How’s Bill Maher for a relationship test?
Julie Spira of Marina del Rey wanted to watch Maher’s cable political talk show. Her boyfriend “didn’t want to watch anything with a liberal slant,” she said.
Politics went from being rarely discussed to causing a major schism between the liberal Spira and her partner, who wished President Donald Trump a happy birthday on social media. The couple — who had fallen in love at first sight, spent seven years together, broken up and then re-connected — went their separate ways shortly after Inauguration Day.
The Trump era’s effect on romance is something Spira, a dating expert, has seen in her professional capacity. Today, wearing a “Make America Great Again” hat at a bar might get you a free drink — or get one thrown in your face.
Trump’s election “has polarized the nation in general. Naturally it’s spilled over into the dating world,” said Jonathan Alpert, a Manhattan-based psychotherapist and author of a Huffington Post column on how to keep politics from ruining your relationship.
“(Trump) is a word that just brings out so many emotions in people,” he said.
Once well behind other attributes, politics is now a more important factor in choosing someone to date. Since July 2016, women’s interest in politics rose more than 43 percent, according to the matchmaking site eHarmony, and men who mention politics in their profile get 12.9 percent of their matches to start talking as opposed to 4.9 percent for those who don’t.
After Election Day 2016 and Inauguration Day last year, eHarmony saw a 35 percent increase in membership.
“People are reacting to the Trump presidency with the same intensity as they did after 9/11,” eHarmony CEO Grant Langston said in a company report. “We all just want human connection, especially during difficult times.”
Many singles with strong feelings on politics are up front about it on their online profiles.
“More often than not, I’m seeing people saying, ‘Swipe left if you voted for Trump,’” Spiria said, referring to the practice on the mobile dating app Tinder of rejecting a potential match.
The influence of the #MeToo movement, which calls attention to sexual harassment and assault, cannot be ignored, Spira said. For many women, Trump — who was recorded boasting about groping women and employed a White House aide who recently resigned after allegations surfaced that he beat two former wives — represents everything misogynistic about modern culture.
There are even dating sites catering to Trump supporters or haters.
“Making Dating Great Again” is the motto of trumpsingles.com, which seeks to connect supporters of America’s 45th president.
“If people are being demonized for their views and having a hard time on their dates, we wanted to take that whole part of it out,” founder David Goss told the New York Daily News.
For Trump haters, the app “Dating, Eh?” promises to help Americans “find the perfect Canadian partner to save them from the horror of a Trump presidency,” according to its website.
Partisan antipathy reached new heights leading to Trump’s election. A 2016 Pew Research Center study found that 55 percent of Democrats said the GOP makes them “afraid” while 49 percent of Republicans said the same thing about the Democratic Party.
Narrowed to those who vote regularly or donate or volunteer for political campaigns, 70 percent of Democrats and 62 percent of Republicans expressed fear of the other party, according to Pew.
That division carries over into the dating world, said Bill Eddy, a mediator and president of the San Diego-based High Conflict Institute.
“The Trump era has increased us-against-them thinking, bragging, being angry and creating your own reality,” he said. “It’s made people more narrow in who they will date. (They say) ‘I’ll never date a Democrat!’ or ‘I’ll never date a Trump Republican!’”
Recent data from the dating site Match.com, however, offer hope that love conquers all, including the partisan divide.
Roughly seven in 10 singles in Match.com’s “Singles in America” study said they would cross party lines to date, and singles were more apathetic about a partner’s voting habits last year compared to 2015.
In 2017, 45 percent of singles said they would try to understand the other person’s perspective, 41 percent would tell their date politely that they disagreed while 5 percent would leave the date immediately, Match.com reported.
“Fifty-four percent of singles think the current political climate makes it more important to find out about a potential partner’s overall political views,” Match.com’s survey found. “But when it comes to the first date … 23 percent are willing to ask.”
As for Spira, she’s found someone she’s politically compatible with.
And yes, they watch Bill Maher together.
In a relationship with a political opposite? Dating expert Julie Spira has some advice:
•Set a timer. Establish a certain period — say, 15 minutes — to talk politics and keep track with a timer. When time’s up, shift to another topic or activity you both enjoy.
•Avoid social media. Limit posting your political opinions online. “It will upset your partner by seeing your opinion publicly,” Spira said.
•Don’t ignore it. Pretending like you don’t have different political views is not the answer. “Take the time for a healthy debate,” Spira said. “Have a healthy debate on a particular subject because that one particular subject, you might actually agree on. If not, then you need to agree to disagree and move on.”