Eight months ago, I matched with a man on Bumble, and we started exclusively dating. He’s super thoughtful, treats me well, and (at least for now) seems like the best guy I’ve ever dated. The reason I’m writing in is because I’m navigating in unchartered territory. On the second or third date, he made a couple jokes about how idiotic Trump could be, so I skipped over the politics talk. About a month in, he tells me that he voted for Trump. I consider myself decently open-minded, but as a black woman, I assumed (clearly a mistake) that anyone on a dating app that was all ~MAGA~ would swipe past me. And while he’s not screaming “build the wall,” or anything of the sort, I struggle with it. Is it possible to have a serious relationship with someone who doesn’t understand white privilege? Does he see me as an “exception” to black people and minorities? If I meet his family will I be walking into a miniature Trump rally?
—Lost in Love
Writer Yasmin Boakye’s words are always in conversation with the beautiful ache of being alive. Here is her advice:
I think Minda wanted me to write you because there’s synchronicity between our core stories. The story I tell is this: In 2016, before the world erupted, I moved back to the Midwest and settled myself into a man before I found an apartment. He was the kind of man who opened doors, kept his freezer stocked with Talenti and took me dancing. He felt like a stable thing in an unstable time.
But not for long. Two nights after Election Day, he came over to make clear what hadn’t been at all clear — his beliefs. Not in Trump, he tried to assure me, but in Hillary’s criminal nature, Bernie’s thwarted ascendancy and a bunch of other nonsense obscuring a rotten center that he didn’t want to touch. I let him have it. I told him he’d voted against POC, LBGTQIA folks, women, poor people, and immigrants — against me. He wouldn’t see it that way, and so we argued for forever, going nowhere.
It’d be cooler to say I kicked him out right then, cackled over a glass of Prosecco while he drove heartbroken into the sunset. But the truth is that there’s knowing, and there’s feeling, and sometimes you tuck away what you know to feel what you feel.
What I knew was clear — this man refused to believe that his personal politics were a violence against my communities. But it was also November, and my apartment was cold, and everything hurt like freshly broken skin. So, I let him hold me and wondered if I could just be a body, needing holding.
Beneath that basic need was fear: that no one else would hold me. I was partially right — after him, I wasn’t held for a very long time. But that abstract fear was eclipsed by the way he spooned me like there was nothing altered between us, no cavern opened up. That closed off any future we could ever have — his inability to be impacted by how I felt or reshaped by my pain. That was me, back then, and you’re in the now — a now where you should feel empowered to have the conversations necessary to answer the questions you’ve posed: Seven months seems like a long time to leave things hanging in the air. Don’t be afraid to ask him your questions and to ask yourself what answers you can live with — for right now, for forever, or something in between. What do you know? What do you feel? What are you afraid of? Speak, listen and own whatever comes into the light.
The truth of me is that for a night, against my values, I just wanted to be held. For a week, I wished he’d kept his secret. For months, I missed his dog, his couch and the freer self I’d been with him. But, three years later, after lots of loneliness and self-reflection, I’m in a different city, newly seeing a guy sweeter than I could have imagined. His politics aren’t identical to mine, but he’s honest, receptive and deeply committed to seeing me fully.
And therein lies the hardest truth of all — the challenge of dealing with what you know and feel right now while also believing in the possibilities you can’t yet see. The truth of you is that maybe you’ll have that big conversation and discover there’s still a way to fold this man into your life. But it sounds like you already know that there’s more to being loved than being treated well. It sounds like you want to trust that this man can hold your body and the fullness of your life as a black woman. And, if nothing else, I can promise that you deserve that kind of holding.