I’m not a very religious person, but he and his family are. I didn’t go to church or anything before we got together. I started going with him because I knew how important it was to him and his family. Granted, I didn’t go every. single. time. But I was going. I was compromising. I was trying.
This past Saturday, I told him that I didn’t really like going to church. He pretty much said he already knew that because I didn’t go all the time with him. But nothing more was said about it. On Sunday morning a friend of mine needed help unloading a U-Haul before she had to return it. I told him I was going to help her because she didn’t have anyone else and he decided to go to church. He acted fine before we left the house, so I didn’t think it was that big a deal. About an hour into my helping her unload her belongings, he TEXTED me and told me how upset he was and how I really hurt his feelings by not being there and spending time with him and his family (even though they live about a mile down the road and we visit them all the time). I explained to him (again) that she really needed me and I apologized for not being there.
Long story short, he pretty much told me that his family doesn’t approve of me anymore because I don’t like going to church. He broke up with me and made me pack all of my stuff and move back to the state that I am from. He let his family pressure him into breaking up with me because our religious beliefs differ. I am so broken right now. I wanted to spend my life with him. We were talking about getting married in the future and starting a family. He is SUCH a good guy. He treated me like a queen. I just don’t understand how, if he really loves me, he could let his family ruin what we had all because I didn’t go to church. I have been all but begging for him to let me come back to him, but he refuses. He said he has a very traditional family and they have very high expectations of him, which include being in church pretty much every time the doors are open and also raising a family in church.
Should I just give up and move on or continue to pursue him even though he is always trying so hard to please his family and they will probably never approve of me again? — Not a Church Lady
Yeah, you should MOA. You moved way, WAY, WAY too fast (dropping everything and moving to another state and moving in with him after knowing him — long distance! — for a month?!) before you knew each other and before you had any clue whether the other’s values and lifestyle meshed with yours. You two are not a match. This isn’t about his family “pressuring” him; this is about not sharing lifestyle choices and long-term goals. (He wants a partner who will go to church all the time, be very enmeshed with his traditional family, and will raise kids at church; you don’t want those things and pretending otherwise or “compromising” on a really big issue isn’t going to work.) It was a mistake to move in with him before even knowing him, and it would be a mistake to continue pursuing this dead-end path. Move on. And next time, make sure you really know someone before you make such big relationship steps. And don’t “drop everything” else when you do!
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If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at [email protected].
Northern Star October 28, 2016, 9:20 am
I just don’t have a lot of sympathy for this LW. Religion and religious life is very important to her boyfriend, and she found this out immediately. She’s not interested in doing more than paying lip service. Blaming “his parents” for her boyfriend’s core beliefs shows exactly how little she respects him.
Good for the boyfriend breaking this off. Bad for the boyfriend agreeing to her moving in ONE MONTH into dating. At least he corrected the mistake.
RedRoverRedRover October 28, 2016, 9:46 am
They were both crazy for moving in so early. But to be fair, how was the LW supposed to know he’s hardcore into going to church when he’s apparently totally fine with living with someone before marriage???? WTF? The guy’s a total hypocrite! Absolutely ridiculous.
Fyodor October 28, 2016, 10:22 am
“I’m not a very religious person but he and his family are. I didn’t go to church or anything before we got together. I started going with him because I knew how important it was to him and his family. Granted, I didn’t go every. single. time. But I was going. I was compromising. I was trying.”
It sounds like she knew early on. And people can be religious in some aspects of their lives and not in others. It doesn’t make them “hypocrites.” I don’t keep Kosher but I go to synagogue regularly and celebrate religious holidays and it was important for me to have a partner who would do so as well. I guess I’m a hypocrite.
It’s not like he was running around harassing people on the street for their lack of religiosity. Participation in church was an important part of his life and it’s reasonable for him to want his partner to share it even if he’s inconsistent some aspects of his religious practice.
RedRoverRedRover October 28, 2016, 10:48 am
Hey, he’s allowed to want what he wants, whether it’s logically consistent or not. More power to him. I took issue with Northern Star blaming HER for not knowing what rules were bendable, when apparently the boyfriend is allowed to bend them himself.
