Dating and Politics — A Perilous Mix

by Heather Robinson


From New York Post


Do political opposites attract?

Or is there a red America and a blue America when it comes to love — especially heading into a presidential election year?

Most of the two dozen New York City singles interviewed for this article said they would avoid dating someone with political views staunchly opposed to their own, especially for the long term.

“If my boyfriend said he was changing his political party, we would have a talk. I don’t know if I could ever marry someone who is conservative,” said Lumi Chan, 22, a graduate student at Hunter College who is supporting Bernie Sanders.

Some cited concerns about harmony in a future family.

“I don’t want to hear, ‘Mommy, Daddy says you’re evil because you’re a Republican!’ ” said Melissa Jane Kronfeld, 33, co-president of the Zionist Organization of America’s New York Metro chapter, who also works with Young Professionals for Cruz in New York.

“I think the values are so different I couldn’t find common ground,” said Vincent B., 47, a corporate attorney who lives in Soho and supports Donald Trump. “Lots of liberals I know and work with consider conservatives to be a caricature. If that’s the case, and a lot of untrue things are imputed to me and my political allies . . . then it wouldn’t work,” he says.

Some cited political disagreement as having been a factor in breakups of serious relationships.
“President Obama moved the country forward,” particularly regarding health care, said Eran Arkin, 35, a Hillary Clinton supporter who works in finance and lives in Midtown. He added it has “been a problem” in his past relationships when women didn’t perceive things that way.

And Simon (name has been changed), 35, a corporate attorney who supports Carly Fiorina and lives in Midtown, said when his ex “jumped on the ‘binders full of women’ bandwagon to bash Romney” in 2012, it was part of a “downgrade of regard” that ended their relationship.

Some mentioned “deal-breaker” issues.

“I probably wouldn’t date someone who didn’t support gay marriage,” said Raven Eleri, 35, a doctoral student in public and urban policy at The New School who lives on the Upper West Side and supports Hillary Clinton.

But others wouldn’t categorically reject dating across party lines.

“I would date a moderate conservative; I don’t know about a staunch conservative,” said Josh Brody, 41, an oncologist and assistant professor at Mount Sinai Hospital who is a Democrat, adding, “I think it’s important to look at the whole person.”

There also emerged a “James Carville/Mary Matalin” pattern: singles who cited some degree of political difference between partners as making romantic relationships more exciting. These tended to be highly politically engaged individuals.

“I think a little political passion could translate into romantic excitement,” said Mark Ingrassia, 50, a Huntington special-education teacher who protested the Iraq War and supports Sanders but has dated at least one woman who leans conservative.

Other politically engaged New Yorkers, too, believe that when it comes to politics and love, it pays to take a broader view.

“I like an intellectual wrestling match; it pushes me to ask myself why I hold certain opinions and allows me to sharpen my stances,” said Courtney Emerson, 28, a Democrat and co-founder of the All in Together Campaign, a New York-based nonprofit that promotes women’s advancement in politics.

Emerson, who has dated at least one man who leans conservative, adds that she believes romantic relationships may be the ideal arena in which to push back against today’s polarized climate in politics and media and “to explore other points of view and talk about your own because you are operating under the assumption this person cares about and respects you.”

It appears most New York singles would agree at least that ignoring politics completely is no recipe for love either, as the least exciting prospect is dating someone who is completely uninformed.

“My deal-breaker is if people can’t talk politics at all,” said Joel Acevedo, of Staten Island, a sophomore at John Jay College of Criminal Justice who’s supporting Marco Rubio. “I want to talk about real stuff, not just reality TV.”


This piece was written with Alan Zeitlin