became a civil rights and employment lawyer. Though I've never harbored any hatred whatsoever toward people of opposing political views, I always thought it was essential that your significant other share your core values. How else could you keep peace in a relationship? 

When I was in college, I dated a great guy who proudly boasted about how he voted for George W. Bush. "He's a great man," he said. He was serious, so I was done. On another occasion, I jokingly asked a second date why he voted for someone who lies to the American public, to which he simply replied: "F*ck you." I have argued with boyfriends over gay marriage and social safety nets, and have quickly learned never to discuss religion or politics. Eventually, I started ruling out conservatives before I even gave them a chance, so the conversation would not even be on the table. Political preferences became non-negotiable, and I vowed to find a man who wanted to save the world, the working class and the environment.

So even though I felt like a giddy teenager waiting for my blind date to call, just the word "CONSERVATIVE" in his online profile was a huge red flag. Until I realized, with the help of a wise friend, that the problem wasn't about politics. The problem was me. 

"You're ridiculous," my friend told me. "Conservative doesn't mean anything! You don't know what he really believes in, and you're being judgmental."

My friend was right. Political labels are just labels, and aren't always a good predictor of how well a relationship will work. I was being judgmental and unfair, ostracizing a huge group of men because I was afraid any conflict would create heartache down the road. In reality, there will always be conflict in a relationship, whether it's cultural, political, spiritual or about washing the dishes. You can't outsmart or avoid it by judging others and hiding from people who are different. In being so closed-off, I was preventing myself from finding something that mattered to me more than politics: love.

When "Ben Affleck" asked to see me again, I was ecstatic. True, we will never watch Bill Maher on Friday nights or celebrate the anniversary of the Occupy Wall Street movement together. We will probably argue about Mitt Romney's lies and trickle-down economics. But perhaps a spirited, political debate and lots of passionate making up is exactly what I need — and a little bi-partisan love is exactly what our country needs. 

Keep reading my column to find out what happens with Ben Affleck!