It’s been three decades since I dated. Needless to say, a lot has changed! Eager to expedite the process following my imminent divorce, I recently jumped into the world of online dating, where wannabe suitors are just a click or swipe away.
At this point in my life, I know what I’m looking for. My future partner is smart, kind, compassionate, successful and engaged in the world around us. He also leans solidly left. My profile postscript makes that clear. “If you voted for Trump, it’s a deal breaker. Please move on.”
But I have quickly discovered that in the age of Trump, everything has truly turned upside down, even my love life. Whereas my declaration was intended to avoid conflict, it seems to have encouraged it.
The morning after my Match profile went “live,” my in-box filled. I was shocked to read message after message from pro-Trumpers, whose names I’ve changed here to protect their privacy. Mike was complimentary and candid. “But in fairness to you, I did vote for Trump,” he wrote.
“Then we likely value very different things,” I emailed back. “And, frankly, the gap is just too wide to ever cross that bridge.”
Mike’s flattery quickly turned to fury. “For the record, you have NO IDEA what I value. I certainly don’t regret my vote; didn’t have any other option to fix what needed fixing in the US.”
Certain I couldn’t “fix” Mike to my liking, I didn’t bother replying. Jim took a different tack, questioning both my party and religious affiliations.
“Can’t believe you are Jewish and didn’t vote for Trump,” he wrote. “No Democrat in recent history has stood up for Israel, and possibly no other president has embraced the Jewish people as Trump has. You are a beautiful lady, clever … and well educated but I think you are missing what is really important.”
While strongly disagreeing, I wasn’t interested in debating Jim or pointing out that the Pew Research Center’s exit polling for the 2016 presidential election showed 71% of Jewish respondents said they voted for Hillary Clinton. Instead, I deleted Jim.
And then there was Brad. After several engaging emails back and forth, coffee seemed like a good idea. It was, until one cup in. Our conversation turned to politics, a safe zone, I assumed, since my profile made my position explicitly clear. That’s when Brad confessed to simply ignoring my deal breaker and preceded to tell me all the reasons Clinton couldn’t possibly make America great again.
What followed wasn’t pretty, as I passionately pointed out that my candidate never grabbed a woman by the you know what and bragged about it. I then angrily swept out the door, leaving my date sitting solo with my lukewarm latte.
Thirty years ago, I don’t recall ever asking my date whom he voted for or even what party he supported. Yet today, I proudly wear a pink pussy hat, and a casual coffee date with a Trumpster nearly comes to blows. Where once age, religion and geography were dating criteria I considered, it’s now politics that’s most polarizing. I’m not only asking whom someone voted for, but also disqualifying that individual based on his answer.
The most divisive presidential campaign in my lifetime followed by one year of a Trump presidency has led me to this point. Simply put, principles and values trump tolerance.
I’m not alone. Last February, dating site Match.com reported a decrease in activity among its liberal users, and approximately 60% of liberals responded that they were less likely to date a conservative than they would have been two years prior.
However, despite my staunch stand, the tide may be turning. Match’s eighth annual survey of more than 5,000 single people released this February shows 72% of people would date someone affiliated with a different party — just not me, if that someone supported Trump.
“Why is it OK for you to label me?” pointedly asked Doug, another e-suitor who reached out. “You’re judging people before you even meet them. That’s just as divisive as dismissing the man you can’t stand,” he added. Sadly, I realized that Doug, and the 72% of Match’s respondents, had a point.
I value tolerance. I respect alternative points of view, too, and welcome constructive debate and discussion. I have friends with varying viewpoints and work well with individuals across the political spectrum.
But I fundamentally believe in the principles of liberty, equality, justice and diversity. It is these democratic ideals and the institutions that represent them that Trump continuously attacks. It’s why, for me, a vote for Trump signals a fundamental difference in core values, a difference I can’t disregard or move past when looking for love. It is the reason I swipe left.
In today’s politically charged world, opposites no longer always attract, and love can’t conquer all. And while I wonder if this new measure of compatibility inhibits our pursuit of a more perfect union, here’s hoping it could just lead to mine.