When Natalie, a 40-year-old true crime producer, slept with a homicide detective in Seattle, she didn’t expect much beyond a transgressive tryst. She definitely didn’t expect to agree with him on every political issue, especially gun control, given she is very liberal and he an officer of the law. Still, she found him interesting and sexy, and since they lived on opposite coasts and it was just a one-night stand, she figured politics would never come up.
But as soon as the sex was over, his true MAGA colors turned beet red. While she was still naked, he brought up what a great law stand-your-ground is — and it only got worse from there. “It went from that to how he hates women pretty quickly,” Natalie says. Realizing the gravity of what she’d just done, she casually asked how he felt about the president. “He was like, ‘Oh, I love Donald Trump.’”
Dating across the political divide has always been relatively rare, but there’s reason to believe these romances are more sexual and less serious than ever before. For starters, fewer people are getting married, having kids and buying houses than before, meaning many of them are staying single forever and having more casual sex instead. Likewise, couples who are getting married now align more on politics than in the past. There’s also evidence that the Trump presidency has made couples less tolerant of political conflict. For instance, since 2016, OkCupid has seen a 64 percent increase in political terms in user profiles, and nearly half of eHarmony users mentioned Trump in their profiles in 2017, either positively or negatively. Not to mention, far right and left dating sites have emerged to capitalize on the divisive yet horny climate, including (on the right) Conservatives Only and TrumpSingles, and (on the left) Red Yenta and okcomrade.
With increased partisanship and decreased pressure to get married, the James Carvilles and Mary Matalins, who once overlooked their ideological differences for the sake of love, have evolved into acquaintances who hope to keep politics out of the bedroom just long enough to have some fun. The problem is, the truth can only stay hidden for so long.
Case in point: Wesley, a 35-year-old sales manager, and a woman he matched with on Bumble. When he asked her about politics, she said she wasn’t very political, which admittedly was unusual for the progressive town of Ferndale, Michigan, but not an outright red flag. So they went out, had a great time and ended up back at her place. After they had sex, she told him an odd, unprompted story about her college boyfriend, who was a football player that allegedly stole from her. She punctuated the story by telling Wesley that that’s why she doesn’t date “outside of her race.” “I was dumbfounded,” he says. “I’m lying in bed with this woman I hooked up with and just straight-up found out she was racist.”
Wesley told her he wasn’t interested in going out again and left. The next day he tried his luck on Tinder, only to run into her again. “She had a picture of her with Trump and was holding a Trump 2016 sign,” he tells me. At first, he felt sick to his stomach, but then he was just confused: Why would she have an openly pro-Trump profile on Tinder, yet be apolitical on Bumble? The best answer he could come up with was that on Bumble she was looking for hookups and on Tinder something more substantial, or probably more likely, that she wanted to sleep with liberal guys, too. “We live in a very liberal city, and maybe it was rough to find people to hook up with,” Wesley explains.
But the biggest mind-fuck of it all might be that these hookups can be as fun physically as they are a buzzkill politically. “We had pretty great chemistry, and the sex was great,” Wesley says. Natalie’s experience was the same: Detective Stand-Your-Ground even gave her an orgasm, something that rarely happens during sex for her, let alone the first time. And while it won’t convince her to vote for Trump or see this guy again, it’s a contradiction that will confuse her forever.
“He hates women, but he wanted me to cum?” she asks, dumbfounded. “None of it makes any sense.”