With the ongoing Brexit deal debacle, and our own pending elections, politics are a hot topic (as if they ever aren't) and can cause serious problems between couples who are not politically aligned.

Research conducted by dating website eharmony in 2017 revealed the negative impact of Brexit on romantic relationships in the United Kingdom.

Their findings revealed that 1.6 million relationships broke down and others failed to progress to an official date due to political divisions on the matter. 

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The survey participants went on to suggest that you should replace politics with lighter conversation subjects like food, holiday, and health if you want to keep your relationship intact.

In an interview with Mail Online, eharmony relationship expert Rachel Lloyd says she is not surprised that politics is causing issues in relationships, especially considering the uncertainty surrounding Brexit.

While it might seem that politics make up a relatively small part of romantic compatibility, our more fundamentalist views often reflect our core values and personality traits
Rachel Lloyd - Mail Online

We have to admit, having radically different political views is not the same as disagreeing on whether you should cook or get a takeaway for supper. 

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It can mean constant bickering if you don’t know how to handle your differences. But is it a dealbreaker?

Certainly, if you are experiencing abuse because of it.

“When a relationship is abusive in any way (i.e. physically, emotionally, sexually, verbally etc.) your personal safety and wellbeing comes first and in this case you are better off not being in a relationship of this nature,” says relationship expert Paula Quinsee.

26-year-old nursing student Nontobeko Mchunu says her boyfriend is a devoted Economic Freedom Fighter member and she is a Democratic Alliance supporter, but they make their relationship work.

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“We engage in healthy debates, and mostly agree to disagree. We respect each other,” she says.

“In some instances these challenges can be overcome by learning to communicate better with each other. Going to couples therapy, resolving conflict in a mature way and making your relationship a priority,” adds Paula.

Psychologist Jaco Van Zyl advises people to decide which political differences are negotiable and which are dealbreakers, and keep these in mind when going out on a date.

"If a prospective friend or partner holds a specific conviction, decide whether your differences would be a dealbreaker or not," he says.

However, If you are already in a relationship with someone who has different political convictions, Jaco suggests you deal with them the following way:

1. Pick your discussions: either refrain from discussing heated topics or decide to discuss these only when emotions are calm.

2. Decide beforehand when to end the discussion: Also decide whether you want to be right or whether you want to understand the other person's conviction.

3. Be mindful of the strength of your own opinions, not just those of the other person. Sometimes a deterioration in a relationship could result from our own rigidity and closed-mindedness, and not necessarily the difference in conviction itself. 

4. You may be surprised to learn that: A firm (fanatical?) conviction about something may relate to other unfinished business from your own past in which you were maybe denied your voice because of some form of unfair treatment.

Resolving these may help you to be firm, but reasonable in your conviction without alienating possibly enriching friendships or relationships.

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