Right or Left?

The Asian Age.  | Shalkie

Life, More Features

It’s truly stunning how people’s chance at love is now resting in apps.

Since compatibility has been helmed as one of the pillars of a happy relationship, it’s no surprise that dating apps let users list their political inclinations.

Political leanings are becoming increasingly important to youngsters on dating apps, as several reveal that they’re more comfortable dating people with similar political ideologies.

When dating apps first ventured into the subcontinent in 2014, finding love was as easy as swiping your finger on a screen. Various factors played a role in who you selected, the most poignant being their attractiveness through their photos, and maybe a witty comment in their bio. However, a new factor appears to be gaining popularity among dating app users lately. Today, the personal is political, and single folk are taking this rallying cry to the dating scene.

Picking a side
Since compatibility has been helmed as one of the pillars of a happy relationship, it’s no surprise that dating apps let users list their political inclinations. While on Bumble and OkCupid you can deem yourself as leaning ‘Right’, ‘Apolitical’ or ‘Left’, Tinder and Hinge users have used their bios to disclose their ideologies. “Swipe left if you are right,” quips a bio of a man in his early twenties on Tinder.

“I expressly mention on my Hinge bio that I am not interested in right-wingers. I am also not a fan of people who are pro-life and the privileged ‘apolitical’ people,” reveals Abhishek (name changed), a 20-year-old medical student from New Delhi, who considers political compatibility an important ingredient in his love life. As a member of a generation that frequently locks horns over political and social issues, Abhishek is not averse to people with contrasting beliefs but does not want to date them. “I am more than happy to listen to the contrasting opinions and views, but I won’t be comfortable going on a date with someone, whether it’s a casual or a long-term relationship, if they support the right wing. I will be completely uncomfortable with that because what they stand for is completely against my moral beliefs,” he explains.

This is not to say that political discussions are replacing pillow talk, but it certainly isn’t glossed over on dating apps. For Anushka Bhilwar, her identification of ‘feminist and leftist’ in her Tinder bio has led to her receiving a flurry of text messages. “The guys used to swipe right on me and then ask me why I believe in these things. They would then give me theories about how Communism is not practical, or tell me how feminism is a hoax,” reveals the 21-year-old college student, who has also found users with the prefix ‘Chowkidaar’ in their profiles.

Meanwhile, Kunal (name changed), who is in his late thirties, finds it absurd that political beliefs are altering the dating landscape today. “Unfortu-nately, what’s happening right now is that political beliefs are ruining relationships. How does it matter what your ideology is? You can be someone else and have a different point of view. In an ideal world, the ideologies should match, but you are not living in the ideal world. If you have a partner who has a different ideology, it’s fine,” he says, before adding that liberals and leftists are the likely culprits of this sudden politicization of dating apps.

This begs the question: Why do single people today consider political ideologies a determinant in choosing potential partners?

One of the pressing reasons is that dating culture is beginning to mirror the country’s polarising sociopolitical culture. “In the Indian context, political inclinations are ingrained in the way you look at feminist issues, policies, the way you think about your religion, and your culture. So your political beliefs do matter in a relationship. So when we come across people who are inclined to a different side of the political spectrum, there is an automatic understanding that their basic belief system is very different from mine,” says Payal Shah.

Tanya (name changed), who identifies as queer and filters our right-wingers in her Bumble account, is in agreement. “At the end of the day, politics is not just a theoretical exercise. It’s a very real on-ground experience, especially for marginalized communities. So it plays a very important role in dating,” she explains.

Increasing Awareness
It’s truly stunning how people’s chance at love is now resting in apps. Technological advancement has resulted in people receiving, analysing, critiquing and adapting information very differently than generations past. Perhaps it can be said then, that making political affiliations a rudimentary factor in seeking partners is a sign of growing awareness and a sense of self among people.

“Back in the day, women of my age were not looking into political beliefs. But we have grown up noticing how there is a difference between how women are treated and men are treated. And with the feminist movement, you tend to notice that, which has likely caused dating culture to become what it is now,” illustrates Payal. Speaking about the increasing awareness in this generation, Abhishek adds: “One of the major reasons for this is the speed at which news spreads on social media. People are becoming more aware, and the younger generation has started caring now.”