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Dear Joanie,

You have just as good a chance at success as most young couples. You're
23, there's a chance your relationship will grow together or apart based
on a number of factors. Politics is just one of many.

You Respect Each Other

It sounds like you and your boyfriend respect each other--he treats you like a queen, your arguments remain impersonal--so some intense political debate may be part of what makes your relationship work.

But you're worried about the future of your relationship and how your heavy debates will play out over time. Unfortunately, no general rule applies in this arena--each relationship is unique--so predicting a couple's future based on political views can be tricky.

Some combinations are sure signs of doom. If one member of a couple is passionate over an issue and the other is indifferent, that may be a problem. The passionate member will feel like the other person doesn't share in the passion and the indifferent one might wonder what all the fuss is about.

Another deadly combination would be two extreme opposites who refuse to allow their partner to hold their own opinion in peace. If your boyfriend were constantly trying to ridicule your opinion or bully you into agreeing with him, that would be a problem. It doesn't sound like that's the case with you and your boyfriend.

Find Compromises

A relationship would certainly suffer if a disagreement over social issues became a debate relevant to a personal situation: like abortion or child care or divorce. When a couple disagrees on these topics it is no longer a theoretical debate, but rather it becomes a real personal conflict. These issues are ones that any couple looking toward a future together should talk about and if not agree on, find acceptable compromises.

And finally, there are couples where disagreement breeds passion. Take James Carville and Mary Matlin for example. He's a loud mouth Democratic political strategist on CNN, she's a Republican strategist for the Bush administration. They've been married since 1993.

It Sounds Like Healthy Debate

In your situation it sounds like the two of you enjoy healthy debate over politics and social issues. If your relationship develops to the point where the two of you might think about a future together, think about your different views and ask yourself (and your boyfriend) how they might affect your lives together as a couple; will a theoretical disagreement ever affect your personal decisions as a couple, and if so, how will you work it out?

I don't think you have too much to worry about just yet. Discussing it with your boyfriend is a great place to start.

Good luck!


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