At a time when politics have become so intensely personal and divisive, how are people navigating the topic in the already fraught world of online dating?
With President Trump’s impeachment trial underway, and the race for the Democratic presidential nomination picking up, we asked readers who use online dating what they look for politically in a potential match and how they signal their own views.
More than 200 people responded, many echoing the sentiments of one woman who had been open to dating people with different political views but who changed her mind in the current climate. “Now, your political beliefs are a referendum on your entire life, with all your values aligned neatly under a single label,” Kristine Kinsey of Knoxville, Tenn., wrote.
While some said they didn’t think politics was important in the dating calculus, far more thought the subject was crucial in evaluating possible partners, often sleuthing for subtle profile clues that might indicate their values.
Here is a selection of the responses, which have been lightly edited.
Taking an upfront approach
I don’t really make a conscious effort to either screen people out or in based on their political beliefs. What I have found, sadly, is people boldly announcing, “No Trump-Republicans need apply.”
I like to keep an open mind, so I don’t want to avoid a whole group of people who may not share all my politics.
Before, I would never dream of informing everyone about my politics. But as time goes on, I’m starting to declare that I support Trump!
— David Tulanian, 59, Las Vegas
All of my bios specifically state something like “No Republicans,” “No Trump supporters” or even, “If you don’t care about politics, I don’t care about you.”
I’ve also been known to send the first message to all of my matches asking if they’re Republican.
This has produced some memorable conversations with offended conservatives and also gotten me some dates with like-minded swipers.
— Alyssa Parssinen, 33, Manchester, N.H.
I just come right out and say I’m progressive politically and that I’m an atheist. These things are too important to leave out.
At least one conservative and one middle-of-the-road guy have argued with me that I’m not being open-minded, and aren’t liberals supposed to be open-minded?
— Susan K. Perry, 73, Los Angeles
Deciding what not to say on your profile
I think I might prefer to date someone with different political ideologies.
I intentionally leave off my conservative affiliation because I live in New York. I’m having a hard time getting matches online as it is.
There are people of good and bad character across the political spectrum. If we start segregating ourselves romantically based on politics, well, that’s not going to help society get to a better place, is it?
— Curtis Chou, 27, New York
I’m an evangelical Christian. I leave that off the profile because there are too many minefields that can get triggered if that stuff is in a profile.
Disagreements on all individual issues are fine with me. I’ve been close to people who don’t trust government to do away with gun violence. I’ve dated women who believe abortion is murder. I’ve been close to girls who think immigration is too high.
But say the “T” word and I’m out, without explanation, without exception, without the slightest deliberation.
— Winston Steward, 48, Los Angeles
We were getting cozy on the couch, and I can’t remember why now, but I said, “Wait a second, you didn’t vote for Trump, did you?”
And he said, “Um, I was in the military and I grew up in the South.”
And I was like, whoa. WHAT THE [expletive]?!?! It totally turned the night on its head.
But we got past it and had a pretty decent open conversation about it a couple of days later when he took me to a diner where every TV (and there were a lot of them) was tuned to Fox News.
— Christina Galante, 47, Long Island
I went out on a limb with a guy who said he was “Christian,” which I would never normally swipe “yes” on. He described his beliefs as “I don’t necessarily believe in a God. I don’t believe in heaven.” With my strong understanding of Christian beliefs, I knew he wasn’t really a Christian. So we went out.
And now we’re official and have fun theological conversations that I never expected!
— Laurel Westendorf, 32, Bend, Ore.
The few times I tried to talk to someone conservative it ended in an argument.
One guy basically told me he didn’t care if people’s rights were being taken away because his 401(k) was amazing. Also another guy argued that global warming was not real and created so scientists could make money.
While I was very hesitant online to match with someone who voted for Trump, I did end up meeting my current boyfriend through friends and he did vote for Trump but will not do so again. We don’t agree on many things politically, which can be challenging, but we are able to have good discussions and challenge each other.
— Heather MacLachlan, 31, Lakewood, Ohio
When Trump enters the equation
In the past, I was more open to dating a conservative Republican. In the age of Trump, though, I’ve learned it’s best not to go there. We simply aggravate each other, and that’s no way to start a relationship.
I’ve had several conservative men tell me that they like dating a liberal woman, that they think it’s “spicy” and “exciting.”
I am no man’s hot sauce, that’s for sure!
— Felicia Lowery, 58, Tucson
I am a conservative Trump supporter, BUT I value hearing other opinions. If a poster (on Tinder) says “Trump supporters swipe left,” I swipe left because that is a close-minded person.
I value dialogue and learning from others and having others learn from my views. My views are firm, but subject to change by learning!
— Kamal Hamid, 58, Denver
At 20, I dated the man who would become my husband (and later, my ex-husband), knowing he was a Republican.
In the early ’90s, the world was less polarized and politics still seemed at least a little noble, so you could respect a different perspective and even sleep with it.
Now, your political beliefs are a referendum on your entire life with all your values aligned neatly under a single label.
My ex was a liberal by the time I married him, but 20 years later, I made sure my next partners were already my flavor, politically.
— Kristine Kinsey, 49, Knoxville, Tenn.
I’d date someone indifferent, but I couldn’t date someone who supports impeachment.
Politics is not actually that important, but it’s a fun topic.
— Peter Gormley, 24, New York City
I try to be open-minded, but the fact is, a vote for Trump means a vote against my family.
I have a trans kid and I won’t spend time talking to or meeting someone who either doesn’t believe in human rights for everyone or doesn’t think about the far-reaching implications of their vote.
I need to keep my kid safe, which means I screen potential dates. I signal my values by stating simply that I am not conservative in any way.
Surprisingly, many men interpret this as a reference to my sexual predilection.
— Megan Reilley, 47, Hagerstown, Md.
Leaving politics out
I don’t screen dates on their political beliefs. I don’t knowingly signal my beliefs.
A person’s politics when dating is a three out of 10 on importance, where a 10 out of 10 is very important.
— Thomas Liquet, 28, the Bronx
I find politics interesting, but it’s just not something I find fun.
While I probably would consider myself fairly liberal, I don’t give any indication of that on my profile because, frankly, I’m not interested in dating someone who would form their opinion of me based on that (for better or for worse).
— Jonathan Pascale, 25, Houston
Lara Takenaga contributed reporting.
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