Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Do politics and online dating mix?

How willing are you to mention your political leanings when dating online? Well, if you're like most of the online daters interviewed for a recent University of Miami study published in the journal Evolution and Human Behavior, you're not very willing at all. In fact, in that study, only 14% of online daters even indicated their politics in their profiles. And, of those who did, 57% listed themselves as "middle of the road".

Even more interesting to me is this fact: that 14% is less than the 17% who admit to being heavyset, stocky, or carrying "a few extra pounds". Hmmmm... Why would more people be willing to actually say they're overweight than to define their political beliefs? Aren't most single people afraid they'll be negatively judged (and maybe even rejected) more because of their body type than anything else? I certainly hear that a lot from my dating coaching clients, especially the women.

Another dating coach who weighed in on this thinks that, because those interviewed for the study were using a free dating site, they'd be less likely to post their political preferences because they're often just dabbling in dating, not yet interested in a serious relationship, and thus not as apt to fill out the entire questionnaire for their profile. And I'm sure that's part of it.

But, why is it that only 43% of those who DID list their politics (a mere 7.3% of the total people surveyed) actually defined themselves as liberal or conservative? The same coach thinks it's because it could limit a person's dating pool if they define themselves too specifically. She's got a point there. If you say you're at a certain end of the political spectrum, you might only attract those at the same end, and you'd never have a chance with those in the middle or at the other end. So, if you're conservative, only other conservatives would contact you. But, is that a bad thing? Wouldn't you be more compatible with a like-minded person? And isn't it better to know up front the types of beliefs a prospect holds rather than to be sadly surprised on date 2 or 3? Isn't it a waste of your time and energy to be meeting a bunch of people who ultimately don't have that much in common with you and instead to zero in on those who do?

This, of course, all depends on how important you think a person's politics are in terms of compatibility. There are certainly people on both ends of the spectrum who wouldn't feel at all comfortable hanging out with their polar political opposite--for fear they'd argue about things in the early months of dating and maybe even disagree about values, lifestyles, ways to raise children, etc. in the later stages. Certainly, for young daters looking for a spouse, this makes sense. It's easier to envision a long-term partnership or marriage with a person who shares your world view than with someone who doesn't. Why set yourself up for fights and failure?

A separate study at another university supports this assertion. It found that political attitudes were the strongest shared trait among spouses--even higher than good looks or personality. In other words, when people are looking for marriage partners, they're drawn to those with the same political attitudes...which suggests that couples most likely to commit long term actually share the same political views at the start of the relationship as opposed to growing closer politically over the course of time. Knowing that, then, wouldn't it be smart for those seeking an LTR or marriage who have specific political beliefs to indicate that in their profiles in order to attract someone they're more likely to click with...and to "weed out" those they're more likely to argue with?

What do you think? Are similar politics important to you? Do you feel uncomfortable with someone with dissimilar political or world views? If you're a liberal, would you be unlikely to reply to or write to someone who checked the "conservative" box on his or her profile? How about the "middle of the road" box? Also... have you ever had a relationship where political disagreement was one of the major reasons for breaking up? I did myself in the first 2 years I was dating after divorce, but he didn't reveal his views for almost 9 months...I guess for fear that it'd drive me away (which it did). Obviously, in that case, his pretending to be OK with the views I'd been voicing since Day 1 backfired in the end...and what he feared actually came true anyways. I'd love to hear your take on this. Drop me a line!

Postscript: One other interesting finding from the University of Miami study: older online daters and those with higher education levels were more willing to express a definitive political preference (perhaps, in my opinion, because they're more comfortable with who they are and thus less concerned about others judging them and also because life has taught them that it's easier to get along with like-minded people and that it takes too much energy to deal with those with conflicting viewpoints). Certainly, when I got married the 2nd time at age 51, I expressed my political preference and wrote only to like-minded men. If you're an older dater, I'd love to hear your take on this.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Why don't men attend singles events?

In my 8+ years in the post-divorce dating world and my 6 years as a dating coach after my 2nd marriage, I've either attended or hosted hundreds of singles events. And I've noticed something undeniable: at least 70% of the attendees are women. Why is this?

Well, from surveying men about why they didn't sign up to attend the various events I hosted in the past, I found out there were 4 main reasons:
1) It was too far away from home & they didn't feel like driving
2) They didn't want to have to get dressed up
3) Their fear about being one of a minority of guys in a roomful of women deterred them
4) If there wasn't an "activity" as the focus of the event, they felt awkward just mingling with strangers

It's unfortunate that these things keep men from taking advantage of a great opportunity to meet dozens of high-quality women. But I guess I can understand some of the hesitance on the guys' part. It takes a lot of confidence and someone pretty outgoing to feel comfortable meeting strangers for the first time. And men have had to put up with rejection from women for years in the dating world, and they'd rather not set themselves up for more of it.

One type of singles event I found got a pretty good turnout from men was a potluck dinner party held at my home. It was casual and informal and easier to talk to people in a home atmosphere. They could always chat about the food item they brought or the array of edibles other people brought as they lingered around the serving table. And they could chat with me during awkward moments and ask me about a certain woman who caught their eye and even get an assist with an introduction to her if they wanted.

What do you think, guys? Is a potluck dinner type of event something you'd be more likely to attend rather than a dance, outing to a music venue, or singles outdoor or sporting event? What kinds of venues and activities do you like best? I and all the single ladies who continue to try new events in hopes there will be some guys there would LOVE to know! Drop me a note and share your thoughts. Thanks!