Politics has become increasingly polarized in the US, and this has affected everything from familial relationships to friendships to marriages. Even casual dating is affected — according to the BBC, 86% of Americans think it's now more difficult to date someone from the opposite political party.
This applies to Democrats and Republicans, but recently, when Reddit user u/BouncyCafe asked about how political views affect dating, most of the responses came from liberals who find it difficult to date conservatives. And in fact, this is a phenomenon multiple news outlets have reported on.
So, in case you're wondering how and why politics are affecting current dating, read on to hear some responses!
1.For LGBTQ people, the answer was obvious: "If you’re queer, particularly if you’re trans, it’s probably not a good or safe idea to date a bigot who wants you dead."
"I'm queer, so if someone wants to date me but also voted for a politician who campaigns on taking my rights away, I'm gonna decline (and be very confused)."
"This. My rights and my identity are unfortunately political right now. I don't want to fuck someone who doesn't view me as a person worth respecting, and I don't want to introduce them to my friend circle."
"I’m bisexual, so when I date a guy, I need to know I can say that without it being weird. I don’t feel the need to casually date if I have to hide in order to participate."
2.It was similar for immigrants, whose identity is similarly politicized: "As an immigrant, I'm not a huge fan of dating someone who thinks I'm a lazy scum who should 'go back to my own country.'"
3.Some just found certain views unattractive: "Some opinions are literally just a turn-off. It's not a 'getting pissy' thing, it's a 'I'm less attracted to you now' thing."
"I feel this so much. Met a girl, and we were pretty much two peas in a pod. Then, we started talking politics. It wasn't even a 'I'm one side and you're the other.' It was how we both saw the world. She became far less attractive after that."
4.A ton of people noted that being anti-abortion and conservative go hand-in-hand, so dating someone conservative can be particularly dicey.
"There are some political opinions that can turn very ugly very quickly, if something goes wrong while casually dating. Abortion rights aren't something that's particularly safe to disagree about in a sexual relationship, even a casual dating one."
"I dated a guy, and I got pregnant, like, reeeeeally early into the relationship. He was so cool, I just assumed he shared my political views. I had an abortion and didn’t think much of it other than feeling like a dumbass for not using a condom that one time. I found out 2.5 years later when we broke up that he never loved me because he couldn’t respect a woman who so easily chose an abortion. Turned out, he cheated on me with a girl who shared his traditional values and got her pregnant months after we broke up."
"If a man doesn't believe in my right to control my own body when it comes to abortion, that tells me a lot about what he thinks about my rights to my body in other situations. Throw in a surprise whoopsie, and he could make your life a living hell in a multitude of ways.
When I was casually dating, a lot of men would present themselves as 'moderates,' but it would come out over the course of chatting that they were really conservatives who had one gay friend, and they were always offended when I ended things over their political views. They couldn't understand why something so 'minor' as my rights to my body would matter to me."
5.It's now more unsafe even just to have casual sex: "This comes up a lot whenever you talk to conservative men in the US. Many are extremely angry that left-leaning girls won't date them, so they hide their political beliefs for as long as they can. Instead of just accepting that that means the person is a bad fit for them, they decide feminism is destroying humanity or whatever, and that women are to blame for their lack of access to casual sex. As though they aren't creating the world in which it's difficult and unsafe for women to have casual sex."
"I've known a lot of women who have dated more conservative men throughout their lives, but there was a change when Trump was elected, and wow, there's been another big one since Roe v. Wade was overturned. Now, every woman I know that's still dating is much more direct about her preferences and finding out what his ideology is. Because at this point, a guy hiding his conservative beliefs genuinely puts us at risk."
6.And if you do end up having children with them, you're probably going to disagree about how to raise them.
"Casual dating can lead to casual sex. Casual sex can lead to pregnancy. Pregnancy can lead to a co-parenting relationship with the person. Better to reject them before getting legally tied to them for the next 20-ish years, because if you think fundamental political disagreements are intolerable in a dating partner, imagine raising a child with someone like that."
7.Politics also become important if you share a home with someone. "It will affect your future. You want a gun-free house; partner wants to build a gun collection. ... You want an abortion; partner believes abortion is evil. You want to smoke weed; partner is against it, etc."
8.A lot of people said that politics are no longer just specific opinions, but rather entire worldviews — or even realities.
"Someone's political views stem from their view of the world. And people tend to gravitate toward someone of the same political leaning. If beliefs were at odds with my partner, it would cause extra tension. Not because they vote differently, but because those beliefs would bleed into every tiny decision in our lives, and I don't think they would ever 'get' where I'm coming from. I wouldn't feel truly heard or understood, and that would eventually would be too much for me."
"There's the big thing. Nowadays, people who have different politics don't just have different world views, they literally live in different realities. That's hard to build a relationship around."
"People act like politics are just singular issues when they are an entire worldview and also how you view collective good vs. individualism (aka morals). You need to be on the same page as your partner in most respects."
9.It affects your entire persona — it's not "just politics."
"I wish people would stop acting like political views don't translate nearly 100% into your views on just about every important thing in life. It's like saying let's be friends and not worry about how you feel about different races, cultures, or sexes. These things are intertwined in who we are as people."
