The popular dating application Coffee Meets Bagel recently surveyed its members on the impact politics are having on their romantic lives, and the results are … bleak for those of us who still imagine and hope for a world where people can form relationships across party lines, be generous toward others who disagree with them, and create spaces in their lives that are not dominated by daily political give-and-take:
A whopping 70% of singles who identified themselves as Democrats said politics are impacting their dating lives “slightly” to “profoundly,” alongside 55% of Independent singles, and 43% of Republican singles.
Among those who said their dating lives are impacted, 82% of Democrats, 66% of Independents, and 66% of Republicans said, “It’s more important that my matches’ political views are similar to mine.” 40% of Democrats, 34% of Independents, and 22% of Republicans said, “It’s more important for me to talk about politics early on in the date.”
It’s notable that Democrats seem to discriminate more on the basis of political orientation than Republicans. This gap is probably partially explained by Charles Krauthammer’s adage that “conservatives think liberals are stupid. Liberals think conservatives are evil.” Many young liberals believe that people on the right are morally defective in a profound way; young conservatives more often see their Democratic peers as misguided or naive but not bad people.
The Coffee Meets Bagel data is consistent with a Pew survey conducted in November showing that Trump voters were more open to respecting Clinton voters than the other way around. “Nearly six-in-ten registered voters who back Clinton (58%) say they have a ‘hard time’ respecting someone who supports Trump for president; 40% say they have ‘no trouble’ with it,” Pew found. “Nearly the opposite is true among Trump supporters, with 56% saying they have no trouble respecting someone who backs Clinton and 40% saying they do have trouble with it.”
Of course, factoring politics into romantic decisions isn’t outlandish in and of itself. It might even be advisable if a potential partner is a genuine extremist. Jonathan Chait once wrote, “I consider Republicanism a negative factor in a potential in-law. That is not the only ideological objection. I would likewise bring healthy skepticism to a Marxist, anarchist, radical Islamist, monarchist, or advocate of Greater Russia.”
The grim reality is that our public culture is so lacking in common values and purpose that mere membership in the opposing party is viewed as a kind of sedition. And the growing reluctance to even form relationships with people who disagree will only make the political chasm even wider.