In post-Brexit Britain, the walk of shame is now a thing of the past. Now that we live in a romantic minefield, we run all the way home screaming. Last summer, half of us voted out of the EU, the other half wanted to stay and we are still in guerrilla war over the result. You can’t tell just by looking at a person if they’re Leave or Remain so to our horror, we have found, we’ve been sleeping with the enemy.
Tinder used to be a sexual free for all but in 2017 even a hook up is hopelessly fraught. No Remoaner wants to sleep with someone utterly repugnant (aka a Brexiteer.) Your date could be hot as heck. He might buy you dinner – proving he’s solvent. Smell heavenly – proving that he’s washed. He might love all the same films as you and all the same books. You should be feeling butterflies. But all you can think about is grabbing him by the lapels to demand: ‘Damn it, man, I need to know: exactly how did you vote in the EU referendum?’
A new dating app called Hater allows people to match up according to what they can’t stand. Its data shows that a staggering 88% of its users matched up according to their mutual loathing for Leave or Remain. In the current climate, that’s understandable because for the millennial Remainer-female there’s nothing worse than discovering, in the cold light of day, that the eligible bachelor you went ahead and slept with (who proved a delight in the sack) has Leave paraphernalia plastered all over his bedroom walls.
The cannier Leave voting male, of course, conceals the evidence, as a 23 year old former colleague of mine, who has a very sexy beard, admits: ‘I cut out the iconic Spectator front cover advocating Brexit to pin it up but it quickly dawned on me how catastrophic this could turn out to be when inviting someone back. I hastily moved it inside a wardrobe door.’
Romance expert Tiffany Wright frowns on such deception. But she insists it is fine to have had it off with someone whose voting proclivities you find offensive: ‘If he’s hot, why not..? But if he voted Leave, and every time you think about this it makes smoke come out of your ears, then he’s not right for you. Don’t continue jumping between the sheets unless you’re both on the same page.’
It is, of course, very disappointing to discover that the man you have the hots for is fundamentally incompatible with you. But Leavers lurk in the most unlikely places – even on Guardian Soulmates which you might imagine would be a utopia for raving EU enthusiasts. ‘I went out for a date with this guy who looked like Daniel Craig,’ says the comic Ariane Sherine. ‘And I was telling him all about how I was writing my MP to ask him to vote against the triggering of Article 50. And then he tells me he voted Leave! I was gobsmacked at the time but I’m so glad I found out. My flatmates are Bulgarian, Swedish and Romanian – so how could I have ever have brought him home? We’d have had so many arguments.’
Many Leavers, who’ve suffered such knock backs, now advocate a strategy of ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ – which used to be the official policy of the US military when it was illegal to be homosexual. .
And it’s not just single people facing romantic difficulties thanks to Brexit. ‘In London everyone our age thinks: if you’re sane, you voted Remain,’ explains a 28-year-old Leave voter (who like almost everyone else I spoke to in my researches) insists on remaining anonymous. ‘One of my friends had an Austrian girlfriend who worked at a big City bank. She couldn’t vote in the referendum but just assumed he was a liberal Remainer. He slept over at hers the night of the vote, having secretly voted Leave, and then had to feign a lot of upset, and console her in the morning, when the vote went his way. He justifies it because she never explicitly asked him how he voted – not absolutely point blank. But they did eventually stop seeing each other. She’d started getting suspicious.’
If your penchant is for privileged, upper class men then beware: the posher your totty the more likely he is to be Eurosceptic and very right wing. One friend, whose other half has political opinions that make her howl, explains: ‘he’s suffered a very white, rich, male upbringing and is lacking the understanding of what it feels like to be a minority or oppressed and therefore the impact that voting a certain way has on other people.’ Last November, she was aghast to realise that he was nursing a crush on Donald Trump. ‘I emailed my Dad asking him if he thought I could break up with someone on these grounds. He said no but that it’s a good excuse for an argument. Now my boyfriend and I have political conversations in a bubble bath. Perhaps it just feels like a safe space to have a political debate. He believes it’s harder to lay into someone when you’re both naked.’
In private, most will tolerate aberrant opinions in someone they otherwise adore. But airing those views on social media? Even my forgiving friend won’t tolerate it: ‘My boyfriend commented on a Facebook post about a woman who divorced her husband of 30 years because she found out he voted for Trump. He wrote that we had a massive row about it but then we both grew up. And I was so embarrassed, I wrote beneath: “I didn’t grow up, babe, I still hate you.”’
Hostesses now forbid all mention of politics at dinner parties for fear of a pitched battle being waged on the tablecloth. ‘Brexit came up once when we were with some Danish friends,’ adds an Oxford PhD student. ‘We were all drunk and the wife just started screeching, “I can’t believe I let a Brexiteer into my house!”’
But there is hope… Marriage is flourishing thanks to Brexit. Mainly this is for the begetting of passports – either British or EU. But there’s one couple who are getting married this summer despite all their friends and family falling out spectacularly over the vote in Montague vs. Capulet-like proportions. They wouldn’t speak to me, for fear of jinxing their union, but I do have a Whats App message full of hysterical exclamation marks from the Remain-voting bride that reads: ‘it does sound like us!! Modern day Romeo and Juliet ha without the suicide.’ Our sex lives may now be unbelievably complex. But even when it comes to Brexit, love conquers all.