The New Dating Mine Field: Politics

March 03, 2020

Dr. Helen Fisher

We are walking billboards of who we are—advertising our “mate value” with every word and deed we reveal to a potential romantic partner.  And these days, Singles want to know more about you than just your favorite tune, movie or exercise routine:  they want to know your politics.  Political tribalism is seeping into the dating scene. 

          Since 2010, Match has conducted an annual national poll of single Americas known as Singles In America.   Yearly, we ask some 200 questions to a sample of 5,000+ Singles in a representative sample of Singles Included are those aged 18 to 71+, of every region and every major ethnic group and sexual orientation.  We looked at our results over the past five years, we found a wealth of data on how Singles are navigating the great divide: Republicans versus Democrats. 

Lines are being drawn. 

In 2015, 78% of singles said they would date someone across the political aisle.  This reduced to 72% in 2017; then plummeted to 52% in 2019—a 26% decrease in political tolerance since Trump was elected.  Moreover, 24% of Singles want to know your political views before the first date; and 98% want to know your political leanings before things get serious. 

Political apathy is declining

Where 84% of singles in 2017 would date someone who had no opinion on key issues, in 2019 72% would date someone with no opinions—a 12% reduction in tolerance.   Moreover, 85% of singles in 2017 would date someone who was not registered to vote, while only 68% in 2019 would date someone who didn’t vote—a 17% decline.  Singles want to talk politics too—98% of them, to be exact.  And, interestingly, 49% want a partner who will discuss both sides. 

Today’s Singles are practicing political civility 

In 2017, 45% of our unattached said they would try to understand those with differing political perspectives; 40% would politely disagree; and 26% would just change the subject. 

Here’s the good news:  36% of singles report that, in their past, they had fallen madly in love with someone with very different political views.  And 73% of these would do it again!  I’m not surprised.  My colleagues and I have put dozens of lovers into the brain scanner (using fMRI), and these experiments clearly show that happy partners are able to overlook the negative aspects of their beloved to focus on the positive: what’s known as “positive illusions.”  Love beats politics in the brain.  Chaucer got it right: “Love is blind.”