There are many famous examples of couples that differ in their political party affiliation. James Carville and Mary Matlin supposedly fell in love while battling it out on the campaign trail. Maria Schriver and Arnold Schwarzenegger seemed to be able to handle their political differences over the years. It was very different issues that ultimately did them in. Other couples seem to find ways, at least publicly, to manage their differing views and go on to have healthy relationships. It seems no matter what party people belong to, when it comes to relationships people are basically the same. Or are they? It turns out that there may be some differences that exist between the sheets.
Binghamton University, in conjunction with Match.com, surveyed over 5,000 single American men and women and did in fact find a few differences along party lines. The liberals reported having more frequent sex, but the conservatives claimed to have “better” sex. The way this was determined was that 53% of self-reported conservative Republicans said they had an orgasm every time they had sex compared to 40% of the self-reported liberal Democrats.
The researchers and those reviewing the study had many different explanations for this, none of which I found particularly compelling. Liberals reported that traits like a sense of humor and independence were essential to a relationship while conservatives placed greater importance on having a similar background and belonging to the same political party. The conservatives also tended to be more desirous of marriage. In the end, of all those surveyed, only 17% of men and 20% of women felt that it was necessary to be with someone who is in the same political party.
This study offers some interesting fun facts but makes it clear that political views do not define people even in this time of intense debate. While you may be able to assume certain things about an individual based on their political party, how they interact with their mate, in or out of the bedroom, would not be one of them. How people manage their relationship is a function of their psychological development and their own history. Couples, who have differing political views and are able to make their relationship work, also tend to have good conflict resolution skills, which serve them well in other areas of their union. Agreeing to disagree is an essential part of a harmonious bond.
Like so many other elements of coupledom, such as; religion, cultural affiliation, and general interests, it is simply easier to share the same ideas about these things. It removes those issues from the battleground when the going gets tough. Conversely, differences can make things interesting and can help each person to learn and grow if they are willing to do so.
Individuals should keep an open mind when searching for a mate but also know themselves and what they would consider a deal breaker. Everyone is a bit different in this respect so if you are someone who feels that political disagreements would stamp out the fire in a romance then you may want to honor that part of yourself, despite what any survey reports.
But if you are willing to engage in civilized debates about the issues with the one you love, and you are able to put those differences aside when necessary, then by all means mix it up. Just remember to respect each other’s differences and focus on those things that make you compatible in other areas of the relationship.
- Cyndi Sarnoff-Ross
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