S1 E3 (Part 2): So Your Boyfriend Isn't Voting—Now What? (Feat. Jennifer Litner)

In this special additional episode (y'all are spoiled!), Mackenzie and Lily continue their conversation with couples therapist and sexuality educator Jennifer Litner all about interpolitical dating and romantic partnerships. Mack and Lil also provide ample politically-minded romance novel recommendations and a peek into what else they're reading. This is the second part of a two-part episode. The first segment was published on September 28th, and you should definitely listen to that episode before diving into this one.

You can learn more about F2L guest Jennifer Litner at and on Instagram at @embracesexualwellness. F2L listeners also get 20% off her e-course Building Ease Talking About the Birds and the Bees™ with the promo code F2LPODCAST, which is valid now through October 31, 2020:

It's a digital course for parents, guardians, and caregivers who want to learn how to communicate developmentally appropriate sex-ed information with their children. Lesson material is based on the standards for comprehensive sexuality education, has been peer-reviewed, and is designed to be inclusive, shame-free, anti-oppressive, and scientifically accurate.

Parents can also download her free guide to developmentally appropriate conversations with youth here: Major episode timestamps: Introduction (0:00), Question About How to Handle a Partner's Unsavory Political Opinions (1:56), Question About Why Our Society Loves the Idea of "Opposites Attract" (7:12), Question About If You Should Try to Change a Partner's Political Affiliation or Views (14:20), Question About Supporting a Loved One in a Mixed Partisan Relationship (22:24), Question About What to Do If This Podcast Has Caused a Relationship Crisis (27:08), Post-Jennifer Litner Conversation Debrief, (32:07), Introduction to Member-Generated Politically Minded Romance Recommendations (36:39), Yes, No, Maybe So by Becky Albertalli and Aisha Saeed (37:07), Running by Natalia Sylvester (37:20), The Kingmaker and The Rebel King by Kennedy Ryan (38:28), Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston (39:18), The Voting Booth by Brandy Colbert (40:46), Introduction to What Else We're Reading (41:18), Engagement and Espionage by Penny Reid (41:26), Good Morning, Destroyer of Men's Souls by Nina Renata Aron (43:46), Conclusion (46:48). You can get full show notes and episode transcriptions on the Bad Bitch Book Club website: Give us a five-star rating wherever you get your podcasts, and say hi to us at @F2LPodcast on Twitter and Instagram. You can also join the private F2L Facebook group.

If you want to support Bad Bitch Book Club's initiatives (including this podcast), become a Patreon member: Buy all books mentioned on Friends to Lovers: Friends to Lovers is a Bad Bitch Book Club podcast hosted by BBBC founder Mackenzie Newcomb and writer, editor, and bestie Lily Herman. Each week, they use books as a jumping off point to talk about sex, relationships, dating, love, romance, and more. Podcast logo by MKW Creative Co. ( and music by Eliza Rose Vera (

Show Notes

Books Mentioned:

Episode Transcript

Introduction (0:00)

Lily Herman: Hey, y'all welcome back to Friends to Lovers, a podcast where we use books as a jumping off point to talk about sex, relationships, dating, love, romance, and more. Friends toLovers is part of the Bad Bitch Book Club network, and you can learn more at So you all know myself, Lily Herman, and my co-host, Mackenzie Newcomb. As you all probably can tell from the title and hopefully from listening to the first episode of this week, this is the second part of the little two-parter where we are discussing interpolitical romances. And we don't want to waste too much time with our usual housekeeping and what's in store and all of that good stuff. So we are going to dive into the second half of our conversation with therapist Jennifer Litner. So, hope you all enjoy that. The only reminder I'll give is that you can find all of our show notes, including all of the books that we discuss, as well as full episode transcriptions at And if you are just itching to talk about all of the things that we are discussing in this two-part episode, please join our Friends to Lovers podcast Facebook group; just type it in and you will find it on said social media network. Anyway, without further ado, let us get back to Jennifer and her infinite wisdom, because Mackenzie and I are Neanderthals compared to her, quite frankly. Anyway, let's go back.

Question About How to Handle a Partner's Unsavory Political Opinions (1:56)

Lily Herman: Something else—I know we sent this to you in advance—that we saw when we posed the statement that you were coming on and did people have questions was that we had a lot of listeners DM me privately, or just write in that chat, that they recently found out, for instance, that their significant others aren't planning to vote in this election and they had XYZ reasons for doing so. And for obvious reasons, that's led to a lot of really difficult and painful conversations and fights about values and political views and what's at stake and all of that. And so something that I noticed from that is it's actually not as uncommon as I thought for people to enter into a relationship or a marriage even and maybe not know some person's more politically unsavory opinions. So for people who have stumbled upon something like, "Hey, my partner has suddenly said that he's not voting in this election." What can people do to kind of work through that? 'Cause obviously the answer is not, despite me and Mackenzie's claim, the answer is not always "dump him yesterday." And it's a lot more complicated to, for instance, divorce over an argument like that. So how does one even work through what can feel like a really, really visceral betrayal in a lot of ways?

