This article originally appeared on VICE UK.
This, however, has clearly not deterred people from doing just that. Over the last few months, a new Twitter trend has seen hundreds of daters discussing the battleground of political preferences on dating apps, with right-wingers criticising left-wingers for just absolutely not wanting to date them because of their politics, and left-wingers criticising right-wingers for voting for a party whose policies have led to the deaths of 120,000 disabled people.
The debate began when 26-year-old Ben Harris tweeted a screenshot of an anonymous person's Hinge profile, in which they'd completed the prompt "you should not go out with me if..." with "You've voted Tory". Harris shared the screenshot with the caption: "Genuinely don't think this kind of attitude is healthy at all."
While the tweet didn't exactly blow up, it was quote-retweeted onto my timeline and triggered a debate about the ethics of automatically discounting potential dates because of their politics.
That conversation ramped up when freelance writer Charlotte Gill published an op-ed in the Telegraph titled: "Does being a Tory mean I'm not 'woke' enough for love?" In it, she says finding love is increasingly difficult as a 30-something ring-winger – as online dating is a "left-leaner's game" – and describes "virtue signalling" matches and "militant" left-wing users who openly say they don't want to date a Tory.
Gill's conclusion is that politics shouldn't "be such a big barrier to love" – that we should pay attention to other little details, like "what [they] thought of Love Island". The reaction was mixed: some agreed that dating apps have become too judgmental, others pointed out that supporting a party that's decimated the NHS and overseen soaring levels of inequality tells you enough about someone's personality that any other minor details become unimportant.
One big thing Gill's article didn't touch on was the, at best, condescending and, at worst, vicious messages left-leaning women receive from right-wing men on dating apps.
Around the time her article was published I began getting uncharacteristically rude responses from Tory men to answers I'd had up on my Hinge profile for months. To the prompt "This year I'd really like to see," I jokingly replied "socialism in the UK". This had never been an issue, but suddenly I started getting comments like "oh fuck off" or "yeah, and I'd like to see pigs fly". My favourite, though, was a man asking me to define socialism, as "clearly I didn't understand it".
Rachel Thompson, 31, is the senior culture writer at Mashable. Soon after the EU referendum, she found herself chatting to a nice-enough-seeming guy on Bumble. "He asked me how I felt about the referendum result, and somewhat naively I'd assumed that he'd be on the same page as me politically," she tells me. "I voted remain, so I responded that I wasn't exactly jumping for joy – quite the contrary."
Rachel's match responded by saying he was almost certainly on the opposite side of the argument, and that was about as pleasant as it got. "Shortly after, I received a barrage of quite ranty messages about how much he despises the EU," says Rachel, "describing it as a 'corrupt and undemocratic cartel' – and he threw a lot of other quite colourful language in there. Then he said he was jubilantly toasting his victory, which felt quite pointed."
Rachel soon unmatched him, as she hadn't signed up for a lecture and felt uncomfortable after his sudden bout of aggression.
Tara, 27, has been berated for having socialist references on her Hinge profile. Considering these men have to first match with a woman before the app allows them to send abusive messages, she can't fathom why they bother. "Sir, why are you wasting your energy on this?" she laughs. "Time is so finite!"
Serena Crawford, 24, actually removed a reference to being a feminist vegan on her profile after receiving so many negging comments from men that she lost count. "I was shocked at how openly people would try to offend me while on a dating app, where presumably the users are looking to meet people," she said.
Anecdotally, this kind of thing seems to be happening a lot – and not just the shitty put-down pick-up techniques lapsed incels have learned on YouTube, but out and out abuse, more often than not from men targeting women whose profiles display traditionally "left-wing" traits.
Serena doesn't think there's anything inherent about dating apps themselves that encourages this kind of behaviour, but believes a sense of online detachment makes it easier for people to say offensive things.
Rachel feels slightly differently, making links between online dating and gendered issues on the internet. "As a woman who dates men, dating apps can sometimes feel like an extension of social media – and not in a good way," she says.
Cyber-flashing is one obvious example of how women are harassed online, but Rachel explains that there are "more insidious ways of making things unpleasant for women on apps", including "negging, mansplaining and even profiles listing all the things you don't like [physically] in women".
Back on the other side of the spectrum, Ben Harris says he was sent a lot of abuse after a high-profile left-wing person quote-tweeted his Twitter thread. He explains that online dating is something he struggles with generally, both because of how his politics are received and because he's an introverted guy. A few times, upon learning of his politics, women have either ghosted him or explained that they no longer wanted to continue dating.
"There does seem to be this belief among many on the left that if you're a Tory you must be by default a bad or evil person, and since young people – and especially young women – tend to be more left-wing than the general population, it does make sense that I come across a few hardcore types on these apps," he says.
Of course, it's how these polarised views are experienced that makes the difference. Coming across a politicised dating profile that is hostile to your beliefs is one thing; actively sending abusive messages to women in response to non-aggressive prompts is another.
Ultimately, politics is divisive and dating is a minefield. If – like Charlotte Gill and Ben Harris – you're having a hard time combining the two, here's a tip to get you started: don't be a dick.