"This is why the 'it’s just politics' line showcases an utter lack of understanding or caring, neither of which are good."
10.Some people felt that "Everything is political. You should try not to share your time, table, or bed with anyone who despises you or other people of your gender, religion, class, values, racial background, or political loyalties because of their gender, religion, class, values, racial background, or political loyalties."
11.But many commenters felt there was room to disagree on smaller, more specific things — as long as the core values were the same.
"'Eliminating regressive tax provisions' and 'directly giving cash to poor people' are policy decisions we can disagree on. But 'the government can do more to help the poor' we cannot disagree on. As an example."
"This has been my view when people argue about 'listening to the viewpoints of all sides.' I'm fine with a debate about how to address an issue. Higher minimum wage? Or UBI? But when we're disagreeing about facts and reality, there's an issue (COVID existing, who won the 2020 election, etc.). When we're disagreeing as to whether certain people should have basic rights or be treated as equals because of their gender, skin color, or orientation, we have issues. When the other person doesn't even support our continuing to have a democracy, we have issues."
"Political views fall into two categories, I think: issues of opinion (how much money should be used for infrastructure, where to allocate funds) [and] issues of morality (should other groups of people get treated like people?). No room to disagree on the second."
12.And things like whether or not certain people deserve rights? Well, that was realllll important to agree on.
"We disagree on foreign trade issues or domestic policy? No big deal. Some people don't deserve rights based on their gender or sexual orientation? Dealbreaker."
"Your political views are how you see the world. If your views are that some people are simply less human and less deserving of rights than others, that’s a dealbreaker. Why would I want to spend any time with someone like that?"
"Yeah, it’s like…human rights aren’t something we can fundamentally disagree on and have a relationship. Romantic or otherwise."
"A lot of political views are not political, they're moral. Political views are 'How much money should be spent on this project' and 'Should we build a park here' and 'What should this budget be used for?' and so on. 'Are women human beings?' 'Do LBGTQ people deserve to live?' 'Should poverty be used as a weapon?' 'Are immigrants human beings?' and so on are not political. They're moral issues. And I won't be with someone who has garbage morals. Because I prefer to cultivate long-term relationships, and I won't spend years with some bigoted dickhead if I can help it, lol."
13.However, even if the conservative person believes in LGBTQ and BIPOC rights, commenters expressed concern that they might still vote for someone who doesn't, just because they agree with that candidate's financial policy.
"You claim to think sexual orientation or gender identity is not grounds to withhold someone’s rights, but you’re willing to put that aside in order to vote for someone who doesn’t claim the same, because of some other policy they hold? Dealbreaker."
"If you vote for candidates that hold those beliefs, even if you don’t, I’d be worried you’re hiding those views under the pretense of 'It’s just their economic policy I agree with.'"
"If you are someone who wants to pretend political issues exist in a vacuum, and that political affiliations are like your favorite sports team, or your favorite color, or pizza topping...it just tells me a lot about how you walk the world vs. how others do. Many of these issues are not theoretical to those of us who know people in the communities being affected by targeted legislation. When you choose to only associate with people who look and think like you, you may lose sight of that."
14.And oftentimes, liberals dating conservatives found that it wasn't exclusively financial policy (though those issues do not exist in a vacuum either, and economic policies directly influence social issues) they were conservative on, but other things as well: "[I] try to keep an open mind meeting people in the other party, but funny enough, I’ve never met any conservatives who are just fans of low taxes. It always seems to come with the conspiracy theories and anti-women/LGBTQ/minority stuff, too. Or, they just want me in the kitchen. I’m fairly progressive and have dated people to the right and left of me but never across the aisle."
15.Especially in this day and age — beliefs are much more extreme. "In a time when a difference of political opinion meant holding multiple nuanced policy viewpoints on the roles of federal, state, and local governments, then, yeah, it didn't matter so much. But in the current environment where the division of political beliefs has now become a proxy for not believing that large groups of people have a right to exist as equals or that democracy itself should be subverted in favor of the whims of an autocracy, it now matters a great deal."
16.Some also expressed concern about what the person's parents (and by extension, your future in-laws) may be like.
"You also really learn what your future in-laws could be like since parental opinions generally influence kids."
17.Overall, it came down to this: "Your time is valuable, so why would you waste it on someone who fundamentally believes the opposite of what you do?"
18.And for some, this even applied to friendships. "Personally, I deem them important for all things, not just dating. I won't befriend someone whose views are what I perceive as dangerous (hardcore conservatives, social darwinists, chauvinists, trumpsters, anti-choice-folks, etc.). I don't care whether they're invested in the idea that 15% of taxes on, I dunno, crab cakes would be better than 12%. But the second we're talking real values with real consequences — i.e. immigration politics, healthcare, etc. — I'm out if we're not aligned at least closely enough. I'm happy to entertain all kinds of approaches for solutions as long as the goal is the same. If the goal is different, we're not compatible. (Take gay marriage — i.e. if someone wants it gone, we're not talking — not as acquaintances, not as friends and certainly not with any sexual or romantic prospects.)"
Would you date someone outside your political party? Let us know in the comments!
Submissions have been edited for length/clarity.