General Question

nayeight's avatar

What is your opinion on dating someone who does not share the same religious views as you? Specifically atheists who date theists?

Asked by nayeight (3353points) November 14th, 2009

I want to move to the south next year and I’m worried that finding a black man who shares my secular views will only get harder. I prefer not to date anyone that is religious but that pretty much rules out a large amount of the black male population. As a result, most my past relationships have been with black men who are christian and I haven’t had any issues so far but those relationships never got serious. I have never had a problem dating outside my race but as I get older I find that I am more attracted to black men. Should I keep settling for someone religious that doesn’t share the same views as me like I have been? Should I be focusing on this at all? I’m just worried that it will come back to bite me in the ass later when I’m ready for marriage and children. Any thoughts?

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29 Answers

J0E's avatar

There is potential for problems, but it’s not guaranteed.

P.S. Try meeting someone before you stereotype them…

Dr_C's avatar

Diversity gives any relationship a certain something extra… I personally have no problems dating someone with different religious beliefs. Religion does not have to define your relationship. The point of a romantic relationship is to share experiences, to make each other happy and to be a support structure… anything else can be worked out.

I would venture that if you believe the religious aspect is what is hindering your relationships then maybe you are the one putting an emphasis on it or focusing on that difference.

Live and let live.. love and be loved. That’s all you need to know. Who cares what either of you believe in terms of a higher power? does that make either of you any less romantic, loving or rational? Whomever may be right about religion or faith or any higher power won’t be able to prove it (at least not while alive) and therefore won’t really end up affecting the relationship in anything more than a speculative manner. And to end a relationship based on speculation seems like a waste.

wundayatta's avatar

I don’t think anyone can give you useful advice. It will all depend on you and the other person. Everyone is unique. Who can say?

You can get along with people with different views if there is mutual respect, and you don’t try to change each other, and you allow each other space to do your spiritually related activities. If you don’t give each other space and if you try to change, then forget it. The relationship will become untenable.

Half of it is up to you. Are you willing to let it be, if he is willing to let you be? If not, you need someone who shares your beliefs. Look. If James Carville and Mary Matalin can stay together, then it’s got to be possible for people with different religious beliefs to make it work.

I do think it makes it harder, especially if you really don’t respect religious views at all. I think that when I was younger, I never could have been with someone who wasn’t an atheist. I think I can be more tolerant today. I can see through to someone’s heart, and not get upset about the clothing around that heart. It’s the heart that counts. The words, the rituals, the beliefs—they don’t make the heart. And it’s the heart you really want, not the pomp and circumstance and rigidity.

Rigidity—then forget it. Flexibility—has possibilities.

Facade's avatar

It would only cause problems, especially if the both of you are serious about your beliefs or lack thereof. If you both are weak in your beliefs, then it probably won’t be an issue.
I wouldn’t and haven’t dated anyone who isn’t a Christian.

laureth's avatar

I am an atheist, and I am married to a religious guy (specifically, an AsatrĂșer). We only have minor problems – but those are the problems I would have with someone of any religion. He has fewer problems with me. :)

It helps if you can share the same social space as the other person, even if you don’t have the same beliefs. Would you have a problem going to church potlucks, if he didn’t make you go to church services? I’ve gone to some of my guy’s religious gatherings, but I mostly stay on the periphery, maybe talking to other spouses that are in the same position as I am. It’s important to him to go to his events, and important that I’m a part of his life, but as long as I don’t have to worship, it’s in the same league for me as sitting in a church pew for politeness’ sake when I visit my churchy grandparents.

More problems might arise if we were to have kids, but I think we’re a little old to be doing that. I know he’d want the kids to have a good, solid Pagan upbringing, and I’d want them to have some sense. ;) The compromise we’ve discussed, should this ever be an issue, is to teach them about every religion we can think of: my lack thereof, his AsatrĂș, his mom’s deep Methodist faith, my Wiccan friends, the Buddhist that introduced the two of us, etc. Let them learn lots, and see what feels right for them. Since we honor what feels right to the two of us, it only follows that we should allow any kids the same consideration.

