Politics is now a dating deal-breaker, according to new research

A massive Dating.com study reveals just how important politics are in the dating world right now.

man and woman standing back to back
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  • According to a new survey from a popular dating website, 84 percent of people currently looking for a relationship through dating apps won't even consider dating someone with opposite political views.
  • Additionally, 67 percent of the dating site's users have admitted to previously ending a relationship due to opposing political views.
  • Licensed marriage therapist Dr. Gary Brown says that there is more "venom and animosity" now than there was during the Vietnam War.

    We are living in an extremely polarizing time in politics. With an American president that you either wildly support or vehemently oppose, and a world that's been pushed to the brink in more ways than one in the last few years, it's no surprise that conversations about politics could lead to make or break moments in budding new romances.

    According to a new survey from popular dating website Dating.com, 84 percent of people currently looking for a relationship through dating apps won't even consider dating someone with opposite political views, and 67 percent of users admitted to previously ending a relationship due to opposing political views.

      Exploring the connections between romance and politics

      vote pins concept of voter registration

      Sex and politics have been closely linked for a long time.

      Photo by 3dfoto on Shutterstock

      From the extremely public disagreements between White House advisor Kellyanne Conway and her husband, to the tense argument you and your partner had on voting day, politics can be a breaking point for any relationship.

      Sex and intimacy provide a strong driving force for humans that reaches far beyond the confines of the bedroom. Our personal relationships influence our behaviors, our thoughts, our motivations, and our even our political opinions, to some extent.

      If your sexual preferences align, your political values might, too.

      According to this 2017 study, traditional behaviors in the bedroom (what some might deem to be "vanilla" sex) can be closely related to more conservative orientations, whereas more adventurous sexual endeavors can suggest more liberal ideas.

      Whether you're swiping right or scrolling through, it can be hard to find a match who's values and opinions are in line with yours. While some minor disagreements and conflicts can actually be healthy in a relationship, pairing up with someone who has opposing political views might just mean you have two very different sets of morals that may not bring out the best in each other.

      Defining dating expectations allows you to see how important political views are in the beginning of a relationship.

      According to a study released by It's Just Lunch, 50 percent of single men and women stated that dating someone with opposing political views was fine for short-term relationships but would not be ideal for long-term commitments.

      If you're looking for something casual and fun, perhaps politics doesn't need to play as big of a role as it would if you were swiping right to find a long-term relationship.

      Navigating politics and relationships is more difficult now than ever before.

      That same study by It's Just Lunch has around 40 percent of men and women claiming they believe it's "too risky" to bring up politics on a first date.

      It's not just dating website studies - therapists around the world are struggling to defuse politically-charged landmines in relationships. Gary Brown, Ph.D. and licensed marriage therapist explains to Women's Health Magazine that now more than ever we are living in such an intense political climate that it is undoubtedly causing tension not just in romantic relationships but in friendships and among colleagues as well.

      "It's everywhere," Brown explains. "I can't remember a time, not even during the Vietnam war, where there was as much venom and animosity as there is now. Even people who deeply love each other are falling victim to the 'politics of personal destruction', where it's not enough to disagree with someone but you have to destroy them and everything they stand for in the process."

      How to (respectfully) broach the topic of politics with a potential match

      man and women disagreeing arguing on couch

      Polarizing political views can be a deal-breaker - here's how to navigate the topic of politics on a date.

      Photo by fizkes on Shutterstock

      "During a time where we are surrounded by politics, it is important to look at the impact that it has on the online dating industry," Vice President of Dating.com, Maria Sullivan, explains. "We have seen a huge increase in political terms being added to user profiles."

      According to the study, 72 percent of singles would rather you flaunt that you voted at all (rather than who specifically you voted for) in your bio. More than half the participants surveyed said that bringing up a discussion about politics too early can be a huge turn-off.

      So how do you make sure you make your view known while not being too pushy about the subject too early on?

      Use non-confrontational language and keep things vague in the beginning. If voting is important to you, make that known and suggest that you're open to talking politics with anyone who is interested.

      Choose the right time. Perhaps the first words you say shouldn't be an accusatory statement about who they voted for and why. Bringing up political views is an important test to see if the match is right, but choose the right time to insert politics into the conversation.

      Be open-minded (or respectful, at the very least). While you may have a hard stance on your political views (as many people do), being respectful of other people's opinions is often the best approach and the thing that might open the conversation up in a healthy way.

