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Wanna get a date? You gotta love the planet first, say online daters

Ever been in a whirlwind romance? What about a stormy relationship, or did someone once give you the cold shoulder?

The world of romance has long borrowed weather-related terms. Don’t believe me? Just flick through any Harlequin novel, the infamous and prolific publisher of steamy romance novels.

A Flood of Sweet Fire is a particular favorite.

But outside of romantic fiction, perceptions of our changing weather patterns and climate change are now the most important preference for finding love online. Even more important than world peace, according to one study.

“Climate change has become a trending topic on our app over the years,” Michael Kaye, Global Head of Communications at OkCupid, told Reckon in an email. “OkCupid’s in-app questions about climate change and the environment have been answered about 15 million times so far, with 97% of OkCupid respondents believing climate change is real and 81% of 7 million respondents on OkCupid being concerned about climate change.”

Over the past five years, there has been a 368% increase in mentions of environmental and climate-related terms on users’ online dating profiles, according to OkCupid’s 2022 climate change study. The study also noted a 36% increase over the last three years of users who say they are concerned about the environment.

The trend has mostly been prevalent among Millennials, who are the most likely, alongside Gen Z, to think about climate change daily.

Tinder found similar results in a 2019 review, which noted that Gen Z was most likely to mention climate change and the environment, whereas Millenials preferred to talk about travel.

Most dating apps allow users to filter out or at least make it explicit in their bio what religious or political preferences they have. You can also indicate whether you want to get married, have kids, like to smoke or drink, say what height you are and what level of education you have.

The dating app Hinge even allows you to note whether you smoke marijuana or take other recreational drugs. It’s all designed to help you find the perfect person, but few dating apps mention the environment or climate change, which can make finding that perfect person a little more challenging.

“On any dating site, I will make a few concessions,” said Sarah Hoeb of Mobile, Alabama. “But if abortion or climate change or immigration becomes a topic, best bet the relationship is over if you don’t share an intelligent, scientific-based, rights-for-everyone view of the world.”

But what if you’re already in a relationship with someone who doesn’t share your views on climate change? The good news is that you have a good chance of influencing them, according to a 2022 Yale School of the Environment study.

“Mass communication is critical but might not be the most effective way to shift public support on climate change,” Matthew Goldberg, an associate research scientist at Yale Program on Climate Change Communication, recently told an on-campus publication. “A partner knows their partner infinitely better than some unknown communicator — and knows how to harness the issues their partner cares about to engage them in action on climate change.”

The study surveyed 758 couples and found that while some partners shared similar climate change beliefs and behaviors, they didn’t always agree on everything.

Just under 40% of the couples aligned on their climate change beliefs, while over 30% aligned on behavior, which includes recycling, driving habits and food preferences, among other climate change-related behaviors.

Goldberg said the findings could work across all relationship types, not just romantic ones. The key, he says, is talking about it a lot.

“Lots of people are very worried about climate change, but they’re not talking about it,” he says. “Discussing climate change can bring more people into alignment — and increase engagement.”

So if you want to find love outside the salacious pages of romantic novels, you can increase your chances by loving the planet first.

Christopher Harress

Christopher Harress | charress@reckonmedia.com

Climate change reporter on the east and Gulf coasts.

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