Jennifer Litner: Yeah, well, I think that finding someone to help guide the kind of emotional support in this can be really important. I think psychotherapy is a really great option and obviously I'm biased 'cause that's part of what I do, but I've also seen it being really helpful for people, especially working through betrayal. So that's certainly an option. The other thing I'm thinking about are what—it's not just that this person has a view or a belief that is in contrast with yours, but it's what it means. So I think a lot of times we, as human beings, get stuck on the stories or the narratives that we hold about the people in our lives and how that, you know, what that means about them. And then shifts our judgment and our thinking, right? So if someone finds out such revelations as, "Oh, how can I possibly be with this person? They must be such an insert word here, curse word here. Or what does it mean about me that I'm with this person?" I think that also evokes the same level of insecurity, it's really uncomfortable to sit with that. So I think some of those narratives get kicked up of like, "well, this person must be a bad person, but it's also someone I care about how do I sit with those two contradictions.?So I think looking at those narratives and what it means, and maybe seeing if there's work to shift that, meaning, can it be possible that this is someone that you care about and they have a really different view about how the world needs or should be? Can both of those things be true at the same time is kind of my thought on the matter.

Lily Herman: Yeah. I think we were also talking about this, me and Mackenzie, right before we had you on, of how kind of painful and traumatic it is to try and reconcile the fact that, you know, "My dad who taught me how to ride a bike and bought me ice cream after my breakup also believes that children should be in cages at the border." I'm just using an example, but that can be a really, really traumatic moment to realize that those are two—yes, it's seemingly diametrically opposing types of people all wrapped up in the same individual, and how to proceed with that is, I think, a really individual, but still, yeah, deeply terrifying choice,

Jennifer Litner: Of course. And I'm sure it's so I think deeply unique for each person in terms of their capacity to engage with this person and what that relationship is like. And and I would also think about, does somebody supporting something, is it also personal to you? That doesn't mean that they think that all people should be in cages at the border; I guess what I would ask people to think about is like, what the meaning is behind their, their choices. And does that mean that there are other reasons why they're making that decision? 'Cause again, people's voting choices tend to be personal and also tend to be collective. It just really depends. So I think I would want to know more about that, but boundaries and having distance from people who, especially if there's violence or trauma or abuse happening, I think that that is really important also. So I don't want to dismiss that for anyone who's experiencing that.

Lily Herman: You're so much smarter than us.

Mackenzie Newcomb: Waaaaay smarter. You haven't heard the first half of the recording yet, Jennifer.

Lily Herman: Jennifer's going to get on and be like, "Oh God, what did I say?"

Question About Why Our Society Loves the Idea of "Opposites Attract" (7:12)

Mackenzie Newcomb: So I don't know if this has changed, but I think it's very true, at least for like my parents' generation. So the Gen X, Gen X—are they Baby Boomers or Gen X? Whatever.

Lily Herman: My parents are barely Baby Boomers. Yeah.

Mackenzie Newcomb: So my parents, they're in their mid fifties. So why does society so revere this idea of "opposites attract" or that working through differences should extend to deeper ideological beliefs? One thing I learned this episode is I cannot pronounce "ideological." It's a way harder word than I thought it was. Why do you think society loves this idea of opposites attract?

Jennifer Litner: You know, I think it's kind of this exciting thing in a way. We think about how people who have a lot of differences in some way, that that can also lead to a lot of passion, not only in conversation, but otherwise. And we know that kind of that distance in some way is also really good for eroticism. There's been—I don't know if you've heard of Esther Perel, she's done a lot of research on that. I think that there's a place for those having opposite beliefs or qualities in one another and that in some ways, a lot of times this is talked about in terms of complementarity. So one person is a planner in a relationship and the other person is not. And that is in some ways, they kind of benefit from being with each other to complement one another. For some people, that would be a deal breaker. Like they need to be with somebody who is much more flexible or spontaneous and other people really want to be with someone who's more of a planner. But I think when it is those opposites, there's a tension about opposites. And some of the people really say that that finds and enhances the excitement and passion in the relationship.

Lily Herman: It's funny you say that because I think someone in Bad Bitch Book Club, in one of the groups we posted to give us your question, someone said, they're like, "On the one hand, I can see the excitement of having hate sex, makeup sex with someone opposite on the ideological spectrum all the time. But also I would hate their guts, you know?" So it was that sort of weird dichotomy there. I was like, "Yeah, I guess for some couples, that's what they thrive off of." Or what kind of, you know, what drives it.

Mackenzie Newcomb: I actually love your description of the opposites attract though. 'Cause I never actually thought about myself and my husband as being opposite attract kind of couple. But now that I think about it, I'm so the planner; if he tried to make a restaurant reservation, I'd be concerned. I'd be like, why did you do that? Anytime he tries to plan anything, I'm like, why are you planning it? And I like to dress up like a movie star at all the times and he dresses like a lumberjack. So there's definitely healthier opposites.

