When I entered the dating world, I had a picture in my head of the guy who I thought would steal my heart. He was tall and thin, a musician and/or creative soul, an avid traveler, adorned with well-placed tattoos, a fan of over-priced brunches and a dog-lover. And I found that guy. Over and over again. I went on dates with several guys who fit this mold, only to find that something was missing. That the conversations were stale. That we would make better friends. That my jeans might be bigger than his.
And then I met Pete. Pete and I matched on three different apps, which is sweet, but also embarrassing. When compared to the list of attributes above, Pete was only one of them…tall. Pete works in HR for a large company, he is built like a gladiator, tattoo-free and enjoys working out, hunting and watching Star Trek in his free time. His ideal vacation takes place in the woods. Despite having what seemed like nothing in common, I was immediately drawn to him. And as I learned more about him, I learned that he embraced many of the values and embodied many of the traits that I was looking for in a mate.
About two months in, as we were stumbling our way into a real relationship, the presidential campaign came up. He dropped the bomb. The Trump bomb. I remember not understanding how someone who seemed like a normal, good person could vote for someone so…well…you know. He explained his perspective and although I didn’t agree, he helped me understand his motivations. The motivations of the other half of the country. And while it has definitely caused arguments and been a point of contention, it will not break our relationship.
- Politics are polarizing, people are not. The divide between democrats and republicans is gigantic, some might even call it HUUUUGE, but the divide between humans doesn’t have to be. We were forced to choose between two extremes, when most of us fall somewhere in the middle. Yes, there are radicals on each side, but I have to believe that most of us are just striving to do what we think is best, given the cards we’ve been dealt. Lumping people into two buckets is insulting and diminishing.
- Love is Love and Hate is Hate. We are not who we voted for, we are a compilation of all of our experiences which have shaped our thoughts, beliefs and values. Because we have different experiences, we have different opinions. We cannot change each other’s experiences, so we cannot change each other’s opinions. What we can do is learn to empathize. To try to understand and respect where each person is coming from. Hating someone because of who they voted for (because of the experiences that shaped them) is no different than hating someone because of their race, sexual orientation or gender.
- We push each other to grow. Dating someone who shares similar opinions to mine might have been easier, but it would not have been as rewarding. Pete pushes me. We push each other to think about the other side, to put ourselves in each other’s shoes and maybe most importantly, to be patient and forgiving. Anyone who knows me know that I am stubborn and Pete is equally as stubborn, but somehow this has resulted in the ability for each of us to teach the other to be more tolerant, flexible and empathetic. And I don’t know if it gets much better than that.