Ever go out with someone only to realize your date's a hybrid car-driving environmental activist, when your philosophy is, hey, you only live once? Or the other way around?
Such polarizing issues are the force behind RepublicanSingles.com, DemocraticSingles.com and SingleRepublican.com, new Web sites that aim to narrow down the online dating minefield to people who share common political views.
"With the war, people are getting more politically minded, especially in an election year," said Tony Sandoval (search), CEO of California-based Terra9 Singles, the company behind RepublicanSingles.com and DemocraticSingles.com. “A significant number of people know they want to find a Democrat or a Republican.”
The three above-mentioned sites, all of which launched in the last six months, challenge the "opposites attract" mantra by separating John Kerry supporters from Bush-Cheney enthusiasts — and operate on the premise that when it comes to finding love, donkeys dig donkeys and elephants prefer elephants.
Tom Swanson (search), creator of the St. Louis-based SingleRepublican.com, said his own search for a right-wing woman inspired him to start his site.
“I’m steady with someone now, but when I used to date I was on some of the mainstream sites — either you couldn’t search by political affiliation or it was buried," he said. "I’m a pretty conservative person. It’s important to me to be with someone who has a similar belief system.”
RepublicanSingles.com member Anthony Krueger, 25, has been similarly frustrated. The young GOPer is looking for a like-minded lover — but said that's not so easy in Southern California.
"It’s hard to find someone with my own political views in my age group — especially when you’re living where I do,” said the resident of Bellflower, Calif., which is just outside Los Angeles. "I'm also a Christian, and that's also hard to find."
Krueger, a manufacturing representative, said he tried other online dating sites before joining RepublicanSingles, but had trouble connecting with women who didn't share his beliefs.
"I dated about half Democrats, half Republicans, and half the Republicans were closer to the liberal side," he said. "For example, I have a problem dating someone who believes in abortion."
That said, many of the Christian women Krueger met on sites like eHarmony.com were turned off by his smoking habit.
But Trish McDermott, "vice president of romance" at Match.com (search), the nation's most popular online dating site, said based on Match's recent survey of 1,600 U.S. adults, Republicans and Democrats are generally looking for the same qualities in a mate: a moderately successful, balanced and stable person with a sense of humor.
“We tend to think of Democrats and Republicans as different types of people from different backgrounds voting differently on key issues, but when it comes to dating and love, in most areas there was almost no difference," she said.
“They don’t have the same leaning, but they share a passion for politics," she said.
In fact, McDermott said that based on Match research, when it comes to romance, whether people vote red or blue isn't as important as their overall interests.
"I don’t think Republicans are more likely to fall in love with Republicans. I think people active in politics are more likely to fall in love with other people active in politics."
This, indeed, is exactly what happened in the case of Chris Gallaway, 27, who met his wife back when they were both members of the Kansas University Young Democrats club.
But even Gallaway, who is now president of the D.C.-based Young Democrats of America, questioned whether making the same choice in the voting booth makes that much of a difference in a relationship.
"I certainly think that having the same political philosophy can make things easier. But I'm not sure if, at the end of the day, it's the most important factor in picking someone to spend your time with," he said.
Oregon sex and relationship therapist Alexandra Myles agreed that having the same bumper sticker does not necessarily make or break a relationship. But in the long term, sharing political views can be helpful.
“Studies show that people who have similar values tend to be more successful. It can lead to less conflict," she said.
On the other hand, Myles pointed out that differences in a couple can create growth, and intellectually curious people open to different points of view can grow in bipartisan relationships.
“Conflict can add spice, if people are well-schooled in how to deal with conflict," she said.