I have a friend, let’s call her... Tiffany. And there's a new dating rule she's put into place recently: Tiffany won’t date white men. “It would just be too much work,” she says. According to Tiffany, there’s too much risk involved and privilege to sort through.
Of course, this is a huge generalization; just because someone is white, it doesn’t mean they're necessarily less enlightened than a person of color. But, it’s an understandable precautionary measure. Tiffany explains: “Things right now are hard enough, I don’t want to worry about whether my potential future husband has KKK in his blood.” Which, fair!
All jokes aside, this type of difficulty in dating is not just Tiffany's problem. In fact, relationship expert Susan Winter says this situation is pretty par for 2018’s course, i.e. people are incredibly wary about whom they're going to date. Winter has noticed that women, specifically, are becoming more and more selective about potential partners. “I'll have clients, and the first thing they'll say when they meet someone online is: 'So who did you vote for in the last election?'” she tells me. “And that's important to them. They will walk away from someone simply because it is so firmly entrenched in their understanding that, whether you chose Trump or Clinton, that defines every other value system straight down the line.” Backing this claim up, data from Match.com shows that 60 percent of singles say they’re less open to dating across party lines than two years ago.
While politics has and should always be something that people consider before getting involved with another person, it’s shot to the top of the list of relationship priorities over the past couple of years, and it's been joined by other hot-button issues, like the #MeToo movement. So while one person's belief in Bill Cosby's guilt or another person's stance on abortion might not have come up conversationally on the first date in the past, now that these topics are regularly in headlines, it’s hard to avoid them. And that’s a good thing, Winter says. Having these conversations, and learning about the other person's beliefs sooner rather than later, will save you a lot of time down the line.
“I hate to say this, but 90 percent of our happiness is determined by the partner we select,” Winter says. “Selection process is paramount in romantic happiness. If you start with someone who wants what you want and they want it with you and you have the same values, you're just not going to have the same level of problems.” Not only that, but you’re also going to have a better connection, she stresses. “It allows us to unite on a deeper level because we're now keyed into each others' mission statements and purpose as human beings.”
It might seem silly to dismiss someone because you don’t agree with their political views, but, then again, it might wind up being representative of a total difference in values, and that can be divisive (ahem, Kanye). The whole point of dating is to find someone with whom you want to spend the rest of your life with, and so it's all the more important to find someone whose values are aligned with yours. If someone finds your feminism unpalatable or your support of Black Lives Matter wrong, then it’s okay to let them go, but it’s also okay to compromise and find common ground—even if you're approaching an issue from opposite fields. The important thing is knowing what you can and can’t tolerate. “I think specific is good. The first tier of being specific is that it indicates that you know what you want,” Winter says. “And I don't think any of us should have to have to feel badly or that we're being discriminatory. It's the one place where we can say, ‘I only want strawberry ice cream.’” She continues: “And if someone comes back to ask, ‘But don’t you want the vanilla and chocolate?’ [just say,] ‘No, no I want strawberry.’”
Winter says she understands why people wouldn't want to feel like they're interrogating their dates and taking all the romance out of the situation, making it into “a job interview," but she also says that "it’s getting crazy these days... you kind of have to go over this." Even if getting this specific about who you're going to date might seem to make the task of finding love that much harder, because of all the people you're crossing off your list, at least you know you'll be better positioned to find the right person. Winter speaks of a client who would ask 25 very specific questions before getting involved with anyone; the questions ranged from "Have you ever been incarcerated?" to "Are you on any medication?"
And while this approach might not work for everyone, Winter points out, “She eventually got married.”