Gen Z Dating and Social Justice Issues: How Do They Relate?

gen-z up against wall with activism art behind them

Gen Z, the young ‘ins that are known for their collective social consciousness, are not only making their mark when it comes to social justice—they are setting new trends in dating while doing it. By making social justice a central feature of romantic relationships, their commitment to supporting different social issues and causes heavily influences their choice of partners and the way they form connections. Gen Z is creating new dating norms that combine activism with adoration—read on to find out how and why!

Dating for Gen Z isn’t solely about finding common interests when sliding into someone’s DMs; it’s about actually connecting on the issues that shape and inform their world. Convos on racial justice, climate change, and gender equality aren’t only happening in the classroom, online, or at rallies or protests—they’re the common topics on an initial dating app chat or a first date. This generation is looking for romantic partners who are not only aware of these issues but are taking action, showing a trend towards better, more substantial connections and relationships.

holding hands graphic

Digital Dating + Social Activism

For Gen Zers, social media is more than a space to share funny memes and cute selfies; it’s a platform for advocacy and education. In particular, TikTok serves as a launching pad for mobilizing around causes, from environmental campaigns to human rights issues that go viral.

The dating scene for Gen Z reflects broader societal shifts, with dating apps and other online platforms playing a crucial role. There’s a trend toward commodifying relationships, where attributes like socioeconomic status, education, and career goals are highly valued. This mirrors broader neoliberal values of self-optimization and individual growth, which also intersect with their views on social justice. They tend to look for romantic partners who not only match but increase their social standing and personal ideals.

According to Roberta Katz, a senior research scholar at Stanford’s Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences (CASBS), “A typical Gen Zer is a self-driver who deeply cares about others, strives for a diverse community, is highly collaborative and social, values flexibility, relevance, authenticity and non-hierarchical leadership, and, while dismayed about inherited issues like climate change, has a pragmatic attitude about the work that has to be done to address those issues,” her research shows.

“Internet-related technologies have dramatically changed the speed, scale and scope of human communications, resulting in significant changes in how people work, play, shop, find friends and learn about other people. For Gen Zers living in the United States and Britain (the two places we studied), the “norm” they experienced as children was a world that operated at speed, scale and scope. They developed an early facility with powerful digital tools that allowed them to be self-reliant as well as collaborative. Similarly, because they could learn about people and cultures around the globe from an early age, they developed a greater appreciation for diversity and the importance of finding their own unique identities.”

megaphone graphic

Matching Morals

The deal-breakers for today’s young lovers? Most of the time, they hinge on political and social issues. This generation rates value alignment with a potential partner as a must-have, not just preferable. Relationships are more likely to flourish when both people share a commitment to the causes they care about, making political and social values huge factors in the compatibility equation.

hand holding flower graphic

Diversity and Representation

Gen Z’s diversity is not just a statistic; it actively influences their approach to dating and relationships. This generation demands inclusivity and is more open to interracial and multicultural relationships than those before them. They expect conversations and connections that respect and mirror different backgrounds and experiences, pushing for a dating culture that celebrates rather than merely tolerates diversity.

hand holding heart graphic

Handling Differences

While shared values are important, Gen Z also knows the worth of dealing with differing or completely opposite opinions. They are pretty adept at discussions that explore and explain divergent views, which are often seen as growth opportunities within a relationship. However, they draw the line at issues involving fundamental human rights and equality, where compromise is absolutely not an option.

water and electricity graphic

Empathy in Action

For Gen Z, empathy is so much more than just getting it—it’s about doing something about it. When it comes to dating, they’re drawn to romantic partners who not only get their causes but are also ready to roll up their sleeves and get elbow-deep in activism. A hands-on approach to empathy plays a big role in their relationships, building better and more meaningful bonds. It’s about sharing a commitment that’s both personal and purpose-driven.

fist in the air graphic

Political Climate and Personal Connections

The highly charged political environment today makes dating way more complex for Gen Z than it was for those who came before. Differences in fundamental beliefs turn into obstacles early in a relationship, leading to breakups. While it’s still a divisive environment, we have to give this generation their props—most Gen Zers (we said most, not all) approach highly charged talks with a commitment to open dialogue and mutual respect. While they may not change the other person’s mind, even using their skills in communication to manage big ideological divides is more than other generations do when it comes to politics.

Gen Z’s engagement in politics came about due to their experiences and the political changes during their formative years, like the change from Obama to Trump, and it showed the impact that politics has on their lives. This political engagement was especially evident in the rise in voter turnout among young people in recent elections, which shows a commitment to influencing issues that matter to them, like social justice themes that include women’s rights, environmental concerns, and gun control.

Eco-conscious Dating

Environmental concerns are particularly important to Gen Z—they influence not just their political perspectives but also their lifestyle choices and dating practices. They want to go on eco-friendly dates like bike riding, hiking, or taking part in community events like neighborhood clean-ups, and they respect partners who make concerted efforts to reduce their carbon footprint.

As Gen Z ages and matures, they are not just being active in the dating world; they are literally redefining it. By integrating their passion for justice with their approach to relationships, they are crafting a new narrative where love and activism are intertwined. This direction is not solely about finding love but about creating a more just and caring society through their romantic relationships.

Molly Davis
Molly Davis

Molly is an East Coast writer who lives on West Coast time. She’s been in the journalism field for over 20 years — newspapers are her first love but she’s finding digital media to be just as fun and challenging as print! When she’s not giving therapist-quality dating advice, she’s curled up watching movies, reading, or volunteering at local dog shelters.