On Monday 6 June, Boris Johnson survived a confidence vote after he secured the backing of 211 out of 359 Conservative MPs. And since the start of the pandemic, it feels like being involved in political debates has become unavoidable, even for those who would usually turn their heads.
From the government’s handling of Covid to the rise in protest movements such as Black Lives Matter and Extinction Rebellion, we all make judgements and many of us “pick sides”. In the context of dating, where apps such as Tinder, Hinge and Bumble now have more users than ever, the days when it was considered impolite to talk politics on a date – let alone on a first date – are over.
Online dating app users can now even filter their matches based on their political views. While users don’t have to specify their own political opinions or those of whom they would like to meet, it is a popular feature, and many choose to.
It begs the question: would you date someone with a radically different political view? Does someone’s standpoint define them? And, if their political view is different to yours, is the relationship over or can you fight through your differences to make it work?
A recent YouGov study asked Brits how willing they would be to date someone with opposing political views. The research reveals that Conservative voters are more open to dating Labour supporters than Labour voters are to dating Tories. Meanwhile, men are more open-minded about their potential partner’s political views than women are.
Whether you’re actively political or not, it’s clear that compatibility is grounded in shared values and interests. Having different political views to a potential partner might be something that you can live with, while for others, it could be a deal-breaker.
I try to remain as open-minded as possible. If I were dating, I’m not sure I would filter out anyone with a different political opinion to mine. That being said, I don’t think any relationship with me would last more than five seconds if our political views clashed too heavily.
Separating the political from the personal isn’t always easy. While I wouldn’t immediately discount someone for supporting a particular political party, I know there are definitely political standpoints that would be problematic for me.
The issue of reproductive healthcare choice is hugely important to me, for example, not just as a woman of reproductive age (and pregnant) but also on a basic human rights level. I couldn’t ever date someone who was opposed to pro-choice legislation.
Likewise, debates on racial inequalities are too personal for me to avoid. As a member of the Traveller community, I’ve found myself feeling uncomfortable in a room of people who were my friends, colleagues or peers after discriminatory views have been aired.
But as I’m not hugely knowledgeable on climate and environmental policies, it probably wouldn’t be a huge issue if my partner and I were to disagree in this area.
I’m not sure it’s possible to maintain any significant relationship in life without politics coming up. Whatever your political views are, they are likely to tell a story about yourself, your upbringing and your values. Plus, it isn’t unusual for us to change our minds. Some people may find themselves venturing into the world as young adults, with opinions solely shaped by their upbringing and family members. Once we become more independent, these opinions can change.
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Dating without the drama of politics sounds like a dream, but in reality, it isn’t possible. Nor should it be. Political parties exist to better the lives of people, and we are not ready to remove the need for politics. If we were, everyone in the UK would enjoy safe and stable lives, with adequate housing, finances and healthcare.
It’s also important to remember that you and your partner are allowed to exist as two separate beings. You can certainly retain your own opinions while being in a secure, long-term relationship.
The difficulty is that our political opinions can shape so much of our lives. The political leanings of a potential partner indicate what their views are on big issues that often have intense personal significance. Constantly having to “agree to disagree” can take a big toll – and maybe a relationship isn’t worth that.