Lily Herman: Well, good luck to Ben during this episode, but also, 'cause for you guys that works. Whereas I, for me, I'm a planner as Mackenzie can attest with this podcast. But I feel like I need a person who is also a planner because I would see it as someone trying to take advantage of my labor, both emotionally and logistically, and needing someone who will be my equal on that particular individual front. Like just that one front is one where the opposites attract would—.

Mackenzie Newcomb: Except as a podcast host.

Lily Herman: Except as a podcast host, It works. But for a life partner, I can't imagine being like, "I need to always plan the vacations." I'd be like, "You plan the vacation!" You know, that person makes sense.

Jennifer Litner: I think this is such a great example of how this is so individualized, right? Like, people's needs, what they're looking for. A lot of this is about what they haven't gotten, I mean, psychologically speaking, haven't gotten in their previous life perhaps of needs that they're looking to fill in some way, or things that just feel really fundamental to them. And so not everything in the world, we're not going to be aligned with our partners in every single way, that's just, it's not going to happen. If that is somebody, I'd love to see what's going on in their relationship. 'Cause I just would be so surprised. I'm like, whenever somebody says we don't, we never fight or we don't have anything that's different between us, I just—that raises my eyebrow a bit. I think that this is natural and we all have different things that kind of are more important to us. And I can totally relate with the planning piece because I myself am a planner too. And you know, I think it's something that's just a common example that comes up with in relationships. The other thing I was just thinking too, and just like working through differences, there's something that is really healthy for us to learn as humans about how to have a collaborative relationship with people that are different from us. So when we think about this personally and professionally, you know, it doesn't mean that we have to agree with everyone, but I think being able to develop those skills can be helpful. And that might be like one of the reasons why being surrounded by people that are different from us could also be a positive thing.

Lily Herman: Interesting. I feel like we're getting all sorts of different opinions. Yeah.

Mackenzie Newcomb: And you've made me think about something I hadn't previously thought of, which is, I'm in a unique position where I was 22 when I met my husband. So I didn't really have a lot of adult experience dating, but I think if I was still single and hypothetically wanted children and wanted to get married, I would probably, if I had found someone who was perfect in every single way except their political affiliation, it might still give me pause, but I might consider dating them more than I normally would if it helped me get to those other life goals that I really wanted. Interesting. Never thought about it.

Lily Herman: Whereas I feel like I'm the complete opposite and I am single. Right. I think it's a fun dichotomy of which we were talking about before you came on, Jennifer, is that as a political writer, like politics just comes up immediately on the first date, just by nature of people asking what I do for a living. So it's just a very different setup that I personally can't avoid. And I do a lot of organizing and activism work, so it's like, that just is—but similarly, to your point, that's part of a lifestyle that I've chosen. So I think all it is a lot about the politics, but it also ends up being about the lifestyle of wanting someone potentially. And that's my personal individual choice who shares the same interests, which includes going to a protest on a regular basis or doing more political organizing or something like that. I'm like, wow, I'm just sitting here very much like deep in my thoughts.

Question About If You Should Try to Change a Partner's Political Affiliation or Views (14:20)

Lily Herman: I also had a question that came from quite a few straight women in particular, and especially liberal straight women, where they were all kind of talking about, okay, what happens if you have a partner, whether he identifies as more liberal or as more conservative, who has some sort of problematic viewpoint or one that's maybe half-baked or has some really kind of harmful elements to it and you want to fix that person? What are the complexities of that line of thinking of, "Oh, I need to fix someone's deepest held values." 'Cause I think that that comes up in relationships in general all the time of "if I just fix this one thing about my partner, even if it's something that's very core to them, everything would be better or they would be a better person," but how do you actually handle that in practice?

Jennifer Litner: So it's a really good question. I think it's really challenging; shifting ideology is challenging to begin with. And as an educator, we think about how a lot of people who are very fixed in their ideology are not likely to change. People who are more towards the middle or are less fixed in their ideology are more likely to change. So there's the educator in me is thinking about it that way, but relationally trying to change somebody, specifically their belief system and their values, it's really challenging and it can be dangerous emotionally. It can cause a lot of emotional turmoil, a lot of disappointment and frustration and emotional distance. So in some ways, I'm thinking what feels easier to adjust is helping somebody understand how their behavior might be affecting you and what it means for you and thinking about those relational behaviors as opposed to what the core belief is. Right? So for example, if we're talking about couples that are pro-life and somebody's pro-choice, that maybe it's that the behavior of talking about the ideology is triggering for that person. So that is something that they're open and willing to change, but they're not able to change their ideology in general. That would be likely more successful, given that if these people care about each other and they have a relationship, then focusing on changing the person's belief in their ideology as a whole in some ways, a lot of times this gets activated psychologically as we're protesting something. We can't accept this thing. Really when we move towards acceptance of one's partner, instead of trying to change them, it's a lot more harmonious. So I think we would work, like I would ask people to think about what it might be like to accept this as this something that they could, again, not agreeing with the person, but just accepting that this is who they are and a belief that they hold, and what kinds of things would they ultimately need to be able to continue in this relationship that may not involve changing that person's ideology? 'Cause that could be, that might not be possible.

