- The Washington Times
Thursday, August 18, 2022

You’re not alone if you think politics is a deal breaker in romance.

With more online dating profiles seeking non-Trump voters, “ethical non-monogamy” or transgender meetups, two new apps are weeding out undesirables for conservative and LGBTQ daters alike.

The creators of The Right Stuff and Alpha want to make it easier for people to find partners with similar values in an expanding universe of preferences, and they offer very different “safe spaces.”

The Right Stuff launches next month as a conservative alternative to “woke” dating apps that have added gender pronouns and identities. It caters to “ladies” and “gentlemen” who use their biological pronouns and want committed heterosexual relationships.

“Not just anyone can join,” said app spokesperson Ryann McEnany, the sister of Trump White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany.

The Right Stuff offers free premium access to any woman who invites two friends to sign up. Ms. McEnany says it’s “all about getting into the right dating pool with people who share the same values and beliefs as you.”

The LGBTQ dating app Alpha debuted this summer as “the safest and most reliable app for gay, bi, trans, and queer guys” who feel unwelcome on rival app Grindr.

“Anonymous hookups are welcomed on Alpha, and we are here to cater to your needs no matter what they are. We support anything you are looking for,” said app founder Niloufar Banisaied.

Alpha uses specialized emojis to help men and trans men find nonjudgmental relationships — including a man kissing another man for “friends with benefits,” a heart for “thinking long-term,” a peach for “bottom looking for top” and a tongue for “oral.”

Both apps promise safer environments for online daters. Ms. McEnany pledges to save conservatives from “years of bad dates,” and Ms. Banisaied promises to protect LGBTQ daters from “catfishing” profile scams.

They are building on the successes of several other platforms that court dating subgroups including Catholic Match, Christian Singles, Silver Singles, Elite Singles, JDate and Black People Meet.

“Many modern singles seem to know what they want in a partner, and it’s not to argue about the big topics of religion, politics and lifestyle,” said Amber Brooks, editor of Florida-based DatingNews.com.

Ms. Brooks said The Right Stuff and Alpha are part of a spike in “niche dating sites and apps” that aim to heal the political divide that creates “dating deal breakers across party lines.”

Online dating activity has exploded since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to Statista, 44.2 million Americans used online dating services in 2020 and 53.3 million will use them by 2025.

Among general dating apps, OkCupid reported a 700% increase in dates from March to May 2020. Tinder registered its highest single day of swipes with more than 3 billion on March 29, 2020.

Social media giant Match Group owns these apps. It also owns namesake Match.com, Hinge, Plenty of Fish, Pairs and Black People Meet — all of which have enlarged the pool of online daters.

“I believe dating-app fatigue is kicking in,” said Gregory T. Angelo, president of the conservative New Tolerance Campaign. “People are tired of spending tedious hours on their phones looking to match with someone.”

Another frustration comes from scammers pretending to share interests.

According to the Federal Trade Commission, internet phishing and dating scams cost victims $304 million in 2020, double the amount in 2019.

Earlier this year, the Netflix documentary “The Tinder Swindler” told the story of a man accused of conning $10 million from several women.

“Dirty John,” a viral true-crime podcast from Wondery and the Los Angeles Times that has inspired a TV series, emphasizes the violent side of romance scams — including murder.

Match did not respond to a request for comment. Last month, the company expanded a background check service to let users of Match.com and the single-parent dating app Stir check would-be dates for criminal records.

Florida-based clinical psychologist Michael Adamse warns that specialized dating apps could add to distrust.

“As America continues to be a polarized nation, these apps can further add to the political divide in that they inherently eliminate those who think differently from us,” said Mr. Adamse, who hosts a weekly National Public Radio show on mental health.

Business etiquette consultant Karene A. Putney, president of the Maryland-based Etiquette Etiquette, says the new apps must show respect regardless of politics.

“People have the right to date, love and have a relationship with whom they want as long as they don’t harm others,” Mrs. Putney said.

• Sean Salai can be reached at ssalai@washingtontimes.com.

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