The conversation took an express trip to disaster land.
“Trump is like the Nazis,” my date said with certainty.
“Really?” I asked.
I’m not a fan of any politician but I like when someone explains their positions. I figured she’d talk about separating families or the travel ban. Instead, I got a cliché.
“I guess we’ll agree to disagree,” she said.
Did she lack the skills to speak more, or did she simply want to avoid conflict in our first meeting?
The question of whether or not to discuss politics on a first date is something that’s not easy to answer. In interviews with relationship experts, daters, psychologists and rabbis, opinions differed on whether or not such banter is beneficial.
“You don’t need to discuss politics on a first date,” said Erin Davis, a professional wing-woman and dating consultant. “It’s definitely a big issue that come up as a deal breaker both on dates and on their dating profiles, there are women that say if you support Trump, swipe left.”
But JSwipe founder David Yarus disagrees. He said people are too concerned with telling dates what they want to hear and are worried about making a bad first impression.
“One of the most important things on a first date is to be your true self,” Yarus said. “If you’re passionate about politics, bring it up. You should never be afraid of who you are.”
Hannah Orenstein is the dating editor of Elite Daily and a former matchmaker who penned the novel “Playing With Matches,” published by Touchstone Books. She said people should stop worrying about getting burned and think about firing up their passions.
“I think it’s great to speak about politics on a first date,” Orenstein said. “I know it’s been taboo in the past, but right now, we live in such a politically charged time, it’s important and even exciting to debate politics on a first date.”
Brooklyn resident Josh Lissauer said he’s argued about politics on dates, but only after women broached the subject. He said they often ask if he voted for Trump.
“I never lie,” Lissauer said. “I’ve lost countless dates because of it. This is something crazy that has never happened before. There is such anger. There is such hate. I get that women feel he has mistreated women and he has a history. Of course, there is what he said on tape and I understand that was bad. But if you can potentially connect with someone why do you have to bring up this topic and if you do, why can’t you be willing to hear the other side?”
He said he went on one date with a woman who already knew he was a Trump supporter but then became angry when she couldn’t change his mind.
“She went berserk,” he said. “Then she just left.”
Comedian Mike Fine took a first date to the Sunflower Café on the Upper West Side and got a personal pizza. Then things got personal when he said thought the president was doing a good job.
“She completely shut down,” he recalled.
Fine said that he isn’t scared of taking heat for his views and at times, he will tell himself it’s the only reason he is single.
I’d like to think the problem isn’t that I’m a comedian who doesn’t have any money, but it’s the fact I support Trump. It’s a great excuse.
“I have enough trouble as it is getting dates,” Fine said. “When I go out, it’s only a matter of time before things fall apart. I’d like to think the problem isn’t that I’m a comedian who doesn’t have any money, but it’s the fact I support Trump. It’s a great excuse.”
Psychologists Nava Silton and Benjamin Alpert both said they are aware that political differences can cause a rift when it comes to dating. Silton, an assistant professor of Psychology at Marymount Manhattan College, said daters want to show they are passionate people so they often bring up who they voted for because they’re passionate about. But according to her, it’s not a good idea to lead with it.
“Especially since political discourse these days can be so contentious, I think it’s important to focus on other important ingredients of a relationship early on,” Silton said.
Alpert, a former lecturer of The Psychology of Politics at Baruch College, said daters should see if the person across from them might be open to discussion in a time where politics is as tribal as it has ever been. What if someone’s opinions are vastly different from your own?
“We live in a society of countless cultures, races, religions, sexual orientations, socio-economic statuses and political leanings,” Alpert said. “That is what makes our country fantastic and we should all learn from each other in order to grow. If someone disagrees with you, try to find some common ground in a respectful manner. Negating the thoughts of others is invalidating and serves to create more derision. How can we grow and mature if we exist in a self-aggrandizing echo chamber without ever having our thoughts challenged?”
How can we grow and mature if we exist in a self-aggrandizing echo chamber without ever having our thoughts challenged?
Jen, who lives in Brooklyn, said it is obvious that politics should be a deal breaker.
“I try to find out if the guy supports Trump and if he does, that’s it,” she said. “It’s not just a difference of opinion. It’s about your core values. If someone doesn’t share that and you are looking for something serious, then you’re both just wasting each other’s time.”
Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, who recently released a book on love and lust with Pamela Anderson, said daters should be speak openly but be sensible and not allow political affiliation to be a deal breaker.
“They don’t have to hide their views,” Boteach said. “They shouldn’t speak divisive politics. They shouldn’t be dismissive of the other person. God Almighty! It should not be [a deal-breaker.] Make love not war.”
Rabbi Mark Wildes, founder of Manhattan Jewish Experience on the Upper West Side, agrees. Prior to the election he held a Q&A with someone who supported Hillary Clinton’s campaign and another with a Trump supporter prior to the presidential election. Things got heated, he said. He recommended turning it down a notch on the first date and waiting until the second date to talk about politics. He also said someone’s vote shouldn’t stand in the way of love.
Last time I checked, there’s nothing in the Torah prohibiting Democrats from dating or marrying Republicans.
“Last time I checked, there’s nothing in the Torah prohibiting Democrats from dating or marrying Republicans,” Wildes said. “It can actually make things more interesting, as long as there’s respect for the other person’s point of view.”
Ben Rohr, director of the Heritage Community at Young Jewish Professionals, said if the subject of politics is brought up on a first date, it should be done playfully. He said if people feel someone’s opinion should be a deal-breaker, they should trust their instincts. Isaac Galena, who founded the culture website, Bang It Out, and hosts singles parties in N.Y.C. (he claims about 50 couples have met at his parties over the last 15 years) said he sees both sides of the argument.
“Why blow a long-term possible opportunity because you disagree vehemently on gun control?” Galena said. “(But) there is something to hearing how someone can debate and argue a point… are they doing it politely with elegance and humor? It’s a telling point.”
Several men interviewed said they’ve had no choice but to lie and say they hate Trump so as not to hurt their dating chances. And heated discussions on dates can also include the political situation in Israel. Sivan, (who preferred to go by her first name), said she was put off by a date who ranted about politics on their first date.
“He couldn’t stop talking about how the Israeli government was horrible,” she said. “It was a huge turn-off. I think the funny thing about politics is when people bring it up, they somehow automatically assume you share the same opinion as they do, and if not, clearly something must be wrong with you because nothing could be wrong with them.”
Ronen Agadi of Brooklyn, said on several dates he has had disagreements on what territory Israel should or should not give up as part of a potential peace deal.
“I learned my lesson,” Agadi said. “I probably wouldn’t even talk about politics on a third or fourth date, or maybe ever. It’s a pretty high expectation to think you’ll marry someone with the same political opinions. If you can get it, great. But people shouldn’t put it on their list. There are so many things on it already that if you do that, it can be a recipe for disaster.”
As for my date, it wasn’t a good match anyway. I advise people to remember that every conversation is a dance where you have to read the rhythm of the other person. And you should never be afraid to speak your truth.