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Are different religious beliefs a deal breaker in dating?

23 Feb

This is a question I have been asking myself obsessively ever since I realized that the super cute/cool guy I’m crushing on has very different religious beliefs than me. Granted we have only been on two pseudo-dates, so this is hardly a serious relationship. BUT I can see myself genuinely liking this guy and I don’t want to even go there if it’s hopeless. No need to invest a bunch of time and emotion if I already know there is no long-term potential…

But the truth is, even thought I am genuinely concerned about my lack of future with this guy, this situation is much bigger than that for me. For the first time I have had to ask myself all sorts of questions: How is it that I have gone through so many years of dating and have never had religion come up as an issue? Exactly how strong are my convictions? What matters to me today, and what will matter to me when I am older and want kids? And most importantly, are my religious beliefs a deal breaker for someone who is uber-religious?

To get an answer to my questions I did what any good blogger would do — I turned to Twitter. When I posed the question I never expected the incredible volume of responses or the great insights I received. It seems quite a few people have opinions on whether different religious beliefs are a deal breaker in dating. I found that the answers were pretty evenly split between no, depends, and yes, and that people offered lots of good reasons as to why they answered the way they did. Here’s what some people said:

No, a difference in religious beliefs is not a deal breaker:

Quite a few people said no – having different religious beliefs doesn’t have to be a deal breaker. A few people gave resounding no’s including¬† @princeasbin who cited his personal experience dating woman of many different religions. Others agreed that it wasn’t a deal breaker but qualified their no’s – Matt (@swlessons) and Taylor (@misstaylorcast) agreed that a difference in religion was not a the end of the world as long as the other person doesn’t force their opinions on you. Then there was Tana, (@Feistyfluffy) who made a great point that although she doesn’t see it as a deal breaker, having a difference in religion has often come up negatively in past relationships. Her comment really made me think. Even if this isn’t a deal breaker for this new guy, it doesn’t mean it won’t be an issue.

Depends, different religions could be a deal breaker:

There were also many tweeps who responded with the word “depends.” This didn’t surprise me, as I do very much agree that it depends on the person. But I did find it telling that most people said it depended on the level of seriousness of each person’s beliefs and just how different your opinions were.

Steve (@singlesteve) said if one person’s briefs are very strong, then that can be a tough position from a religion perspective. @thedatingfiles seconded that by saying that it really depends on the two individuals and the depth of their belief system. Unfortunately, I am pretty sure that my new gentleman’s beliefs fall into the “very strong” category, so this was not good news for me.

Chelsea, (@celibataire30) said it all depends on just how different your beliefs are. While she’s not really into any religion, she does believe in God and wouldn’t date an atheist (Interestingly enough, this was a sentiment which was repeated quite a few time throughout the various responses).

Then there were the people like Meghan (@justasinglegirl) and @follyofone who said it depended on whether we are talking long term or short term. However, since I am not really interested in dating guys I know I have no future with, it would be irrelevant to me if it only worked in the short term…

And finally, there was Shane (@shanemacsays) whose response was actually quite similar to my thoughts. He said that it totally depends but that he never judges someone on their values because people change. Rather he goes with instinct and adjusts as he goes along. I’d like to think that I am the same way.

Yes, a difference in religious beliefs is a deal breaker:

Of course, this was not what I wanted to hear, but I appreciated everyone’s candor and and saw these responses as a bit of a reality check. @Realityoflynn said it is absolutely a deal breaker because the relationship can’t really go anywhere. Kristine (@specialkSD) recommended that I just ask him about it, but said that, yes, it can be a deal breaker if one person is casual about their religion and the other is serious. And @Romrealist and @shewontbetamed agreed with Kristine, and said that it would be a problem if one person was ultra religious or serious in their beliefs.

SO, what’s my takeaway from all of this? Well I’m thinking that it is probably unlikely that me and this new guy will work out seeing as how the vast majority of people think that it’s problematic if one person has serious religious beliefs. BUT, I have decided to keep hope alive. A. Because I am just getting to know him and I suppose taking a chance on someone is part of dating. And B. because I think it may be impossible to guess whether something is a deal breaker for someone or not. There is no way I can know the extent of his religious beliefs and what that means to him for dating. Therefore, my plan is to just chill out for a bit, and feel good that I know where I stand. When the topic comes up (which knowing me it will —¬† probably sooner than later ) then I’ll deal with it.

Now in the meantime, if any of you have any suggestions on how I may bring this up, feel free to let me know…

4 Responses to “Are different religious beliefs a deal breaker in dating?”

  1. Jenna February 23, 2011 at 2:25 am #

    Great post. I especially like the attribution to the Twitter folks that weighed in.

    I’ve seen couples with very different religious beliefs come together successfully while not giving up their own beliefs. I’ve also seen people give up their own religious beliefs (or pretend to) for someone else. And I’ve seen relationships implode because the couple never bothered to talk about their religious beliefs.

    Me? Well, I had an on/off ex that looked like Johnny Knoxville. When he started saying that he might be falling love with me, the religious talk got a little more serious. (He was already talking about how we’d raise our kids. I wasn’t even past being in like.) When it came down to it though, he was adamant in his religious beliefs and ignorant of mine. Even went so far as to insist that Catholics are not Christians. Needless to say, I ended things. But it wasn’t because our beliefs were different. It was because he refused to learn anything about mine or discuss raising future potential offspring in anything other than “his” religion.

    My point is… Your new guy may be great. But if his religious convictions are so strong that he can’t be with someone that has different beliefs or can’t entertain the idea of raising a child to learn both religions, he may just be a great friend. Not a great love match. And as you know, there’s only one way to find out.

    Out of curiosity, what are your respective religions?

    • Cali Bradshaw February 25, 2011 at 5:07 am #

      Thanks for reading Jenna and for your great comment. Your ex sounds awesome… (sarcasm) I think you are right on. It’s OK if there are differences of opinions as long as both parties are open minded. We’ll see what happens!

  2. Amy! February 23, 2011 at 7:29 pm #

    It really does depend on the person, how strong their feelings are and how much they want to convert you to their own beliefs, though I do think that last part is the crux of the problem. If you’re not interested in changing your beliefs, but it’s really important to your partner that you hold the same beliefs, there will be trouble. I think if you guys can agree to disagree, than things can work out pretty well.

    My boyfriend and I hold VERY different religious beliefs, and we are able to discuss them with each other, but we both understand that no one is going to change the other person’s mind. We have a mutual respect for each other’s beliefs and our right to believe whatever the hell we want to.

    That said, your crush has probably already been thinking about this issue as well, so it would definitely be better to know sooner rather than later that it’s gonna be a deal breaker. You could try casually bringing your beliefs up or just go balls to the wall “I know we disagree, how big of a deal is this for you?” Good luck!

    • Cali Bradshaw February 25, 2011 at 4:59 am #

      Hi Amy,

      Thanks very much for your comment! I agree, it all comes down to whether or not that person will try and convert you. Very cool that you and your BF can work that out. That’s very mature! Only time will tell if the same applies to me…. :)

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