“I’m a Democrat, and My Boyfriend Is Volunteering for the Romney Campaign. What Do I Do?”

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I met a guy ten months ago and he seems to be a great guy. He comes from a solid family, has a really good job, and we have similar interests. The problem is he is a Republican. I knew this shortly after meeting him and it didn’t seem like a dealbreaker to me at the time, but now it seems to be a big problem. I think the straw that broke the camel’s back is he recently started volunteering for the Romney campaign. I’m conflicted because I really like him but feel it is a sin to sleep with a Republican. What should I do?

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I can understand how it would be really hard to sleep with your boyfriend if he were wearing a Mitt Romney mask but short of that, seriously, does it really feel like a “sin” to sleep with him? Recognize that despite the different views, you still have things in common and you admire some of his traits (solid family background, good job) – these should not be overlooked. The fact that you have gotten along so well for ten months speaks to the strength of the relationship. In order to have a lasting relationship there are certain things that have to be present. Chief among them are: good communication skills, the ability to resolve conflict, a healthy sex life, shared goals, and similar values.

You’re not just a Democrat, and he isn’t just a Republican.

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If your political values are so drastically off from his, then yes, you have a problem. The biggest differences that I see with couples in my practice are around social issues, particularly abortion and freedom of choice. Very often this can’t be reconciled or accepted because of the very real impact it can have on the couple. Other things such as the role of government in peoples’ lives or the stance on the wars in the Middle East are easier to deal with.

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Change your thinking around. Rather than defining yourself by your political affiliation, broaden your view. You’re not just a Democrat and he isn’t just a Republican. You’re a daughter, a girlfriend, a friend, etc. Your boyfriend is a son, a friend, etc. See any political differences as an opportunity to learn something new about your boyfriend. Understand why he feels the way he does. Set ground rules about when to have political discussions. For example, as with any potentially contentious discussion, avoid having them close to bedtime. Know when to take a time-out, and by all means, do not go to the voting booths together.

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Jonathan Alpert is a Manhattan psychotherapist and author.  He appears on national TV commenting on sex and relationship issues as well as lifestyle, mental health, and hot-button issues. Get more of Jonathan’s great advice in his new book, Be Fearless: Change Your Life in 28 Days. And you can follow Jonathan on Twitter at @JonathanAlpert 
and on Facebook at facebook.com/jonathanalpert, and visit his website at www.JonathanAlpert.com.