Your climate denialism could be a deal breaker.
If you’re single and climate-skeptical, you may find yourself in a rapidly shrinking pool of potential matches – not just in San Francisco but around the world. That’s according to recent data from dating apps like OkCupid and Bumble, which have seen concern about climate change skyrocket on their platforms in recent years.
“Caring about the environment is a big turn-on for Gen-Z and Millennial daters,” said Michael Kaye, head of global communications at OkCupid.
It’s an allure so large that nearly 60% of total Bumble users have an “environmentalism badge” displayed on their profiles to signal their green values, while 90% of Bay Area-based OkCupid members said they’re concerned about the warming world.
“These aren’t small sample sizes. This isn’t 20 or 30 people who are nervous about what’s happening in the environment,” said Kaye. Of the millions worldwide who voluntarily responded to OKCupid’s questions about climate change, more than 8 in 10 expressed concern. “That’s 81% of 7 million,” said Kaye.
But this wasn’t always the case. When Lori Hill of Takoma Park, Md., met her now husband on the dating site Green Singles in 2010, it felt like climate change was a niche concern.
She’d been catapulted into climate action after seeing Al Gore’s seminal documentary, “An Inconvenient Truth,” in 2006. “I wanted to be the ultimate green girl,” Hill said. “I was unplugging appliances. I was shopping organic. I looked at every aspect of my life.”
That included her love life. Hill chose Green Singles because, mainstream dating sites, it automatically attracted like-minded people with similar values and lifestyles. “You knew if you met someone on it, they gave half a crap about the planet,” she said.
Now that niche has gone mainstream. Today’s increase in environmentally conscious singles mirrors data from national polls and comes at a time when the impacts of a warming world have become devastatingly clear.
As catastrophic wildfires, floods and heatwaves touch more people in more places, concern over climate change is steadily growing, particularly among Democrats. Polls by the Pew Research Center, a nonpartisan think tank, found that 60% of Americans view climate change as a major threat to the country.
But in some corners of the internet, that existential dread doubles as a dragnet for dates. People who publicized their anxiety about the planet had 32% more conversations, received 44% more likes and racked up measurably more matches on OkCupid, said Kaye.
“That tells us that when people are on a dating app like OkCupid, they really don’t want to talk to or match with anyone who’s denying that climate change is a really big issue,” he said.
While broadcasting values over social media and dating apps may seem second nature to the digitally native, it represents a sea change from what people were willing to say about themselves or their potential partners in a not-so-distant past.
“Five, 10 years ago, people were lying about their age, how much money they made,” said Julie Spira, an online dating expert. “They were trying to create this persona of something that was grandiose.”
Today, climate change, gun-law reform and reproductive rights dominate the algorithms and have prompted apps like OkCupid to ask deeper questions about users’ views on fracking or if they think the government is doing enough to solve the climate crisis.
“I think we’ve seen people become more transparent about their beliefs because we’re all so busy,” said Kay. “We don’t have time to be going on a date with someone with whom we are simply incompatible.”
This is all to say that the days of coyly covering up your veganism or cloaking your composting habit on the first date may be behind us. “It’s actually a sexy thing to care about the environment,” said Spira. “If somebody doesn’t care about our world, will they be a good match for you? And most people will say, no, they won’t.”