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The Washington Post Editorial Board Is Way Too Concerned With Your Dating Life

Katherine Heigl and Seth Rogen on a bad date in the movie Knocked Up

In case the nation’s single people haven’t heard enough invasive inquiries and judgey comments about their marital status from older relatives this week, the Washington Post editorial board decided to get in on that action, throwing in some unsolicited advice for free: Lower your standards!

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Specifically, the paper wants to know, have you considered dating an insurrectionist who doesn’t share your beliefs on bodily autonomy, systemic racism, or your trans friend’s right to exist?

Yes, the Post is very concerned that if young people don’t start considering spouses outside their political spectrum, the institution of marriage could crumble, and … well, it’s not really clear why that’s bad, but apparently, it’s worth about 800 words of hand-wringing. In an editorial titled “If attitudes don’t shift, a political dating mismatch will threaten marriage,” the board frets over how political polarization might lower the number of people who pair off in heteronormative family units.

The problem, apparently, is that women are increasingly liberal and men are increasingly not, especially since the 2016 election of Donald Trump. The piece goes on to cite a 2021 survey of college students that supposedly found 71 percent of Democrats “would not date someone of opposing views.”

For starters, that’s an exaggeration. What the poll actually found was that 71 percent would definitely or probably not date “someone who voted for the opposing presidential candidate.” So even in the months following the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol by supporters of the opposing presidential candidate, a whole lot of Democratic college students weren’t ruling out going to dinner.

But even if they were … so? How are the dating choices of college students anyone else’s business? Who do they think they are inserting themselves into people’s private lives like this, Republican legislators?

Although the editorial briefly acknowledges that significant differences in religious and political views can make for unhappy marriages, and even that marriage isn’t for everyone, it goes on to argue that “this mismatch means that someone will need to compromise.” It’s implied that “someone” is women, since liberal women are far less willing to date conservative men than vice versa. In case you were wondering, LGBTQ people don’t even seem to exist in this made-up math problem where everyone needs to pair off boy-girl, boy-girl for the good of society.

“A cultural shift might be necessary—one that views politics as a part of people’s identity but far from the most important part,” the editorial concludes. “Americans’ ability to live together, quite literally, might depend on it.”

Well, wouldn’t that be nice to live in a world where political disagreements were mere differences of opinion with no direct impact on anyone’s lived reality? Unfortunately, it’s hard to imagine that while Republicans are threatening to shoot people at the border and pass a nationwide ban on abortion.

Some of these disagreements are literally life and death, as well as a huge indicator of whether someone’s fundamental values align with yours—not something anyone should compromise on in a life partner. You want someone who respects your basic rights and the rights of others? It seems like a pretty low bar for a potential spouse to clear.

Weirdly, the Washington Post piece makes no mention of how Trumpism has made conservative men undateable. I’m not sure what the solution to that is, but it’s sure not asking women to settle for less.

(featured image: Universal Pictures)

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Erika Wittekind
Erika Wittekind (she/her) is a contributing writer covering politics and news and has two decades of experience in local news reporting, freelance writing, and nonfiction editing. Hobbies and special interests include hiking, dancing in the kitchen, trying to raise empathetic teen boys, and keeping plants alive. Find her on Mastodon at @erikalyn.newsie.social.

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