It helps that I used to be Wiccan, and still consider myself a secular Pagan, so the holidays have meaning for me, even if I don’t worship Odin, Thor, and their pals.

augustlan's avatar

I was raised Christian, and married a Jewish man. By the time we met, we were both pretty agnostic, though. We did have a little bit of a problem when it came to how to raise our children, but in the end we just incorporated traditions from both of our backgrounds and imposed no particular religion on them at all. I can see that it might be harder for a strongly religious person and an atheist to make that kind of call. One of them may feel that children without religion are damned to hell, while the other believes that children with religion are damned to ignorance.

Jack79's avatar

as long as neither is too fanatic, this should not be a problem. I just met this girl and we started dating and she said she wants to go to church tomorrow. Now I’m not an atheist (ie someone who’s sure God doesn’t exist) but I’m certainly not religious. I generally believe that there is something out there, a power which I can’t define, but he’s certainly not an old guy with a beard (which is probably what she believes). But we’ve both made our views clear from the start, so as long as we respect each other’s belief (and it’s not as if I’m a fanatic anti-deist) it should be ok.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

why on earth are you moving to the South? sorry, I’m supremely biased…come to NY…
as to whether or not I as an atheist would be able to date someone religious…that would have to depend on the extent their religious beliefs would permeate their lives…if we had children together and they wanted to baptize them or raise them a particular faith, that’d be a huge problem as I do not believe in that…besides I treat organized religion as a ridiculous social construct necessary for some but basically unnecessary, in general and I can’t imagine how that wouldn’t be simply problematic for someone who truly believes in god (s)...but this is just how it’d work for me…I’m sure other people can work it out

five99one's avatar

Statistically, relationships last longer if people share the same spiritual beliefs. Personally, I don’t think it’s make or break, depending on how big religion is in the person’s life. I would try it, but I imagine there might be some problems, especially if either one is very militant in their religious beliefs or lack thereof.

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

I think your issue here is race, rather than religion. Sure the south of the US is religious to a scary degree, but if you specify that a man has to be black to be compatible with you then you are seriously narrowing your opportunities. If you meet the perfect guy, who just happens to be Asian or Caucasian, then you may not take a second look because you are specifying black before you meet anyone.

As for religion, all that matters is that your love for each other is stronger than your love for religion. Unless children start becoming an option, you can agree to disagree as long as your relationship is stronger than your religious persuasions.

five99one's avatar

@FireMadeFlesh Physical attraction is a part of a relationship, there’s no way around it. And if she isn’t attracted to Caucasians or Asians, then it just wouldn’t work. I’m pretty much exclusively attracted to Caucasians. Not because I’m racist, but I just don’t find non-Caucasian ethnicities attractive. Different ethnicities have different physical features. Plain as that.

JLeslie's avatar

I am an atheist Jew, I live in the south now, and I do think it will be tough to find an atheist black man, it is hard to find atheist any man in the south, but not impossible. I found a rare combination in my husband. My husband was raised a Mexican Catholic, he believed in God when we met, I think he had no idea there was another option. He was not very religious though, and he decided to convert to Judaism for our marriage, because he thought we should be the same (more background: his father was raised Jewish and converted to Catholicism, both parents are very religious. Plus, my husband has a very Jewish name, so people easily assume he is, although he attended Catholic schools most of his youth).

As an atheist I did not care if my husband was a theist, what I cared about was that he was not religious, didn’t expect to go to church every weekend, didn’t believe the bible was the actual word of God word for word. People define God so many different ways. Turns out my husband now is generally more annoyed and disgusted by extreme religion than I am.

I think what matters most is that you both respect each other beliefs, and that you would be ok if your children identified with your husbands beliefs, or if you husband became more relgious after having children (which happens to some people).

aprilsimnel's avatar

I understand how you might be concerned. Many Christians take the admonition to not be “unequally yoked” seriously. I am not a Christian, but I was raised in the faith and we had that particular Paulism hammered home as teens. It matters only in how important it is to you how observant the man would be.

