Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

“Should I Stay Away from Christian Men?”

I’m a non-Christian and I broke up with my Christian boyfriend a few months ago. We dated for about six months. When we started out, all signs pointed to his being the kind of Christian who believes in God and Jesus but isn’t super devout in daily life. I’ve never seen him say grace before a meal, he wasn’t going to church regularly when we began dating, and he didn’t show any qualms about having premarital sex. That said, his dad was a pastor for a few years after retirement (he’s not a pastor anymore), and my ex started going to a church regularly a few months after we started dating.

Over the months, we had multiple conversations regarding whether my not being a Christian would be an issue for him or his parents. His response was at first non-committal, saying that his parents never imposed their beliefs on him but he was thinking about this himself. At one point, it became clear to me that he held on to the hope that I would eventually convert and I had to make it clear that I had no plans to do so. He said he was struggling with the fact that he always imagined raising his kids in a Christian household and that his wife would read the Bible to his kids and pray with the kids. (To be clear, we hadn’t discussed actually getting married, it was mainly philosophical.) When I confronted him about comparing me to an ideal situation in his mind, he said it really just comes down to the fact that he’s always believed he can’t marry a non-Christian. He said he’s still thinking it through and trying to decide if he truly still believes that or if it’s just because it’s what he’s used to. We broke it off after that since I didn’t see any point in my waiting for him to think it through when he’s had months to think since he found out I’m not a Christian.

My question is, now that I’m ready to move on, should I be cautious of dating Christians when I’m a non-Christian? I don’t want to discount all Christians because of this one experience, but it was very painful for me when we broke up and I’d rather not repeat that experience again due to the same reason of religious differences. Other than our disagreement on religious beliefs, we had fun together, took care of each other, and were very much in love. Was there a sign that I should’ve picked up on that I missed? — Non-Christian

Yeah, the sign was your boyfriend being noncommittal in his answer the very first time you asked him if your not being Christian would be an issue for him and his parents. His non-answer was all the answer you needed. If you want to avoid the pain you went through with this relationship, you don’t have to avoid dating someone of a different religion, but you DO have to avoid dating someone who can’t confidently and convincingly tell you from on the offset that your being a different religion (or no religion) is not an issue. If there’s any wavering, move on.

With your ex, not only was there wavering, he flat out told you multiple times that he hoped you would convert, that he always imagined he’d raise his kids in a Christian household with a wife who would read the Bible and pray with the kids, and that he was struggling with the idea that you would not be that ideal. At no point ever did he confirm that your difference in religions would not be a problem, and THAT was the problem here. THAT was the sign you should have picked up on. I’m sorry the breakup was painful for you, but you could have avoided it if you had only listened when he told you you weren’t the woman he was looking for.

Related: “I’m Jewish, He’s Catholic. Can We Make It Work?” and “It’s Been Three Years and My Boyfriend Hasn’t Told His Muslim Family About Me Yet” and “He Wants to Save Out Next Kiss For When We Get Engaged”

I’m in a fairly new relationship. I met him last year in April, we dated for two months, I was falling for him, and he said the same. Come the end of June, he “ghosted” me for ten months. In January of this year, I reached out to him one last time hoping I would get a response for why he left; he contacted me in April, giving me a huge apology text and asking for a second chance. The excuse was that he had an ex he had had to live with for financial reasons and couldn’t move out yet but that he was going to soon. I forgave him, kind of, but I have hang-ups about his ghosting me.

He moved out of the place they shared because they broke up a while ago, he moved in with his mom, and he has a kid whom he has full custody of who also lives with him. He always breaks dates, and he doesn’t communicate enough in our relationship the way normal couples would, but he won’t let me break up with him, always begging me to stay. I feel trapped in this one-sided relationship.

