Americas

Love in the time of Trump: Dating sites for the politically passionate

Love in the time of Trump: Dating sites for the politically passionate
This photo illustration shows a woman checking out TrumpSingles.com online at her computer in Los Angeles, California on Dec 2, 2016. Photo: AFP
Published: 4:55 PM, December 8, 2016

LOS ANGELES — The encounter had seemed promising enough, but the couple brought together by an online dating site failed to connect because of one glaring, irreconcilable difference: He was a Donald Trump supporter, she was not.

It’s a scene played out again and again in the dating world: In an increasingly partisan and polarised country, similarity in political viewpoints has become a major criterion when choosing — or weeding out — prospective love interests.

But now, new dating websites are cropping up to take the guesswork out of pinning down political leanings.

One site, TrumpSingles.com specifically caters to fans of the divisive real estate billionaire.

Adored by millions of Americans, Mr Trump is reviled by at least as many, some of whom are still mourning his election last month as America’s next president and the defeat of his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton.

A similar site was set up for supporters of Mr Bernie Sanders, the tousle-haired Vermont senator whose fiery rhetoric and embrace of environmental causes earned him a fervent and loyal following among liberals and voters under the age of 30.

‘MAKING DATING GREAT AGAIN’

TrumpSingles says it has registered 12,000 people with a goal of “Making Dating Great Again” — a riff on Trump’s “Make America Great Again” campaign slogan.

Unlike conventional dating sites such as Match.com and OKCupid, the site screens its users to ensure they are not trolls seeking to make trouble, but truly supporters of the president-elect, who takes the oath of office next month.

“I thought it was actually a nice idea because I’ve heard so many stories of people going on dates and everything is going fun and the political talk starts and kills any chance of a relationship happening,” TrumpSingles creator David Goss says.

Some 15 per cent of Americans use online dating sites, mostly singles under the age of 24, according to the Pew Research Centre.

Many have no interest in hooking up with those who support Mr Trump, whose retrograde views on immigrants and women are widely rejected.

“No Trump supporters” has even become a common refrain on Tinder, Happn and other dating apps.

But some subscribers to the TrumpSingles website can be loud and proud in their support for the billionaire businessman.

Others may be “in the closet” over expressing support for Mr Trump, perhaps after years of voting for Democrats or because they live in Democratic cities such as Philadelphia.

A cursory look at the site shows the majority of those registered are white — similar to the broad swathe of the American electorate that carried the Republican to power.

Some of the site’s online profiles feature photos showing supporters wearing Trump-themed campaign hats or T-shirts.

On different dating sites, such displays would often be deal breakers. Not so on TrumpSingles, says Mr Goss, who describes his site as open to Trump supporters of all stripes.

“It doesn’t matter your sexual preference, religion, anybody is allow to come and be on the site as long they are for the right reasons,” the 35-year old television producer says.

HILLARY IS NOT BERNIE

BernieSingles.com started as a Facebook group and quickly mushroomed to 30,000 users in just six months.

Its founders say they are in the process of retooling the site, which will be re-christened as ProgressivesMeet.com early next year.

“It’s a platform that takes advantage of the passion for politics,” says Mr Chase Dimond, 24, who created the platform with Mr Jared Stephens, also 24, and Ms Jill Crosby, 50.

And why no dating site for supporters of Hillary Clinton?

The key point is tapping into deep-felt love for a candidate, with hopes of setting off sparks between supporters.

“There’s no passion or fire behind Hillary,” Ms Crosby says.

“There’s a lot of questioning about her — her ethics and her morals,” she adds. “It’s not the same movement Bernie uncovered.” AFP