And Christianity and Judaism aren’t perfectly analogous, because you can be ethnically Jewish. This leads to people who are atheists or who don’t fully subscribe to the religion still being able to be Jewish. Not so with Christianity. You have to actually live as a Christian to be Christian, which means following the rules for your sect.
Fyodor October 28, 2016, 11:17 am
I consider myself religiously Jewish too even though I don’t follow all the rules.
“Not so with Christianity. You have to actually live as a Christian to be Christian, which means following the rules for your sect.”
I think that most people who practice a religion do not perfectly adhere to their religious beliefs and do not lose the right to consider the stuff that they do adhere to as important or to value that adherence in their partners. It sounds like she knew that active participation in their Church was important to him.
RedRoverRedRover October 28, 2016, 12:01 pm
It sounds like she knew, but not till after the move. And it definitely doesn’t sounds like she knew that she had to go to mass every single Sunday or she’d lose her home and relationship.
And to be clear, I called him a hypocrite because HE’s allowed to bend whichever rules he wants, but SHE isn’t. Not because he isn’t perfectly following his religion.
Northern Star October 28, 2016, 12:40 pm
A hypocrite would call his GF a slut while moving her in (or give it as a reason for her moving out). This guy did no such thing. His problem wasn’t her having sex before marriage and suddenly feeling like she was “dirty”—his problem was that she doesn’t give a darn about his church and never will, and it’s a major part of his life. Explain to me how that makes him a hypocrite.
RedRoverRedRover October 28, 2016, 12:52 pm
He’s allowed to choose which rules to follow and she isn’t. Exactly what I said.
Sender of this E-mail October 28, 2016, 1:01 pm
No, I didn’t like going to church because I felt like it was going to catch on fire when I walked through the doors. I am not religious because I KNOWINGLY do things thatthe Bible and God say not to. Yes, I know you can ask for forgiveness but why say sorry for something when you don’t plan on changing your actions. He would get drunk with me on Saturday then go to church on Sunday. To me, that is a hypocrite. I failed to mention in the Email that I sent Wendy that he told me he has to love up to his family’s exceptions or they will not allow him to inherit the 6 generation family farm. Which I understand. But WHY would he wait until I start to build a life with him then suddenly change his mind about me one day? He even told me that his family had a lot to do with it. But, now I realize that I do need to move on. I don’t want a life partner who is 22 years and still can’t say no to mom. I don’t need nor want to spend my life with a man-child. And you guys helped me realize that. So thank you!
Girl in the story October 28, 2016, 1:14 pm
I didn’t like going to church because I felt like it was going to catch on fire when I walked through the doors. In my opinion, he is a hypocrite. He would KNOWINGLY get drunk with me on Saturday, then go to church on Sunday and ask for forgiveness. In the Bible, it says not be a drunkard. I don’t agree with apologizing for you actions when you continue to do it. I felt uncomfortable in church because I know I do wrong according to God and the Bible, and I MYSELF felt like a hypocrite. But that’s beside the point. I failed to metion in the email that he told me that his family would not allow his to inherit the family farm if he did not love up to their expectations and follow their rules. He told me that they put a lot of pressure on him. But, now I have come to the conclusion that I do not want to pursue someone who is 22 years old and still can’t say no to mom. I now realize that I would rather not spend the rest of my life with a man-child. Unless he grows the balls to stand up to his family and defend our relationship, I want nothing to do with it. And thanks to all of you for helping me understand that.
Fyodor October 28, 2016, 1:20 pm
He’s not requiring her to do anything. He’s saying that church attendance and participation is important to him and he wants his partner to do it as well. He didn’t say she was a bad person or she was going to hell. He wants a partner that similarly values something that’s important to him.
RedRoverRedRover October 28, 2016, 1:55 pm
Well, he did require it if she wanted to keep living there. She just didn’t know it.
Look, I think they’re both in the wrong. Northern Star started out attacking her and making him look like he did nothing wrong, so I’m defending her. But let’s be clear, he’s no prince. He screwed up just as much as she did. What they should have done is made sure they were compatible before moving in, or at least discussed what their dealbreakers were (you must attend church every Sunday). They didn’t do that, and this is the fallout.