Lily Herman: Yeah I think too, as I'm thinking about what you've been saying, Jennifer, I think too, where political views can be helpful is that they can open up larger conversations about what are people's deepest values. If someone's against abortion rights, for instance, that can be a really great window into conversations about what they think in their life. Yeah. What would happen if we had something like what, why is your political view that there should be no abortion, but in our life together individually, you'd be okay with an abortion? What does that say? And I think that's up to individual people to make and to do that introspection. 'Cause I think again, to what we were saying earlier, it can be very painful to realize that there are discrepancies in who someone is to you individually and how they would necessarily treat the unseen masses, so to speak. And I think that that can be a difficult conversation, especially as things relate to like feminism and gender roles and how they're rigid and normalized and all of that fun stuff. But I'm just thinking a lot about where the political views and the ideological views sort of mesh and what you can learn from them.

Jennifer Litner: Yeah. It makes me think about how in relationship therapy, we talk a lot about empathy and validation and how being able to understand somebody and where they're coming from, what their intentions are, is not the same than agreeing with them. And being able to try and understand why, no, why does somebody believe this? You know, and again, if it's a hard line for you, then you obviously have to make those decisions, whether it be abortion or any other issue, because everybody is allowed to have—we're all have our limits. We all have our hard lines. We all have the things that are must haves when we're looking for a partner, we're looking for a home, or whatever we're looking for, and we all have those, some of those criteria. And so I think it's important to listen to that, but also see if it is possible to have a conversation about understanding where somebody's beliefs or their ideologies come from and can you have that conversation without it feeling, without attacking one another? Can you have a productive conversation with empathy, even if it's something that you strongly oppose? I always think that empathy and endorsement are not the same thing. And I just trying to remind people of that.

Mackenzie Newcomb: That's so true. Yeah. I can make it work with someone who likes small government, but I couldn't make it work with someone who thinks that I'm a murderer. And those are just your fine lines, you know?

Lily Herman: So I think as you're getting at, Jennifer, t's okay if there are deal breakers. 'Cause I think sometimes there's also this narrative in our society of, "Oh, you two were politically opposed, you're being inflexible. You're not seeing the real them" or something like that. When in reality, we all have those hard stops where we're like, no thank you. This is not going to align with me politically in terms of my values, in terms of what I want for my life. And I think sometimes it's also hard to have that hard stop when everything's going well, but you're kind of looking down the line and saying, okay, I don't know if this works, this might work out as a good casual dating sitch, but not when it comes to raising children or even just two people having to live with each other, as we're learning in the pandemic, for an extended period of time.

Jennifer Litner: And I think there's something really lovely about recognizing that often it can feel frustrating, especially if there's an urgency in finding a partner. But there's something really great about being able to recognize the usefulness of a relationship and lack thereof; that information's important to pay attention to and also understanding what your must-haves and your hard lines are. 'Cause some people, I think, are more aware, but being able to put that into practice and what that means is, I think, sometimes people want to have everything on their list, and it's like, if you can boil it down to, what are these real deal breakers for you? And really being careful about that. I think that makes a lot of sense to me. I mean, even personally, I don't think I could be with a partner who's not sex-positive, just given the work that I do. Right? So we all have things, limits and hard lines, as we say.

Question About Supporting a Loved One in a Mixed Partisan Relationship (22:24)

Mackenzie Newcomb: So I'm not sure how I feel about getting involved in other people's relationships, but we've had more than a few listeners discuss how they're not personally in an interpolitical relationship, but a close friend or a loved one is. What does it look like to support mixed partisan couples? And should you show support for them, even if you vehemently disagree with one or both the people in the partnership? What if ideological differences are leading to discord and toxicity for that couple, and what if they don't really matter?

Jennifer Litner: That's a tough one, honestly.

Lily Herman: Yeah. We had a lot of "my mom has a boyfriend and he has like heinous views and I don't know how to support her. I don't want to see them at the holidays." That's coming up a lot, essentially.

Jennifer Litner: Right. Right. Well, I think it depends on what the level of support requires, like the support, meaning, you wave hello to them at a family gathering? Does support mean you're rooting for them at their marathon? What does support look like? We're talking really generally we have no idea what the context is.

Mackenzie Newcomb: Let's go with mom with new boyfriend.