Last night he dropped another bombshell on me: He has not been communicating with me and has been breaking dates because he’s been seeing his secret baby with this ex whom he just moved away from. He didnt tell me he had a fourth kid with this woman (he only told me about the three kids with his ex-wife). What should I do? Should I forgive his lack of honesty about said ex-gf and secret baby, or should I leave him? He said this is all the secrets. He agreed to go to counseling for all my hang-ups and his. — Hung Up

 
I think maybe you don’t understand what a “hang-up” is. A hang-up is a phobia, a neurosis, an unhealthy obsession, or an emotional inhibition. A good example: “I have a hang-up about getting undressed in the locker room of the gym.” Not a good example: “I have an hang-up about being ghosted for ten months, cheated on, lied to, and finding out there’s not just an ex-girlfriend (plus an ex-wife and three children) still in the picture but a SECRET BABY, too.” Do you see the difference? If you can imagine a close friend who cares about your well-being saying, “Yeah, I get it, but once you do it a few times, you sort of forget you’re even naked in front of strangers,” then it’s probably a hang-up. But, on the other hand, if you can imagine someone who cares about your well-being saying, “Holy shit, what are you doing?! You need to get the fuck out of this messed up relationship with this lying, cheating dirtbag,” then it’s not a hang-up.

In the future, if someone ghosts you, don’t go chasing him. Also, you don’t need someone’s permission to break up with him. Just MOA. Take a page from his book and ghost him, lose his number, forget his name, and move on already!

Related: The Reason Some People Are More Likely To “Ghost” in Relationships

***************

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If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at wendy​(AT)​dearwendy.com.

46 comments… add one
  • avatar

    Moe June 7, 2018, 8:29 am

    My thought on the first letter is that the boyfriend did nothing wrong, nothing to be “confronted” over. Maybe when the relationship started, he was a bit unsure. maybe he had never thought about it before. I know as a Jewish person, most folks grow up passively assuming that whoever they run across would be Christian, and are pretty confused and weirded out when someone is not. Not that they hadn’t heard of other religions of course, but they all remain pretty much theoretical. He seems to have given it some thought, perhaps r the first time, and realized it was important. Another thing that bothered me is another assumption he apparently has made perhaps his whole life, and that is that his wife would be responsible for teaching their kids about religion. Why can’t HE pray with them? I feel the guy might be entitled, but has not been dishonest or manipulative, necessarily. Religion is a topic that is discussed in many relationships and there is no right or wrong way to navigate it (unless their religious beliefs harms another) so there is no need to be confrontational. This is not to say that differing ideas won’t lead to a separation, but it is not an issue of right or wrong, simply irreconcilable differences. I agree with Wendy that there is no reason NOT to date a Christian, but to keep lines of communications open and, as difficult as it is, remember that sometimes two great and wonderful people just aren’t m to be together.

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      SpaceySteph June 7, 2018, 8:38 am

      I thought the same thing about how he imagined his wife reading the bible to his kids. Maybe he had a lot of underlying assumptions of a certain Christian bent, like male headship and women staying home with babies, etc.
      I read something once about how most interfaith couples end up raising the kids in the mom’s religion, probably because of this assumption that the mom is responsible for the kids religious education. A man who wants to raise the kids in his religion that’s different from the mom’s is gonna have to step up and do most of the religious education himself.

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        Fyodor June 7, 2018, 12:46 pm

        Generally women raised in a particular religion are more likely to stick to it. * So, you may end up with a situation where the guy does’t feel as strongly about it as his wife.

        *This is also the root of a lot the phenomena you hear about of religious women (LDS, orthodox Jews, etc) having trouble finding religious husbands.

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      • avatar

        dinoceros June 8, 2018, 10:31 am

        In my church growing up, there were several families where the mother and children would frequently attend church and the father would not. He’d either not be a member at all (like my dad) or he’d just pop up at like Easter and stuff. There were tons of women attending Bible studies, helping at VBS, participating in roles like baking communion bread, reading the Bible to the church, etc., and few men doing those things. Even just simple stuff, like lots of guys not singing hymns and just standing there awkwardly. I don’t know how common that is, but that could be a factor too.

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    • avatar

      JD June 7, 2018, 8:40 am

      Agree. I don’t think he acted in any way maliciously. I think he was not really practicing and started to really contemplate it when she brought it up and he started to picture the life he wants in a marriage. Sounds like he didn’t answer the first time because he wasn’t sure as he hadn’t thought it through. After thinking some he gave a clear honest answer. You cannot be mad at someone for being honest with you even if you don’t like the answer.

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      • avatar

        Fyodor June 7, 2018, 8:44 am

        I don’t think that it’s necessarily even specific to religion. It’s not unusual to start dating someone because you like them and get along and as the relationship develops you realize that they’re not a good fit for you as a long term partner. I mean, in an ideal world he’d have thought this through before they started dating but often these things don’t crystallize until you’re into the relationship.

