One quote from a developer of the matching algorithm caught my eye:
Indeed, says Thombre, “the politics one is quite interesting. Conservatives are far more open to reaching out to someone with a different point of view than a liberal is.” That is, when it comes to looking for love, conservatives are more open-minded than liberals.
I generally avoid making generalizations about conservative vs. liberal personality traits, but I wondered if this was really true. The conclusion of the article's author is that "conservatives are more open-minded than liberals." This is a typical "gotcha" kind of comment that conservatives love. "Liberals think they're so tolerant, but they won't even consider marrying conservatives."
But thinking it over, I don't really think that "open-minded" is really the right word. I think "naive," "short-sighted" and "delusional" are more apropos.
I am reminded of all the conservatives (Gingrich, Limbaugh, Beck, Reagan, etc.) who have been married two, and three or more times, yet they keep carping about the sanctity of marriage. Yeah, liberals divorce too. But they're not hypocritically calling for more onerous divorce laws. There have also been many stories over the years (such as this one and this one) that find the divorce rate in liberal Massachusetts is almost half the divorce rate in conservative Texas.
There are many suggested reasons for this: shotgun weddings for unexpected pregnancies rarely work out in the long run. The conservative delusion that abstinence-based sex education is in any way useful: it takes two minutes to explain that you shouldn't screw someone you don't want kids with, don't want to get pregnant with, or get a disease from. Marriages of older and wealthier couples are less likely to result in divorce. The old conservative saw, "Liberals just live together in sin instead of getting married" (I don't know if that's true, but conservatives love to say it even though it doesn't seem to true from the out-of-wedlock birthrates). The various conservative fatwas against premarital sex, birth control, the morning after pill and abortion will tend to cause marriages of younger and poorer couples, which will more likely end in divorce.
But in all honesty, the "liberal" vs. "conservative" divide is mostly about women having more freedom vs. men having more power. If you're a self-identified liberal woman, how likely is it that you'll want to marry a self-identified conservative man who thinks you shouldn't have control over your own body, aren't fit to make your own decisions, own property, vote, hold public office, and that you should just shut up and do what you're told because that's what the bible says?
Michele Bachmann famously made some comments in a church about how the bible tells us that wives should be submissive. She studied tax law -- something she never wanted -- because her husband told her to. How could any self-respecting moderate or liberal woman even consider marrying a jerk like that? (And how could anyone elect a woman to Congress who told that story? Who's making the real decisions in Congress? Michele or Marcus?)
Then there's the whole droit du seigneur mindset that so many conservative men have: conservative Muslims and Mormons believe in multiple wives, and so many conservative men think it's okay for them to have sex with other women, before, during and after marriage, but the woman is chattel, must remain pure, yada yada yada. Real men boff lots of chicks, you know, so when a conservative luminary like Rush Limbaugh was caught at an airport with a prescription for Viagra labeled as being issued to his physician, fellow conservatives winked and nodded and give Rush the thumbs up.
My own personal experience squares with national statistics. By coincidence, both my parents and my wife's parents had six kids; four daughters and two sons each.
The most conservative daughter on my side, the second oldest, has now been divorced three times (her even more conservative ex-husband has been divorced twice now). The second-most conservative son-in-law was married once before marrying my third-oldest sister, who is not as conservative as her older sister and is still married. My brother and oldest sister will likely never marry, and the youngest daughter (the one whom my arch-conservative father disowned for marrying a Hispanic guy from Texas), is still married. My wife and I have been married for 32 years.
On my wife's side, the most conservative brother-in-law is now in a very messy divorce with the youngest and most conservative daughter. This divorce has devolved into a ugly fight over money, most of which is tied up in the family business, the house, and secret investments the husband hid from the wife, and has going on two or three years now. His very conservative family has gone through three or four equally messy divorces, beatings, visits by cops, trips to jail, and so on. These people are very well-off owners of several businesses in multiple states. The rest of my in-laws are all moderate to liberal, and have all been married for 25 to 30 years. My wife's mother died 20-odd years ago, and her father remarried.
