The politics of love: do politics and dating mix?
Does politics matter when it comes to love? And would you talk Brexit on a first date? We investigate the relationship between politics and dating
Politics and dating have never coexisted comfortably. But in the current political climate, divisions are deeper than ever and uttering the word ‘Brexit’ can spark heated debate.
So, is politics still a forbidden date conversation topic, or is it important to know your potential partner’s political views before getting too involved?
Opposing political views have certainly caused break-ups. A recent survey, conducted by eHarmony, found that political divisions led to the breakdown of 2.7 million UK relationships last year.
Brexit had a similar impact; the vote led 1.6 million Brits to either split up with their partner or not pursue a date. 2.5 million people found themselves arguing with family members over their Brexit views and 813,000 have completely cut off a relative! Clearly, politics is creeping into people’s personal lives more than ever.
I can certainly agree. In the run up to the Brexit vote, I found myself on a date with a great guy. He’d picked the perfect cocktail bar for a first date, we seemed to have some things in common and the conversation was flowing. Then we brought up Brexit.
Despite being on opposing sides of the issue, he argued his point eloquently but something in me shifted as soon as he revealed his position. I couldn’t imagine how individuals with such different ideologies and beliefs could be compatible.
Unsurprisingly, there was no second date.
The importance of shared values
Battle lines have been drawn. UK politics has occupied a safe centre ground for generations, with left and right holding different opinions on policies but still able to find consensus in the middle ground. Today, the two sides barely agree on anything. Each side has been drawn to the extreme and everything from social care and education to defence draws polarising views.
Political sociology has shifted and politics is more personal than ever. The vast differences between each side means that your views say more about your own values and personality traits than you might expect. And, as eHarmony research proves, people with opposing outlooks on life rarely form happy, long-lasting relationships.
‘It comes down to who you are, fundamentally, and what your political views say about that,’ a friend told me when we talked politics and dating. ‘If you’re a Trump supporter, it’s safe to assume you hold opinions about feminism, women in politics, and immigration that I would struggle to deal with. It might not affect things in the early days but is bound to cause problems in a more serious relationship.’
Right vs. left
Love politics remain heated. eHarmony research shows that it tends to be left-leaning Brits who would be more likely to turn down a first date due to political differences. Supporters of the SNP, Green Party and Liberal Democrats all admitted to turning down potential romantic partners based on their political views.
However, one friend firmly on the centre-right admitted she’d struggle to pursue a relationship with a left-leaning Corbynite. ‘It sounds terrible but I’d assume they were narrow minded – maybe even a fantasist! Someone who’d drink green tea all day, be surrounded by cats and have smelly socks!’
But in our politically-charged society, is political speech now an acceptable date topic?
In short, no. Most people would still rather discuss almost anything else. Politics and religion remain taboo subjects. In fact, politics ranked 9th on the list of preferred date conversation topics, behind holidays, health, and the weather!
Brexit, however, proves more palatable. eHarmony research shows that members who mention Brexit in their profiles (regardless of whether they are pro or against) receive more messages online than average. Women receive 84% more and men receive 90% more- strong evidence that people’s political views really do matter in relationships.
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