Story at a glance
- Americans say it has become harder to date people with different political views in recent years.
- Women and Democrats, in particular, say they are unwilling to date across the aisle.
- Experts have observed women weighing politics more in their dating decisions and being more cautious as they pursue relationships.
Nadia*, a 33-year-old Chicagoan, has had her fair share of bad dates. But there are a handful that stand out in her mind as particularly awful.
One of those dates took place on a hot summer night in 2017. Nadia went to a roof-top bar with a 25-year-old man she had met on the site OkCupid. Their time together was okay, the conversation pleasant enough between bites of overpriced cheeseburgers and craft beer.
“It was like most app dates that are awkward and sort of disappointing,” Nadia told The Hill. And Nadia was unsure of whether to push for a second date.
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Then politics came up. As Nadia drove her date back home, he revealed he had not voted during the 2016 presidential election because he had not liked either candidate, former President Trump or the Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.
“And I was like ‘I’m never speaking to him again,” she said. “I almost kicked him out of my car.”
Nadia’s memorably bad date reflects broader shifts experts have seen in dating culture in the years since Trump was elected.
They note that women, in particular, are considering politics more when deciding who to date, are less likely to date across the political aisle and are more cautious when approaching dating than they were in the past.
Americans as a whole say that political divisions have become a bigger obstacle to pursuing relationships of late. Eighty-six percent think it has grown more difficult to date someone who supports the opposing political party in recent years, according to a 2020 YouGov-Economist poll.
And most Americans would be unwilling to date someone with political views different from their own, another YouGov poll found the same year.
But that feeling was especially strong among women — and Democrats. While more than half of men said they would date someone with different views, just 35 percent of women said the same thing. And only 40 percent of Democrats said they would date across party lines, compared to 48 percent of Republicans and 49 percent of independents.
While women have been becoming more liberal for years, the change in dating culture coincides with a major uptick in young women identifying as left-leaning amid political developments such as Trump’s election, the rise of the #MeToo movement and the overturning of Roe v. Wade. Men’s politics, meanwhile, have undergone no similar shift.
“What is political is also personal and what is happening in the macro profoundly shapes the micro,” said Alexandra Solomon, a clinical psychologist at The Family Institute and a clinical assistant professor in the Department of Psychology at Northwestern University.
Vaida Kazlauskaite, an assistant professor in the couple and family therapy program at the University of Nevada, has observed that people are having conversations around politics earlier in the dating process and factoring politics into dating decisions.
“I don’t know if people are just more involved in politics nowadays or if it’s just more important now,” she said. “But it is happening.”
Opposing political views appear to be becoming more of a problem for daters, especially in the wake of Trump’s presidential win. And support for the former president himself seems to have become a major dealbreaker for many.
“I think that there are very few issues that are really dealbreakers in relationships for most folks, even for folks that identify as quite liberal,” said Daniel Cox, director of the Survey Center on American Life. “But again, Trump is an absolute dealbreaker.”
Surveys back up that claim. More than 70 percent of Democrats who were single and looking would not consider dating someone who voted for Trump, according to a 2020 Pew Research Center poll — much larger than the share who said they wouldn’t date a Republican. On the other side of the aisle, Republicans were more likely to overlook a prospective date either being a Democrat or casting a vote for Clinton.
Cox has also noticed in his work that more young people, especially young women, are searching for romantic partners in their friendship circles. This could be because daters, especially young women, feel like it is easier to find a partner who is more compatible and shares the same political values among acquaintances or friends, he said.
“A lot of young women think it’s far more likely to find someone to go the distance with when they are friends first,” said Cox. “There is a more sturdy, stable foundation to build a relationship on.”
* Name has been changed for the purpose of anonymity
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