All of the claptrap about her not “respecting” him, and it being “insulting” is what really got me. Respect is a 2-way street, and he didn’t seem to care one bit that she didn’t want to practice a religion. Which is fair enough, but then let’s not pretend that he’s somehow “better” than her.
Addie Pray October 28, 2016, 11:34 am
I think you can be ethnically Christian in a similar way. My father certainly felt so, but was an atheist. He grew up in Iran, but was a Christian minority – and whether he liked it or not, was seen first and foremost as Christian because of this and in 1978 had to flee or else be persecuted for it. … So, just saying. From him I feel ethnically Christian, too. Even though that doesn’t quite make sense here in the USA and even though I’m an atheist, too. But it’s what I picked up from him, I guess.
RedRoverRedRover October 28, 2016, 12:16 pm
Fair enough. It’s certainly not typical in the US though. Even those of us (like me) who are atheists but still celebrate Christmas don’t consider ourselves ethnically Christian. We just celebrate it as a secular holiday instead of a religious one.
Wendy (not Wendy) October 28, 2016, 12:18 pm
One really can’t be ethnically Christian, though you might be culturally Christian. That might sound like splitting hairs, but “Christian” just isn’t an ethnic group the way “Jewish” is. I don’t know much (anything) about Iranian Christians, but there might also be a particular Iranian ethnic group that your dad belonged to that has Christianity as one of its cultural markers.
Addie Pray October 28, 2016, 2:06 pm
Maybe you’re right. He was Assyrian, per Wikipedia, “an ethnoreligious group indigenous to the Middle East. Some of them are known as Chaldeans, and others as Arameans.” He spoke Assyrian, a dialect of Aramaic, the language Jesus would have spoken – also per Wikipedia where I get all my facts, ha. We were in Paris once and went to a service conducted in Aramaic which he could understand – which I thought was crazy cool. Anyway, he was born in Iran as were his parents and as where their parents and their parents and their parents… but nevertheless in Iran was not seen as Iranian – couldn’t vote, etc. but was Assyrian and spoke his language (and Farsi) and went to Catholic school like all the other Assyrians… So, is that culturally Christian or ethnic? I don’t know.
Addie Pray October 28, 2016, 2:12 pm
Does being “‘ethnically’ something” (versus culturally) mean you can do a genetic test and trace you to that culture?
Wendy (not Wendy) October 28, 2016, 10:12 pm
Not really, because there isn’t any biological basis for race/culture/ethnicity. An ethnic group has shared history and practices (and many of those practices might be “history” to the people involved) and there is some geographic basis. When people in the US say they’re ethnically Jewish, it’s generally shorthand for “Ashkenazi Jew”… sometimes Sephardic, but often people will specify if they don’t mean Ashkenazi. They trace their lineage to Europe and Eastern Europe (most recently) and have shared history of things like ghettos, pogroms, shtetls. There are many many Jews in the world who don’t have that history, and have some different cultural practices. To practice Judaism doesn’t mean to have a Jewish ethnicity. It sounds like your dad had an Assyrian ethnicity, and one of the tenets of Assyrians is that they’re Christian as a whole. But for a person to be a Christian means to follow Christ, no matter what other groups they might belong to. One isn’t born a Christian the way one can be born a Jew, or an Assyrian. I say it’s okay to say one is a “cultural” Christian because that has a different connotation from “ethnic”. A “cultural” Christian might still identify as Christian even though they no longer believe any of it, because they still do things like celebrate Christmas and have a big family dinner on Easter. Some people who grew up in Christian traditions with very specific cultural practices, like Catholics, might talk about about being “cultural Catholics” because being raised in a Catholic household has informed their worldview so much. But “culture” is a much more flexible term than “ethnicity” and can be used in all kinds of contexts that aren’t related to family background at all.
ele4phant October 29, 2016, 6:48 pm
“And Christianity and Judaism aren’t perfectly analogous, because you can be ethnically Jewish. This leads to people who are atheists or who don’t fully subscribe to the religion still being able to be Jewish. Not so with Christianity. You have to actually live as a Christian to be Christian, which means following the rules for your sect.”
