Dating in 2019 isn’t easy. Right now, in the cesspool of political tribalism, social media, and the extreme polarization of the partisan divide, dating has become stranger than ever.
In the Trump era, hostility for opposing parties has intensified to radioactive levels. In January of 2017, the New York Times reported that more than ever before, parents want their sons and daughters to marry within political party lines. The dating app Tinder conducted a study and found that 71 percent of its users said differing political beliefs were a deal breaker. To help people get ass based on ideology, new political dating apps have popped up such as TrumpSingles.com and BernieSingles.com. Politics has always been a contentious issue but today it has invaded all aspects of our lives. It has become the new music, art, and religion. It feels like everyone has not only an opinion but a deep, vested interest that is worth throwing away a potential relationship for.
I am not passionate about politics. I think that someone’s political views are the dullest thing about them. I’m a registered Democrat, but I have voted Republican in the past. I did not vote in 2016 because I did not want to pull the lever for either candidate. I have never fawned over or admired any politicians. My requirement for a partner isn’t whether they consider themselves a Conservative or Liberal, but that they are open-minded. So, when I started up a romance with a man I had known as an acquaintance for years, my first text to him was a lone link to New York Times columnist Bari Weiss’s lecture “Seven Dirty Words”.
Maybe I was testing him?
He responded with a rambling yet neutral reaction to Weiss’s powerful speech, then after ellipse asked, “Can we hang out soon?”
An intense and passionate love escalated after that text. There was undeniable chemistry between us that we couldn’t ignore. Three days later we were on my stoop trying our best not to have sex in public. Two weeks later, he told me he wanted to marry me. Our relationship escalated into a combo of lovemaking and rough sex balanced with flawlessness I’ve never experienced before. We talked and stared at each other like lovesick teenagers until 5 AM, planning our future together. I was falling hard! We were not sleeping. We were not talking to our friends. We were barely coming up for air. It was fucking magnificent. Everything was perfect—until we started talking politics.
At first, there were little hints that our ideologies weren’t so in sync. While I was ranting about the insanity of the latest radical leftist protest, he stood there with a puzzled look on his face.
“But Leah, social justice is important.”
“I know,” I said. “But social justice warriors are making a mockery of social justice.”
“Social justice warrior has a negative connotation to it,” he said. “That’s what Republicans do, don’t you see? They take something that’s not a negative and play with language to make it become that way.”
I rolled my eyes. Yeah, no shit, I thought to myself. Because the social justice warriors are so fucking negative.
“Why are you always complaining about the left?” he asked. “What about the right?”
“I have higher expectations of the left, babe. Aren’t they supposed to be the reasonable ones?”
Our first political blow out happened while naked in bed after a heavy sex romp. I don’t remember how we got on the subject, but what I do remember is that when I stated that being a woman wasn’t oppressing, he became flustered and irritated.
“Sexism is real,” he said to me in a way that can only be described as “mansplaining.” A knot the size of Manhattan developed in my throat. Rage coursed through my veins. I could not believe this man I worshipped was lying in naked next to me trying to debate womanhood. My own boyfriend was igniting the same insufferable rage I felt when listening to conservative pundit Ben Shapiro rant about abortion. His patronizing tone pierced my eardrum. Finally, I couldn’t take it anymore. I jumped out of bed and stared him down so hard I felt like my eyeballs were going to pop out of my head.
“You don’t get to tell me any of this,” I said. “I am well aware of sexism. I am the woman here!”
He accused me of having conservative talking points. Tears welled up in my eyes as I stormed out of the room. It felt like a Twitter mob had invaded my bedroom and was attacking me with the usual insults: alt-right, a liberal trust funder, white-supremacist, self-hating whitey. He wasn’t using these names, but his lecture stung even worse. The last person I wanted to have these fights with was the man I loved.
We made up, of course, but it didn’t end there. For the next two months, it seemed like politics kick-started every single fight we had. We couldn’t stop fighting. We weren’t debating over the alleged social construction of gender roles or the Israeli/Palestine debate. We were screaming at each other. Slamming doors. I threw him out of my apartment after he said FOX News was my favorite channel. I accused him of turning his back on his Jewish heritage. Politics was ripping us apart.