Then there are all the obnoxious comments I hear from conservative friends and family members about "the wife" and "the old ball and chain." The whole objectification of women gets old real quick. And I really hate the way my Tea Party dad treats my mom like a servant. He was an old-school conservative (i.e., a closet racist) and now a new-school Tea Partyer, and she's apolitical.
They're still married, but it was very rocky for a couple of years when I was 8 or 9. My mother had joined the Jehovah's Witnesses, and my dad was up in arms about it. She refused to do . . . certain . . . things that the Witnesses claimed were forbidden by the bible. My dad shopped around for various religions and eventually settled on a church a block from his office (which was coincidentally owned by one of my wife's divorcing sister's in-laws). Ultimately he convinced my mom that she had to leave the Witnesses because one of the Witnesses' central tenets was that the wife had to be submissive to the husband. (Have I mentioned that I find religion to be illogical in so many ways?)
And it's not just conservative men who think that women are somehow not equal to men. I have a conservative woman friend who told me in all seriousness that she thought women were too emotional to hold elected office (during a discussion about Sarah Palin).
If you have strong political views, enough to categorize yourself as a liberal or conservative, how can you really not care what your spouse thinks about them? I suppose it's easy to imagine a conservative man saying,"Yeah, she's a stupid liberal bitch, but she's got nice tits and is a great lay. And I can just trade her for a younger model when she starts to sag. Ha ha." And it's easy to imagine a conservative woman saying, "Yeah, he's a real creep, but I just married him for his money, and the prenup expires in two years so I'll just suck it up and then soak him for child support." But it's hard to imagine a liberal man marrying a conservative woman ("Everything is Jesus this and God that, and now that we're engaged it's not like I'm asking to get the milk free forever, but I want to make sure she's not frigid") or a liberal woman marrying a conservative man ("He hates everything I believe and say and do").
So is it really open-minded to think that you can marry someone who has diametrically opposed views on so many practical issues of married life and expect the union to last in the long term? Or is is just foolish and short-sighted?
The idea that opposites attract is a fairy tale. Yeah, sometimes love conquers all. But unless two people have a basic agreement on the important issues in their lives -- kids, sex, money, religion, the role of women -- the marriage isn't going to work in the long run. So, yeah, liberal/conservative marriages will work if there's agreement on the key issues. But that reduces political affiliation to something pretty meaningless, along the lines of "I like pizza."
Conservatives also like to bitch endlessly about the rise in divorce being the fault of no-fault divorce and the economic independence of women (as if somehow forcing two people who hate each other to live together is a good solution).
The divorce rate debate totally misses the reality of history. In times past, when divorce was not easily available, outright desertion was common, as were mutually agreed separations. People were for all practical purposes divorced: they moved out, they fell in love with other people, had sex, moved in with their new loves, and many even had children, all appearing to their new neighbors to be married. In every practical sense they were divorced and remarried. And sometimes they even remarried, committing bigamy. This was usually very hard to catch, because if you moved to another town there was almost no way of finding the records of previous marriages. But recent digitization of court records from London allowed the discovery of an increase of bigamy in late 19th-century England, especially among women.
Why? That was when the modern "liberal" concept of mutual love as the basis of marriage gained primacy, instead of the conservative notion that marriage was merely an economic union with the primary purpose of procreation, often arranged by parents for monetary gain through the exchange of dowries.
The mistake that liberals do make is that mutual love is all that matters in a marriage. Conservatives are right that it is an economic and social union, often for the purpose of procreation. But the days of dowries and arranged marriages are long gone in this country, and mutual love, respect, and a desire that your spouse be happy are just as important.
And, then we get to the personality end of things. Conservatives are more likely than liberals to be demanding, critical, uncompromising, rigid, angry and spiteful. It's all well and good to talk of open-mindedness and tolerance in others, but if you're actually going to marry someone, would you really want to live with someone who displays the emotional maturity of the Tea Party members in Congress who want to throw the government under the debt-ceiling bus?
Not wanting to date conservatives doesn't make liberals intolerant. The willingness to try something that is most likely to fail spectacularly is not a hallmark of tolerance, but of foolhardiness. Liberals, especially women, will naturally be more inclined to marry a man who believes in true love and mutual respect and the right of the women to make her own decisions, rather than a man who thinks any female body will do as long she can get knocked up and do the laundry.