The aftereffects of the U.S. Supreme Court’s June decision to overturn Roe v. Wade continue to play out in Americans’ personal lives in complicated ways.
For singles, going on dates ― never a painless thing ― has become considerably more complex. Nearly eight in 10 singles say that the rolling back of reproductive rights has impacted their dating and sex lives, according to Match.com’s latest annual study of the U.S. single population.
The survey, which included 5,000 singles, also showed that two out of three single women would not date someone with opposing views on abortion, while 13% of active daters say that the Supreme Court decision has made them “hesitant” to date.
Meanwhile, an OkCupid survey found that 70% of women on the app believe discussing your stance on abortion is just as important as sharing your STI status before sex, a spokesperson for the dating app told HuffPost.
For many singles, complete transparency is needed before the date even begins.
On Tinder, mentions of the phrase “vasectomy” in dating profiles surged this year by more than five times, a spokesperson for the app told The New York Times. (Vasectomies have been in high demand since the Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. And men with vasectomies are largely sought after in the dating pool, too; as one person on Twitter joked, single guys who’ve had the procedure should write something like, “Abortion proof free range dick” on their profiles to increase interest.)
Therapists, especially those in red states, say that their single clients regularly bring up dating concerns tied to Roe v. Wade.
Jessica Warner, a therapist and the owner of Dove + Wolf therapy firm in Austin, Texas, said many of her clients began broaching these issues back in September 2021, when Texas banned abortions past six weeks of pregnancy, with no exceptions.
“I believe people are entitled to believe differently than me, but I don’t have to subject myself to dating them.”
– Jessica, a 26-year-old single woman
“Now, the reversal of Roe has been nothing short of devastating for a lot of my clients,” Warner told HuffPost.
To play it safe, single women and men are fine-tuning their boundaries around dating and sex, the therapist said.
“Some women are amending their dating profiles to state very clearly that they don’t want to speak to anyone who doesn’t believe in abortion rights,” she said. “One even wrote, ‘I’m not interested in a ‘Handmaid’s’ life.’”
If you’re on a dating app, it’s not uncommon to see declarations along those lines on profiles. On Reddit recently, a user posted a screenshot from a woman’s Hinge profile that read, “Due to news on Roe v. Wade, it’s impossible for me to date. If you want to get laid, contact your local representative. They love screwing people.”
Taken aback, the poster captioned the post, “So why are you here?” But most replies on the Reddit thread were supportive of the woman.
“I support this,” one Redditor wrote. “Why would women have casual sex when they get forced to give birth if they get pregnant?”
Jessica, a 26-year-old single woman from Washington, D.C., said she hasn’t put anything pointed about Roe v. Wade in her profile. Still, while swiping, she looks for people who self-identify as “liberal” or have some other indication of similar political beliefs.
“I’m grateful that I can save myself ― and the date ― some wasted time by filtering out folks who would not be an ideological match with me,” Jessica, who, like others, asked to use her first name only for this story, told HuffPost.
“I believe people are entitled to believe differently than me, but I don’t have to subject myself to dating them,” she added.
Earlier this year, Jessica broke it off with a guy she was dating because he said he couldn’t support the idea of a prospective partner needing and seeking an abortion.
“That thinking does not make me feel safe in a relationship, so I walked away from them,” she said. “This isn’t just a theoretical debate ― there are real-life impacts at stake, and I believe that the right person for me will be able to support my decisions surrounding the issue of abortion.”
Condoms and contraceptive choices are being discussed more, too. Warner said some of her women clients have shut down and cast aside dates who’ve pushed back on using condoms when they might have felt awkward doing so in the past.
“Agreeing to protected sex has become a litmus test for women to determine whether someone may be a toxic male or not,” she said. “Their fear of a forced pregnancy has recalibrated the whole sleazy, ‘It doesn’t feel as good’ excuse to not use a condom.”
Single men are recalibrating, too.
“Men seem to be more sensitive to accidentally impregnating someone now that there is no recourse to an unplanned pregnancy, and we have had frank conversations about how it takes two to have an unwanted pregnancy,” Warner said.
