Hello and welcome to our advice column, “Ask MR,” where we answer your burning questions in the hopes of being the ointment to your life rash. Ask us questions by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line “ASK MR A QUESTION,” or leave yours in the comments.
I just started hooking up with this guy who I met on a dating app (no mutual friends or anything like that). It’s really casual and has been fun so far, but a few days ago, he told me that he voted for Donald Trump. I am VERY liberal. I didn’t want to get in a fight with this guy so I got kind of quiet and haven’t seen him since. He’s texted me a ton; I can tell he’s worried that I think differently about him now (he said he doesn’t side with “a lot of what Trump believes in”). I do think differently about him now. We have a good time, but can I keep hooking up with him now that I know this?
You can do whatever the hell you want, is the first answer. If you enjoy having sex with this person (I’m going to assume that’s what you mean by hooking up here) and you want to continue seeing him because your interactions bring you pleasure, then I’m certainly not here to tell you otherwise.
It’s a loaded question without a perfect answer, one made even more complicated when the couple in question are further along in their relationship, when they are married or life partners or heading toward that journey. The stakes are higher and it’s more complicated. That’s a question I wouldn’t begin to touch, nor would I if this were about family members or dear friends with similarly polarizing political views. You’re linked by love and blood in these complicated cases. I’m not qualified for that.
But you said it’s casual. That changes things. You are not invested and you do not have to be. You’re the only one who can answer your own question in this case. You’re the only one who will participate in your decision besides this guy. In the meantime, let me give you some things to consider so you make what you feel is the best decision.
1. Can you actually keep it casual? Is this purely sex, and foreseeably purely sex, or have there been any internal indications that you might, at some point, begin to really like this person? Because if a relationship forms (and by the way, a consistent hook up — even in all its ambiguity — is a relationship, albeit not a serious or defined one), conflicting values WILL clash. Hard. You will have to defend your own stances regularly, you will challenge and question his. This isn’t your standard Democrat meets Republican, falls in lust and agrees to disagree/not discuss politics. The arguments between those who did and did not vote for Trump transcend politics. It’s not so simple as not talking about it at the dinner table.
2. Do you trust your body with him? Sex is a mutual dance, one that is just as much about your pleasure as his. But sex is also vulnerability, allowing someone else into your most intimate space. Do you feel comfortable letting him in? Do you feel comfortable splitting the responsibility of every risk and repercussion that comes with sex with him, knowing that he very well might feel differently about reproductive rights, women’s rights and sexual health than you do? If he is on the same page as you here — if he voted for Trump because of other issues and ignored these ones for the sake of other agendas, are you comfortable with that, too? Are you okay entrusting your body with a man who may not put it first? If I sound patronizing, I don’t mean to. These are the things I asked my friend because I know what she stands for. I wanted to remind her of her priorities, ones that we may not usually consider when “it’s casual.” If you’re already concerned and asking this though, it’s not casual. Something is setting off the alarm part of your brain that causes you to seek advice outside of your gut and conscience. And so we have to ask these questions.
3. Do you trust him among your friends, family (I know it’s “just sex,” but your family is tied to you) and your community? Do you like sex with him enough to ignore that he may have radically different views from you on minority groups of all varieties? That he may support the very thing you and your friends and community protest? That, again, even if he shares your views here, or doesn’t disagree with your views here, these people and your people were not a priority to him?
Are you ready to defend him and all of the above?
5. Is all of that worth it for a casual hook up? Is it? I don’t know. I really am asking you.
I cannot make this decision. As an independent woman with full agency over her body, thoughts and voice, this is 100% your choice to make. You’re a smart woman. You will do what you believe is right.
Illustration by Maria Jia Ling Pitt.