IIn Brazil, supporting the right presidential candidate can actually get you a date. “Please tell me you’re not leftist, you’re too pretty to be one,” Vivian read in a message she received on the dating app Tinder.
But Vivian supports Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, a leftist who is one of two politicians facing off in the second round of presidential elections on October 30. So no match took place, a sign of how politics has seeped into everyday intimate realms.
Indeed, the law of physics that opposites attract is not always the case on dating apps such as Tinder, Bumble, Happn and Grindr, and certainly not in the highly polarized world of dating in Brazil.
“I’m on the left (and) I’m going to ask you who you vote for. It’s important that we think the same,” warns Gabriela S., a 25-year-old psychologist in Sao Paulo, on her Bumble profile. She asked to keep her last name a secret.
“It makes no sense for me to connect with right-wing people,” said Gabriela, who added that she wouldn’t even drink a beer with someone who has racist views or looks down on the LBGTQ community.
Supporters of President Jair Bolsonaro, a far-right retired military officer who took office in 2019, have carved out their own space on social media to seek romance.
A Facebook group page called Bolsoteiros, a pun that combines “Bolsonaro” with “singles”, has 6,700 members.
“The left stands for everything we disapprove of,” writes Elaine Souza, a 46-year-old social worker, on the page she founded in 2019. But her group’s self-selected supporters “are halfway to finding a partner “.
The election decision facing Brazilians is so divisive that the political filter on dating apps is “the most used by Brazilians,” said Javier Tuiran, Bumble’s communications director in Latin America.
Use of the filter “increased in the months leading up to” the first round of presidential elections on October 2, in which Lula won 48% of the vote and Bolsonaro 43%, Tuiran said.
We can work things out
“I (only accept) those who won’t vote for Bolsonaro… Everyone, we can work things out,” says the 37-year-old Rafael’s Tinder profile.
Sorting out political differences can avoid starting a relationship off on the wrong foot.
Psychologist Ailton Amelio da Silva said that “some differences can be complementary, but they generate incompatibility when they are important, as many people think of politics now” in Brazil.
Jose Mauro Nunes, a doctor of psychology and professor of marketing at the Getulio Vargas Foundation, said polarization in Brazil has inflamed “tribal” identities and created social media bubbles where individuals favor those with similar ideologies.
Some dating apps see marketing potential by only catering to one side of the political spectrum, like Lefty.
“Finding a mate is hard enough. Not having this (political) incompatibility is a huge help for a lot of people,” said Alex Felipelli, president of Similar Souls, owner of the Lefty app, which has 15,000 users.
Another example is PTinder, an Instagram account with 26,100 followers that “seeks to generate interactions, including singles announcements, between opponents of Bolsonaro,” said its creator, Maria Goretti.
The 38-year-old lawyer said she was inspired by “friends’ fear of meeting someone, then after an incredible night to realize the next morning that (the person) is nostalgic for the dictatorship or has other ideas à la Bolsonaro”.
Goretti said her Instagram account has already led to matings and even marriages.
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