Relationships are all about compromise, but everyone has lines that they just can’t cross. And since the election of Donald Trump, political divides have been even more contentious than usual.
For many straight liberal women (and some queer women, too), avoiding Trump voters is yet another hurdle to modern dating. While the majority of unmarried female voters cast their ballots for Hillary Clinton, 32 percent of them voted for Trump. And if you search thoroughly enough in liberal-leaning regions of the country, as I did for this story, you’ll find conservative, heterosexual women who aren’t keen on dating a Hillary supporter. Even eight months into Trump’s presidency.
Michelle, the 47-year-old founder of Tshirts4Patriots, is one of those people. She spoke on the condition that only her first name be used, as did all of the women interviewed for this story. Michelle is a Trump voter who lives in Laguna Hills, Calif. — a city that voted for Trump but whose county went to Clinton. Last year, Michelle began an on-again, off-again relationship with a Trump supporter whom she met while he was working for her cousin.
When she first started dating him before the election, his enthusiasm for Trump wasn’t a huge attraction for her. Michelle — who’s of Spanish and Native American ancestry — says she’s always considered herself an independent and has probably dated a liberal without knowing it. She’d never prioritized a potential partner’s politics before, but Michelle said that she’s realized that she only wants “to be with somebody that supports our president, period.”
Why did she change her mind about politics and dating? Well, for one, she didn’t want to date a man who’d oppose the Trump-centric T-shirt company she was starting. But her shift in priorities was also bound up with her opinion that certain media outlets unfairly misrepresent Trump. Michelle said she couldn’t be with someone who, in her opinion, is uninformed enough to fall for such “propaganda.”
Michelle gets offended when people “assassinate his character,” as she put it, by calling Trump racist, sexist or homophobic — or by saying that he never would’ve made it without a loan from his dad. “I just can’t be with somebody who’s closed-minded like that,” she said. “They’re believing all those labels that are just political propaganda. I can’t be with somebody that just listens to tabloids or nightly news, because there’s a lot of hate being promoted.”
When Michelle found herself single again at the beginning of Trump’s administration, she perused TrumpSingles.com, a dating site for Trump supporters. However, she didn’t find anyone she was interested in and ended up closing her account.
She also created a dating profile on eHarmony, specifying on her page that she wasn’t looking for “snowflakes.” The men on eHarmony seemed to be mostly liberal, she said, and some responded negatively to her “snowflake” comment. Again, Michelle didn’t find anyone in whom she was that interested, and ended up going back to dating the guy she’d met through her cousin. That relationship ended again a couple of months ago when he moved away. For the moment, Michelle is trying to focus on her T-shirt business instead of dating.
Like Michelle, a lot of people are signaling their politics on their dating profiles. Elizabeth, a 24-year-old white woman in D.C. who has worked on Republican political campaigns and voted for Trump, said she’s dated Democrats before and doesn’t have a problem with it. Still, “on dating apps, I’ve always had the policy of putting a picture or something in my bio that hints at the fact that I’m a Republican,” she said, such as a picture of her with a recognizably conservative politician. “If that’s something they have a problem with, then they probably shouldn’t even swipe on me.”
It’s very important to Elizabeth to find a long-term partner who wants to get married and have kids. She wants a husband who’s okay with her staying at home when the kids are young but who also supports her continuing her career when they’re a little older. Additionally, she said she could only settle down with a man who’s antiabortion, and who respects her desire to raise her kids in a Christian household. Although she doesn’t think these traits are confined to political conservatives, she does think she’s more likely to find a Republican who matches these specifications than a Democrat.
Soon after the election, Elizabeth started dating a Republican whom she met on Tinder. She admitted that it is a little easier to date someone who moves in the same political circles. Dating a liberal in this heated political climate, she says, might be more difficult because “a lot of Democrats are a little less open to hanging out with people that are so pro-Trump.”
Before she started seeing her boyfriend, did she ever feel like she had a dating advantage because male Trump voters outnumber female ones?
Eh, not really.
“After the election, I think I had over 200 pending Facebook friend requests from random guys that all had Trump profile pictures or bald eagle profile pictures,” she said. So yes, she received extra attention — but she wasn’t into it. “It’s just a little much and I’m not really interested in people that just friend random girls on Facebook,” she explained.
Even several months after Trump’s inauguration, she continues to receive Facebook requests from random conservative guys.
By the time CPAC rolled around in February, Elizabeth was steadily dating her boyfriend, but she still had to steer clear of “those types of guys wearing the MAGA hats that are like, creepin’,” she said. “Guys that are young and very involved with politics, in both parties, can tend to err on the side of being a little creepy.” Later, Elizabeth noticed that some of the guys who were a little too friendly at CPAC ended up getting jobs in Trump’s administration. “The creepy people are now in higher-up places in D.C., which is kind of disturbing,” she said.
In addition to the creep factor, Elizabeth isn’t that interested in MAGA-hat-wearing men because she considers herself more of an “establishment Republican” and feels that Trump isn’t a real Republican. Even though she and her boyfriend both voted for Trump, they were hesitant about it, she said, and haven’t been pleased with everything he’s done in his administration.
Even conservative women who didn’t vote for Trump feel pressured to defend him on dates. When liberal guys find out that Deborah, a 24-year-old white woman in Boston, is a conservative, they often ask her how a woman could possibly vote for Trump. That’s the awkward moment when she tells them that she, too, wasn’t happy with Trump’s statements about grabbing women’s genitals; that’s part of why she voted for Evan McMullin instead.
Deborah says she doesn’t like feeling pressured to defend someone she didn’t vote for, and she doesn’t like the way the men she goes on dates with judge her for her political opinions. She tries to avoid talking about politics if she can, but that’s become very difficult, especially in the past few months.
Politics “comes up on most [dates] now just because of everything that’s been going on recently, especially since Charlottesville,” she said. “It’s hard for people not to talk about it, so it just comes up. And then most of the time I just try not to even say anything.” If she offers an opinion, such as, “I can understand the president [saying there’s] multiple sides at fault here,” then her date “just gets completely mad,” she said.
With the exception of abortion, which she is against, she’s open to dating men who have different viewpoints as long as they don’t respond so negatively to hers. “The hardest part for me since I moved to Boston is getting used to that culture up north,” she said, explaining that the guys she meets can come off as “kind of gruff.” Deborah is from D.C., where she says she was able to find more guys with “Southern manners” because the city is a larger blend of north and south than Boston.
“I like manners; I like chivalry. I want the guy to open the door for me,” Deborah said. She likes men who “respect me as a woman but then also realize that I can have intellectual conversations with them,” as well as conversations about sports.
So what kind of guys did she date before she moved to Boston?
“I don’t want to be stereotypical, but — the Southern frat boy,” she said. Unsurprisingly, “they generally tend to be more Republican when it comes to politics.”