Primary results are rolling in on TV. You turn to debrief with your boo, only to realize that they've moved to another room and are now watching the season finale of Love Is Blind with their headphones on. Though you'd do anything for your partner, their ambivalence toward politics is getting difficult for you — a Washington D.C. aficionado — to stomach. If you're wondering how to talk to your partner about politics when they couldn't care less politics, you're certainly not alone.
Whether it's an Aidy Bryant interview you've asked your partner to read, like, a million times, or the way they continue to leave their wet towels on the floor, your partner acting unbothered by something you care about can be completely frustrating. And while respecting your partner's political boundaries and mental health is extremely important, knowing how to get through to you SO during the 2020 primaries may prove helpful.
City Councilor Zac Bears of Medford, MA, says that he finds that the best way to start a conversation with loved one with limited interest in politics is by making it personal. Instead of sharing budget statistics or recent headlines in the news, speak to issues that might specifically resonate with your partner.
"Almost everything personal to anyone is political in some way," Councilor Bears tells Bustle. "Whether it’s a bad workplace, massive student debt, skyrocketing rent, or just getting a crosswalk painted in their neighborhood, there is something everyone cares about that only political action can solve!"
While your boo may not be up to date on foreign policy or healthcare debates, they may be super passionate about adding more bike lanes to your city or getting better health benefits at their job. Whether they've always supported access to birth control or really care about recycling, your apolitical SO may be less apathetic than they even realize.
"You don’t have to be 'political' to be passionate about political issues," Dr. Joshua Klapow, Ph.D., clinical psychologist and Host of The Kurre and Klapow Show, tells Bustle. "The question becomes, 'How much does that impact your daily life?'"
As Dr. Klapow and Councilor Bears attest, applying the political to your partner's daily life can help them understand the smaller, more tangible repercussions of elections and legislation. If your boo isn't into reading the news or totally tunes out during debates, using practical examples (like how they hate when the street gets potholes or their health insurance doesn't include dental) may inspire them more than pulling up recent tax statistics.
"It goes back to relating the issues back to what’s personal for people," Councilor Bears says. "Make it mean something to them."
Finding funny memes about candidates or causes you support can help you meet your partner where they are.
Though your partner's lack of political views may make you want to buy a megaphone and start filibustering your date nights, Councilor Bears attests that putting your partner on the spot may not be the best move. "If you can show how what you’re advocating for or fighting against will make a material difference in a person’s life, it will help get them excited so much more than shame, guilt, or any other feeling," Councilor Bears says. "Ask them about their dreams and hopes for the future, trying to get to the barriers stopping those hopes and dreams. Then, show them how they can dismantle those barriers with our collective power."
In addition to talking about the more tangible ways that politics impact daily life, Councilor Bears shares the importance of using humor and other relatable content. "Finding funny memes or 'less political' content about candidates or causes you support can help you meet your partner where they are and involve them in ways they can handle," he says. Moreover, using more accessible language and writings (like articles about candidates' skincare routines) may help your boo better understand how bigger issues impact them.
Finally, offering to help them register to vote or better understand the voting process may show them how important exercising their voice really can be. "A huge barrier is accessing and understanding the process," Councilor Bears says. "Walking through it step by step, sharing links to local offices where you can register, and making it clear that you don’t need a photo ID can help a lot! "
Of course, you never want to push your partner or force them to do anything they're uncomfortable with. However, finding ways to add them to the conversation may help them find their own political voice. From voting and phone banking to engaging with friends and family with different political views, there are tons of ways for your partner to be more active about the causes they care about. And through open communication and supportive encouragement, this election season, your relationship can be on the ballot.
Zac Bears, City Councilor from Medford, MA
Dr. Joshua Klapow, Ph.D. Clinical Psychologist and Host of The Kurre and Klapow Show