A New Political Gender Divide Is Shaking Up the Dating World


Andi, a 30-year-old living in Los Angeles, was in love with her ex “for a million different reasons” that she thought outweighed their political differences. They dated for four years, but “over time, even when we tried to avoid the differences between us, politics wound up bleeding into every aspect of our relationship,” Andi, who is being identified by a pseudonym to protect her privacy, tells POPSUGAR. Ultimately, the political divide between them was too wide, especially when it came to abortion.

Andi describes herself as “the kind of pro-choice where I want my tombstone to say ‘pro-choice,'” while she says her ex-boyfriend is “staunchly pro-life, primarily because he was adopted.” According to Andi, “In his view, if his birth mother hadn’t been religious and decided to carry him to term, he wouldn’t be here.” While Andi was initially understanding of his reasoning, she says things changed when Roe v. Wade was overturned in 2022: “He was totally smug, borderline gleeful. I was despondent — didn’t get out of bed for nearly a week.” Andi was dealing with reproductive issues of her own, including emergency ovarian surgeries. The politics were very personal to her.

Andi isn’t alone in her experience. The political gap is widening between genders, according to a recent article published in the Financial Times. For many decades in the US, Gallup polls showed men and women “spread roughly equally across liberal and conservative world views.” Now, however, women ages 18 to 30 are 30 percentage points more liberal than their men contemporaries. “That gap took just six years to open up,” FT reports.

Beyond that, a new study found that young men and boys are less positive than previous generations — and their women peers — about feminism. “This points to a real risk of fractious division among this coming generation,” Bobby Duffy, one of the researchers for the survey, says of the findings.

As in Andi’s case, many believe this gendered lacuna will have consequences when it comes to dating. The Atlantic reported on this growing divide and estimated that one in five people will have to marry someone who does not share their political ideology.

That is, if they’re willing to. A 2023 dating survey by the Survey Center on American Life found that 62 percent of Republicans and 65 percent of Democrats were “less likely” to date the opposite party. The survey also reported a growing gap when it comes to attitudes toward dating a feminist and a greater disinterest in dating in general from women.

Political preference is easier to screen for than ever, says Leslie Caughell, an associate professor of political science at Virginia Wesleyan University. “People are meeting on dating apps, which means you can be a lot more selective and just not date a Republican, right? You might not ask somebody that question in the first 10 minutes of meeting them in a bar,” but you can get that information on Hinge. Beyond that, as the Republican party gets more “Trumpy” — which Caughell thinks will continue — we’re “unlikely to see the gender gap narrowing.”

Jess Carbino, PhD, a former sociologist for Bumble and Tinder, sees some of these patterns, but disagrees that they will lead to less romance between genders with different political views. While she admits the data show a “significant increase in the number of individuals who will declare their political party affiliation in a very overt way” on their dating profiles, she thinks historically, people have always disagreed on politics. “Fundamentally, we have long observed differences between couples and within couples in terms of political views and orientation,” she argues.

Beyond these divides, she believes people are falsely equating political party with values. For example, she says it’s a lot easier to use the shorthand of putting “Democrat” in your dating bio than it is to explain nuanced and individual perspectives. People use their political affiliation as a proxy, she says: “They assume, ‘if we agree about the political, we’ll agree about everything.’ When in reality, the things that keep the marriage or relationship sustained are largely nonpolitical factors.”

Juliet, 25, from Lisbon, Portugal, who is also being identified by a pseudonym to protect her privacy, tells POPSUGAR she broke up with her ex because of their differences in politics, but also because those politics did signal his values. “We fought about it a lot towards the end,” she says. “He claimed his core values remained the same, but I definitely didn’t see that; I saw a man who had lost social empathy, whose priority was to make money.”

According to Juliet, her ex started studying economics, got into crypto mining, and found alt-right content online, which she believes shifted his views to the right. For her, the breaking point was “when he lost empathy for the feminist cause.” Juliet couldn’t ignore or agree to disagree on his values beyond his political views. “He believed feminism wasn’t necessary in the Western world anymore because we had legally secured equal rights,” she explains. “This led to a flawed logic that denied misogynistic systems and male privilege.”

For her, her partner’s politics matter. “The way I see it, political views are very telling about someone’s core values; they reflect what your concerns in life are,” she says. “Your political orientation can say a lot about how flexible, idealistic, accepting, and empathetic you can be. I look for people who are socially compassionate.” If, like Juliet, people in the US believe their politics are based on personal values, there is a chance that the trend of gender division will lead to fewer relationships and even marriages and children, experts say.

As the Financial Times reported, in countries like Germany, Japan, and Korea, the political gap is wide and the marriage rate is low. While the US currently has a relatively high marriage rate, it’s possible we might follow suit.

When asked if her experience dating across the aisle made her approach romantic relationships differently, Andi says: “At this point, if I see ‘moderate’ or ‘conservative’ on a dating app, I swipe left,” she says. “I just don’t have the energy to do this again.”

Sophia Benoit is the author of the book “Well, This Is Exhausting.” She has regular columns in GQ and Bustle and has written for WSJ, The Guardian, The Cut, Fatherly, Insider, Refinery29, Allure, and more.


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