A black woman holding a phone and Tinder displayed on the screen
Dating someone with a different political view might be troublesome. (Image credit: Good Faces Agency)

“It’s hard to steer clear of political conversations and have a deep connection because it forms quite a significant part of who you are as a person and intrinsic beliefs about human nature,” says 23-year-old Autumn (name changed), a student in Nottingham. 

Autumn believes that it’s important to have such conversations and it can become challenging if people disagree. Brought up in a politically-informed left-wing family, her father was surprised when he found his 17-year-old daughter dating a conservative boyfriend. 

She only discovered his political leaning while they were dating. It came up when she asked who he had voted for. They hardly talked about politics after that during their one-year-three-month relationship.

“[It’s important] for politically-engaged people to have conversations and it becomes challenging if you disagree because it becomes almost an assault on really deep things,” says Autumn, while recalling a time when she needed her ex-boyfriend to support her when she was stressed. 

“He was very much like a ‘pull yourself up by the bootstraps’ sort of guy, which I think is informed a lot by political beliefs. Sometimes, he would say things that would really get under my skin. Those disagreements kind of feel like they’re putting the relationship on edge.” 

A couple sitting in a cafe
People’s dating lifestyle is getting more politically influenced. (Image credit: Priscilla Du Preez/Unsplash)

Although a cliché, politics is personal. Even more so when it can dictate and influence a person’s beliefs and values. 

Senior author and New York University psychologist Jay Van Bavel explained his identity-based model of belief to Science Daily.

It is the idea “that we assign values to different ideas based on what matters to us most at the moment and then compare those values to decide which idea we believe is true.” 

Political parties often give people a sense of belonging and trusting them in turn, increases people’s confidence in themselves. 

Autumn’s currently in a relationship with someone who shares similar political beliefs and she met him on a dating app. His profile did not mention his political preference, but Autumn says that if he was a right-wing supporter, she would have swiped left. 

Nearly 349 million people worldwide use dating apps. It serves as a filter and a box-checker for several things – Want kids? Something casual or long-term? Love hiking or clubbing? Left-wing or right-wing?

Bumble’s dating trends 2024 report showed that women were less likely to date someone with differing political views. One in three women participants said that it was a “turn-off” for them if their partner wasn’t aware of current societal issues.

Meanwhile, a 2021 Tinder survey revealed that 71% of respondents said having a different political view than them was a deal-breaker.

People like Autumn, who are politically engaged, are able to filter out their preferences in a partner, thus making dating a lot more political than one would imagine.

A red heart across numbers on a screen
Dating apps’ recent surveys reveal how politics has seeped into people’s preferences when looking for a partner online. (Image credit: Alexander Sinn)

“If I can see it being Tory or moderate, I will just not entertain them at all because, that’s very much not my political view. If they don’t have political preference listed in their profile, but there’s other things that I like about them, I’ll swipe back,” says Jess Gibson (she/they), 33, a magazine editor, who has an active dating life. 

She also believes that being more politically engaged has decreased their dating pool. It was also one of the reasons why she broke up with their then-partner. 

“I was sharing stuff related to Gaza and needed somebody to talk to. I felt like I needed an outlet and my partner was very much like, ‘Can’t talk about that, life is stressful enough,’ and I felt really isolated.”

For 20-year-old Kayla, a Bachelor’s student in Nottingham, being on the same political wavelength matters a lot.

“Political opinions will be something I take into account as I am getting to know someone because it’s just an important factor to me. Someone’s political view tells me about that person and their values.”

She also believes that being politically aware can dwindle her dating pool, but she opposes the idea of dating of someone who has a different political view than hers.

According to recent data by Financial Times, young women in the UK are becoming more progressive while young men are becoming more conservative. This gender divide is likely to further cause issues in the dating scene for both millennials and Gen Z.

However, partners with similar political views can make life better. Autumn has been with her left-wing boyfriend for almost three years. They also went door-knocking for Mid Bedfordshire by election last year.

“I feel like if I had got as depressed as I have in the last three years when I was with my ex, I just don’t know how he would have like addressed it. I think that’s something you have to have. To trust your partner and be able to rely on them.”

After getting the best – or worst – of dating in both the worlds, Autumn has an advice for people who might be thinking of going out with someone who has different political views.

“Some people can have really intense debates and then just move on like it didn’t matter at all. I can’t do that. They matter to me.”

And if you’re like her, “It’s not worth it.”