Craig and Marc Kielburger founded Free The Children and Me to We. Their biweekly Brain Storm column taps experts and readers for solutions to social issues.
After countless text messages and two promising dates with an attractive new prospect, he's whisking you off for a romantic hike. He's funny and interesting and doesn't wear those overpowering body scents with the ads aimed at teenaged boys. So far, so good.
Then he arrives in what looks like a cross between a monster truck and a tank. You brush it off until he leaves it idling through the drive-thru of that fast-food restaurant you're boycotting.
He senses your hesitation, so he pulls out his gift: imported flowers and unfairly traded chocolate. But it's not until he directs you to his latest Instagram slideshow that it becomes apparent that you – an environmentally and socially conscious vegetarian – are dating a guy who hunts endangered African rhinos for sport. You flee before asking how he voted in the last election.
This may be an example stretched for laughs, but it reflects a true modern-dating conundrum: Romantic screening used to entail ethnicity and religion, a nice smile and sense of humour, but finding Ms. or Mr. Right nowadays includes similar eco-footprints, diets and consumer ethics – try finding that at a night club.
There's an explosion of dating sites that let you choose your mate's religious beliefs, political philosophies, social justice values, consumer habits and dietary restrictions. Being "sweat-free" used to mean your date smelled good, but today, "agnostic, liberal, eco-sexual, anti-racist, free-range, vegan locavore seeks same," is a likely find on GreenSingles.com, VeggieConnection.com or ConcernedSingles.com.
Most of us aren't that hardcore, but that doesn't mean we aren't seeking someone that shares similar values; maybe that means condo over monster house, one car instead of two, volunteer vacation instead of resort.
But where does one look? What are the telltale signs of socially conscious compatibility? If you've found true love with someone who cares about the same things you do, share your story in the comments below.
This week's question: How does one go about finding a romantic partner who shares concern for the same social causes?
Lynn Goodacre, life and love coach in Victoria
"Have frank discussions early in the dating process to see if you are on the same page about things that matter to you. In the long run, shared values will trump shared interests."
VeggieConnection.com's Secrets to Success
"Be Patient! If finding a soulmate were a quick and trivial matter, Sears would sell them. Expect that your search may take months or years. Don't dwell on failed contacts, and don't give up."
Susan Frohlick, professor of anthropology at the University of Manitoba
"Reflect on the social codes and boundaries that limit your dating pool. Gendered hypergamy (when women are expected to 'marry up'), for instance, may hinder the possibilities for connection based on social values and ethical lifestyle choices."