‘I’m Voting Labour, My Boyfriend Might Vote Reform – It’s Limiting Our Conversations’: Meet The Couples Voting Differently

Is having different politics to your partner an ick - or totally healthy?

by Alice Hall |
Updated on

All’s fair in love and war… and elections. Whether you’re a keep-your-politics-to-yourself type or a heated debate with your colleagues over an after-work wine sort, it’s fair to say, at some point in the coming weeks, you will encounter some tricky conversations about politics.

But what happens if you’re voting differently to the one person who knows you better than most - your partner? This will be the case for many couples across the country who are preparing to cast their vote on 4 July.

Kelly*, 28, has been with her partner, James*, 28, for five years but the couple share different political opinions. When they met five years ago, James had never voted before, something that 'frustrated' Kelly. This time around, James has registered to vote in the upcoming election, but the couple are opting for different political parties. Kelly, who works in the public sector, is voting for Labour, while James is thinking of voting for the Conservative Party or maybe even Reform UK.

‘He’s a self-confessed libertarian who thinks people should do what they want, and he feels these parties would protect personal liberties more than a Labour government,’ she says. ‘I feel strongly about supporting others in the community, working together and sharing resources - beliefs that partly came from my parents.’

For many couples, a difference in political views could be a turn off. New research from Tinder found that over a third of young British singles (33%) say it’s important the person they are dating is registered to vote, with a further 21% admitting having either ended a relationship or would do so if their partner wasn’t politically engaged. Meanwhile, dating app Bumble identified 'Val-Core dating' as one of the top trends for 2024. The term refers to the rise of people valuing engagement on issues that matter to them.

This came to light in 2020, when Jodie Comer - a supporter of the LGBT community and the Black Lives Matter movement - was rumoured to be dating James Burke in 2020, and the internet went wild due to claims he was a Trump supporter. Jodie and Burke have been dating since 2019, and she addressed the negative attention on social media in an interview with Porter Magazine.

‘All this false information came out about him, and people ridiculed him and me and my family,’ she explained. ‘People took these tweets as truth. That was the biggest time my life has been kind of blown up and publicised in that way. A lot of people read things and they go, "Wow, she’s that, she’s this type of person." And I’m like, OK, I can spend my life and my energy trying to convince people otherwise, or I can go, I know who I am, I know my truth and that’s good enough for me.’

Meanwhile, 1.6m relationships reportedly ended thanks to rows over Brexit during the 2016 referendum, and a 2019 YouGov poll found that a third of Labour voters said they would be upset if their child married a Conservative – twice as many as in the reverse situation.

So, is dating someone with different politics to you really a dealbreaker?

Kelly admits that she 'wasn't impressed' when she first started dating James and found out that he wasn't planning on voting. ‘It put me off a bit because he’s a well-educated person who is perfectly capable of reading manifestos that are publicly available. It projected a sense of laziness and privilege that he wasn't using his voice to make change,' she says.

The pair haven’t had any major arguments this time around, but Kelly says the difference in how they vote is ‘limiting’ their conversations. ‘Maybe he feels a sense of embarrassment that he has these views, so he doesn’t want to engage in conversations about politics,’ she said. ‘I don’t mind that though – it means you’re not opening yourself up to be influenced by someone or engage in difficult conversations you don’t want to have.’

There is research to suggest that people’s political views can be swayed by their spouses. A 2006 study called ‘The Political Values and Choices of Husbands and Wives’ found that, while men and women both give greatest weight to their own political beliefs, they also attribute significant impact to their partners' attitudes. However, Kelly maintains she would never try and convince a partner how to vote, despite their differences. ‘It can be a good thing too, because it meant I’ve read the different manifestos in more detail, to understand his point of view, and challenge my own,' she said.

Jennifer Jones, 36, personalist stylist founder of Your Stylist by Jennifer Jones, is thinking of voting for the Liberal Democrats in the election, while her husband, 41, is voting for Labour. 'I like that they're focusing on schools and school meals - I think that's really important. They've talked about focusing on local spend and the arts, which is something that's very close to my heart, and they've always been good on sustainability, too,' she says.

In the past, Jennifer and her husband, who have a four-year-old son, have voted both the same and differently. 'We talked about it a lot more when we were voting for the same party. When you know you're voting differently, you feel less inclined to go down that road, because it may cause tension,' she says.

While their different voting patterns haven't caused any arguments, Jennifer says it has led to debates and interesting conversation - often with positive outcomes. 'I like talking to someone about politics and getting their view, because it helps me form my own – but when something is raised that I don’t agree with, I will challenge it,' she says. 'There’s a nervousness to talk about politics, but actually I think it's healthy to voice your opinion.'

Despite voting differently in this election, Jennifer explains that the couple's core values remain the same. 'Our careers are really important to us, we both want to live in the same place and we love to travel,' she says. 'Like any marriage, we disagree on things. But I think the most important thing in a marriage is to be ok with being uncomfortable in a conversation and being adult about it.'

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