Um…what? There are plenty of people who do not attend church regularly, who do not follow many if not most of the moral mandates from their denominations like abstaining sex before marriage, who would still call themselves Christians. Most people who call themselves “Christian” probably fall into this classification. For instance, how many Catholics use birth control? Most. And how many people who consider themselves Christian only set foot in church once or twice a year (as in for Chrismtas and maayyybbbee Easter)? A lot of people do this. Most Christians do this.
And while they might not use it as a label, there are even more people that could be considered “culturally Christian”. If you celebrate Christmas and Easter but ignore the religious overtones, that’s being culturally Christian. No matter how commercialized they become, those are still holidays born out of the Christian tradition.
Northern Star October 28, 2016, 10:26 am
How do you know what his religion teaches? Maybe sex before marriage isn’t a problem for his denomination. And yes, she CERTAINLY knew he was hardcore into church when she moved in and found out immediately that he and his family all attended all the time. It’s not like he kept it a secret.
RedRoverRedRover October 28, 2016, 10:40 am
Remind me, which denominations are ok with sex before marriage, and also can be described as “very traditional”?
Dani October 28, 2016, 10:59 am
Things are definitely changing. Homosexualilty used to be considered an abomination and now they have christian churches where it is embraced and defined as a glitch in interpretation.
Bee October 28, 2016, 11:30 am
It depends on what the LW meant by “highly traditional”. All we really know from the letter is that her boyfriend was expected to 1. attend church faithfully and 2. date a girl that genuinely shared his beliefs to some degree. While almost no denominations encourage premarital sex, there are several that have relaxed their stance on the issue, particularly in practice, while still expecting a high degree of attendance to services and genuine faith. You can still believe attending church every weak is a core value, one you’re not willing to comprise on, and have sex without being hypocritical. Christianity is way too diverse a faith to view any variation in belief to instantly be hypocritical.
RedRoverRedRover October 28, 2016, 12:13 pm
To be clear, he’s not hypocritical for not following the religion perfectly. That doesn’t even fit the definition of hypocritical. He’s hypocritical because he gets to cherry-pick which rules he does and doesn’t follow, but she doesn’t.
Northern Star October 28, 2016, 12:37 pm
Except you don’t KNOW what the rules are, or what the deal is with his church and belief system. He could be a Unitarian or a Lutheran or a Jew or a Scientologist. Either way, this woman doesn’t share his beliefs and never will. It took the boyfriend a few months to figure that out, apparently—and the LW is so clueless she thinks “it’s his family’s fault,” instead of realizing her BF is a person with agency who can make his own decisions. She seems to think his religion is a habit like football on Sunday. From what I gather from this letter, she knew he and his family were very religious before she moved—I believe she dismissed its importance to him then (yeah, yeah, whatever, I’ll just show up once in awhile—it’s no big deal), just like she dismisses it now. Foolish and quasi insulting to her BF.
RedRoverRedRover October 28, 2016, 1:00 pm
Traditionally, all of those religions you mentioned don’t allow sex outside of marriage. Except for Scientology, which isn’t a traditional religion at all. So someone describing their religion as “very traditional” is highly unlikely to belong to a religion that has modernized that rule.
And spare me the “she’s not respecting him”. He’s not respecting her either. It doesn’t sound like she even knew about this before she moved, she tried to follow it, and when she wasn’t perfect he kicked her out of her home and dumped her. It doesn’t sound like she even knew it was a hard-and-fast rule she had to follow. She was at least trying, and he said “not good enough” and tossed her on her ass. He didn’t respect the fact that she was non-religious at all, he tried to force her to follow his religion. The only one who tried here was her. And yet you call HER insulting. Please.
Fyodor October 28, 2016, 9:34 am
LW, I know that it doesn’t seem like this now, but you’re lucky that this blew up now and not later when your were married, had kids, etc. You guys are fundamentally incompatible . Cut your losses and move on.
