Swipe right, swipe left, there is no center
There’s plenty of conventional wisdom surrounding first date and romantic “getting-to-know-you” etiquette. It’s considerate to groom yourself, make an effort, and perhaps interact with your date. It’s also wise to try to keep your unique brand of crazy on lockdown for a probation period, instead of allowing it to slow trickle onto your potential partner’s radar, so they don’t notice until it’s too late.
I compulsively resurrect my dating apps for 48-hour blitzkriegs before deleting again. This is usually how my profile looks.
For the past five or so years, however, I’ve been skipping the slow-trickle stage and letting my strong personal and political views emerge in full force from the get-go. On first dates, I consider topics—like my abortion, therapy, religion, and plans to have or not to have kids one day—fair game. Strangely enough, I am also perpetually single. Still, it is a deft screening process to weed out the easily intimidated and pro-lifers.
However, the age of Trump has rightfully inspired previously politically indifferent people to raise their voices. Even if your Facebook feed this time last year was quiet politically, those cool dog photos were likely just holding the place of the adrenaline-fueled urges to call state senators that exist now. But of course, I’m assuming you, dear reader, have political views that mirror my own and that your social media bubble looks like mine.
So like any good reporter, I dusted off my Tinder account to see how this reinvigorated energy has affected the casual dating landscape and changed online romance from when I was swiping before the November election. After all, my best friend just got engaged in the freaking Chilean fjords to some dude she met on Tinder. Maybe now was my chance for a similar fairytale experience, a shot at liberal forever love.
I’m casting a wide net here, sure, but as a general rule, I’m not exactly a moth light to conservative men. My vampire-pale body is smattered with more than a dozen tattoos. I’m vegetarian, no good at sitting still during church services, and curse like a sailor. (Also, a quick Google of my name reveals long-ago attempted forays into sex work.) As such, I rarely Tinder match with men in uniform or those posting Bible verses to their profiles. I also include vague allusions to my political positions with a bio that includes the “not into guns or god” line, just in case.
A cop (!) regales his own unique brand of dating troubles. Given a few certain truths about me, sadly, we can never date.
Perusing Tinder where I live in Atlanta and during a long layover in Houston, profiles of men in my wide-set discovery range didn’t seem much different from when I swiped before November.
For the sake of diversity, I generously swiped right on a variety of men to see when—and if—the conversation got political. It wasn’t until I landed in Mexico City and later, the fairly touristy Pacific Coast beach city of Sayulita, that it got more interesting.
For the bulk of the vacation, my friend and I would take breaks to gorge on the news, becoming further distraught with each additional piece of bad news, including the travel ban. We were pretty eager to tear into our shared disdain for President Trump with friends and strangers alike, assuming fellow travelers would share our political views.
One night a 23-year-old personal trainer from Vancouver sidled up to our table at a nearby bar. When probed about his hot prime minister (our wording, not his), he went off. “He’s giving all this money to Syria,” the man said, his sunburn raging harder with passion and mojitos. “He needs to help Canada first.” Our shocked faces likely led to his digression: “But let’s not go there. Politics are no fun.” Although charming in theory, this experience exemplified the outdated rules of “old-school dating” —i.e., the kind of dating not sparked by an app and a curated bio. With Tinder, you don’t necessarily have to get into politics on the first date; presumably, you’re already familiar with each other’s views.
A rare, political hetero dude profile. Unfortunately he didn’t swipe right on me, so our liberal utopian future together remains unwritten.
Although I like sexual tourism as much as the next liberated single gal—and I have yet to add 6-foot-5-inch tall racist to my sexual repertoire.
Back stateside and in Atlanta, the mixed results remain. Some men are fired up to talk progress, some deliberately dodge what I consider such dire concerns, gaping on the horizon.
Strangely, many men tell me they see plenty of political content in women’s profiles, like “swipe left if you’re for Trump” or the other end of the spectrum. I’m jealous, frankly, as this kind of transparency allows users to cut through the bullshit and screen potential suitors right away. I rarely see the same in men’s profiles. As one man helpfully suggested, maybe “women care more”? Maybe we do, but there’s a lot more at stake for women with Trump’s policies than there is for men. When men support Trump, a woman who does not could see his point of view as implicative of misogyny.
One Atlanta man’s take.
It may be a bit of a generational thing. My parents—happily married since 1980—belong to different primary political parties. In the heated election of 2008, they both separately confessed to me who they voted for—but never to each other. They continue to coexist in harmony, still weirdly batshit for each other. Similarly, a mid-20s acquaintance and her husband voted differently (she for her, he for him), yet they still appear otherwise ecstatic to be together.
An apathetic Atlantan’s attempt to “swerve.”
So it can work, even though the 2008 election seems like a toothless kitten compared to 2016. Some couples are keen to “agree to disagree” and perhaps engage in wild angry sex about said differing views.
A limited take on Trump, when prompted.
But I’m not sure that means such conflicting views can be expected to succeed in a romantic venture. Married couples are divorcing over Trump. It’s become less about bumper stickers and more about rejecting a deeply problematic, white supremacist, xenophobic, sexist, homophobic, racist agenda. Although I’m not jazzed when a dude I’m dating takes 25 minute showers every day, I can deal. But if he thinks unborn white babies are people and brown adults are not, I have to pass.
Tinder in the age of Trump has encouraged people to narrow their dating pool earlier on. Whether you give a damn one way, the other way, or no ways, it would be wise to find a partner of your same camp. In a way, Trump’s problematic policies have helped cut through a few layers of opacity when it comes to online dating.
One thing Trump certainly hasn't changed: Men still get pretty upset when women don’t treat their attention as an earnest marriage proposal.