It feels like politics are everywhere we look — the news we play in our households, the celebrity gossip we consume, or even just in conversations with friends and family, whether we agree or disagree with them. Most of us are probably unaware that politics affect our romantic relationships as well, but unfortunately, it’s the truth.
I got started thinking about politics and dating after stumbling upon a new book about two White House staffers on different sides of the aisle who end up falling for each other. It struck me that while it made for great conflict in the story, I hadn't seen a lot of mature discussions lately on how (opposing) politics affect our relationships in real life.
In the last several years, the extent to which politics affects our personal relationships has been called “unprecedented.” Dating expert Julie Spira studies how Millennials date, and found that during the Trump administration, daters were more likely to prioritize “political compatibility” over having good sex. Yikes…
It’s only natural that we look for compatibility, even political compatibility, in a partner, but will agreeing on every topic satisfy us or foster a healthy discourse between us and our prospective mate? How does that set us up for communication when disagreements do eventually arise?
Couples who seek that kind of compatibility will have to find out for themselves, but the rest of us, women in particular, might be asking What kind of man should I be looking for? Well, there’s actually a ton of science behind why men on one side of the aisle make better mates, no matter your political leanings.
How Much Do Politics Affect Our Dating Lives?
The aforementioned dating expert Julie Spira also mentions that in this age specifically, people are way more upfront about their political beliefs, which in turn leads them to prioritize them more frequently and as more important when it comes to dating. It also leads Millennials specifically, Spira found, to weigh a prospective date's political ideology much more heavily in how that compares or contrasts to their own beliefs.
Since the 2016 election, political language in dating profiles has increased 64%.
A separate investigation found that since the 2016 presidential election, political language in dating bios and profiles has increased 64%. We’re not just asserting our politics in the dating world, we’re holding fast to them and making sure our dates do too.
It’s completely understandable that we would want to agree with our partner on the quote-unquote “important” stuff, like finances, family, religion, etc. Once upon a time, voting differently would’ve been an acceptable trait in a couple; now it’s almost unthinkable.
How Political Beliefs Correlate to Relationship Potential
Before we can understand how we go about choosing a mate — and how our politics or, more importantly, theirs affect that search — we first might need to learn a little more about ourselves.
Since time immemorial it seems (actually, since the Sexual Revolution), women of voting age, 18 to 65, are more likely to identify as Democrats than men of the same age, even in different variations of marital status, race, and ethnicity.
A snapshot of the 2012 election supports this — the female support for then-candidate Barack Obama was overwhelming, while men were far more likely to support Romney. The reason for this is fairly simple: women are more likely to care about social issues such as gender in the workplace, racial discrimination, social security, welfare, etc., and less likely to focus on so-called “conservative” issues when voting. Though there are definitely outliers, women are more likely to vote left, and always have been. So what does this mean for their dating lives, given the current circumstances?
Traditionally weaker and less physically imposing men are more likely to prefer Socialism to conservatism.
A study by the dating app Lumen analyzed its 1.5 million users, and came out with some really interesting results: Conservatives are generally better at dating than their left-leaning counterparts. Why? They’re more direct and open with potential mates, especially on big topics like life goals and family, and they’re more likely to have intimate and closer, tighter-knit friend groups. What’s more, conservative men make better partners. If you think about the core values they adhere to, it kinda makes sense. (Unsurprisingly, Lumen also found that conservatives go after conservatives, and progressives pursue progressives.)
Conservatives are also better-looking and more attractive, or so says a study by Illinois State University. Conversely, an investigation from London’s Brunel University found that traditionally weaker and less physically imposing men are more likely to prefer socialism to conservatism.
Which Is the Best Party in Bed?
Furthermore, a 2016 survey of 19,000 people across Europe and Scandinavia reports that right-wingers are more likely to be satisfied with their sex lives than left-wingers. 71% of "very right-wing" respondents said they were happy with their sex lives, compared to 62% of "very left-wing" respondents. A California survey from the same year corroborates these answers: 41% of Republicans reported sexual satisfaction compared to 38% of Democrats. And don't forget that 2019 New York Times op-ed that showed how conservative, religious married women were happier and more sexually satisfied than their more secular counterparts.
Conservative men are more direct and open with potential mates, especially on big topics.
And it’s not just conservative women who like dating conservative men, it’s apparently any woman, according to a study from the University of Kent (as well as anecdotal evidence). Women may talk a big game about opening their own doors, but statistically, they prefer men who fit the mold of so-called benevolent sexism, a theory which women solely benefit from.
That's what Kate, the feminist, Democrat heroine of Meet You In the Middle learns through her flirtation with a man who's just all wrong for her on paper.
Meet You in the Middle: On the Politics of Love
Devon Daniels’ debut novel is a hilarious take on what we now know to be an all-too-common real life experience. Kate Adams is a progressive Congressional aide fighting for the Child Care and Education for Working Families Act for her “feminist rockstar” boss. The only thing standing in her way is Ben Mackenzie, a Republican staffer and hunky gatekeeper for one of DC's most powerful conservative senators. Ben basically represents everything Kate stands against.
This isn’t your ordinary battle-of-the-sexes with a political edge, though. After clashing over policy and personality, a hilarious prank war ensues. When Kate realizes their competitive interactions may actually be flirting, she's forced to reevaluate how she views Ben. Kate won't be the first, or the last, feminist shocked to discover her secret desire for a less-than-feminist guy. (Shh, we won't tell.)
You can find Daniels’ well-written, touching, and whip-smart comedy here, from Penguin Random House. It’s not just the rom-com we desperately need in 2021, it’s the rom-com we deserve.
Any guy, no matter his politics, can text back or call for a second date. But we all know it takes the really special ones to stand out, and maybe that includes how you vibe with them when it comes to your voting record.
But it has to be said, there is something a little unromantic about the thought that our love lives could be so dependent on something that really shouldn’t dictate romance at all, but, as many of us know, politics is oftentimes an emotional instinct rather than one we can box away and only take out at certain times.
More than that though, there’s something romantic about finding the right person for you and loving them for who they are, and not the party they have in their Instagram bio. Presidents and parties in power will come and go, but it’s the decent, genuine, upstanding guys who stick around (and stick up for us) that make the mark.