Kate B. October 28, 2016, 9:41 am
Consider yourself lucky that you found this out now rather than later. I also hope you learned that some things cannot be compromised on. For you two, it was religion. You ask if you should continue to pursue him. The answer is no. First, you can’t. He’s made it very clear that he does not want a relationship with you, regardless of what his reason is. If you respect him (or yourself) at all, you must respect this. Also, why would you want to? There are other men in the world, men to whom your lack of religion would not be an issue.
Janelle October 28, 2016, 10:22 am
If he SUDDENLY couldn’t be with you over church, which you hadn’t always attended anyway and he knew prior you did not attend then there are more reasons than this.
I dated a man who had a large family who he saw often, i am talking every day. I saw them with him often too. His mother decided she didn’t “Like” me because i took his time away from them. How much more time do you need than every day!!! Let the kid go on a date! Good grief. I was annoyed but truly I don’t want to be with someone who’s family behaves so rude (his mother constantly forgot my name….I have the same name as one of his sisters-ugh) and I don’t want to see anyone’s family, not even mine, EVERY SINGLE DAY!
Fyodor October 28, 2016, 10:40 am
I get the impression that he thought that she’d come around. Foolish and presumptuous but not an unusual scenario for either men or women.
kare October 28, 2016, 10:22 am
I find it odd someone that “religious” would be fine with living together before marriage. Something is way off. Bullet dodged.
Girl in the story October 28, 2016, 1:52 pm
He was fine with it, but his family was not. The house that we were living in was on his family farm. His grandma put in his lease that he could not have girls even stay the night because they are against sex before marriage and all of those things. She knew that I had been living there for 5+ months and apparently was okay with it until he mentioned to them (the day we broke up) that I was not a fan of church. When they found that out, she told him that I could not live there anymore. To me, it sounds like she was breaking “God’s rules” for me until she realized that I would not play along with their going to church for show expectations. I was trying to accept God into my life but after this, they have pushed me further away from Him. If it’s hypocritical people like them who are in Heaven, I would much rather burn in hell any day.
Ron October 28, 2016, 10:33 am
Yes, this was a bad match and you are better off that it ended now rather than later. I think you need to explore why you were so desperate to move in with this guy after just a month of long distance and why you ignored fundamental religious differences which he wasn’t willing to compromise. It sounds like you were as much running away from something back home as running to this guy. Best to spend some time figuring out what you were running away from and why you were so desperate/needy to prematurely move for this guy, who wasn’t even a good match.
artsygirl October 28, 2016, 10:45 am
LW – I am sorry that your relationship ended since you obviously invested so much into it but you have to accept it is over. It really doesn’t matter why it ended, you state that you have begged him to take you back and he has refused. You need to move on because no matter how much you pester him, it is apparent that he does not want to be with you anymore. Blaming his family or trying to amend your beliefs does not change the outcome.
_s_ October 28, 2016, 10:55 am
There’s so much WTF here. You were only ‘together’ 6 months. You moved in after ONE month. You upended your entire life and moved to ANOTHER STATE/moved in after ONE MONTH. (Had you even MET this guy in person??) You to are FUNDAMENTALLY incompatible in your beliefs. He broke up with you and has made it VERY clear he is not interested in reconciling. WHY on earth would you possibly want to pursue him? You are lucky you dodged a bullet and got booted out of this shit show before you did something stupid like get married or knocked up. MOA and make better choices in the future.
Addie Pray October 28, 2016, 11:39 am
One big problem here is LW is trying to justify her actions and cast her boyfriend as unreasonable – “I was going. I was compromising. I was trying.” / “had to help a friend” – but the problem is, he’s allowed to want a girlfriend who shares his same beliefs. You can’t change him on those points. The other problem here is LW is not accepting the fact that her boyfriend made the decision. Maybe he has been influenced by his family – who hasn’t! – but he is the one who broke up with you. … And really, feel better knowing it was a bullet dodged because it doesn’t sound like you were really on the same page with him on that point.
Findingtheearth October 28, 2016, 11:50 am
I don’t think it’s fair to blame his family. It sounds like he tried to compromise too, but decided it didn’t work for him either.
Cut your losses and discuss expectations earlier on in future relationships.
GertiethDino October 28, 2016, 12:16 pm
No, baby, he dumped you because he realized you both moved too fast and he needed an out. Church was the excuse. Move on, be happy, drink wine.