It all came to a head at 2 AM over a Jordan Peterson video.
“I saw a video of Bari Weiss interviewing Jordan Peterson,” he said one night. “She was really fawning over him.”
“That’s just her personality,” I replied. “She’s extremely charming and personable.”
“I don’t see why anyone would fawn over a racist Canadian professor,” he said, disgusted.
Was he really starting this discussion right now? Despite being half-asleep and kicking the flu, I remained calm. I barely said a word as this so-called discussion turned into a one-sided rant.
“If she cares so much about anti-Semitism,” he continued, “then, why doesn’t she care about racism?”
“How do you know she doesn’t care about racism?” I was barely awake. “Maybe she doesn’t think he’s a racist. I don’t think he’s a racist. And, of course, she’s standing against anti-Semitism. She’s Jewish. That’s what people do! They care about the things that affect them. Aren’t we all like that?”
“You keep standing up for her!” he screamed. “Only because you agree with her politics and you like her writing!”
“So what? That’s not why I feel the way I feel. You can’t discredit her because you think she was being nice to a man who may or may not be racist!”
Was this conversation actually happening? I watched as my boyfriend started to shake his head back and forth. He scrunched his face into a scowl. Why was Jordan Peterson so important to him? He couldn’t let it go. Then again, neither could I.
After shouting nothingness back and forth until our faces were red and puffy, he got up from the couch and told me it was late. He had to go. He slammed the door as he left. I was left with silence. How had this happened? One minute we were drifting off to sleep and the next we were screaming about a New York Times writer and a professor from Canada no one cared about before 2016.
Five minutes after he made his dramatic exit, I grabbed my phone and typed, “You’re a dick.” I pressed send.
The next morning, I woke up to ten missed calls from him. The flu had kicked into high gear; I felt like my head was swimming in water. I threw the phone down and went back to sleep. Messages flew in at a rapid pace.
“Are you ignoring me?” he texted. He was on one, but I was too.
When I finally called him back, we wasted the next 12 hours screaming our lungs out at one another. We battled like two head-strong political science majors in the debate of their academic career. It was a full-blown war. We were desperately trying to convince the other of our point, and we weren’t even listening to one another. We were waiting for the other person to take a breath so there was room to jump in and yell. The heated debate took a tailspin when I said, “Your argument is weak and obscure.” He broke up with me and hung up the phone. My relationship was over. Thanks, Dr. Peterson.
Over the next 24 hours, we were silent. This was the longest we had gone without speaking. Was it really done? I thought. Sitting and stewing, I convinced myself that I did not need to apologize. He had been so visceral! He was the one who started this discussion in the first place, not me. I was perfectly happy never knowing an interview between Weiss and Peterson even existed. He was the one who couldn’t handle different points of views. He was the one who had a problem with the fact that we didn’t share the same ideology, not me. And moreover, he was the one who dumped me over nonsense. Despite trying to convince myself that this wasn’t my fault, my stomach knotted. My head was spinning. I was a mess, so I went to the gym.
Walking back to my apartment, I rounded the corner to find my boyfriend standing outside my place. I got closer and saw he was holding a bouquet. He had puppy dog eyes that looked glassy with tears. We hugged one another. We sat in the diner for hours and talked. I picked at my overpriced salad as we both humbly apologized. He told me nothing was worth losing me over, especially not this political nonsense. I agreed. We vowed never to let our politics come between us again.
That was a couple of months ago, and we haven’t had one argument since. Our relationship has never been better. We still talk about politics, but we don’t take it that seriously when we disagree. I am still complaining about the far left. But I also am much less defensive when he brings up an opposing view. After all, isn’t my critique of the far left the inability to see other people’s beliefs? We don’t walk on eggshells around each other, and no conversation is off limits. In a divisive world, I feel responsible to not be a part of one-sided discourse. I want my personal life to reflect what I want from society. Not the other way around. But for now and the foreseeable future, I am so fucking in love with my Marxist Commie boyfriend.