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        SpaceySteph June 7, 2018, 9:13 am

        I mostly agree, in that I think 6 months is a reasonable amount of time to date, start contemplating the future, and realize that your two ideals don’t mesh. Overall, there’s not really any way to avoid this. If its not Christianity, maybe its whether to have kids or where to live or that’s hes got a crazy overbearing mother or the thousands of other potential dealbreakers.

        But I think where he went wrong is that he was holding out hope she’d convert and pretty sure he couldn’t marry someone who didn’t share his religion, but didn’t come clean about that right away without her prompting.

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      • avatar

        csp June 7, 2018, 10:01 am

        @fyodor – I totally agree about not just religion. This is about anything about the life you want to build. Do you want kids? live in the burbs or city? how active are you? travel? How do you handle money and responsibilities? There are a lot of things that need to line up about that life you are building.

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      • Skyblossom

        Skyblossom June 7, 2018, 10:16 am

        @Fyodor I agree. I think you often don’t know what your dealbreakers are until you run into them. Then in the future you watch for them and avoid them so you aren’t as apt to end up in a relationship with a dealbreaker.

        Now the LW wants to know if Christianity is a dealbreaker for herself. Ultimately I don’t think it needs to be as long as the guy you are dating is comfortable with how you are different and doesn’t see any need to change you and you can comfortably live between or with two worlds.

        I went to grad school with a guy who was Jewish whose wife was Catholic. He always bought her a Christmas present because she celebrated Christmas and they had a Christmas tree. One of the two years that I was in school with him they hosted her family for Christmas. I had another friend who was Jewish and dating a Catholic and he decided that he would never go to Easter dinner at her parent’s house. They broke up. You have to each be comfortable and accepting of the world the other lives in. If that world contains too much Christianity for your comfort it won’t work. If your world doesn’t allow enough Christianity it won’t work. You have to find a person where the two of you are in harmony with how you live and express your beliefs. You each need to accept who the other is and allow that other into your life. If he needed you to convert to Christianity it would never work for you. If you need him to leave Christianity it would never work for him. The most difficult part is that many people leave their religion behind when they are young but go back to it when they have children. The trickiest part for you will be in knowing whether and how much they will want to include it in their life if and when they have children. Luckily, the guy you dated realized he wanted it in the life of his children and so you didn’t end up spending years together only to realize you couldn’t agree on how to raise children. You asked the right questions and got the answers you needed. It hurts but it doesn’t mean that there isn’t a man of Christian heritage who would be happy to spend his life with you. I know quite a number of men who were raised in Christian families who are atheists.

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    • avatar

      dinoceros June 7, 2018, 11:26 am

      I don’t think he was malicious, and I think people have the right to change their minds or realize things later. But I also think there are people who say they are changing their mind who actually never thought very deeply about it to begin with. I think it can be a form of selfishness to not think much about what you are looking for when it doesn’t seem important, and then to only start to think about it when YOU want to.

      I don’t know this guy, so I don’t know what was going on in his head. But some people in his shoes could have potentially figured it out sooner if they had decided to. It’s sort of like people who “realize” they don’t want a relationship. Maybe they couldn’t have known beforehand, but also maybe they never actually sat down and said, “I should figure out what I want.” It’s really hard to tell.

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  • avatar

    Essie June 7, 2018, 8:44 am

    LW1, Christianity isn’t just one religion, with one set of beliefs. It’s an umbrella term for a lot of subgroups (Lutheran, Catholic, Christian Scientists, etc), who share the belief that Jesus was the son of God, but otherwise have wildly varying beliefs on how one should live one’s life. And even with those subgroups, there are variations and smaller sects. There’s no blanket rule that says “you may not marry outside your faith if you call yourself Christian.”

    It’s not Christianity itself that’s the issue, or even which specific faith this guy practices. Your problem was him, personally, not wanting to marry outside of his faith. And as Wendy said, your unwillingness to hear what he was telling you.

    LW2: What you do depends on what kind of boyfriend you want. If you’re looking for a guy who lies, cheats, disappears for most of a year, breaks dates and doesn’t communicate, this one ticks all the boxes.

    You do know that other men live on planet Earth, right? Your choice isn’t “break up with this guy or die alone.” You don’t have to keep going back to the same guy.

