We’d been in the Starbucks for about 15 minutes when Mr. J said, “I’m a Liberal Democrat just to get that out of the way.”
I smiled ruefully as I remembered several recent politically themed online encounters. “No worries, “ I said, “so am I.” We commiserated over the politicization of dating that is tied to the current administration. Neither one of us could remember a time when it felt as important as it does now to declare ourselves politically. This phenomenon may be particularly intense in Washington, D.C. and its suburbs.
I date across racial and religious lines but like Mr. J, I feel a need to rule out people with certain political persuasions. And this is despite being a person who is not immersed in politics or particularly likes extended political discussions. Now political disagreement tends to be more vitriolic. Anger aside, the bottom line for me is that I’d like a partner who has a compatible world view.
I know there are couples who make it work despite opposing political views. I have a theory that if you are not a zealot about your political beliefs there is a greater chance you will be compatible with a partner of an opposing view. I think this is also true for couples of different faiths. It was true for my ex and me. Neither one of us was particularly religious so we made our “blend” work – honoring both religions but focusing on one when our kids were in middle school.
You’re wondering about my recent “political” dating encounters. Perhaps the most frustrating one was with Mr. R. He lived 90 minutes away, a potential deal breaker, but he made frequent trips to my area. We carried on an extensive written chat on Zoosk. He was an accomplished artist, a major plus in my book, and I loved his work. I hoped to meet him. He suggested switching to personal email.
In his first email, Mr. R wrote, “This whole dating thing is getting more mixed up with politics…bringing the site down…have been asked to state my views on abortion, gays, etc. what??! Also bragging that they are part of the resistance…like France in WWII. What? Lots of virtue signaling with absolutely no consequences to fear…lots of big talk, no substance.” He then went on to say that he served in Vietnam and voted for the current president. Mr. R asked if this would be a problem and added “we may as well clear this obstacle now…if necessary.”
I understood his frustration but didn’t like his unexpected angry tone. I thought carefully about my response as I mourned the likely death of another potential relationship. I decided to acknowledge the difficulties but keep a channel open for a potential meeting.
After replying to a question he asked me about music, it was time to address the elephant (pun intended) in the room. “I don’t think it’s a bad thing for people on a dating site to ask each other for their opinions about things that are deal breakers for them,” I wrote, adding, “I know people of different political beliefs can have a successful relationship but I suspect it would be a challenge. Open respectful communication would be paramount. However it might not be enough if – at the core — two people have a different view of humanity and what’s right and wrong.”
I wondered about responding to his mention of serving in Vietnam. In the end I decided to write him that I respect his military service but I was marching against the war around the same time he was fighting it. It was my truth just as being a solder was his.
“Would we have chemistry and connection if we met?” I asked rhetorically, “Would that override our differences, including the geographic one? Hard to know.” I suggested that the next time he was in my area, we could meet for coffee or a glass of wine. “If nothing else, we could commiserate and laugh over the online dating process.”
Mr. R didn’t respond.
My online dating encounters include many other examples of political incompatibility…whether differences are explored online, on the phone, or in person. These interactions are just part of today’s dating zoo.
Until next week, happy dating or not dating.