Christian/Atheist romantic relationships?

Are they possible? I ask because after a 4-year relationship, I’m ready to start dating again. There is a young lady I’m interested in, but she’s said that finding a person who shares her faith is important to her future (this is from an online service, and no, I’m not depending on it as the sole source of my “hunt”, for lack of a better word.) I’m just concerned about what I could/should say when the topic is brought up at some point, either with her or someone else. Or should I simply take it as starting from a disadvantage and look elsewhere for a romantic relationship? I’ve no doubt such a thing can be challenging, depending on the people involved, but I don’t want that to limit me.

If she has said finding someone who shares her faith is important to her, and you don’t share her faith, IMO you are starting the relationship off dishonestly. I’m not saying a relationship such as that can’t work, because they can and do. But if faith is important to her and you don’t share it, it is much less likely to work.

Just my .02.

My hubby and I (married 17 years, together for 21) are proof positive that a romantic relationship between a theist (me) and an atheist (him) can work. But if she lists this as being important to her, you’d be better off looking elsewhere, imho. You don’t need to rule out dating theists, but it doesn’t sound like that particular one is right for you.

Good luck!

If it can work at all, the longer you put off being upfront about your religious stance, the less likely it will work out.

I’ve been with my wife for 16 years. I’m an agnostic/weak atheist. She goes to mass every sunday. It’s really never been an issue for us. The desire for a mate to “share one’s faith” (or lack of faith) is rather self-centered, IMO.

What norinew and Diogenes said. It can work, but it’s less likely to work than a relationship where neither party is making such stipulations right from the start, as she seems to be doing. You have no choice, really, but to be honest right from the word go. Delaying the truth isn’t going to help. From my own personal experience, I’d say that this isn’t a good omen. But hey, best of luck.

If I meet someone who states they want someone to “share their faith” and I’m not of the same one, I tend to get out. To me the statement that you want to find someone of the same religion pretty much means there’s not going to be much give and take-it will always be a thorn in their side, they’ll put down your faith or lack thereof, constantly pray for you, do other assorted annoying prosletyzation related activities. Oh yes, and when they get mad, there’s a high chance your faith/lack thereof can be hurled at you, your religion insulted etc. etc… Granted, I’ve gone through this from the Muslim/Hindu angle (I’m the Hindu) but it just never seems to work out (no offense, but I will never date another Muslim).

Now, I truly do believe that marriages of different religions/between religious people and atheists/agnostics can work out but

  1. Atheist/Agnostic to Religious Person: the religious person really has to be committed to not giving a shit that the other person doesn’t share their faith-the faith must be truly personal and the religious person isn’t inclined to want to enjoy it as a shared spiritual experience between partners. Atheist must be committed to not making snide comments about believing in fairytales.

  2. 2 different religions: each must respect the other’s religion and try to work through feelings that the other’s religion is intrinsically “wrong”. I’ve noticed it tends to work better if you both either believe in a monotheistic god or you’re both similarly uncommitted to the idea of a one true god.

Now this stuff…can be incredibly HARD and having those feelings doesn’t make you a bad person-it just means you’re not going to be compatible over the long run. I’m not a saint-I don’t think I could swing situation #2 ever again unless we’re talking about a really liberal Christian, because hardcore monotheism just rubs me the wrong way so if I’m likely to date a non-Hindu it’s exclusively agnostics/atheists (this is also easier for me because Hinduism allows atheists to self-identify as Hindu).

Yes. SWMBO is a devout Catholic. I am an agnostic/borderline atheist and we’ve got 13 years behind us.

I’ve given this matter quite a bit of thought lately, and almost started a thread about it a few times. I truly don’t think I could be in a relationship with a religious person. It’s never come up for me, so I don’t know, but I can’t see how I could do it.

The problem, for me, wouldn’t be not to make comments about believing in fairytales. No matter what I said, I’d be thinking it. I’d be thinking “How can you believe in that stuff?” all the time.

I mean, I’m all for tolerance and religious freedom. I just don’t think I could do it.

That’s what I meant about stuff coming out during arguments. I’ve had my fill of it-I personally don’t give a shit about other people’s religions, lack of religions whathave you but whenever my Muslim boyfriend got mad at me the first thing he would go for would be my religion (even though I am marginally religious and not at all religious, to tell you the truth, he was the zealot)-there would be ranting and raving about idolatry and being primitive and devil-worshippers and whatnot. At which point it would be difficult for me to hold my tongue about Islam.

And this is between two people who actually came from the same culture.

I have an easier time dealing with someone who just thinks I ascribe to fairytales than someone who thinks I’m going to helllllllllll or that I’m a devil-worshipper! You really have to be able to deal with people going for the jugular and what they’re going to say when they’re in a temper.

well, thanks for telling me many things I don’t want to hear. :frowning:


The relationship I just left was with a Jewish girl, though she was barely devout and didn’t get annoyed when I would reflexively ask her what she wanted for Christmas, but this will likely be much diffirent.