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    • avatar

      Autumnrose June 7, 2018, 9:06 am

      Exactly, and there is also different religions such as Islam, Buddisam, Hinduism, and so. The three major religions are Christianity, Islam, and Buddisam.

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    • avatar

      Anon from LA June 7, 2018, 1:02 pm

      “There’s no blanket rule that says ‘you may not marry outside your faith if you call yourself Christian.'”

      Some churches and subgroups of Christianity do have actually this rule (though often it’s more of an unspoken expectation). I grew up in churches in like that, and when I married an Atheist, all my Christian friends disappeared. Guess they didn’t want anything to do with me after that. *shrugs*

      But I agree with your premise: there’s a lot of diversity of thought and belief in Christianity. Some Christians are fine with marrying out of their religion. Some are more extreme than others, both in their beliefs and in their level of fanaticism.

      That being said, if you are not religious or are an atheist, it’s also fine to decide that religion is a dealbreaker for you. I know several atheists who have told me they would not seriously date or marry a religious person, and that’s valid and smart choice if there’s no room for religion in your life.

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  • avatar

    Autumnrose June 7, 2018, 8:59 am

    LW, why do you say you are a non- Christian? Do you have another type of religion or belief. I have this impression that you might be an atheist. I get that since you dated a Christian, your question leans towards one but there are several different religions and beliefs out that that could conflict with what you believe. I think you need to figure out what you believe in and should desire in a significant other.

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    • avatar

      Christine June 7, 2018, 10:19 am

      That doesn’t pertain to her question. “Non-Christian” is a useful descriptor here, as it wouldn’t matter what faith she follows, or whether she follows any faith. If it isn’t some form of Christianity, the boyfriend wasn’t interested in a long-term relationship.

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      • avatar

        Autumnrose June 7, 2018, 11:14 am

        I respectfully disagree. If she is an athiest she is going to run into this problem with other forms of religions, not just Christianity. This doesnt just apply to Christianity. Her questions applies to her overall beliefs, not speciallicaly christian boys.

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      • avatar

        Autumnrose June 7, 2018, 11:15 am

        * specifically

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      • avatar

        dinoceros June 7, 2018, 11:39 am

        The issue was him not wanting to date her, not her not wanting to date him. It’s going to depend on the individual she’s with.

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    • avatar

      dinoceros June 7, 2018, 11:38 am

      I don’t think there’s any indication that she doesn’t know what she believes in. It’s also not the belief system. It’s him wanting a Christian wife, and she isn’t one. He never indicated that it mattered to him whether she is atheist or another religion, so that’s not going to change anything here.

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  • avatar

    SpaceySteph June 7, 2018, 9:03 am

    For LW1, I don’t think its reasonable to swear off all christian men. Especially if she’s in the US, the majority of this country is Christian to some degree so she’d probably be eliminating the majority of the dating pool. Especially if she’s including people like her ex who aren’t really practicing but were raised in the religion. That’s basically everyone.
    I think the LW asked the right questions early on, but she didn’t listen critically to the answers.

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  • avatar

    anonymousse June 7, 2018, 9:30 am

    I don’t know, I’m leaning towards Thou shall not date anyone religious if you don’t want to raise a family in church/with all the various beliefs.

    It’s not hard to find men who don’t believe or practice. There are a lot out there, unless you live in the Bible Belt or otherwise highly concentrated areas. The coasts are easy picking to find nonbelievers.

    And he seemed non practicing, but obviously said otherwise many times. He wanted a pious wife. Hat was clear.
    I’m also not saying conflicting beliefs can’t be worked through, but I think most of the times going in with a giant conflict is just going to lead to heartbreak. It’s different if someone turns back towards faith, etc than going in knowing you have such disparate beliefs.

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    • avatar

      anonymousse June 7, 2018, 9:31 am

      ^That.

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      • avatar

        Christine June 7, 2018, 10:24 am

        The man who mistook his wife for a hat?

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  • avatar

    brise June 7, 2018, 9:37 am

    LW1: Don’t overreact to this break-up. It is an overreaction to want to punish all Christian men because one rejected you as a potential wife or expected a complete change in your beliefs. I would rather avoid bigoted people, or patriarcal conservative men who expect their wife to change wholly and carry on all the family responsibilities. I think you dodged a bullet here: the problem is more his conservatism than his religion.
    At the end of the day: there is no insurance against break-up. But Wendy is right: there are signs.
    LW2: he doesn’t let you go, but you can go. Don’t wait for him to accept the split: he won’t. It is too easy for him to have a convenient girlfriend who accepts everything and is a perfect doormat. Why would he renounce it, when he has so much baggage? Just run away and put an end to this crazy relationship. You deserve better, any woman deserves better: difficult to imagine a worse partner, really.

