made the intriguing claim that online dating is worsening America's political polarization. Match.com, OKCupid, and the like give all their lonely hearts access to a lot of demographic data—age, race, income, hometown—that can serve as a surrogate for party affiliation, and some users even slap their political views up on their profiles.As the piece's author, Shanna Pearson-Merkowitz, writes, this "allows people to be pickier about who qualifies as 'acceptable' before they ever have the chance to meet," lessening the chances that you'll meet that guy who loves to read and shares your sense of humor, even if he voted for Romney. Sure, it starts from a reasonable premise: "The effect of mixed politics partnering is important" because "when people are exposed to divergent political viewpoints from people they spend time with, they tend to be far more tolerant of opposing views"; and this is amplified over generations because kids grow up to think—and vote—like their parents, and tolerance and extremism are heritable, too.But Pearson-Merkowitz never makes the leap to proving that online dating is an impediment to these cross-clan pairings.The biggest problem is that the study she sites, "The Dating Preferences of Liberals and Conservatives," from the latest issue of the journal , doesn't compare couples that met online to couples that met in more traditional ways.Personally, I do need to find someone who shares my political beliefs but I would not rank an interest in politics over activities like traveling, cooking together or coffee and conversations.
For example, a single who earns between ,000 and 0,000 per year was 7 percentage points more likely to report political beliefs that were “middle of the road” than one who earns between ,000 and ,000.Its authors only surveyed the former, though they did conclude, "both liberals and conservatives seek to date individuals who are like themselves…which in turn could be fueling the widening ideological gap in the United States." What's more, it turns out that finding your political counterparts on a dating site is usually less straightforward than the suggests.A 2011 study found, "only 14 percent of online daters even included 'political interests' in their profile—less than the 17 percent of online daters who admit to being heavy set, stocky or carrying a few extra pounds." And "of those who listed politics as an interest, the majority— 57 percent—reported that their politics were 'middle of the road.'"If you read Pearson-Merkowitz's article closely, it turns out she's complaining about the rising "ability to filter relationships based on " (emphasis mine), and it's probably true that this happens, consciously or not, and even if most would-be Romeos decline to label themselves "Republican" or "Democrat." But how significant is it that online daters are using broad socioeconomic "factors" to screen potential mates, when our daily lives—and the traditional "friend of a friend" route to finding a partner—keep us at least as insulated?One potential reason this might be the case is because women who are more financially successful have less need for resources from potential mates.In reality, the only way we can determine people’s preferences in dating is not to observe their stated preferences but to observe the choices that they make on that market.The site is the brainchild of two twentysomethings Darren Wilkins ‘a raging Green party voter’, and Micheal Sprite a ‘Life long Conservative supporter up until recently’.Talking about their motivation for starting the site, Darren explained: ‘In terms of having a long-term relationship, raising children, and settling down, studies have shown that the majority of British people want to be in that long-term relationship with someone who shares their political views.’ The site only launched this year, but the general election saw a surge in members, and there are currently over 4,000 singletons signed up and hoping to find their political love match.A lot of it is just plain geography: If you live in a densely populated city, particularly in the northeast, you have to search relatively hard to find a Republican to date; if you live somewhere rural or in the south, the opposite is true.In some cases, online dating actually broadens horizons, since it carries people outside their own circles of acquaintance.'s article is that it implies it is shallow, even irresponsible, to use party affiliation as a filter for possible romantic partners.It’s often said that you should never discuss sex or politics (and don’t even get us started on religion), but My Political – the new kid on the dating site block – blows that convention out of the water.Because, as the name suggests, My Political matches users based on their politics.