      Iron Age discoveries uncovered outside London, including a ‘murder’ victim

      A man's skeleton, found facedown with his hands bound, was unearthed near an ancient ceremonial circle during a high speed rail excavation project.

      Photo Credit: HS2
      Culture & Religion
      • A skeleton representing a man who was tossed face down into a ditch nearly 2,500 years ago with his hands bound in front of his hips was dug up during an excavation outside of London.
      • The discovery was made during a high speed rail project that has been a bonanza for archaeology, as the area is home to more than 60 ancient sites along the planned route.
      • An ornate grave of a high status individual from the Roman period and an ancient ceremonial circle were also discovered during the excavations.
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      Are we really addicted to technology?

      Fear that new technologies are addictive isn't a modern phenomenon.

      Credit: Rodion Kutsaev via Unsplash
      Technology & Innovation

      This article was originally published on our sister site, Freethink, which has partnered with the Build for Tomorrow podcast to go inside new episodes each month. Subscribe here to learn more about the crazy, curious things from history that shaped us, and how we can shape the future.

      In many ways, technology has made our lives better. Through smartphones, apps, and social media platforms we can now work more efficiently and connect in ways that would have been unimaginable just decades ago.

      But as we've grown to rely on technology for a lot of our professional and personal needs, most of us are asking tough questions about the role technology plays in our own lives. Are we becoming too dependent on technology to the point that it's actually harming us?

      In the latest episode of Build for Tomorrow, host and Entrepreneur Editor-in-Chief Jason Feifer takes on the thorny question: is technology addictive?

      Popularizing medical language

      What makes something addictive rather than just engaging? It's a meaningful distinction because if technology is addictive, the next question could be: are the creators of popular digital technologies, like smartphones and social media apps, intentionally creating things that are addictive? If so, should they be held responsible?

      To answer those questions, we've first got to agree on a definition of "addiction." As it turns out, that's not quite as easy as it sounds.

      If we don't have a good definition of what we're talking about, then we can't properly help people.

      LIAM SATCHELL UNIVERSITY OF WINCHESTER

      "Over the past few decades, a lot of effort has gone into destigmatizing conversations about mental health, which of course is a very good thing," Feifer explains. It also means that medical language has entered into our vernacular —we're now more comfortable using clinical words outside of a specific diagnosis.

      "We've all got that one friend who says, 'Oh, I'm a little bit OCD' or that friend who says, 'Oh, this is my big PTSD moment,'" Liam Satchell, a lecturer in psychology at the University of Winchester and guest on the podcast, says. He's concerned about how the word "addiction" gets tossed around by people with no background in mental health. An increased concern surrounding "tech addiction" isn't actually being driven by concern among psychiatric professionals, he says.

      "These sorts of concerns about things like internet use or social media use haven't come from the psychiatric community as much," Satchell says. "They've come from people who are interested in technology first."

      The casual use of medical language can lead to confusion about what is actually a mental health concern. We need a reliable standard for recognizing, discussing, and ultimately treating psychological conditions.

      "If we don't have a good definition of what we're talking about, then we can't properly help people," Satchell says. That's why, according to Satchell, the psychiatric definition of addiction being based around experiencing distress or significant family, social, or occupational disruption needs to be included in any definition of addiction we may use.

      Too much reading causes... heat rashes?

      But as Feifer points out in his podcast, both popularizing medical language and the fear that new technologies are addictive aren't totally modern phenomena.

      Take, for instance, the concept of "reading mania."

      In the 18th Century, an author named J. G. Heinzmann claimed that people who read too many novels could experience something called "reading mania." This condition, Heinzmann explained, could cause many symptoms, including: "weakening of the eyes, heat rashes, gout, arthritis, hemorrhoids, asthma, apoplexy, pulmonary disease, indigestion, blocking of the bowels, nervous disorder, migraines, epilepsy, hypochondria, and melancholy."

      "That is all very specific! But really, even the term 'reading mania' is medical," Feifer says.

      "Manic episodes are not a joke, folks. But this didn't stop people a century later from applying the same term to wristwatches."

      Indeed, an 1889 piece in the Newcastle Weekly Courant declared: "The watch mania, as it is called, is certainly excessive; indeed it becomes rabid."

      Similar concerns have echoed throughout history about the radio, telephone, TV, and video games.

