If you're single and actively dating, this year's Valentine's Day may have been your crummiest yet. And not for the usual reasons like lack of chemistry or the person being nothing like their profile promised — but because of whom they voted for, and what political positions they support.
Earlier this month, the dating service Coffee Meets Bagel surveyed 1,320 users and found that the majority of singles say politics are impacting their quest for love.
Cupid Takes a Hit, Especially for Liberals
Seventy percent of single Democrats said that politics are affecting their dating life "slightly" to "profoundly," compared with 55 percent of single Independents, and 43 percent of single Republicans. Furthermore, 82 percent of Democrats said "it's more important that my matches' political views are similar to mine," versus 66 percent of Independents and 66 percent of Republicans. Additionally, 40 percent of Democrats, 34 percent of Independents and 22 percent of Republicans said, "It's more important for me to talk about politics early on in the date."
Dawoon Kang, co-founder and COO of Coffee Meets Bagel, said that for the week of election day, Coffee Meets Bagel saw a decrease in activity and fewer sign-ups than usual — just as it did during the inauguration and the subsequent women's marches.
Looking for Stability in Times of Unease
But dating site eHarmony has seen the reverse — a 35 percent spike in communication and membership following election day and inauguration day. Not since 9/11 has the company seen such a jump in interest.
"We’ve noticed that in times of great national uncertainty our membership increases, often during times of the year when things are usually slow. The months after September 11, 2001 was one of these periods," said Grant Langston, CEO of eHarmony, in an email statement to NBC News.
"The conclusion that we drew was that during these turbulent periods people have a greater desire to seek the security and companionship of a relationship. We’ve seen a similar pattern of increased subscription since November 8, 2016," he said.
"It seems likely to us that a greater sense of unpredictability around the country is again driving a greater need for the emotional connection people find in a loving relationship," Langston told NBC News.
The disparity in activity between CMB and eHarmony probably has a great deal to do with their respective business models and the types of users it targets.
Founded in 2012, CMB is free to use and is most popular among young urban professionals in big cities. Born in 2000, eHarmony was one of the first dating sites around; it charges a membership fee, is dedicated to making not only matches but marriages, and was founded by Christian psychologist Neil Clark Warren.
"eHarmony does tend to get people who favor religion, and when there’s discord, religion serves a purpose for many looking to heal," said April Masini, relationship expert and advice columnist. "But even people who are not particularly religious look to eHarmony simply because of its success rate and its tendency to assist in making romantic choices. When you feel helpless, and you think someone can do right by you, it’s natural to use them as a resource."
Can't We All Just Get Along? Heck, No
CoffeeMeetsBagel's survey showed that Democrats are feeling more affected by politics and are less open to date a Republican than vice versa. Why is that? It could be because frankly, Democrats are traumatized by President Donald Trump.
"The Trump victory has had a profound impact on many of my patients," said Jonathan Alpert, psychotherapist, relationship expert, and author. "Several report high anxiety and difficulty sleeping and others report how their sex life is pretty much non-existent because they're just so distraught."
"Usually people can keep their political views to themselves but with this past election being so contentious and polarizing that's hard to do," added Alpert. "People feel so strongly and as a result, their ideologies might be hard to contain. It's also not surprising that more Democrats are feeling the impact given that their party lost. Their general mind set might be more negative, pessimistic, and anxious, [which isn't] healthy for having a positive dating experience or love life. That said, misery loves company and comfort is found in like-minded people — so there lies potential for romance."
Flaunt Your Beliefs, But Get Ready to Be Torn Apart
If you are up for dating and feel strongly that your partner's politics must match yours, perhaps the best thing you can do is to make your stance abundantly clear on your dating profiles. But you may want to brace yourself for some ugly backlash — especially if you're a liberal in a red state.
Heather Wilkerson, a single Democrat in Iowa, wears her political feelings on her sleeve, literally.
"My profile picture on the dating sites I am on is very, very liberal," Wilkerson said. "I am wearing a shirt with a cat holding a gun, captioned 'Watch out Donald, this one’s armed!' and I am holding my sign from the women’s march that says: 'Girls just wanna have fun-damental human rights.'"
By making her beliefs loud and clear, Wilkerson has hoped to attract like-minded people, but says that she's been bombarded by negative feedback.
"I get at least one or two awful messages a week calling me a 'libtard' and 'feminazi,'" said Wilkerson. "I have found it interesting and a bit sad exactly how many men message me just to put me down or tell me I’m wrong. Every so often I do get some words of encouragement, but those are few and far between."
It's pretty discouraging stuff, but Wilkerson isn't giving up and neither should you. Unless you really do feel better off just taking a break from it all for a while. Sometimes, we just need a breather.