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People who use dating sites are choosing matches based on criteria that are highly correlated with political preferences, and social scientists fear that will go a long way toward making us less tolerant citizens.

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My husband and I had to sort out what we had in common and what we didn’t the old-fashioned way, by going out to dinner where we learned that even when we didn’t agree we still enjoyed the conversation.

Had we been able to choose our mates based on predefined criteria, we probably would have never gone on that first date.

The effect of mixed politics partnering is important: When in a relationship where two people do not identify with the same party, individuals tend to be moderated by their partner and less stalwart in their ideas.

Sometimes, one of them might even change their party identification to match the other’s preferences. Kent Jennings, the “gender gap”—the term used to describe the fact that women are far more likely to vote for a Democratic candidate and to identify as liberals than men are—is drastically smaller for people in long-term relationships where the partners shared different partisan and ideological positions when they met than among non-married individuals.

According to a recent study published, one third of all marriages now begin online.

Of those, 45 percent met through an online dating service and another 20 percent met through a social networking website.

As a result, the study suggests, there may be long-term consequences for political polarization: not only are such couples more likely to move to the ideological extremes because they lack access to contradictory opinions, they also are likely to produce children who hold ideologically extreme positions.

The end result is a more polarized America where more and more people cannot understand how others could possibly think differently from themselves.

And even if they don’t change their positions, when people are exposed to divergent political viewpoints from people they spend time with, they tend to be far more tolerant of opposing views.

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