Jennifer Litner: Right. So my questions are, how often are you interacting with mom and new boyfriend? What's new boyfriend like to you? What is your relationship like? Because I think a lot of these things would probably impact how safe somebody might feel in response to that person. Emotional safety is really important in relationships. So I think it looks like being—I would say it depends on what support looks like, but maybe being careful and mindful about the way that you support and maybe not getting involved unless somebody is asking your feedback. I think it's good to ask people, are they open to feedback? I know that when people are dating someone a lot, some people will ask their friends and what not, but a lot of people don't like to hear feedback from others, and that can really be impacting your relationship with mom perhaps. And so I think there's a lot of context pieces here, but I also think boundaries are really great. Like whether it be having like a politics-free zone that you agree on, or you know, being able to say that things like, I really enjoy spending time together, but I want us to avoid conversations about politics. That's something that you can agree on. Also just not assuming that what is going on internally in that relationship is actively causing harm and toxicity unless it's disclosed to you. And if it is, and I think the question becomes, is this a relationship that needs to be reconsidered? And how can I support you? You're really struggling. I'm feeling concerned about you, that kind of thing. But I think that that is, would probably be more served for, the times when harm is really occurring. I would be really careful with the words I would use, but I think boundaries can be an effective strategy if you're engaging with people more regularly too. So those are my initial thoughts.

Mackenzie Newcomb: You can't dump someone else's boyfriend.

Jennifer Litner: Exactly. You cannot control someone else's relationship either, no matter how hard you try.

Lily Herman: I think the hard lesson I learned when I was younger, 'cause I have an opinion about everything, is my general rule is with any friend in a relationship or person, you have maybe exactly one chance to say something, so you want to hold onto that chance for if there's an actual problem or they are literally about to go at the altar and you're like, he's cheating on you! You need to leave that moment for when it's really needed as an emergency Mulligan system. And not just when you're, you know, he said something annoying at brunch. That's not the time to use that one shot, you know?

Mackenzie Newcomb: And for the record, I want no feedback or criticism on my own marriage. If you have something to say about it, keep it to your fucking self. No one has anything bad to say about Ben, but just in case it ever comes up, don't tell him.

Lily Herman: Good to know.

Jennifer Litner: Boundaries are important, right? Like, "I'm not open to feedback or I am open to feedback." Being able to say that.

Question About What to Do If This Podcast Has Caused a Relationship Crisis (27:08)

Lily Herman: Oh, I love it. So our last question was—Mackenzie and I both have a feeling that this episode might lead to some internal crises for a few people just given the subject matter. And it might be triggering in some respect or poke some button for someone, maybe multiple someones. So, what would you say to people who are in an interpolitical relationship, listening to you talk to us and maybe going through a bit of a rough time based on what they said, what are next steps? What should they do? What should they be thinking about if they are questioning their relationship or some piece of it? Essentially, where do they go from here?

Jennifer Litner: I mentioned this earlier, but I think that this is a really great time for relationship therapy. One of the things I tend to notice time and time again is people wait far too long and before they start this process to address their discord or whatever their presenting issues are. And it leads to a process where there's maybe so much resentment or there's so much pain that it's really hard to really not just undo that, but really make headway. And so I think if you're thinking that it's going to lead to a crisis or you're in crisis, that is a good time to get started. Finding somebody who is well-trained and relationally trained, being able to work with couples—and we have a lot of experience doing so—it's really, it's really important to have strong communication skills and understandings about just an overall process of how you communicate around differences and difficulties in your relationship. And if you don't have that, I don't really see how any other relationship, any relationship, could survive, let alone one where people have different political ideologies unless avoidance is just a big theme in the relationship and they don't talk about it ever. I think that that would be my first suggestion, probably the best one since I've seen the power, it can have on people.

Mackenzie Newcomb: I actually feel like you're going to bring a lot of hope for the people listening to this podcast. I feel like Lily and I will trigger them and then you'll soothe them and it's kind of the perfect dynamic.

Lily Herman: Well, I'm always doom and gloom, so it's just me here to kill the buzz. And then Jennifer has come in and has rekindled the buzz. No, I mean, I even with my views, which are pretty, I'm pretty entrenched, I feel like there's some cogs that are turning that I'm just really thinking about. And at least even if it maybe doesn't change some aspects of my behavior, I think it's an understanding why or how people I know, and even listeners, people in the book club might compartmentalize or justify or look at their own partnerships or relationships or friendships or anything like that. I think understanding that complexity is super, super helpful.

Jennifer Litner: Yeah. And I would also just remind people that they're not alone. I was just doing a little bit of research, because political science is not my area of expertise. I was doing a little bit of research before we met. And I was looking in the stats from recent voter registration analyses tell us that about 30% of married households contain a mismatched partisan pair or multi-political party. I think that that's a pretty significant number. I think I've also seen stats that say one in 10 are those political pairs are Democrats and Republicans. So that's not insignificant in the realm of research. So I think it's just important to remember that there are other people who have relationships similar, they may not have the exact same crises or dynamics that you do, but they have interpolitical relationships. And in some cases these, they have really great relationships. So I don't want to dismiss that this is an option for those who are in that situation. And on the other side of things, like so many people do date within or marry or partner with people who are much more similar to them because that's their hard line or that's what's important to them. And so I'm not here to say there's a right and a wrong, but let's find a process to communicate and make our relationship strong, no matter what's going on.

Lily Herman: Oh, I love it. It's such a good end note too. So Jennifer, thank you so much. Oh my goodness. You were phenomenal.

