Atheist dating a Christian. Will it work?


caedisdux asks:

So I’ve met this girl a couple of weeks ago and we’ve hit it off wonderfully. We are quite compatible personality-wise and the sex is great. Last week, I learned she was a Christian believer. For me being an atheist, that was somewhat of a shock since she’s also a nerdy scientist – I guess that was kinda ignorant of me. But I didn’t show it and while my “militant” phase is over, I am concerned, but for other reasons than you might think.

During the conversation, we both acknowledged that it’s all about respecting the other’s (non-)beliefs and that doesn’t inherently doom a relationship. But here’s the catch: I listen to metal and goth music. She’s quite open, musically, but I’d also like to take her to, say, witchhouse parties – a scene which plays with quasi-, pseudo- and real religious symbolism quite a lot; you’ll find upright and inverted crosses everywhere. I’m afraid she’d feel very uncomfortable there and I don’t want her to be, but I’d also like us to be compatible when we go out.

This might sound like an immature question, but I’m asking for some objective insight. I’ve never dated a believer and while I’m really glad she’s a moderate one who doesn’t buy into the fundamentalist, homophobic, creationist, wait-to-have-sex-before-I-marry things, I’m a little concerned (no offense – it’s just that I personally couldn’t handle that).

Do you think this has a future if with many pastimes, we probably won’t be able to do them together?

Demetrius says:

Well this is a nice twist on the “would you change for a partner?” question that I tried to answer in this week’s episode of the podcast. You know, I’m not entirely surprised that you could date a moderate christian as an atheist. People who adhere to religions and those who don’t often get a bad rap, stemming from interactions the other has with those who are more on the militant side of their beliefs. I’m an atheist but it’s not like I go around invalidating anyone’s beliefs, so people tend to get along with me regardless of their religion. Likewise, there are people in my life who are religious to a certain point but have never told me I will toil in a fiery lake for all eternity. That’s always a great way to stay cool with me, for future reference. I’ve even dated some people who were adherents to different faiths and as long as they were moderates and not conservative in their beliefs, it didn’t cause too much of an issue.

With that said, your question is less about “will my lack of religion be an issue?” so much as it is “I don’t think she’ll like my interests, will that be an issue?”. Sure, your interests are pretty unique, but if you think of it as a less specific issue, and in more general terms, the answer becomes a bit more clear. I’m always hesitant to give a firm Yes or No when it comes to people not sharing the same interests as your partner. As I’ve said quite a few times, I don’t think having the same interests is inherently important so much as your partner’s willingness to either accept your interests or indulge them, and your level of comfort with their decision. I have some fairly specific interests that I’ve never cared whether my partner is interested in. Mainly, superhero comics, video games, and really bad movies on Netflix. I mean like, the worst of the worst 1 star movies you can imagine and try to find on Netflix. If my partner has no interest in comics, video games, or watching crappy movies on Netflix, that’s perfectly okay with me. With that said, maybe your interests, and your partner’s participation in them, are more important to you.

Okay I have to ask, what is a Witchhouse party? Is it like, a house party with witches, or is the house a “witchhouse” and you’re just throwing a party there? This is very important for me to know! In all seriousness, maybe the use of religious symbols might be offensive to your partner. Fun fact: the very existence of a symbol makes it “real” since symbols are used to represent concepts. The term you were looking for was “established religious symbol” vs. “not previously established religious symbols” :D. People tend to associate the inverted cross with Satanism/The Antichrist so yeah, that might not go over so well with your partner if she’s Christian. Another fun fact for you: The inverted cross is actually St. Peter’s Cross, since he was reported to have been crucified upside down. It’s a Papal symbol! Anyway, yes, the use of Christian symbolism, previously established or otherwise, might be offensive. With that said, she could also really not care all that much. Right now you’re speculating and then trying to figure out a worst case scenario, but, and this might sound crazy, have you considered just asking her?

Seriously though, you just need to ask her how she’d feel about it. Her answer to this should inform what you do moving forward. If she isn’t comfortable with the imagery and it’s a major problem for you, she might not be the right person for you. If she doesn’t want to go to witchhouse parties but is okay with you going to them, and you’re okay with that, you can still date her. If she wants to go and is comfortable with the imagery, stick with her. Simple as that.

Good Luck Out There.

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