This young lady wants a person of the shared faith as a common ground, so I can see problems right off the bat. I’ve learned over the years, as I’m sure many of you have, that being blunt about your atheist/agnostic beliefs to the devout won’t win you any friends. I will bear your advice in mind when I talk to her. I’ll just play it by ear, so to speak.

My parents have been together 36 years, he’s Methodist, she’s agnostic/atheist although raised Methodist, so it can be done. I think it’s down to mutual respect of each other’s right to believe. As an example, as we were growing up, we were exposed to what I believed was my parents’ religion (mainly church on major holidays, going to anglican schools etc) but it wasn’t until I told my Mum when I was around 15 that I was atheist, that she revealed she was too. And that my parents had agreed to expose us to both options so we could make up our own minds. She trundled along to church knowing it wasn’t her thing, but also knowing it was a small thing that made him happy. (Oh, and final score of child believers, Dad: 1 Mum:2)

I would say, for me part of the meaning of ‘sharing the faith’ is more than just believing in the same deity, and covers your other moral attitudes too. So it could be that while you don’t believe in her God, you have similar views on other major issues. So suggest that you be honest to this girl about your beliefs, but emphasise that you are open to her having her own as well (part of being an adult I would think!), and see what she thinks. You have nothing to lose!

My first thought is that you should look elsewhere.

As others have already said, it’s certainly possible for this type of relationship to work out, generally speaking. But if I were in her position in this specific circumstance, I might actually be insulted that you went after me despite not having a quality that I openly statede was very important to me.

At the very least, if you’re going to contact her and try to pursue this, I think you should mention up front that you are aware of her feelings on the subject and respect them, but find yourself intrigued nonetheless. If she’s willing to take that next step, as you clearly are, then who knows? But by all means, be as up front as possible. It could prove very beneficial to you, and at worst, it will save you both time and agony in the long run.

Yeah, in this specific case, don’t bother. It’s not cool. :frowning: I However, I do think it can work under the right circumstances.

True. Also, if the religious person gets most of their social needs met thru other church members, the atheist may feel left out if they don’t attend church functions (remember, there’s stuff other than actual religious services) or out of place if they do attend. Are you up for that?

Yet another good point. You may feel tolerant today, but in the long run can you maintain respect for your partner?

The boyfriend and I have been together for four years, and I’m absolutely positive that after getting a medical degree, I want to marry him or get a domestic partnership or civil union or whatever will be available for us same-sex couples by that time (yeah, it could be youthful naivete but still, I’m very much in love with him). And he’s a soft atheist/agnostic while I attend church every Sunday. I think it just depends on whether or not the couple have mutual understanding for each other’s beliefs. Most likely, if the theist is of a more “liberal” religious tradition, and the atheist is not so hardcore as to be completely dismissive, then I bet it would work out fine.

I’m an atheist and I’ve dated a couple of Christian girls over the years. I say it can work if you share the same kind of outlook on life or ethics or whatever you want to call it. I’m dating a nondenominational Christian right now, and we’re not having any problems on that issue. I wore my favorite shirt on our last date, and she was very amused.

I spent a year and a half with a Christian Scientist who was spiritual but not really a churchgoer, and it was never a problem. In fact, she bought me that shirt. :smiley: Sometimes we talked about our future and wondered how we would manage to resolve the issue if we had a family, but obviously it didn’t get to that point. Interestingly, her father was also an atheist, it’s not an issue for him and her mother. Her father worried about their health sometimes, CS being what it is, but they weren’t opposed to going to the doctor. On the other hand, she did feel that to some degree, she lost touch with the spritual element of her life when she was with me. That’s a potential problem, and it’s one that you really can’t do anything about.

These girls, and this is also true of my Christian friends, didn’t care about the religion of others, and we shared the same basic ethics. And we also felt that religion was basically a private thing. They’re pretty much as disgusted by aggressive religion and evangelism and fanaticism and intolerance as I am. When you have those things in common, not believing in gods or an afterlife seems like a pretty small thing.

I have all the respect in the world for people’s right to believe. I have all the respect in the world for people’s right to indulge in coprophagia or think that Big Brother is the best show in television history, but that doesn’t mean I want to marry someone who eats or watches shit.

For me, it doesn’t come down to respect or tolerance. It comes down to if I can handle being with someone whom I probably could not respect fully at an intellectual level, or if it would even be worth trying to handle that.

If it were some liberal, tolerant and personal belief that didn’t affect me and that the person had come to through an actual experience that had happened to them, then maybe it could work. I would still interpret the epiphany in question as a hallucination, dream or simply wishful thinking, but then at least I could come close to understanding it.

I think you need to work a little on the respect and tolerance thing.


Well, you know, the analogy of people with religious beliefs to people “who eat or watch shit.” Maybe, possibly, an offensive analogy.