Girl in the story October 28, 2016, 1:34 pm
Thank you guys sooo much for all of the comments. Even the ones that are pretty much calling me stupid. I don’t mind criticism at all because it’s only going to help me in the future. Yes, I’m aware that I moved in with him too early. But the drive back and forth to see him was killing me because not only was I doing that, I was working a full time job (which btw, I quit to be with him) as well. I decided to just start staying up there with him and drive 2 hours to work everyday then 2 hours back so that we could actually see each other even if it was only when we laid down to sleep. And then one day he was just like “You should just move in with me and find a job up here!” So I done just that. There is so much more to the story that if would’ve included it, nobody would have read it because the email would have been a novel. I tried to give basic details. I pretty much knew when I sent it to Wendy what the response what going to be, but I guess I just needed an outside opinion to verify mine. If I put even just half of the effort into moving on as I did in trying to hold on to something that isn’t there anymore, I should be okay. Hopefully.
Bondgirl October 28, 2016, 1:40 pm
Religion is one of those topics that can heavily influence relationship compatibility, depending on the situation. Some people wish to practice the same denomination as their partner, and for other couples, each is free to practice as much or as little as they want. Some couples may be completely against religion altogether. The key idea amongst these situations though is agreement. If one partner fully expects the other to attend church every week, and the other wishes not to, then thats going to be a deal breaker. Sounds like this was the situation LW was dealing with. Take this as a learning lesson for future dating endeavors; The inability to agree on a very fundamental value such as religious preference does not bode well for long term compatibility. This is why it’s so important to know what your personal dealbreakers are.
wobster109 October 28, 2016, 4:59 pm
Hey LW, I understand that you like him very much, and I know you think highly of him, but you need to stop thinking that he’s some innocent victim. In your letter you are only mad at his family. You blame them 100%. The fact is he’s the one who broke up with you. He’s not a little child. He chose to end things.
So without the rose-colored glasses, I don’t think he’s such a good guy. A good guy doesn’t make you pack up and throw you out on short notice. A good guy doesn’t lie and say something is fine and then change his mind over text.
Skyblossom October 28, 2016, 9:24 pm
You’ve learned that you need to be yourself and see if the two of you match. You tried to change to be the person he wanted you to be and you couldn’t do that. You aren’t a religious person and attending church with him wasn’t going to turn you into a religious person. He wanted you to change to be the woman that would be acceptable to him and to his family. If you need to change to be acceptable you know the relationship will never work. If you need them to change to be acceptable you know the relationship will never work. Some day you’ll look back on this and be glad it only lasted six months. Imagine trying to be a fake religious person for years. Imagine trying to pretend you are religious to your own children.
Besides learning that you need to be yourself and see if the two of you are a good fit I hope you’ve learned that it takes time to see if you are a good match. In the future give yourself lots of time before moving in together. Give yourself at least a year and even better several years.
The other thing I note in one of your follow up notes is that you were driving to see him all the time. In a good relationship he should have been putting in about as much effort to see you as you were to see him. You were driving four hours a day to see him. What was he doing to see you? Remember the road goes both directions and is the same distance whether you go to him or he goes to you. Even farmers who take care of livestock manage to drive to date women that they want to see. They may have to time their date around their chores but they manage to see women if they want to see women. It is a red flag when you are making most of the effort. He asked you to move for him. He asked you to change jobs for him and he asked you to attend church for him. What did he do for you? Be very wary of arranging your entire life around someone.
Morecoffeeplease October 29, 2016, 8:50 am
You are simply not compatible. He wants someone who is very religious, who makes church a priority, and who truly wants to go every week over anything else. You are not this person. Don’t take it personally….he is not the right guy for you. And you are not the right woman for him. Move on. Find someone you are compatible with. Next time move slower….don’t move in together until you know each other a lot better.
bittergaymark October 29, 2016, 7:30 pm
Run, LW. Run.
Don’t Look Back.
Sue Jones October 31, 2016, 12:24 pm
LW, you dodged a bullet with this guy and his family. Just look at this sad situation. https://sampateam.wordpress.com/ Sound familiar?