Every so often a new tic takes over dating apps, as though some Tucker Max type convened every bro in America for a weekend seminar and sent them home with profiles that all said “6’1” since apparently that matters.” In a previous era, liking tacos and referencing The Office once cropped up as personality signifiers. For a while there, it seemed like every other guy would have you know his stance on the Oxford comma. And in the first few months of the pandemic, it was quite common to swipe past dudes claiming that they “got the antibodies.”
Now it seems the latest buzzwords of seduction are social justice-themed. A Tinder bio ending with “Overthrow the government and chill?” The Hinge prompt “Together we could” answered with “Abolish the police.” On another Hinge profile, a list of things “I geek out on” including sourdough, design, and BLM.
Given that we’re in the middle of the birth of a new society-altering social justice moment, on some level this makes sense. And maybe it’s uplifting that so many singles these days are peppering their profiles with progressive soundbites on the path to romantic connection. On the other hand, Black Lives Matter is certainly not a lifestyle choice that you “geek out” on! It’s one thing to signal to a potential match what causes really matter to you, but it’s something else to toss in a lefty slogan to seem like you’re hip to protest culture in the same way you’re up on natural wine or Succession. What I’m saying is: perhaps the guys popping ACAB into their bio haven’t sufficiently engaged with the values behind the language.
But it’s telling that so many people feel compelled to do this. If it seems like politics is more important in dating than ever, recent research backs that up. Match.com’s October 2020 Singles in America report finds that more than half of singles surveyed consider dating someone with opposing political views to be a dealbreaker. Personally, that checks out for me: if someone so much as lists “moderate” on their profile, I’m swiping left.
For some politically active daters, seeing a match explicitly include their political or ideological leanings on their profile assures them that’s a person who prioritizes being engaged with social justice issues—a green flag for them, if you will. And by the same token, a profile that omits any mention of politics could be a turn-off.
For example, Tinder recently added a new feature that allows users to choose six “passions” to list at the top of their profile. Rachel, 33, a Brooklyn-based political organizer, told me that the new feature helps her weed out what people on the app really care about. “I can’t swipe right on someone that doesn’t choose any social justice related stuff—I guess that’s most people,” she says. “Like, I can’t put ‘Netflix’ over ‘feminism’ when I’m limited to six [passions]. And you can’t pretend like you don’t see ‘Black Lives Matter.’” Rachel admits that she swipes left on significantly more profiles now. “And now that I have ‘vegan’ in there I’m sure I get fewer matches too, but maybe that’s O.K.?”
Context matters, though, and when so many profiles include nearly identical political language, it can make some feel suspicious of the intention behind it. Jonah, 27, says he sometimes finds it strange how people on the apps seem to “shoehorn” politics into their profiles. “It’s really difficult to determine sincerity versus virtue signaling, so I’d just as soon leave [politics] out of the profile and have those conversations down the line,” he says. “Do I want someone to swipe right on me because I support Medicare For All? In my head, support for a policy like that is a total baseline assumption. It would be like putting ‘I put on pants when I go to the store.’”