Mackenzie Newcomb: Let's send her merch.

Lily Herman: We're going to send it. Mackenzie is going to send you some merch. So she'll follow up asking about sizing and addresses and stuff. But thank you so, so much for joining us.

Post-Jennifer Litner Conversation Debrief, (32:07)

Lily Herman: Mack, how are you feeling? 'Cause I feel like I just went to eight therapy sessions in only 30-ish odd minutes.

Mackenzie Newcomb: I love her. I just really love her. I feel like she opened my mind up so much, You and I, we both know that we're super biased. Like we've been very clear about that since the very beginning of the podcast. Anyone that really knows us personally knows where we stand on the political spectrum and we're both pretty much falling off the cliff of the left side. So I felt like Jennifer both really brought us down to earth here and I hope that it's a hopeful episode for everyone. I mean, I think one of the most important things she said was that it's important to draw your hard lines. Like for me, that hard line is abortion. Like I can not, will not date you, I probably will have even a hard time being your friend if we can't find some mutual agreement on the abortion issue. However, there are many other things, for example, the size of our government, the intricacies of a tax bill, that we could probably still be friends and maybe even potentially bone, which I hadn't really thought of. I also loved the part where she was talking about how it's really important for a lot of people to make sure that these big life moments line up with other people. If you're someone who is approaching the end of your peak fertility and you're trying to get married, you might be a little bit less concerned about the semantics kind of like brushed off as "I'll fix you later" kind of thing. If you find someone that checks off every other box, there's no reason why your relationship and your marriage can't work. So I feel good. I feel happy for other people right now.

Lily Herman: I feel happy for other people. It's my general mood as I'm like kind of side eyeing. And I'm like, I feel happy for them. No, I'm kidding. I really liked—'cause like I said, when we were talking to her, I've always struggled with where's the line between me and people say they have a value versus when they have a political view, I really liked how she was able to show intellectually how people break up values versus political views and this idea of how we look at ourselves individually versus the whole. And I think I'm a more collective, how does this affect people overall? And I want people in my life also thinking about this sort of person to her point too, about how we have to look at everyone's situations with empathy, to just understand it and not endorse it. I thought that was great. 'Cause I think that's just given me some food for thought. I still don't think I'm going to ever date someone who's not very close politically to where I'm at for, again, a variety of reasons, but also I think she really beautifully articulated how and why people have different opinions on that and how they're okay. And when they also become problematic, I think she was great at kind of showing how you can make something work. But also at what point do you need to do some further digging to see if something or someone is a good idea for you.

Mackenzie Newcomb: Absolutely. And I think she answered the general question for us, which was can Democrats and Republicans fall in love? And the answer is yes, but like we kind of said a little bit earlier, there's a spectrum of yes. Right. It can work with people whose values are aligned enough that it can still work, but it doesn't work for everybody. And that's okay if it doesn't work for you, you are not a bad person for having these hard lines.

Lily Herman: Yeah. Yeah. I think she just really articulated well where, where are the yeses are and where the sort of like, ah, yeah, she never said necessarily no, but she was kind of like, well, you might have to head into some therapy at that point, which I agree.

Mackenzie Newcomb: But if you're in a sexual relationship, and I think she was clear about this, you should be on the same page about sexual health.

Lily Herman: I a thousand percent agree with her. And I think too, that's the other issue as well, is that living together or being together in a more intimate setting, sexual or not or whatever, does require you to have conversations about certain lifestyle choices. And that can also affect how you talk about political issues too, just by nature of everything being so interconnected. But it sounded like, it sounds like basically everyone needs to communicate. If you're super hyper-avoidant, that's also something for you to unpack, just as much as if you talk way too much about your political views with a partner. I was a fan.

Introduction to Member-Generated Politically Minded Romance Recommendations (36:39)

Mackenzie Newcomb: So since people can't go and read Meet You in the Middle, unless you are aware of the intricate system of getting ARCs, what are some audience recommendations that people had?

Lily Herman: Yeah. So these are more generally politically minded romances, 'cause there's not a ton of Democrat/Republican shagging romances out on the market in general. So these are just politically minded ones that people brought to the forefront that deal with issues in a variety of ways.

Yes, No, Maybe So by Becky Albertalli and Aisha Saeed (37:07)

Lily Herman: So first and foremost is a YA book. Yes, no, maybe. So by Becky Albertalli and Aisha Saeed. It's about a cross-cultural romance between two teenagers who are doing political canvassing for the summer. Cute, fun.

Running by Natalia Sylvester (37:20)

Lily Herman: Second, which is actually an October book—in October? Yeah. October book of the month. Are we announcing that yet?