Ioana Avery, an associate marriage and family therapist in Katy, Texas, said that some of her single male clients in their 20s and 30s had voiced concerns about dating women with anti-abortion views.
“Some of the men I work with say that they would be afraid to date a hard pro-life partner as they would feel trapped and have no choice but to have the baby that they might not be necessarily ready for,” Avery told HuffPost.
Some are finding their views on abortion to be more nuanced than they initially thought.
“I haven’t spoken to a single young guy who’s said that he’s pro-life 100 percent or that under any circumstance he wants to keep the baby,” she said. “Some others that are declaring themselves pro-life say that if they would be in a long-term relationship, they would keep the baby, but if it’s not a committed relationship, they are fine with the abortion.”
Wade is a 31-year-old heterosexual man who lives in Iowa, a state where conservative politicians are now laying the groundwork to ban abortion completely. (In June 2022, the Iowa Supreme Court reversed itself and held that the right to abortion is not protected under the state’s constitution.)
He told HuffPost that he’s not dating again until he gets a vasectomy.
“I have no interest in having kids, and it’s very unfair to place all the burden of contraception on the women I date,” he told HuffPost. “Being in a red state that will probably pass anti-abortion legislation soon, giving birth and seeking an abortion are both risky. I don’t want to be the reason someone has to navigate that kind of extremely serious situation.”
He understands that there are some small medical risks in getting a vasectomy but believes those risks pale in comparison to the risks pregnant people have to deal with, he said.
JJ, a 33-year-old woman from Texas, has also temporarily given up on dating, in no small part because of restrictions on reproductive rights.
About a decade ago, JJ was told by her doctor that she would not likely survive labor, so she needs a partner who’d support her medical needs.
“In the past, I’d have several dates a month, but even before Roe, not many sexual partners,” she said. “But now, I’m terrified of meeting these people because if they have bad intentions or don’t agree with me on abortion, not only do I have to deal with that but also the aftermath and lack of medical care.”
Some in her inner circle don’t understand why she’s so against dating.
“My married and male friends don’t quite understand the fear I and many other single women have of dating, especially in the South,” JJ told HuffPost.
Of course, many married women are worried, too. Working in Austin, Texas, licensed professional counselor Samar Poorlakani said that nearly all her clients ― single, partnered or married ― were impacted by the overturning of Roe v. Wade.
“It has been devastating to many of my clients — including the ones who want to have children, who were actively trying to conceive or were already pregnant, but no longer felt safe and have felt very fearful,” Poorlakani told HuffPost.
How to deal if you’re concerned about dating right now
As a sex-positive psychotherapist, Poorlakani reminds her clients that communication is essential to navigating sex and dating ― not only in a post-Roe world.
“To me, sex positivity is about embracing sexuality with an emphasis on consent and safer sex practices,” she said. “I encourage all of my clients to have very direct conversations with their dates and partners about birth control methods, what they desire, and what they would want to do if they became pregnant.”
Warner emphasized that you can absolutely still have an active, enjoyable and meaningful sex life but also stressed that the need for clear boundaries has never been more important, even when it comes to something as specific as ejaculation.
“For instance, before you’re intimate with someone, you need to agree on where he’ll ejaculate ― this is not a decision that he gets to decide unilaterally when he is caught up in the moment,” she said. “Discussing and agreeing on these things prior to becoming intimate builds trust and safety and can be the key to even better sex.”
Sexual partners should also discuss what they’ll do if they become aware of an accident occurring during sex, whether it’s a condom breaking, not pulling out in time or becoming pregnant.
“Plan B (the morning-after pill) is at this point still available in states with abortion bans, so I recommend stocking up with at least one and learning when to use them to prevent pregnancy,” she said. “Abortion pill access varies from state to state, but could also be a viable option up to 11 weeks of a pregnancy.”
If you and a partner can’t agree on how to deal with these situations, Warner strongly recommends not becoming intimate with them. (“There’s no shortage of hot people on the planet, after all!” she joked.)
“At the end of the day, women should not be the lone flag bearers for safe sex and pregnancy prevention in a couple,” she said. “If men and women work together to avoid a pregnancy, I have a lot of faith in them being successful in their endeavor.”