What’s it like when you fall for your polar opposite? Three ‘mismatched couples’ reveal the challenges – and charms…
‘I'm a Tory councillor but my fiancé loves Jeremy Corbyn’
Binita Mehta, 25, works in corporate communications,while her fiancé, Hemant Parmar, 25, is in investment banking Binita says: ‘Politics was always talked about at the dinner table when I was growing up, but when I started studying it at A level I became really interested and joined the Tory Party. Conservative values just fitted with my own. Hemant and
I have been together on and off for 11 years. Because we’ve known each other so long, our different political views have developed gradually, but that doesn’t mean they don’t lead to heated arguments. We have big debates most days and I will often tell him to pipe down if I don’t agree with what he’s saying. I always have the last word and Hemant concedes defeat when we’re in public, but when it’s just us two he’s more determined to be right.
‘Most of our friends are lefties so I’m used to being the token Tory, even at home. My dad is a socialist so if the news is on and my dad is at our house, he and Hemant will gang up on me. But I thrive on being the one with the opposing view. ‘Recently, I was looking at Hemant’s Facebook and I saw that he’d liked the page “Jeremy Corbyn for Prime Minister”.
I took a screenshot of it and posted it on his wall saying, “What the f*** Hemant?!" Hemant thinks Corbyn is this hard-working man of the people but, to me, he’s from a privileged background and lives in Islington. Last year, I was elected as a local Conservative councillor and I’d love to be an MP one day. Hemant jokes that he’d stand against me if I became the leader of the Conservative Party.’
Hemant says: ‘I’ve always voted Labour – it’s the party that stands up for working people and my parents came to the UK from Africa and worked really hard to make a life here. I also think it’s important that when times are tough there’s a system in place to support people.
‘Growing up, I had absolutely no interest in politics, but the closer
I got to Binita, the more it made me want to read up on the news and start watching Question Time so we could have conversations about it. She normally makes a joke of it when she introduces me, saying, “This is my fiancé Hemant – don’t listen to him, he’s a Red.” But recently
she’s stopped inviting me to dinners and fundraisers – it’s probably for the best.
‘Sometimes, I wonder if I’ve gravitated more towards the left because Binita’s at the other end of the spectrum. I think it’s important for a couple to challenge each other. We had a big discussion about the junior doctors’ strike and Binita admitted she understood my point of view. ‘When we have kids, I hope it will be good for them to have parents who are coming at things from different angles. One thing we do agree on is that people are entitled to express their opinions.’
‘I told him I was a vegan on our first date – at Nando’s’
Jessica McDonnell, 24, works in digital PR and her husband James, 27, is in merchandising Jessica says: ‘I was pretty nervous about breaking the news to James that I was a strict vegetarian – especially as he’d taken me to Nando’s. He made a joke that it was never going to work. He’s probably the most enthusiastic carnivore I’ve ever met. ‘I’ve been vegetarian since I was 14 and I’m almost vegan now. Mainly it’s for
health reasons, but I’ve never liked meat. James virtually lives off rare steak and rarely bothers with a vegetable. Cooking at home is really tricky and it’s what we
have most of our fights about.
‘James used to be really annoying and say things like, “Are you sure you don’t want this burger?” but he’s got better, although he still forgets to tell people that I’m veggie. We went to his aunt’s on
Boxing Day and she served nothing but turkey sandwiches. It wasn’t ideal!’
James says: ‘I don’t think I’d ever met a proper vegetarian before Jess, so when she dropped the bombshell, I thought, “This is going to be an awkward date!” I get told off a lot when I make food at home. When she found out that I’d been cooking her Quorn on the same tray as my chicken she was horrified. Some of my mates think it’s funny that the biggest meat-eater they know has ended up with a vegetarian.
I don’t understand the point of being vegetarian – there’s enough animals to go around so why wouldn’t you eat meat?
‘We’ve talked about what will happen when we have kids and I’ll insist they eat meat for protein. I wouldn’t mind when they’re teenagers if they go through a weird phase of wanting to be veggie – although
clearly some people never grow out of that!’
‘Our different body clocks mean we can’t even live together'
Jade Sarkhel, 25, works in marketing and her boyfriend Alex Wrethman, 35, owns the restaurant group Charlotte’s Jade says: ‘I realised Alex and I kept different schedules on our first date. I turned up 10 minutes early and he was over half an hour late. I thought I’d been stood up. I quickly learned that he’s incapable of being on time, so now I tell him fake times. I’ve always been an early riser and Alex is the total opposite. We went to Barcelona recently and he didn’t get out of bed until 3pm. I ended up going around the city on my own while he was snoring back at the hotel. I’m normally tucked up by 10pm but Alex is a night owl. Because of our different body clocks, we don’t live together, even though we’ve been a couple for three years. Some nights I stay over at Alex’s or he’ll stay at mine, but it’s important we have our own space.’
Alex says: ‘You have no idea what I go through trying to get a lie-in every weekend! Jade thinks it’s virtuous to be up at the crack of dawn. I’ve worked in hospitality since I was 15 so I’m used to working nights. I often don’t get home til 3am. Sometimes it’s infuriating when I finish work at 9pm and want to take Jade out for a nice dinner, and she just wants to crawl into bed. The way I see it, Jade is just ridiculously early for things, whereas I arrive on time.’