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A couple takes their wedding pictures in front of the US Supreme Court in Washington, DC.

American singles are less willing to date outside their political party, survey data from the online dating platform Match suggests.

Olivier Douliery, Getty

Purple hearts. Can red and blue find love together?

Matchmaking services find fewer people are willing to hold hands across the political aisle.

Greta Berna and her husband do not always see eye-to-eye politically. But the Lake County residents have been able to make it work for over 25 years.

Berna is a Democrat, but her husband, Steven, is a Republican. She said it’s been challenging at times to navigate their political differences, especially when they started having kids. Having kids together brings values-oriented questions to the fore, Berna said.

“When you’re raising kids, there has to be some type of consensus,” Berna said. “It took a lot of compromising to come up with something in the middle that we could both live with.”

Though the couple has been able to make it work for decades, Helen Fisher, a biological anthropologist and the chief science adviser for dating site Match, said recent data shows fewer singles are willing to reach across the aisle in their relationships like the Bernas did.

In 2015, Fisher said Match found that 78% of singles would date someone from across the aisle in its annual Singles in America survey. By 2022, that number had “plummeted” to 46%, said Fisher.

Erika Kybartas has worked for the Chicago branch of matchmaking service It’s Just Lunch for 12 years. Over the last five or six years, she said she has noticed clients talking more about how politics influences their dating preferences.

Aidan Grogan poses for a photo outdoors on a bridge in a provided photo. Grogan is a 24-year-old Palos Heights resident who said values are more important to him than politics in a relationship.

Aidan Grogan is looking for a partner whose values align with his. One of the most important issues to the Palos Heights native is abortion, which he opposes.

Provided photo

“We have had some who say, ‘I will not date a Trump supporter,’” Kybartas said. “We’ve had some clients who say, ‘I have people in my family who are LGBTQ, and I need to make sure that somebody I’m dating is going to be open to that.’”

She said politics are often a question of values, and people want to date people with similar values.

Aidan Grogan said a person’s values are more important to him than their political party.

“I think their overall morals and their outlook on life are more important than how they voted in the last election,” said Grogan, who is from Palos Heights.

For Grogan, 25, that means he wants a partner who is Christian and opposes abortion. To him, abortion is “a spiritual or metaphysical issue,” not just a political one.

Grogan and an ex-girlfriend parted ways over politics while he was a student at Columbia College. She was not interested in politics, but her friends encouraged her to break up with Grogan, whom they viewed as too conservative, he said.

Steven Berna (left) and Greta Berna stand in front of the Wrigley Field marquee before a Billy Joel concert.

Greta Berna said she and her husband Steven do not always see eye-to-eye on politics, but they enjoy having lively debates with each other.

Provided photo

Elizabeth Lombardo, a Chicago-based relationship therapist, said politics can be a “litmus test” for a potential partner’s values, but she advises clients not to “personalize” their partner’s political views.

“If your partner likes steak and you prefer pasta, you’re not going to belittle him or her or think that they’re less than,” Lombardo said. “It’s just a difference of opinion.”

Zeljka Dekic immigrated to Chicago from Serbia a few years ago with her husband, whom she described as more conservative than her. But she said she tries not to let their views come between them.

When politics come up, “I try to change the subject, and if one of us starts to get overheated, I just make a joke,” Dekic said.

Kybartas said avoiding political debates can be helpful for couples with opposing political views. In fact, she recommends couples skip the political talk altogether on first dates. But, she added, having “off-limits” topics can breed tension.

Political consultants James Carville, left, and Mary Matalin, right, take questions from the media about their roles in “K Street,” an upcoming HBO weekly series to be filmed in Washington, D.C., which focuses on the day-to-day efforts of a group of political consultants, Thursday, July 10, 2003, in the Hollywood area of Los Angeles. “K Street,” will debut Sept. 14, 2003.

Political consultants James Carville and Mary Matalin are a famous political odd couple. Carville helped propel Bill Clinton to the White House, while Matalin is known for her work with Republican presidents and candidates. The couple is seen here in 2003.

Damian Dovarganes, AP

Berna, though, said she and her husband “love debating each other” about politics. She said she thinks these discussions are a big reason they’re able to make it work.

Stanford University professor Neil Malhotra, who has researched politics and dating, said one reason politics affects how people couple up is an us-versus-them mindset. For some, he said, it’s like Cubs versus White Sox — if you don’t belong to my political party, “you’re not on my team.”

On the flip side, agreeing on politics can help bring a couple closer together. Ryan Williams said he and his ex-girlfriend both got into conservative politics while they were dating. Williams has been studying at DePaul University, where he’s been the president of the university’s chapter of College Republicans.

“It was another thing that we could talk about,” said Williams. “It was a nice little coincidence.”

Ryan Williams has served as president of DePaul College Republicans.

Ryan Williams, who has served as president of DePaul University’s chapter of College Republicans, said it can be challenging to date as a conservative.

Provided photo

Malhotra said the subject of politics is also important in relationships because it can signal whether a couple will agree on major life decisions, like whether to have an abortion after an unplanned pregnancy.

After Roe v. Wade was overturned last year, the number of single women who view abortion as a dealbreaker spiked on the Singles in America survey, Fisher said. Two-thirds said they would not date someone who disagreed with them on abortion. Fisher said she is not surprised abortion has become such an important issue.

But Fisher added she is still optimistic about the future of cross-party relationships. She pointed to findings from the survey, like 40% of singles wanting someone who discusses both sides of an issue, and 58% considering it a dealbreaker if someone doesn’t.

“That’s cool,” she said. “I think that that’s good news for singles.”

Fisher knows cross-party relationships can succeed from personal experience. In 2020, she married John Tierney, a conservative writer. Fisher, who is a Democrat, said sometimes they just disagree. But, she added, sometimes she’s glad they do.

“I’ve learned a lot from him,” Fisher said. “I understand a lot of Republican issues differently — not all of them. I’ll never change who I am, but I have found it very valuable.”

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