How To Deal When Your Online Dating Match Gets Political

The beauty and burden of online dating is that you can get matched with someone who you might never have crossed paths with IRL. This also means you have to be hyper-alert of potential red flags that you wouldn't necessarily notice offline. Some are innocuous enough to let go of or at least lead to some colorful discussion, like your opinions about Hamilton, but others are harder to ignore and could shatter your perception of that person — like who they voted for.

It's totally normal to have a visceral reaction to someone's conflicting political views when you're looking for a partner. An OkCupid survey found that 50% of users said they couldn't date someone with opposing political views. "Everyone has something that's important to you, like income, education, politics, or even height," says Julie Spira, a Los Angeles-based online dating expert. Having similar values is, predictably, high on the list of traits that help foster a healthy relationship, she says.

And whether you like it or not, the political landscape seems to be at the top of people's minds these days. So what should you do if you if you find out that the match of your life is somewhere on the other end of the political spectrum? Ahead, Spira explains how to handle these often tricky situations.

When should you bring up politics?
Get it out there sooner rather than later, she says. If you're looking to explore a potential relationship (as opposed to just a hookup) with this person, you should bring it up while you're chatting in the app or texting, instead of waiting until you meet for a date in person. Spira encourages listing your political views in your profile, so you can remain as open as possible. You can also hint at your political beliefs in your profile photos, like including a photo of you and your squad at the Women's March, or you wearing a red Make America Great Again hat, if that's more your speed.

What's the easiest way to talk about your opinions?
The key is to not be defensive, she says. Something along the lines of, "Ugh, I'm still recovering from the election," is a much better entry point to your views than, "These liberal snowflakes need to chill out." Seems obvious, but she adds that it's easier for both of you to bring up some issues that you find important, rather than taking your match's pulse or testing them on an issue. "Be open with the person, so they can be open, too," she says.

What if something you see on social media makes you cringe?
While Spira believes that you shouldn't do too much snooping before your first date, she does say that "ranting is a personality type." If someone is going off on Twitter about every little thing they disagree with, chances are they'll do it in person — so you'll have to think about whether or not that works for you. But if you do cave and do some research beforehand and find something questionable, it's an easy segue into the bigger conversation about who they voted for, she says.

Is it wrong to ghost if you don't agree?
It's one thing if your partner of many years voted for a different presidential candidate than you, but it's another when things are fresh, Spira says. You certainly don't have to put up with being insulted on the basis of your political views, but it's also okay if you want to end things amicably because you fundamentally disagree with their opinions. Spira suggests saying something like, "So glad we had the time to have this important discussion; I don't feel like we're on the same page at all for what I want in a partner."

If things hit the fan when you brought up issues that are important to you, but you still think there are enough redeeming qualities in the person to give them a chance, it's worth it to say, "Can we talk about politics when we actually meet? I want to hear some other things about you." Disagreeing on politics doesn't mean you and your match are doomed — plenty of couples out there hold opposing political views (about 30%, according to a FiveThirtyEight analysis). However, Spira said that dissent can cause resentment, which can ultimately cause your respect for your partner to diminish, so do regular gut-checks to make sure things are still working for you (which, of course, you probably want to do in any relationship).
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