      "It may sound comical in our modern context, but back then, when those new technologies were the latest distraction, they were probably really engaging. People spent too much time doing them," Feifer says. "And what can we say about that now, having seen it play out over and over and over again? We can say it's common. It's a common behavior. Doesn't mean it's the healthiest one. It's just not a medical problem."

      Few today would argue that novels are in-and-of-themselves addictive — regardless of how voraciously you may have consumed your last favorite novel. So, what happened? Were these things ever addictive — and if not, what was happening in these moments of concern?

      People are complicated, our relationship with new technology is complicated, and addiction is complicated — and our efforts to simplify very complex things, and make generalizations across broad portions of the population, can lead to real harm.

      JASON FEIFER HOST OF BUILD FOR TOMORROW

      There's a risk of pathologizing normal behavior, says Joel Billieux, professor of clinical psychology and psychological assessment at the University of Lausanne in Switzerland, and guest on the podcast. He's on a mission to understand how we can suss out what is truly addictive behavior versus what is normal behavior that we're calling addictive.

      For Billieux and other professionals, this isn't just a rhetorical game. He uses the example of gaming addiction, which has come under increased scrutiny over the past half-decade. The language used around the subject of gaming addiction will determine how behaviors of potential patients are analyzed — and ultimately what treatment is recommended.

      "For a lot of people you can realize that the gaming is actually a coping (mechanism for) social anxiety or trauma or depression," says Billieux.

      "Those cases, of course, you will not necessarily target gaming per se. You will target what caused depression. And then as a result, If you succeed, gaming will diminish."

      In some instances, a person might legitimately be addicted to gaming or technology, and require the corresponding treatment — but that treatment might be the wrong answer for another person.

      "None of this is to discount that for some people, technology is a factor in a mental health problem," says Feifer.

      "I am also not discounting that individual people can use technology such as smartphones or social media to a degree where it has a genuine negative impact on their lives. But the point here to understand is that people are complicated, our relationship with new technology is complicated, and addiction is complicated — and our efforts to simplify very complex things, and make generalizations across broad portions of the population, can lead to real harm."

      Behavioral addiction is a notoriously complex thing for professionals to diagnose — even more so since the latest edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), the book professionals use to classify mental disorders, introduced a new idea about addiction in 2013.

      "The DSM-5 grouped substance addiction with gambling addiction — this is the first time that substance addiction was directly categorized with any kind of behavioral addiction," Feifer says.

      "And then, the DSM-5 went a tiny bit further — and proposed that other potentially addictive behaviors require further study."

      This might not sound like that big of a deal to laypeople, but its effect was massive in medicine.

      "Researchers started launching studies — not to see if a behavior like social media use can be addictive, but rather, to start with the assumption that social media use is addictive, and then to see how many people have the addiction," says Feifer.

      Learned helplessness

      The assumption that a lot of us are addicted to technology may itself be harming us by undermining our autonomy and belief that we have agency to create change in our own lives. That's what Nir Eyal, author of the books Hooked and Indistractable, calls 'learned helplessness.'

      "The price of living in a world with so many good things in it is that sometimes we have to learn these new skills, these new behaviors to moderate our use," Eyal says. "One surefire way to not do anything is to believe you are powerless. That's what learned helplessness is all about."

      So if it's not an addiction that most of us are experiencing when we check our phones 90 times a day or are wondering about what our followers are saying on Twitter — then what is it?

      "A choice, a willful choice, and perhaps some people would not agree or would criticize your choices. But I think we cannot consider that as something that is pathological in the clinical sense," says Billieux.

      Of course, for some people technology can be addictive.

      "If something is genuinely interfering with your social or occupational life, and you have no ability to control it, then please seek help," says Feifer.

      But for the vast majority of people, thinking about our use of technology as a choice — albeit not always a healthy one — can be the first step to overcoming unwanted habits.

      For more, be sure to check out the Build for Tomorrow episode here.

      Why the U.S. and Belgium are culture buddies

      The Inglehart-Welzel World Cultural map replaces geographic accuracy with closeness in terms of values.

      According to the latest version of the Inglehart-Welzel World Cultural Map, Belgium and the United States are now each other's closest neighbors in terms of cultural values.

      Credit: World Values Survey, public domain.
      Strange Maps
      • This map replaces geography with another type of closeness: cultural values.
      • Although the groups it depicts have familiar names, their shapes are not.
      • The map makes for strange bedfellows: Brazil next to South Africa and Belgium neighboring the U.S.
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