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    • avatar

      Northern Star June 7, 2018, 9:48 am

      What a wild overreaction to paint this guy as bigoted, or patriarcal conservative men who expect their wife to change wholly and carry on all the family responsibilities.

      Give me a break. He thought about his life and realized he wants his children raised in his religion. OMG, the MONSTER!

      And assuming he wants ONLY his wife to read them the Bible or pray with them is stupid, too. He could easily mean that he doesn’t want a wife who undermines his religious stance with the kids by ignoring the Bible or refusing to participate in prayer.

      I mean, really.

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      • avatar

        SpaceySteph June 7, 2018, 1:03 pm

        But that’s not what he said. He didn’t just say he didn’t want his wife to undermine his teachings, he said he wanted his wife to convert and then do the teaching (at least some of it) . If he had said “I want to raise the kids Christian and for you to support me in that by participating in prayer and not undermining the teachings” maybe the LW could have agreed.

        That’s said, I don’t think its bigoted to want to marry someone with similar religious views.

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      • avatar

        Ron June 7, 2018, 1:51 pm

        Yes, he doesn’t seem that innocent; he actually seems like he was stringing her along pretending her lack of desire to become a Christian wasn’t an issue, when it was. Then further down the road he finally says he has believed all his life that he couldn’t marry a woman who wasn’t a Christian. But even then, he throws out the hope that he might change his mind on that to keep her clinging to the hope that it won’t be a problem. That is dishonest. She was wise to leave him at that point. He clearly was playing her, trying to get her so hooked that she would decide she had no choice but to convert to his religion.

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      • avatar

        JD June 7, 2018, 4:04 pm

        Or he was telling her he wasn’t interested by making up somewhat logical reasons why and she never took the hint. Which is wrong on his part but perhaps he just wanted it to be a good reason not to be serious. A guy did this to my aunt, although she went full stalker. He said he couldn’t ever be serious/marry her as she wasn’t Catholic. She then after not even seeing him for months comes knocking on his door, now Catholic and converted. He obviously didn’t want her back. Now she is with my uncle who is also Catholic with two unbaptized children since it clearly was of no importance to her minus this guy.

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    • avatar

      dinoceros June 7, 2018, 11:41 am

      “It is an overreaction to want to punish all Christian men because one rejected you as a potential wife or expected a complete change in your beliefs.”

      I don’t think that choosing not to date someone is punishing them. That’s implying that she owes Christian men a chance to date her or something. I’m not commenting on whether she should date them or not, but determining someone is not compatible with you is not a punishment toward them.

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  • avatar

    Leon June 7, 2018, 11:19 am

    LW2: I once dated a guy who was christian. I am not really a religious person. We broke up, and one of the reasons was our beliefs not matching on that.
    The positive thing is that I learned what I was expecting from a relationship and about that. Now I know that I’m unable to share my life with someone religious, so now I dont waste my time dating people inside that range. Those kind of signs should be identified with a cold mind at the beginning.

    LW2: the red flags here are so freaking red that they started to burn by itselves. Come on, are you really asking this? Love yourself a little bit more.

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    • Skyblossom

      Skyblossom June 7, 2018, 11:31 am

      You’re right. These aren’t just red flags they are flaming red flags.

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    dinoceros June 7, 2018, 11:36 am

    LW1: I think it can be hard to determine if someone is being honest (with themselves and with you) about what they are looking for in regard to relationships and religion. It’s probably a good thing to talk about before there is any sort of attachment because I think with something as abstract (in a sense), as religion, it’s easy to push it off because you’re into someone until practical considerations come up.

