This year, Americans and internationals alike have witnessed the emotional jumble that is the fallout of the U.S. presidential election. Social media is inflamed with strong opinions and heated discussions. Coffee shops and bars rumble with discussions of the Left, the Right, and the in-between. Like it or not, this election cycle has been the topic of conversation with almost all family and friends. But what about your dates?
Most of us grew up with the notion that religion and politics were not appropriate topics at the dinner table. However, you are not 18. If you are dating over 50, you are at a season in life when you have opinions with years of experience to back them up; and if those opinions are important to you, you have the right to express them! For the mature singles dating adult, knowing what your date thinks of the current political climate could be valuable both now and down the road. Heated as the subject may be, it could help you learn more about the attractive date across the table, including whether your views align, and whether this is someone whose company you will enjoy in the weeks and months to come.
As the third debates wraps up, and Election Day looms nearer, here is some advice for how to approach political conversations on your upcoming dates:
Keep Calm. No matter your age, there are few things more off-putting than having a dinner partner who yells. Temper your words with a calming physical presence. Remember that this is a date between two single and mature adults-- not a debate. Of course it is okay to have opinions! It is also okay if you and your date have different opinions! Be conscious of turning those points of disagreement into lively conversations rather than letting them devolve into emotional bickering or-- even worse-- name-calling.
Listen as much as you talk. Hopefully most singles over 50 on the dating scene know that being a good listener is ranked high on the list of attractive qualities-- but sometimes such knowledge falls by the wayside when hot-button topics like politics are involved. Be sure that when your date divulges her opinions about Clinton or Trump (or maybe Johnson or Stein), you bite your tongue and listen. Sincerely tune in to what he is saying. Why? Because what he says about a political candidate could also reveal more about his personality and values. And whether you listen with your full attention or not also reveal a lot about you! (An important note for those in the midst of mature online dating: This same emphasis on listening as much as you speak holds true when conversing through mature dating apps or mature websites too.)
Take mental notes. Political conversations are a golden opportunity for you to learn about how your potential mature dating partner deals with conflict. Does he disengage? Does she become condescending? Does he repeat your main points with logical rebuttals? Does she listen thoughtfully and explain her point of view? Turn this into a chance to learn about your date’s conversational style. Work on finding points of agreement as well as disagreement-- this is a date, after all! It’s perfectly acceptable to use this as a tool for measuring your compatibility.
End on common ground. Take a tip from the second presidential debate, and end on a positive note. Perhaps between dinner and dessert you realized that you and your date fall on opposite ends of the political spectrum. Though this is an unfortunate discovery-- and if politics are important to you, it may result in an end to the relationship-- you can still salvage your time together. Find something over which you can agree. Maybe this means that you take a deep breath and change the subject. You discovered this person for a reason, right? What attracted you to him or her? Find the positive and end with common ground. Conversely, maybe you realized just how much you have in common! We often see politics as divisive, but discovering mutual values and opinions could be just the ticket to an invitation for a second date (or a first, if this is initial conversation takes place on a serious dating site!).
Regardless of where you fall in this year’s election cycle, from diehard Republican, to disinterested, to true-blue Democrat, be prepared for the topic to arise on one of your dates. This need not be a bad thing though: be kind, listen carefully, and use the conversation to learn more about the attractive man or woman seated across the table! You never know-- this could be the beginning of a new relationship, deepened by the realization that you have similar passions and values.