Are you a Democrat rooming with a Republican? Or a conservative living with a liberal? If you don't share the same political views with your roommate, it could lead to strife, even when you're not in the middle of a heated election.
But there's no reason people of different -- even opposite -- political persuasions can't live together. The bottom line is, once you've found the right roommate, there's no good reason why politics should interfere with a great roommate experience.
Here's how to make it work:
- Agree to disagree. People of opposite political persuasions enjoy good friendships or even get married, so you can certainly figure out how to prevent any ideological differences you have with your roommate from getting in the way of your relationship. It just requires some mutual understanding and respect. Although you may think that your roommate's views are wrong, keep in mind that your roommate probably thinks the same thing about your views.
- Don't try to convert each other. When you believe something so strongly, there's sometimes an urge to want others to see things your way. It's possible your roommate isn't quite sure where he stands on the political spectrum, and he may be interested in your opinions. Or you may have a roommate who knows exactly where she stands but enjoys having a political debate with someone who has an opposing view.
Short of these situations, it's best to refrain from saying anything that looks like an attempt to convert your roommate. It can lead your roommate to get defensive or trigger hurtful arguments that could damage your relationship.
- Don't let your roommate's beliefs get to you. Is your roommate outspoken about her beliefs? Does your roommate rave about pundits like Rush Limbaugh, Keith Olbermann, Bill O'Reilly, or Rachel Maddow? Don't let your roommate's politics drive you crazy. Remember that even if your roommate agreed with you about everything, plenty of other people have opposing beliefs.
- Show some respect. If you're watching political commentary in your living room while the other roommate is home, agree that you'll switch to watching in your bedroom if it bothers the other roommate.
- Limit your show of support for candidates and political parties. Your bedroom is your own, so feel free to show support for your political party or favorite candidate by posting signs, buttons, and other items in your bedroom. Your roommate should of course do the same.
When it comes to shared space, such as your living room, talk to your roommate to agree on a reasonable policy. You might decide it's best to make your shared space a "politics-free zone." This is a good option if one roommate has strong political beliefs while the other doesn't like politics at all. If both of you are strongly behind a different candidate or party, you might agree to include some show of support for each side in your shared spaces, such as party posters in your living room or campaign magnets on the kitchen fridge.