interpolitical

How Donald Trump destroyed dating

Donald Trump is a bit like climate change – responsible for everything bad that happens in the world – except one better, because Trump is now also responsible for climate change. Since the new president will end the life on Earth either through an environmental apocalypse or World War 3, this doesn’t really rate in the greater scheme of things, but for now Trump is apparently “killing romance” too:

In the treacherous, amusing and sometimes rewarding world of online dating, Donald Trump has become the newest way to find – or reject – a romantic match.

“Did you vote for or do you support Trump? Then I’m not your man. It would never work,” one user says in the opener to his bio on Tinder, a popular mobile dating platform that boasts 26 million matches per day.

“Trump voters please swipe left, and go to your room and think about what you’ve done,” wrote another Tinder user, referring to the way to dismiss a potential date in the app.

“What I’m looking for . . . well, in this crazy day and age, first and foremost, someone who did not vote for Trump,” says a profile on Bumble, a dating app in which women make the first move.

Since his election, the president has become a new measure of compatibility – much like someone’s age, religion, wanting kids or simply finding things in common. Dating, online and off, is more supercharged with politics than it’s ever been, said online dating experts who specialize in matchmaking.

“His presidency has created this new deal-breaker,” said Laurie Davis Edwards, a relationship coach and founder of the website eflirtexpert.com.

“I’ve never seen it like this before, where people say ‘no’ to Trump supporters, or they only want to date other Trump supporters,” she said. “It tells me that people are valuing politics much higher as a preference than they were before. … It’s another example of how massively our dating culture has changed over the past four years, partly because of politics and also because of technology.”

Mating selection by political selection is of course nothing new, since like tends to attract like, and people prefer to be in a relationship with someone who shares their values and beliefs, or at least possesses a set of their own that is not completely incompatible.

Having followed this issue for years, including through personal experience, and having blogged about it before, I can make the following observations:

1.Very few people mention politics on their dating profiles. The exception, of course, are those for whom politics is a significant enough a part of life, whether professionally or as a passion or both, that they feel obliged to make a point about it.

2. At least in Australia, those on the right of centre persuasion almost never mention their politics, either when describing themselves or in listing what they’re looking for in a partner. I can’t remember the last time I have seen a woman declare openly her right-wing politics on a dating site (I suspect that right-wingers might be more open online in the US, where the right is more vibrant and enthusiastic about their beliefs); by contrast, left-wing politics is expressed or implied in, by my rough estimate, somewhere around 1-2 per cent of profiles.

3. This takes the form of either a direct self-description – “left of centre” or “Green” – or listing interests associated with the left side of politics (feminism, social justice, activism, human rights, etc.) or, as quoted in the Trump article above, formulations along the lines of “don’t contact me if you vote Liberal” or “if you like Tony Abbott we’re not going to get along”.

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4. Whether open or “closeted”, there are few right-wing women doing online dating, certainly fewer than statistics would suggest. Why are they seemingly so under-represented, not just on Tinder, which has a dicey reputation, but also on normal, “respectable”, dating-and-relationship sites like RSVP? For starters the numbers are skewed because more women are generally on the left than on the right (the opposite is true of men), but I also suspect that right-wing women are more likely to be in a relationship than left-wing women at any given time of their lives (and therefore off the dating market), or if they are not, they are still likelier to search for a mate “organically” or the “old fashioned way” (through family, friends, work, church, activity) rather than online.

5. As rare as explicitly right-wing dating profiles are, I have never come across one that rules out meeting a left-winger altogether, whereas left-wing dating profiles quite routinely express preference not to meet a right-winger. While the samples are quite small (and please also note a more ambiguous, though not directly pertinent research quoted in the article above), I see it as yet another example in action of the old adage that “the right thinks the left is wrong, the left thinks the right is evil”. For many on the left, tolerance means being nice to those that agree with you, while others are beyond the pale and thus not deserving of understanding and peaceful coexistence.

6. Personally, I’ve never discriminated against left-wing women online. Over the years I have met great many interesting and lovely ones. In fact, the overwhelming majority of friends I’ve made through online dating are of various shades of left. For some, it took a while to get past seeing me as the devil incarnate to strike a warm friendship. But in the end there is, after all, so much more to life than politics (there have been many a case, though, when my online match decided not to continue contact upon learning of my politics).

7. Dating and relationships across the political divide can happen but are rare. Most people don’t ascribe to the “opposites attract” philosophy, at least in this regard. Having radically opposing and passionately held views about the world adds yet another area of potential argument and conflict in a relationship, and so, many would rather avoid the situation arising. We live in a free world where there is no compulsion about our personal lives; each one of us is entitled to their preferences in choosing friends and mates.

8. The overtly political dating profiles tend to be more common when the right is in power (George W Bush and Donald Trump in the US, the Coalition in Australia), as having the enemy in power tends to focus your mind on the evil that is conservatism (or classical liberalism) in action. By contrast, with Obama or Julia Gillard in power, those on the left tend to feel much better about life and less threatened by people holding different views. This is one of the reasons you have never seen an article that “Obama is killing romance”.

9. No, Donald Trump is not killing romance either. For every bitterly disappointed Hillary or Bernie supporter there are enough potential mates who share their hatred of Trump. The opposite is likely true too, though we have to be aware of how differently cities, suburbs, small towns vote. If you are a Republican looking for love in Manhattan you might have as much trouble as a Democrat in rural Utah.

10. Go forth and just enjoy yourself. My date last Thursday was an ambassador for the Earth Hour; my date this Thursday enjoys basket weaving. Thank God that Malcolm Turnbull has not killed romance in Australia yet.

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