    My friend was non-practicing Jewish and she started dating a Catholic guy. He was very reassuring that she didn’t need to be Christian if they got serious. They’ve been together for a few years, and she ultimately chose to convert. While she was still deciding, she learned more about the church and started asking him questions in the event that she chose not to convert. Things like, are you OK with not being allowed to have a Catholic ceremony if we got married? Are you OK with your future wife not participating in various church things? (And more questions that I don’t understand.) At that point, she realized that he had never thought about these things, despite them having conversations about religion and their relationship several times. He always thought of it in a really abstract way, like “How do you feel about dating a non-Catholic?” and in his mind, though, “Well, she’s great, I love her!” But he never looked into all the practical consequences because it hadn’t come up yet and because he had grown up in the church, so there was less of a formal learning process about all the rules.

    It all worked out for them, but if she hadn’t converted and he had been the kind of person who did not want to miss a Catholic ceremony or whatever else, then they’d have been two people living together and planning to get married one day who were not compatible at all.

    So, I agree with Wendy. But I think religion is tough because so many people do not truly understand the impact it has on their lives until they actually start to get married and/or have kids.

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    • avatar

      dinoceros June 7, 2018, 11:43 am

      LW 2: You two had only been dating for 2-3 months when he ghosted you. The issue is that you became too invested in this “relationship” too quickly. Plenty of people ghost or decide not to date someone after 3 months. Normally, people just say, “Oh, we weren’t a good fit. I’ll look for someone else.”

      You barely know this guy and now you find out he’s super shady and dishonest. Move on.

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  • avatar

    csp June 7, 2018, 12:37 pm

    LW2 – Aim Higher!!!!

    I am not saying that anyone is perfect but this man deceived you about his baby! For months! If he told you, ” I am sorry I didn’t call. I had a crazy situation where my ex found herself pregnant and I had to deal with that. I am now the father of four children. That relationship was never going to work and we have broken up. I would like to see you again.” Then you could have dated. He didn’t he was shady and dishonest and you need to run away.

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  • avatar

    Fyodor June 7, 2018, 12:41 pm

    I’ve kind of gone back and forth on this. I wouldn’t say “don’t date” but if someone has some sort of strongly held religious belief that you don’t share I think that you should be particularly wary about whether there will be problems down the line. You should engage them early about it and be aware that this is often something that people take some time to figure out. If you decided to steer clear of religious people for this reason, I wouldn’t fault you.

    I know that people make these things work, but I’ve also seen the fact pattern she describes where it doesn’t seem to be a big deal early on and it solidifies as a problem down the line.

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      Fyodor June 7, 2018, 12:43 pm

      For the same reason I don’t think that he didn’t act badly, I don’t think that you can really assess until you’re invested whether any future religious guys she dates are going to have problems with her non-christianness.

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  • avatar

    LW1 June 7, 2018, 5:04 pm

    Hi, LW1 here. Thanks to Wendy and everyone’s input here on my situation. It helped put some things in perspective for me.

    I do want to clarify that my ex didn’t mention wishing kids to be raised in a Christian household until right before we broke up (and that was one of the catalysts). He also never flat out asked me to convert. That became clear to me after he asked me to go to church and read the Bible with him a few times. I’ve always said to him that I don’t mind doing those things with him occasionally to learn more about his background but that it’s unlikely for me to convert. However, I think just agreeing to do those things with him gave him hope that I would be moved to convert. All of that said, there were indications that I chose to ignore (like his being non committal about whether my religious belief will be a problem…I’m a Buddhist). That’s certainly something I can work on being more cognizant of going forward.

    Also, just want to say that I don’t think my ex had malicious intent either. It did seem like he knew from the start he doesn’t believe in marrying a non Christian, though. He didn’t share that with me at first because he wished it would work out between the two of us whatever that might specifically entail.

    I do have a follow up question…from everyone’s experience, is it more common for people in the Christian community to believe in marrying another Christian than not? I know commentators have mentioned that there are many sects and that beliefs vary, but I just want to get a general sense. Thank you to everyone for your input!

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    • Lucidity

      Lucidity June 7, 2018, 7:48 pm

      I was raised Christian Reformed. In my experience, many people in that faith strongly believe in marrying someone with the same faith – or at least some kind of Christian. God/Jesus/religion is everything to them, affecting every aspect of their existence, so they couldn’t fathom sharing their lives with someone who doesn’t share their beliefs. It’s a more evangelical form of Christianity, so they believe part of their purpose is to bring non-believers to Jesus. They’d be unable to accept that a non-Christian faith, agnostic or atheist beliefs could also be valid or satisfying for you – they’d have to try and convert you. Who wants to date and marry someone if you believe that person isn’t going to get into heaven? They want to share the afterlife with their spouses.

