03.02.09

Looking for Mr. Far Right

Somewhere in between college and the election, I started allowing politics to dictate the kind of men I date. And the worst part is, it’s not just Obama supporters who turn me off—it’s often my father’s.

The election killed my personal life.

OK, maybe killed is a bit of an exaggeration. But it does seem to be on life support. Of all the things people warned would happen post-election, no one ever said anything about how complicated dating would become. Especially if your dad loses the election. There are things that have been difficult, but nothing quite as tough as dating. I fear the election has destroyed my ability and desire to date. Now, I cannot say at any point in my life that I have been very good at dating. But I have become something I used to despise: people who let politics dictate his or her attraction to someone.

One extreme fan of my mother’s recently told me I could be “his Cindy.” And then asked me if I ever wore pearls because they probably would look as good on me as they do on my mother.

I am a person that has always prided myself on keeping politics out of my relationships. I think I would have probably graduated from Columbia friendless had I made politics a focal point in any of my friendships during college. I have many friends who openly voted for Barack Obama (many of them also didn’t). Who my friends voted for is of no concern to me. I am adult enough to understand that people vote for their own personal reasons, and I know how personal politics can be to someone.

This is how I expected my attitude to remain after the election. And it has continued that way with my friends. But when it comes to dating, it's become an entirely different subject. And I promise, no one is more surprised by this revelation than I am. If I am adult enough to understand that voting is one of the most personal things a person can do, why am I letting it affect how attracted to someone I am? I know that no one can really explain sexual attraction and why you are drawn to someone or not—but at this point in time, nothing kills my libido quite like discussing politics.

Here's the biggest surprise: I am not only turned off by people who voted for Barack Obama, but I am also turned off by people that voted for my dad—or more so, obsessive supporters of my dad. Recently, over dinner, a guy started explaining his reasons for supporting President Obama during the election (I didn’t ask, I think the poor guy felt guilty) and I immediately found any attraction I had previously had dissipate. But same thing happens if a guy starts talking about all the reasons why my father should be president. I have the ultimate Catch-22 in post-election dating. So where does that leave me, and who exactly am I attracted to? Let’s just say I’m spending a lot of time writing and even more time with my girlfriends.

Like many people, when I meet a new friend in real life, we also become Facebook friends. And when I friend someone on Facebook (especially someone who is interested in going out on a date), I read their profile to learn more about them. This seems to be where my problems start. Most people list the candidate they supported during the election. Some have joined the group “A Million Strong for Obama.” Some are even part of the group “I have more foreign-policy experience than Sarah Palin.” When I see this type of information I immediately start thinking: How liberal is this person? Do they know I am Republican spawn, against everything that this person believed in during the last election? How important is politics to this person? When I find my father’s face staring back at me on a potential date's Facebook page I am equally put off. I don’t want to see my father’s picture near any picture of a guy I am attracted to, especially if we haven’t even had dinner yet.

Going on actual dates is even harder. One way or another, the election always comes up. If a guy starts speaking strongly in support of President Obama, my mind starts wandering. If he's such a huge supporter, how much does he dislike my father? Is he a huge anti-war advocate and does he know I have two brothers in the military? But then, again, there go my father's supporters. Now let me be clear: My family and I will always be grateful for all the wonderful people who supported my dad and the campaign. Still, when it comes to my personal life, I don’t want to date someone who idolizes my dad.

Nothing makes me more ill than the idea of some guy bragging to his friends that he was going to go on a date with “John McCain’s daughter.” (Unfortunately this has happened more times than I would like to count and each time I can sense it within the first 30 seconds of meeting them.) One extreme fan of my mother’s recently told me I could be “his Cindy.” And then asked me if I ever wore pearls because they probably would look as good on me as they do on my mother. No, I'm not kidding. Any guy that has a fetish for older women in pantsuits and large pearls obviously only finds my last name attractive about me.

But the real problem with men who voted for my dad is that I never know to what degree of a fan they are of his. Are they so extreme that they would date me no matter how much they may or may not like me just to meet my dad? Once I went out with a guy who said the food I had ordered was a “maverick choice” and proceeded to tell me, “Wow, straight talking must run in the family.” It’s like someone taking Lisa Marie Presley out on a date and singing “Hound Dog” in the middle of dinner.

I know that during the election, I was quite visible and campaigned very hard for my father. During that entire time, I did not go on a single date because I was too busy. And too paranoid about getting set up for some sort of weird "gotcha" moment. I just assumed that would all go away once the election was over. Little did I know, dating would become much more complicated and much less fun than it was in college. I am sure I am not being fair to all the men out there, but my recent experiences have left me scarred and wary of dating. At this point, my biggest aphrodisiac is an apathetic attitude toward politics.

So to all the fathers out there: If you want your daughters to be single in her 20s, I can say this—run for president.

Meghan McCain is from Phoenix. She graduated from Columbia University in 2007. She previously wrote for Newsweek magazine and created the website mccainblogette.com.