In the wake of the Capitol riots in Washington DC, you’d expect security measures to take center stage amidst the reforms, right? But instead, an unexpected change in Bumble’s policy caught the eye of many. Bumble decided to remove its political feature to “prevent misuse”, since people were falsely changing their preferences to conservative, in an attempt to identify the rioters.
Bumble ended up reinstating it just a day later when users widely complained. It goes to show the importance of political preferences in dating apps, a criterion through which people find matches.
“Swipe in the opposite direction of your political preference” is now a common bio/prompt you’ll find on mainstream dating apps, making it clear how important political preference is to dating app users.
Having clear preferences only means you know yourself better and know what you want. But what happens when the personal preference, when not matched, results in hate? Let’s take a deeper look into why this happens, with expert inputs from psychotherapist Sampreeti Das (M.A clinical psychology), who specializes in rational emotive behavior therapy.
Do Political Beliefs = Values?
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In a study conducted by OkCupid in 2020 with up to 5 million users, 60% said they wouldn’t date someone whose political views are the opposite of theirs. In 2016, Tinder clocked in 14 million swipes a day, just in India alone.
With the growing use of dating apps and the pandemic taking hold over the world, many have flocked to find love on dating apps. But when an ‘unmatch’ can be triggered by a message like “I’m a right-winger”, does it pose a problem for those who wish politics wasn’t in the picture?
Rohit Raj*, a 24-year-old advocate, claims he was judged multiple times when informing his matches that he holds right-wing beliefs. “Immediately they assumed I was prejudiced against minorities, and questioned my values, “ he said.
“Knowing the political preferences of my matches is important to me as well, but I wouldn’t judge anyone unless they had violent/radical beliefs. On a couple of occasions, I was unmatched as soon as I said I supported the decisions of the current government, “ he adds,
Kavya Rattan*, a 28-year-old banker says she wouldn’t consider talking to someone who did not hold similar political beliefs as her “being a feminist is an absolute prerequisite, and there are certain political ideologies that make me question the values of people when it comes to gender equality.”
“I wouldn’t consider talking to someone outside of my political wing with the prospect of dating. I’m not looking to date someone who doesn’t believe in the same things I do,” she adds, saying she’d disengage with anyone whose political opinions she does not agree with.
It’s entirely logical to have preferences when it comes to something as important as dating, but how difficult could it really be to look past political preferences in a relationship?
Do Political Preferences Matter In A Relationship?
So, when you’re scrolling past your dating app feed, instantly rejecting people who don’t hold the same political views as you, should you spare a thought to the possibility that maybe you can hit it off with someone who has opposing political views?
Psychologist Sampreeti Das shares her views on the subject. “Since political opinions become a part of someone’s values and belief system, they do determine the characteristics of a person,” she says.
“This may trigger indications of what kind of a person one might be, even though that may not be the whole of them. Owing to these interrelated concepts, stacked with one’s experience, knowledge, reasoning, a person may be categorized by perceivers under a certain category. This, in turn, may determine the value of a person in a relationship,” she adds, telling us that political opinions do matter when it comes to first impressions and the values a person holds.
When asked if a relationship can thrive between people who hold opposing views, Sampreeti replied, “It can work, if boundaries are set right. Boundaries here would mean identifying and separating social and private spaces. It will demand a lot of effort from the people in the relationship. Focusing on the larger picture they had while entering the relationship can help.”
What about the apolitical?
According to OkCupid, those who vote are 63% more likely to get a match and 85% more likely to receive a message. Since 76% of OkCupid users say how their date leans politically is very important, it’s safe to say apolitical people might not have the best chances out there.
Vidya Singh*, a 23-year-old journalism student says she hasn’t been ghosted when telling people that she’s apolitical. “If I’m hitting it off with someone, their political preferences don’t matter to me as long as they don’t have problematic views. Having ethical values is very important, but I haven’t been judged by anyone for being apolitical.”
Telling us a bit more about what it’ll take to be in a relationship with someone who holds opposing views, Sampreeti says, “Facing the conflict of liking someone who has different political views can be resolved by setting a priority. What is more important, the political view or the presence of the person? This may not happen overnight and may need some time to resolve. In the long run, being accountable for one’s decisions, whatever decision was taken consciously, can help the person deal with discord or break up of a relationship. This can work for nonpolitical views as well.”
Where this leaves us
As psychologist Sampreeti Das explained, it is possible to look past someone’s political views if you do like them. While having personal preferences in what you’re looking for from a partner is absolutely okay, hating on people holding different views than yours is not.
On the other hand, you could just play it safe and connect with people who hold the same views as you. Tea and a 2-hour long discussion about your country’s politics, what could be more romantic!
*Names changed to protect identities