Denying your climate may 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 all over the world. That’s according to recent data from dating apps like OkCupid and Bumble, which have seen climate change concerns on their platforms in recent years.
“Caring for the environment is a huge shift for Generation Z and Millennial daters,” said Michael Kay, head of global communications at OkCupid.
It’s such an allure that nearly 60% of all Bumble users have an “environmental badge” displayed on their profiles to denote their green values, while 90% of OkCupid members in the Bay Area said they are concerned about global warming.
“These are not small sample sizes. These are not 20 or 30 people who are concerned about what is happening in the environment,” Kay said. Of the millions around the world who voluntarily answered OKCupid’s questions about climate change, more than 8 in 10 expressed concern. “That’s 81% of the 7 million,” Kay said.
But this was not always the case. When Laurie Hill of Tacoma Park, Maryland, met her now-husband on the dating site Green Singles in 2010, she felt climate change was a particular concern.
She had been thrust into climate action after seeing Al Gore’s documentary “An Inconvenient Truth” in 2006. “I wanted to be the absolute green girl,” Hill said. “I was taking apart the hardware. I was shopping organic. I looked at every aspect of my life.”
This included her love life. He chose Hill Green Singles because, unlike major dating sites, it automatically attracts 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 this prestige is prevalent. The current increase in the number of green singles reflects data from national opinion polls and comes at a time when the effects of global warming are becoming devastatingly visible.
As wildfires, floods and catastrophic heatwaves touch more people in more places, concern about climate change is steadily growing, particularly among Democrats. Polls conducted 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, this existential dread doubles as a dragnet for dates. Kay said that people who declared their concern about the planet got 32% more conversations, got 44% more likes and made more matches on OkCupid.
“This tells us that when people are on a dating app like OkCupid, they don’t really want to talk to or match with anyone who denies that climate change is a really big problem,” he said.
While the values of social media broadcasts and dating apps may seem second nature to original digital content, they represent a huge change from what people were willing to say about themselves or their potential partners in the not too distant past.
“Five or ten 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 character for something great.”
Today, climate change and gun and reproductive rights law reform dominate algorithms and prompt apps like OkCupid to ask deeper questions about users’ opinions of 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,” Kay said. “We don’t have time to go on a date with someone we simply don’t get along with.”
This is all to say that the days of covering up your plant or hiding the habit of fertilizing on the first date may be over. “It’s actually an ecologically interesting thing,” Spira said. “If someone didn’t care about our world, would it be right for you? And most people would say, No, they wouldn’t.”
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