Mackenzie Newcomb: That's one of the options. Yeah. So it can be announced. Okay. So Running by Natalia Sylvester. This is a YA novel about a young girl, she's 15, whose father is running for president. She finds herself at multiple crossroads in terms of dealing with the scrutiny and increased attention on her and also finding her own political opinions throughout the novel. Her dad's running for the GOP nomination, and she was always kind of kept away from his political views. She had no idea really where he stood and was just trying to be a teenager. It's really good. It's going to be one of the options for our book of the month. So book of the month voting goes out today this afternoon at some point, today being Friday. So Monday when the podcast goes out on Monday. Yeah but vote for The Book of Rosy and join the Patreon so you can talk about Running by Natalia Sylvester.

The Kingmaker and The Rebel King by Kennedy Ryan (38:28)

Lily Herman: Excellent. Third, we had The Kingmaker and The Rebel King, which is a duo or a couplet by Kennedy Ryan, whom I very much fuck with. Essentially it is a mix of second chance love, politics, et cetera, et cetera. Kennedy Ryan's protagonist,Lennox, in here identifies as Native. And there's been a lot of high praise for how much research she did for this character. I've generally found that Kennedy Ryan is incredible when it comes to writing characters that don't have the same identities as herself. She really digs deep, really does a ton of research, really takes feedback well from sensitivity readers. Some #OwnVoices reviewers who are Native have said that they really enjoyed the book. Obviously I can't speak for every person and what not, but that's been the general consensus on that one.

Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston (39:18)

Lily Herman: Mack, do you want to do the next one?

Mackenzie Newcomb: Yeah, so Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston. So this was actually a Bad Bitch Book Club book of the month in 2019. It was our July book of the month, which was the month after it came out. This has become kind of a modern romance genre classic. Pretty much any time someone posts the Bad Bitch Book Club for a romance rec, this is one of the top three recommendations for sure. This book poses the question, what happens when the son of the president of the United States falls for the Prince of England during one of the most consequential elections in history? And the answer is, a lot. We love the bisexual representation in this story. Lily wants an Ellen Claremont 2020 piece of merch. I'm not so sure that they will get sold well and be worth my investment. So if you really want this, she's trying.

Lily Herman: Tweet us!

Mackenzie Newcomb: Yeah, tweet us. Yeah.

Lily Herman: I have nothing but respect for my president. And that president is Ellen Claremont. So please join me fellow—I don't know what her stands are called—Claremontites? Claremont peeps? We gotta make this happen for Ellen I also love Red, White & Royal Blue. It's an amazing book. It's fun.

Mackenzie Newcomb: Some people don't like it, but they're wrong.

Lily Herman: I have to give a shout out to Shannon who did not love this book—.

Mackenzie Newcomb: She's wrong. And Katie. They're both wrong!

The Voting Booth by Brandy Colbert (40:46)

Lily Herman: Oh goodness. The last book that got recommended a couple of times actually just came out recently and that's The Voting Booth by Brandy Colbert. It's about two teens, one incredibly politically engaged one and one who just wants to vote and get it over with, who spend the day trying to get other people to vote and to change the world. Oh, the youths are just so hopeful and nice and also much more woke than we were at their age.

Mackenzie Newcomb: And also aware of the downfall of the earth and how they're unfortunately left to pick it up. Thank you to the youths.

Introduction to What Else We're Reading (41:18)

Mackenzie Newcomb: So what are you reading right now?

Lily Herman: Angsty or otherwise. We love them.

Mackenzie Newcomb: We love that. Thanks to you for a fucking reason.

Engagement and Espionage by Penny Reid (41:26)

Lily Herman: So this book I actually read a little while ago, but I needed a moment to talk about it. I will keep my synopsis of this short, but essentially there is an author named Penny Reid. Penny Reid has written a bajillion books and seems to write like one book a day, but she had a series about a knitting group in Chicago. It was a group of women and one of the women, it turns out, has six brothers who all live in rural Tennessee in the mountains, and Penny Reid, a doll amongst us, created an entire spinoff series called The Winston Brothers about said Tennessee mountain men. They also all have beards, which is important, I guess. But from that spinoff series, there is another spinoff series that just came out and it involves my favorite brother, whom has a bit of a cult following. His name is Cletus, which is the worst name I've ever heard in my fucking life. But his book, Beard Science, is the best one in my opinion of The Winston Brothers spinoff series with his girl Jenn, and their first spinoff book in their cozy murder mystery series is called Engagement and Espionage. And I fucked with it so hard. I feel like this was a very deep, deep take, like in terms of me getting to this book, but Engagement and Espionage is what I'm reading currently. Or like, what I'm recommending and have read currently. I loved it. I hate Cletus's name, but I love him. He's this very grumpy bearded, probably a libertarian man up in the mountains of Tennessee. And I just love a good cozy murder mystery. So that's what I've been reading and I already have my alarm set for March, 2021 when the next one comes out in the series. 'Cause there's like five of them because Penny Reid blesses us every second of every day.

Mackenzie Newcomb: See, you love Cletus even though you don't know his political standing. So it can happen. We have lots of book boyfriends who we haven't had the talk yet with.

Lily Herman: But he's talked about how he's like, first of all, he meddles in things to make things right. So I'm like, okay, I see where his mind is at. And he has also supported like rights of people throughout the books. So we stan Cletus. We love him so much.

