Sleeping With the Enemy

Democrats and Republicans kicking each other out of bed—literally—during the most heated campaign in decades

Professor Pepper Schwartz, a sociology professor at the University of Washington and a relationship adviser on perfectmatch.com, thinks people are distinctly less able to tolerate political difference nowadays.

"You could have been a Rockefeller Republican and gotten along with a Kennedy Democrat without too much trouble, and now it is a lot less possible," Schwartz says. "Politics now tends to be one of those litmus tests when you're dating. People no longer ignore it. If you find out about someone's views and you disagree, you feel that this is not your soul mate—how could they feel that way, what kind of person are they?"

But is political affiliation really the bastard to blame when it comes to relationship failure? Isn’t it possible that the relationship was doomed and politics were simply the catalyst? Power couple Mary Matalin and James Carville—she a GOP activist, he a Democratic one—have thrived for years. Their opposing viewpoints make for good copy, and it's almost erotic to watch them argue on television.

Political difference also proved to be an aphrodisiac during this year's Republican National Convention, as craigslist.org featured countless personal ads from Democrats searching for fiery sex with a much resented Republican. In this case, the political divide seemed to heighten the s/m appeal of arrogant Republican ass.

Whether politics can be a distraction from or indicative of other more subconscious factors, it seems inescapable. Relationship guru Amy Alkon, author of the syndicated advice column "Ask Amy," began to notice that political tension was seeping into romance not long after Bush took office.

"I never got letters about politics before Bush was president," she says. "In the first letter I got about politics, a person used the word liberal when describing their partner, and they really meant turd. When you refer to your partner as a turd, the relationship is bound to crumble."

It would be easy to assume the romantic tension will end with the end of the election suspense. But Professor Schwartz predicts that things will get worse after the election, not better.

"The fire will eventually go out, but not completely," she says. "It won't take much to get people's anger burning very, very fiercely."

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