Tainted love

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Tainted love

Most of us can cite examples of couples we know wherein the two have differing beliefs on religion. It seems that those of different religions, and even theists and non-believers can form lasting bonds. But is there a better way? For those of us who are atheists, are we better off pursuing relationships only with others of like mind?

I have no problem forming lasting friendships with theists, even those afflicted with a rather rabid strain of the faith virus. My friendship with such people is formed strictly around the areas that we do share in common, and I very rarely discuss religion with them. There’s really no point in trying to debate something that is so deeply entrenched in their mind. I don’t hide my disbelief, but am not willing to lose a good friend by attempting to rid them of a nearly incurable affliction.

Love and romance are another matter. In my limited experience, I seem to have a need for my romantic partner to share ideas on this subject with me. The mental connection in romantic relationships is so much deeper and broader than in friendship. I believe thoughts on religion reveal the core nature of a person. If a woman shares my revulsion for religion, I like to think she is likely to be compatible with at least some of my other anti-social inclinations.

The problem lies in that there are SO few atheists in the US, and many hide their true thoughts. For example, I am a match.com member. If I narrow my parameters when searching to find only atheists, there are VERY few “hits” out of the millions of members on that site. Widening the search to also include those who categorize themselves as agnostic does add a few more hits. Another faith self-description category that match offers is “spiritual but not religious”. This is about as vague as can be. In this category, you’ll find shy atheists, agnostics, wiccans, crystal-wearing hippies, confirmed Catholics that don’t go to mass every Sunday, and people just not particularly interested in religion. At least online dating sites can give you some inkling of where a person’s religious beliefs lie, right up front. Encountering someone who you find attractive and interesting “in real life”, then only later learning that they speak in tongues while handling snakes has got to be a very disheartening experience.

So I guess what I’m asking is am I limiting myself too much by focusing only on atheistic potential partners? I’d love to hear some accounts from atheists who are madly in love with their dyed-in-the-wool religious nutjob partner.

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I've been happily married

I've been happily married to a theist for over seven years. She's not a dyed-in-the-wool nutjob. We just made each other aware of our beliefs early on, and fortunately had enough other things in common to make it work. We have two kids, ages 3 and 1, and she's going to do everything she can to indoctrinate them into Christianity. I, on the other hand, will do everything I can to extoll the virtues of atheism. My wife and I understand that this is how it will be until our kids make up their minds about what they believe.

Religion is more of a tradition in her family than it is an ingrained belief system. It's like this for a lot of people I've talked to. On a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being essentially Unitarian-Universalist and 10 being extremist fundy wackjob, I'd say my wife is somewhere around a 2.5 in terms of the strength of her religious beliefs. Her mother's parents are Presbyterian ministers (now retired). And the Presbyterians are one of the mellower branches of Christianity.

So, to answer your question, yes - you are limiting yourself if you stick to trying to find an atheist partner. The important question is not what you or the other person believe. It's whether or not the beliefs in question mean that much.

Nobody I know was brainwashed into being an atheist.

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It all depends on the

It all depends on the commitment. I would never have a child, on purpose, with a theist simply because I would probably slay the mother of my child if religion was pressed on him.

I find it incredibly hard to have theist friends, although I do have a few. We simply do not talk about religion. Ever. In fact, one of my best friends (also family) is a theist, although he doesn't give a shit about any of it. It's not something he cares about and we don't discuss it since it's not anything worth discussing. 

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Quote: So I guess what

So I guess what I’m asking is am I limiting myself too much by focusing only on atheistic potential partners? I’d love to hear some accounts from atheists who are madly in love with their dyed-in-the-wool religious nutjob partner.

I wish I could give you that, but I agree with you that the religious belief is often (not always!) extremely indicative of other kinds of beliefs.  I've seen lots of my friends have marital problems and sometimes divorce because of differing religions or atheism vs theism.

I've known a few people who stay married through religious difficulty, but it's always been somewhat cool.  If you're looking for a deep intellectual love as well as romantic love, I recommend you keep looking for atheists.

One word of advice, though.  There are more of them out there than you think, and you're going to find more of them if you're openly atheist.  Not just politely avoiding religious discussions, or briefly expressing disagreement, but wearing tshirts and such.

Of course, there's a trade off with that.  You're going to attract more atheist women, but you're going to run off more theist friends.  You just have to prioritize and decide which you want more.


Atheism isn't a lot like religion at all. Unless by "religion" you mean "not religion". --Ciarin

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I've been very fortunate to

I've been very fortunate to have a lot of friends from many different religious backgrounds and, for the most part, I haven't had to hide my views from them.  I grew up in north Georgia, so not having religious friends was not really an option...in fact, one of my best friends is a devout Southern Baptist (although, he is a lot more liberal than most southern Baptists).

My wife was raised as a Seventh Day Adventist and although she doesn't identify herself as one anymore, she is still a x-ian.  My brother, who is also an atheist, is married to a current Seventh Day Adventist.  It's not as difficult to cope with as one might think.  She has a deep respect for my way of thinking and I respect hers as well, because she doesn't let it rule her life.  We've made a mutual decision to never have children, so that's a problem we will (hopefully) never have to face.

The most difficult part for me to have religious friends has always been to find friends who won't try to 'witness' to me every step of the way.  Luckily, I've been lucky enough that those types have been few and far between.  If I ever had someone treat me that way, then that was obviously someone that I didn't want to be friends with.  Forming relationships, to me, is all about trust and respect.  My friends and I have an unspoken agreement that if they don't try to convert me, I won't attack their religion with science.

My wife and I do get into such discussions occasionally, which can be a little difficult, but I try to steer away from such topics before they get too heated.