Good Morning, Destroyer of Men's Souls by Nina Renata Aron (43:46)

Mackenzie Newcomb: I am currently reading Good Morning, Destroyer of Men's Souls by Nina Renata Aron. This is one of the selections for the Resting Book Face feminist reading group that Lily is running. Lily has spoken very, very highly of this book.

Lily Herman: And running it with Anna and Emily, I should add.

Mackenzie Newcomb: We love Anna and we love Emily. Shout out to them. They are all running this feminist reading group. The selections have been pretty amazing. This one Lily had really, really promoted. And so I knew I had to read it. I am listening to it on audiobook because despite having the ARC, I just prefer to listen to memoirs. So this is the Goodreads description is "a scorching memoir of a love affair with an addict, weaving personal reckoning with psychology and history to understand the nature of addiction, codependency, and our appetite for obsessive love." Y'all, this is a depressing memoir, but it's really well-written. It's very personal, but also has like tidbits of actual scientific research thread throughout it. She has a PhD I believe, or at least was pursuing the PhD while working on this book. And it's pretty amazing. As someone who's loved a lot of addicts in my life, I think that this is definitely worth listening to, especially the aspect on codependency, which I actually have more experience—but not personal experience, like adjacent experience with—than addiction. So everyone should join us. What day are you guys reading it?

Lily Herman: I believe—Well, she is coming to speak with us.

Mackenzie Newcomb: Is she now? Oh yeah. Oh my God.

Lily Herman: Well, a little something, something. The people who come to the meetings know that she is coming to speak with us. I'm trying to look up. I want to say it's October 15th, but let me just scroll and not make up dates in my head. Yep. It is October 15th at 8:00 PM Eastern time, 5:00 PM Pacific. We are speaking with Nina theoretically, obviously, we're saying this now, but who knows what will happen in a month. But yeah, it's honestly one of my favorite books of 2020. It's a very different type of addiction memoir. As much as there's a ton of addiction memoirs, there's not as many memoirs by their loved ones about what it's like to live with an addict or love an addict or just put up with an addict in some respect, depending on the person's relationship. So it's just a really, really beautifully written book, but definitely make sure you have some sessions with your therapist on the docket, because it's going to open up some things. If you have a history of addiction or know someone who had it who's close to you, if you just have issues with just codependency in general, like holy shit.

Mackenzie Newcomb: I'm gonna be reading a romance novel after this.

Lily Herman: I have many, but unfortunately you cannot read Engagement and Espionage because you have not—.

Mackenzie Newcomb: I'm not going down that rabbit hole. I'm not, I'm not doing that. I'm not doing that.

Conclusion (46:48)

Mackenzie Newcomb: All right. So it's been quite the episode, two episodes. Thank you all for staying with us this whole time.

Lily Herman: Yes. I don't know who stuck around to the end of the second episode, but we're going to keep the hits coming next week for what's also turning out to be one of our most highly anticipated pieces of content for the podcast. And that is our discussion of Empowering Blow Jobs™, capital-E, capital-B, capital-J, trademark symbol. So next week we are interviewing bestselling author, Sarah MacLean, who wrote what I consider to be one of the best sex scenes of all romance writing and in particular, one of the best blow job scenes of all romance writing. So if you want something to do this week, please inhale her Bareknuckle Bastards series, because the scene we'll discuss is in the second book, which is called Brazen and the Beast. The bulk of the episode will still be spoiler-free, and we'll provide timestamps and also ample warning for those who don't want to hear about the specific scene without reading it first. But Sarah is a doll. We enjoyed talking to her so much. She was so fucking cool and is so nice. And it's basically like an Oscar winner of romance. So please stick around for that episode next week. It's fabulous.

Mackenzie Newcomb: Thank you everyone. Please make sure once again to please give us a five-star rating, a review, and subscribe to this podcast on iTunes, Spotify, or wherever the hell you listened to your podcasts. Hopefully not Amazon Podcasts though, 'cause you're better than that. For full transcriptions and show notes, Also Bad Bitch Book Club, once again—I know I told you guys this Monday, but I don't really care—has unveiled a ton of new fall merch over the past two weeks. You want to make sure to check that out, to support small business, get yourself some cozy ass things for a lockdown winter. And make sure to follow the podcast on @F2LPodcast on Instagram and Twitter and me at @mackinstyle on all platforms. I've recently lost some followers probably from being so political. So make up for that. Be my follower. Where can people find you?

Lily Herman: You can find me at @lilykherman on Instagram and @lkherman on Twitter.

Mackenzie Newcomb: We love you so much. Thank you so much for listening.

Lily Herman: Please join our Facebook group, because I know people are going to want to talk about these two episodes and you should get in on the conversation. So that's my las plus.

Mackenzie Newcomb: Unlike a lot of Facebook groups, we do not have no-politics rules, but we do have a no-asshole rule. So be sure to come bearing your thoughts. See ya! Have a good day!

Lily Herman: Thanks, everyone. Bye.


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