If you’re planning on having kids one day, such disparity in religious belief can be very important. Such a difference isn’t like race or orientation, which one has from birth, but are values one acquires and holds onto, or not. Surely you won’t be the only single black atheist in the entire South. If it really, really, rilly matters to you what the religious fealty of the fella is, then you should gently make your position clear by the second or third date, IMO.

JLeslie's avatar

I should clarify I did not find my husband in the south, we met in SE Florida, but it is very rare for a Mexican to have parents from an interreligious marriage.

Psychedelic_Zebra's avatar

@laurethThat sounds like Evelynism, except Evelynists don’t follow rituals. Well, at least I don’t, I’m not sure what other Evelynists do to worship, simply because it isn’t any of my business how they perceive the great six breasted goddess.

Evelynism isn’t a replacement religion, (unless you want it to be) as in a replacement for Christianity, etc, it is more like a supplemental religion. It has something in common with insurance. You have your regular insurance, and then, you have supplemental insurance, to fill in the gaps left by the first policy. =)

fundevogel's avatar

Hopefully if you increase the number of atheists you’re meeting you’ll raise your odds of meeting attractive single black atheists as well.

You might look into a local freethinker/atheist/skeptic group when you move to get to know other atheists in your area. Other atheist friendly events would be good to check out as well but there probably aren’t many in the south. You might keep an eye on public lectures or events at local colleges though.

I’ve also heard (if you’re not opposed to it) that people who identify as atheists on dating websites get more responses than those that identify as religious or don’t mention religion at all. Which is probably an indication that a decent number of atheists are taking advantage of online dating services to find potential partners.

filmfann's avatar

I am a Christian, and I dated a Wicken woman for several months. I wasn’t concerned about that difference, but I might not have taken the relationship quite as seriously as I would have had she been of my faith.

Blondesjon's avatar

@jonsblond and I share very view “big picture world views”. It’s not a problem since we do share the view that we are awesome for each other.

Darwin's avatar

The most important thing is to treat each other with respect. If you can do that, then you can discuss how to raise kids and deal with family church issues as a couple and different faiths will not be a barrier.

That said, you might see if there are any Unitarian Universalist churches where you are moving, or even Congregational churches. Congregationalists are generally quite reasonable people and rarely proselytize. They happily accepted my mother, who is a Unitarian, and my father, who is an atheist Episcopalian. There are also many black Congregationalists in the South because that church sent many, many missionaries south after the Civil War to teach former slaves to read.

Blondesjon's avatar

The above post should read that the wife and I don’t share many “big picture world views.”

because I know you all care.

augustlan's avatar

@Blondesjon Damn it, we care. ;-)

nayeight's avatar

Thanks for all your opinions. I plan on moving south because I really want to go to Savannah College of Art & Design for grad school. I guess it’s not that big of a deal but I think I still would feel more comfortable looking for someone who is an atheist like me. I never said that I would not date outside my own race or that I’m not attracted to men of other races (because I am), only that I’ve grown more attracted to black men in the last few years. I do agree though that it does depend on the person and how serious they are about their faith.

Darwin's avatar

Well, Savannah has Unitarians. Check it out. They look pretty white but they may not be, or they may have friends who aren’t.

nayeight's avatar

Aww thanks Darwin, they look so happy! Haha!

galileogirl's avatar

Wear an “I heart Athiests” button all the time. Guaranteed to repel potential religious beaus.

fundevogel's avatar

@galileogirl I should get one of those.

RareDenver's avatar

I have this T-Shirt seems to keep the crazies at bay :-)

Darwin's avatar

@RareDenver – Nice shirt!

RareDenver's avatar

@Darwin my Dad thought so too, so much so he has asked me to buy him a brown one, green isn’t his colour apparently

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