For those of you who don't know...one of my skeptical idols, Perry DeAngelis, who was a noted agnostic (he really didn't identify himself as atheist) was married, until his untimely death, to a Jehovah's Witness.

You can't rationally argue out something that was not rationally argued in.

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Tainted love

Thank you all for your insight. It is clearly possible for those of differing beliefs to have a lasting, loving relationship. I am equally sure that for some, this is a sure path to disappointment.

In friendship, I have found that as much as I enjoy the company of my theist friends, there is always that inpenetrable wall separating us. I must always watch what I say to avoid thumping on that wall. My only atheist friend is also my best friend, and I have a connection to him that is more honest, relaxed and fun than with the believers.

I think that for me, this sense of a deeper connection to someone of like belief is even more important in a romantic relationship. I know that despite the many wonderful qualities I might find in a theist lover, that bone of contention would eventually be a focal point for any doubts I might have, and would prevent me from fully accepting and trusting her.

I find a beautiful mind to be the most attractive aspect of a woman, so the pox of theism is to me much as a grossly disfiguring physical deformity would be to those who most highly value physical beauty. This is an irrational view, I know, but I am unlikely to change. So I should probably continue to seek out only those few that share my cosmology.

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I can't really see myself

I can't really see myself dating a hardcore theist. i tend to go after women who don't really have strong religous beliefs.

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You are afraid and should be thus.  We look to eradicate your god from everything but history books.  We bring rationality and clear thought to those who choose lives of ignorance.  We are the blazing, incandescent brand that will leave an "A" so livid, so scarlet on your mind that you will not go an hour without reflecting on reality.

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I've had 2 or 3 long term

I've had 2 or 3 long term relationships with theists.  I say, "or 3" because I think one might have been agnostic but I didn't
probe.  My last relationship, however, was with an atheist.  I felt a sense of relief around him almost from day 1... and it lasted the entire year we were together.  I really don't know how to explain it other than the observation that I could really say what I was thinking around him and not have to defend myself afterwards.  Also, rathionality in terms of religion usually carries over into other aspects of ones life.

 After this experience, I will probably never date a theist again.  I can definatly say I wouldn't marry one unless I was being held hostage or needed a greencard or something. Eye-wink  Seriously though, after being so open and honest about my real thoughts with someone I don't think I could go back to biting my tongue.

To the OP - I did read somewhere (perhaps this site?) that there was an atheist dating site.  Can't remember the address though. 

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shelleymtjoy wrote: To the

shelleymtjoy wrote:

To the OP - I did read somewhere (perhaps this site?) that there was an atheist dating site. Can't remember the address though.



You can't rationally argue out something that was not rationally argued in.

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To my knowledge I never

To my knowledge I never seriously dated a theist.  If they were, they never mentioned it & knew that I was an atheist.

To me, having a world view that includes the rejection of our finite life spans and the acceptance of an all knowing, perfect creator/punishing super-being is just such a foreign way of perceiving existance that I keep my relationships with believers fairly superficial.  I simply can't relate.  I'm also convinced that these beliefs subtly (or not so subtly) color a person's entire value system.


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I've dated theists; however,

I've dated theists; however, they never seemed to have time to pray around me.  lol

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I dated a theist nut job

I dated a theist nut job once. Her dad was the son of a baptist preacher, her mother a devout catholic that thought the first kiss in a relationship should come when the priest says "you many now kiss the bride". (her parents hated eachother. Why they got married is beyond me) She was really nice (and good looking) aside from her theistic side (which made it all bitter sweet) But I left her b/c I was losing my sanity around her. I also don't think I could date a theist again.

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I don't think I could date

I don't think I could date a hardcore theist.  I've dated people with religious beliefs and it wasn't a big deal.  My current SO grew up catholic but doesn't really consider the concept of god.  He's just not worried about it either way but he doesn't call himself atheist or agnostic.  He supports me in all my endeavors so...

His family is super religious though. 

If god takes life he's an indian giver

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I'm fascinated by people

I'm fascinated by people like Geirj and others who can carry on a relationship and have children with a theist.  I just don't see how it could work over a long period of time, especially when it came to child-rearing.  I know for sure that I could never pull it off, it would be like attempting to have a relationship with a woman that wanted 7 children (I have no interest in having kids whatsoever).  For me, it's one of those issues that me and an SO would have to agree on.

 To the OP: As far as limiting yourself, it all depends on what you are truly looking for in a SO, and what issues are of utmost importance to you.  Some people really dont care to talk or think about the theism issue, so they would be more open to a wider range of people as far as their religious beliefs are concerned. People limit their options in all kinds of ways, the theism issue is just another one -- albeit one that is perhaps more limiting than others.

"The powerful have always created false images of the weak."

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Got the T-shirt

I will make it so simple, a caveman would understand. I married outside of my personal beliefs (more than once).  The 'more than once' will provide the hint on the outcome...Smile

I will boldy say, do NOT ever attempt to find your soul mate (whatever you will call it) who does not either fully believe as you or does not have a stand at all. It is doomed to failure if the communication and mutual respect is not in existence simply because one or both have to conceed and be silently hurting by the other's inability to connect on that level.

Can it be done...sure i guess but at what cost of emotional connectivity and happiness???

Why does 80% of the US say they are Christian but so few look like Jesus?

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I've never dated a theist,

I've never dated a theist, but two of my friends are Christians.  I've noticed some people in this thread mention having difficulty expressing themselves around their Christian friends, but I've never had that problem.

Early on in my friendships with these Christians, we had lots of debates about Christianity.  I argued why I didn't believe, and they argued why they did.  In the spirit of being open-minded, I attended a few church services and a bible study.  I refuted Pascal's wager to the organizer of the bible study, and after a few months they just gave up on trying to convert me.  In the meantime, I had the opportunity to challenge their religious beliefs without any emotional conflict.