February 14, 2020

Swipe Right for Climate

By Rachel Ashley

Tinder’s 2019 Year in Review found one positive effect of the climate crisis: if you mention phrases like “climate change” or “the environment” you’re more likely to match with a date.

This isn’t a lone finding. Emily Atkins, founding author and editor of HEATED, took a deep dive into OkCupid to discover how much climate matters to daters. She found that most OkCupid daters are concerned about the climate crisis and want to talk about it with their potential matches. There has been a 240% increase in mentions of “climate crisis” on dating profiles over the last two years.

Climate denial and support for big oil companies is becoming a bad look, especially among younger daters. Climate denial is such a faux pas that OkCupid now markets the app with political and social issues to let people know, it’s okay to filter out someone who doesn’t share your political beliefs.

Next gen dating

We reached out to over 100 college students and young professionals to get a better sense of their attitudes on dating and taking climate-conscious actions.

Everyone we surveyed was a Gen-Z or Millennial: three-quarters of respondents were between 18-25 years old; one-quarter of respondents were between 26-35.

When does sustainability go from attractive to annoying?

Good news: apparently sustainability is sexy now! Well, to a point.

Attractive: Believing the climate crisis is real. 99% of respondents reported they believe climate change is real and caused by human activity, and 90% reported they would find it difficult to date someone who does not believe that, too.

Attractive: Trying to live more sustainably overall. 99% of respondents also said they’re interested in changing behavior to live more sustainably. 49% said they try to live sustainably even if it’s hard or costly; remaining 50% said they’re willing to change behavior if it’s easy (43%) or if it saves them money (7%).

Attractive: Creating less waste. 98% of people used positive words (11% picked “Passionate”; 87% picked “Conscientious”)  to describe a potential date who used reusable water bottles, bags, and takeaway containers to reduce waste.

Mostly attractive: Eating plant-based meals. 84% of people used positive words (23% picked “Passionate”; 61% picked “Conscientious”) to describe a potential date who eats a plant-based diet to improve their carbon footprint. 16% of people used negative words (“Crunchy” or “Annoying”) to describe the same person.

Less attractive: Flygskam. 71% of people used positive words to describe a potential date who chooses to fly less to improve their carbon footprint. 29% of people classified such a person as “Crunchy” or “Annoying”.

Climate compatible

It’s not surprising that people are looking for climate compatibility in their partners. After all, energy is embedded in all aspects of our lifestyles – the food we eat, where and how we live, where and how we travel, what we buy and do for fun.

Views on sustainability might impact compatibility from the first date. One respondent said they talk about the climate crisis on their first date since “climate denial is a no go red flag.” Another said they enjoy “local, walkable dates. Into shared experiences over physical gifts.”

Here are a few of the quotes we found from our survey:

  • “Caring about climate change is becoming a deal breaker issue for me because it reveals a deeper willingness to acknowledge social issues and our global citizenship.”
  • I could NEVER date a climate change denier. Ever.
  • “This is a huge part of my dating life and conversations/ decisions with my partner, from individual choices we make in our day to day life to the policies we advocate for.”
  • “Since I structure a lot of parts of my life around reducing waste even when it’s inconvenient, I would find it difficult to date someone who does not accept and support these behaviors.”
  • “Balance is everything. I am impressed by any number of measures to off-set a person’s carbon footprint, but human connection is ultimately more important. So long as that is not being hindered, great, but if environmentalist measures interfere with relational connectedness, they compromise the integrity of the action.”
  • “I didn’t realize how much it mattered to me until you asked.”
  • “This has me interested in date ideas that have a low carbon footprint. I’m talking with my boyfriend, we were listing dates we often go on and many have a significant carbon footprint because we drive. I would love to brainstorm a list of ideas that are more carbon neutral.”

Clearly, it’s not just the planet getting hot, hot, hot for climate this Valentine’s Day.

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