Love Meets Politics on Dating Websites
By Faiza Elmasry - If similar political views bring people together on the campaign trail, why not in romance as well?
That’s the concept behind two new dating websites for people on opposite sides of the political spectrum.
“In college, I was active in a young Republican group at USC on campus," says Ashlee Bell, 25, who graduated from the University of Southern California. "It was overwhelming because most of the people are liberals on campus.”
Bell says she talks about politics all the time, even when she’s on a date.
“People say, ‘OK, don’t talk about politics on your first date.’ Well, I want to know where they stand so I can decide if I want to go on a second date or not," she says. "There are many instances where I’ve met people and gone on dates with people that don’t agree with me politically. It really impacts how I feel about them.”
That’s why she was delighted to find redstatedate.com.
“What I like about this site is that it really hones in on your interest and how you feel about the world," Bell says. "Before I knew this one existed, I was surfing the other websites. I was just not happy with the quality of men that I was finding at all. Then when I came across this web site, I’ve had much better luck on this site than the other sites because it’s specialized, because it attracts a different breed of people.”
Alex Fondrier, co-founder and chief executive officer of Political Matchmakers, conceived the idea for the site after experiencing difficulty meeting people who shared his passion for politics.
“Knowing how big the online dating industry is, but there wasn’t a site out there for politics," Fondrier says. "And given how heated we are as a country in terms of political discourse, I figured well, why wouldn’t there be a site for conservative and liberal politics?”
He launched redstatedate.com and bluestatedate.com in October 2012 and, so far, nearly 5,600 people have signed up.
“About half of our users are below 35 and half of them are above 35," Fondrier says. "We also see people who haven’t necessarily tried online dating before. They’re people holding the Romney posters or the Obama posters. They volunteered on other political campaigns. They’re the types of folks that just love talking politics.”
As on most dating web sites, users enter their educational information, where they live, and their interests, but they also answer questions about their views on a variety of social and economic issues.
“Not all conservatives and liberals fall under the same orientation," Fondrier says. "You might have a Republican from the Northeast, for instance, who is more economically conservative, but less socially conservative, or a southern Democrat who might be more socially conservative, but less economically conservative."
When people log in, they are offerred a three-part political assessment, including questions on the economy, foreign policy and social views.
"Then the system puts you on a political spectrum and shows you how conservative you and also your other matches are overall, or how liberal you are overall,” Fondrier says.
Finding your niche
The two websites are the latest additions to what experts call "niche" dating sites.
“They can range anywhere from sites for vegetarians, to sites for people that love their dogs," says online dating expert Julie Spira. "There is a site calledAlikewise for people who are book lovers, where you can share your passion for the books that you like to read. [There are] sites that focus on religion. It could be jdate.com for Jewish singles or Christian Mingle for Christian singles.”
But special interest websites are not for everyone.
“Some people believe that opposites attract and they like to meet someone that’s not a carbon copy of themselves," Spira says. "This way they have an opportunity to learn more about different things in life and different opinions. Other people like to find people that they really have a lot in common with.”
No matter where they meet online, Spira says users should be clear about who they are and what they're looking for.
“My suggestion is be very authentic. Be very honest. Tell the truth about your age," Spira says. "And please take your relationship from online to offline during the first few weeks, if you live in the same city, because you don’t want to end up like a digital pen pal and fall for someone that you have no idea who they really are.”
That’s the next step for users of Political Matchmakers’ websites.
“Now we’re starting to have some in-person events," Fondrier says. "We’re having one in New York City next week, a pre-Valentine’s Day mixer. We hope to get to know our users and keep working on finding them a long-term relationship.”
Fondrier hopes redstatedate and bluestatedate will continue to grow and help the politically passionate find their perfect mates.
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