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    • avatar

      dinoceros June 7, 2018, 8:05 pm

      I grew up Christian and am no longer, and have quite a few friends who are at least a little Christian.

      At least in our denominations, there was no rule that you had to date/marry a Christian. My friends want to be with someone Christian because they feel that the person will share their values and because most of them want to raise their kids Christian and go to church as a family. I think they are sort of open to someone who isn’t, but in the end, for the things they want, it would make the most sense for them to go for someone else who is Christian. Otherwise, they’d have to sort of commit to going to church alone, having to explain to their kids why the other parent isn’t Christian, potentially compromise on what beliefs to instill in their children.

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    • Kate B.

      Kate B. June 7, 2018, 8:49 pm

      I was raised Catholic but am no longer. My parents still are. My mother converted to marry my father, since in his particular brand of Catholicism, both spouses need to be Catholic. They coudn’t have had gotten married if she hadn’t converted, at least not in the church, and a civil marriage wouldn’t have “counted”.

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        SpaceySteph June 8, 2018, 10:08 am

        I think its less about a brand (the point of Catholicism is supposed to be uniformity) and more that Catholicism has loosened up on this a lot recently.
        They went from only in dire circumstances (which probably means “you already got her pregnant and intermarriage is preferable to having babies out of wedlock”), to granting permission to marry, but only if both spouses promise to raise the children Catholic, to now they don’t make the non-Catholic spouse promise anything and the Catholic spouse only has to promise to “do everything in their power” to teach the kids about Jesus.

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      SpaceySteph June 8, 2018, 10:04 am

      I think its impossible to lump all Christians (or really all of anything) into a uniform chunk like that. It comes down to the individual and what they particularly want for their future.
      I married a semi-practicing Catholic (a type of Christian) that didn’t feel the need to have his wife be the same religion or raise his kids the same religion (I’m Jewish, and we’re raising our daughter that way too). But his siblings, who were raised in the same religion in the same household, are much more serious about Catholicism, marry Catholics and raising their kids Catholic.

      However, I’m wondering if you live somewhere where Christians are the minority and there are a lot of Buddhists? If that’s the case, then I think it changes a little. Being a minority religion (I speak from experience) I think forces you to be more connected and purposeful about your religion. So if that’s the case, then it changes the equation because (1) you don’t severely limit your dating pool by swearing off christians and (2) the christians you meet will probably be more devoted than the average American Christian which is the context most of us are answering from.

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    ktfran June 7, 2018, 9:25 pm

    We were raised Catholic. My sister married a Jewish man. They’re raising their son and any future children Jewish. They discussed this in length before marriage and figured out what worked for them.

    I happened to marry another Catholic, but it just happened to work out that way. Neither one of us are practicing Catholics and would have been fine marrying someone of a different faith, or no faith.

    When asking if you should consider dating a Christian, I think it’s important to make a distinction of the faith itself vs. how religious that person is. Not all Christians continue to practice their faith and could care less. There are others who do practice and prefer someone who is either exact same religion or at least faith. It’s really not a one size fits all.

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    Nicole June 7, 2018, 9:57 pm

    I am also an atheist. And have had major relationships with men that were religious and it always rubbed me the wrong way. So I actively seek someone with the same science loving and critical thinking as I have. Saying it nicely. It’s important to be with somebody on your own intellectual wave. I joined my local atheist group and met a few people that way. I also put on my Tinder that I’m non-religious and usually don’t go for somebody that is into that kind of stuff. Stay true to yourself. It definitely works better.

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    ron June 8, 2018, 7:49 am

    I think the bf was part of a very conservative evangelical protestant congregation. The give away is that his father became a preacher for several years after retirement. So, obviously not Catholic, but also not something which happens in mainline Protestant churches. Most of the more standard evangelical Protestant churches also require a degree from an approved seminary to teach. Letter suggests that bf’s father did not have this. Likely bf’s religious background is largely his father’s idiosyncratic views.

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  • Pheebers

    Phoebe June 8, 2018, 8:57 am

    If you aren’t religious, marrying someone who is can be fraught with peril. Be very, very sure you’re okay with how the kids will be raised, how much of your joint funds will be given to the church, etc, etc. I’m not saying it can’t be done. But it can be a real source of misery.

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