When Becca Kufrin said “yes” to Garrett Yrigoyen’s proposal on the finale of The Bachelorette, my first thought was: of course. Of course, in this trash-fire year that is 2018, even our most precious reality show cannot escape the grasp of the conservative ideologies. But for fans of The Bachelorette, it’s more than a reality show — it’s a lens through which we can view our own relationships and the mistakes we make along the way. The results of this season, which ended with Yrigoyen and Kufrin’s engagement, should serve as a reminder to find out the political views of our potential partners.
Starting with the first date.
If you missed it, I’m referring to the scandal surrounding Yrigoyen’s social media habits. In May, former Bachelor contestant Ashley Spivey tweeted screenshots of photos Yrigoyen “liked” on Instagram. He double-tapped transphobic memes, and others that chastised young boys for using makeup and accused Parkland school-shooting survivor David Hogg of being a “crisis actor.” One particularly charming Yrigoyen “like” was of a meme that encouraged the idea of throwing immigrant children over the border — literally.
After the scandal broke, Yrigoyen deleted his Instagram account, started a new one, and apologized. His explanation?
“My Instagram ‘likes’ were not a true reflection of me and my morals.”
That might be true, but in 2018, social media “likes” are interpreted as endorsements — especially for someone in the public eye.
Kufrin’s social media use, however, paints a completely different picture. Among several political Instagram posts, a recent photo shows her trekking through the snow at a Minnesota Women’s March, holding a sign that reads “Keep Your Politics Away From My Lady Bits.”
Of course, all we as viewers and fans can do with this information is make assumptions. Kufrin’s social media shares imply that she leans progressive, while Yrigoyen’s “likes” align him with bigoted viewpoints. This difference made it frustrating to watch Kufrin accept Yrigoyen’s proposal. Kufrin told Glamour that she discussed politics with some of the contestants, but viewers don’t know when or in how much detail, as the show didn’t air any of it. One would have to assume that Kufrin knew where Yrigoyen stood before becoming his fiancé. She also defended his actions when the news broke mid-season, telling E! News, “Everyone’s entitled to their own opinions.” At that point, the pair was already engaged.
I have to believe that if she could do it all over again, she would have asked about his views a lot sooner. So why, like Kufrin, do so many of us leave politics out of the early stages of relationships?
According to Singles in America, an annual study conducted by Match, 54 percent of singles in 2017 considered it important to know a potential partner’s political views. But less than a quarter of respondents said they were willing to ask about those views on a first date.
It’s not just the taboo that’s stopping us — it’s biology. “These people are out to court,” Dr. Helen Fisher, a biological anthropologist and the chief scientific adviser on the study, tells InStyle. “They’re out to find life’s greatest prize, which is a mating partner. They don’t want stumbling blocks right off the bat.” Stumbling blocks, like, say, an argument with your Bumble date about the necessity of Roe v. Wade or the cruelty of family separation.
“First they wanna know: Do I like this person? Do they like me? Could I confide in them? Am I physically attracted to this person?” Fisher says. After establishing their date as a desirable mate, they’ll be more likely to talk politics, according to her research.
If we wait too long to discuss political views with potential partners, though, the consequences don’t disappear. “More and more political scientists are seeing that there is biology to your worldview,” Fisher says. “Those worldviews could be very damaging in a relationship.”
Bad news for Kufrin and Yrigoyen, and the rest of us who put off political talk. A 2017 study by Wakefield Research, a nonpartisan research organization, found that 22 percent of millennials have ended relationships due to political differences. Thirty-five percent say they know a couple whose marriage has been negatively impacted by Trump’s election.
That’s not to say bipartisan couples can’t work. Fisher says since the election ended, more singles have come around to the idea of dating people with different views. Singles are more likely to pursue relationships with politically different partners than they were in 2015, during the presidential campaign, according to the Singles in America study. “We’ve now got this president for better or worse, and we’re all watching,” Fisher says of her research findings. “But we’re getting back to who we really are — looking for love.”
Election year or not, some of us just aren’t willing to compromise, especially when it comes to finding long-term love. For many of us, it would be hard to even find someone with conflicting views attractive. “The more politically engaged you are, the more likely you are for it to be important,” Fisher says. Sounds about right.
If you don’t want to end up with someone with opposite views, like Kufrin and Yrigoyen have, why waste your time on second, third, or fourth dates with them? Or, in the Bachelorette’s case, waste rose after rose on them? That said, political conversations can certainly kill the fun, flirty, first-date mood if you let them. That’s why it can be especially tempting to throw caution to the wind, and avoid the topic altogether when you’re not looking for anything more serious than a hookup. If it starts to turn into something more, though, you’ll more likely find yourself in Kufrin’s shoes — already smitten, having skipped the important conversations and set yourself up for some awkward ones.
Whether you’re looking for something serious or not, Francesca Hogi, a love and life coach, says you can learn about someone’s values without droning on about the day’s worst headlines. “You can ask, ‘If you could design a brand new political system, what would it look like?’” Hogi says, suggesting we talk about what we want to see rather than railing against everything that makes us angry. Perhaps if Kufrin had asked more questions like this, she’d be able to know more about Yrigoyen’s ideals, and then if they were dealbreakers before saying “yes” to becoming Mrs. Yrigoyen.
Another conversation starter: “Everyone talks about what’s going wrong right now; what do you think is going right?” Hogi says these kinds of conversations will give you much more insight into each other’s values than talking stances on policy would. Bonus: unexpected questions make first dates a whole lot more memorable, says Hogi.
Only time will tell what’s to come for the new fiancés: if they’ll accept their differences and try to focus on what they share; if they’ll run into problems down the road; or if — my personal hope for Kufrin — Yrigoyen learns that love trumps hate, joins her at next year’s Women’s March, and makes a sizable donation to RAICES.
In the meantime, I’ll be campaigning for Blake Horstmann to become the next Bachelor. At least in between campaigning for progressives in the midterms.