What Are Your Atheist Dating Stories? July 3, 2009

What Are Your Atheist Dating Stories?

At the SSA conference in August, I plan to give a talk on Atheism and Dating.

Specifically, I’d like to discuss whether an atheist and theist couple can make things work. Should they consider dating at all? Or should we try to avoid that at all costs?

If you’ve made a theist/atheist relationship work, how did you do it? What advice do you have for others?

If you only date other atheists, why?

You’re welcome to post your thoughts in the comments or send them to me personally.

Personal stories would be ideal 🙂

I’ll respect any requests for anonymity.

Thanks in advance!

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  • Kate

    The Erik/Kate story trumps all. 🙂

    And yes, we’re still together.

  • Hehe — It does! And it’ll be included in the talk!

  • ATL-Apostate

    My wife seriously considered leaving when i finally told her. Then she realized i was still the same guy she married, minus the magic sky daddy. Also, i get stuff done around the house while she’s @ church.. 🙂

  • Anna N.

    As far as I know, I’ve never dated a theist. It’s not actually intentional; the guys I’ve dated just happen to be agnostic or atheist. I didn’t meet them at any sort of atheist groups or anything. The last two I met at a weekly hobby meetup.

    In the past, I probably could have dated a theist, but in the last few years, I’ve become more outspoken about atheism and also more uncomfortable around overt theism. I’m not sure I could date someone who doesn’t understand my atheism any more than I could date someone who doesn’t understand my reading habits.

  • Rokusho

    I’ve never had any difficulties, infact my GF for the past year and a bit I met through my universities Atheist Society.

    I did have a problem in the past with a crush on a heavily Xian girl in my old school, ran from me when leaning about my godlessness 😛

  • suzanna

    me and the current love have been dating over 5 years. i’m an atheist and he’s.. christian? agnostic? i don’t know. i mean, that’s exactly how we make things work. it’s a complete double standard. i do my whole “hate speech” (as he likes to call it) on the irrationality of religion and beliefs and woo and blah blah blah but never towards him. and he does obviously says little comments like “do you ever turn it off?” and stuff of the like, but basically we just ignore each other and never ask. i figure as long as he’s not spreading his ideas of god, it’s all good. will it work indefinitely? i have no idea. but thus far, as long as we ignore big parts of each others lives, it’s going along smoothly, enough so that we’ve been living together for a few years.

  • Reckless

    I’m an atheist, and my boyfriend of four years is not. He’s rather agnostic when it comes to God, but he’s into a lot of spiritual, new age religion and eastern medicine, whereas I’m a die-hard skeptic. But we both get annoyed at the crazy Christians who think he’s a Satan-Worshiper and I’m a Baby-Eater, so we have something to unite over. Other than that, we just don’t talk too much about our beliefs; I respect his right to think what he wants without having me insult him for it, and he extends that respect back to me. He’s a rational, intelligent, reasonable person in all other respects. He’s also a fantastic guy, so I’m willing to put up with a little harmless woo now and then.

  • Mike F.

    I’m in the same boat as Anna. All my serious relationships were with atheists/agnostics (as far as I know). I’ve casually dated people that may or may not have been believers, but there was no pretense that those relationships would last more than a couple months.

    For awhile I could have dated a believer without much issue, but I’m not sure if I could anymore. It’s such a diametrically point of view on life that I think would be very hard to get over.

  • jemand

    My ex bf dumped me for being an atheist. But actually it was pretty good for me to get out of that relationship for other reasons.

    I’d not want to date a theist personally, I’m very happy with my present boyfriend, although I was perfectly happy to date him as a deist to before he came over fully to the light 😉

    I’d advise atheists saying away from theists who believe at any level in the “don’t be unequally yolked” doctrine. Even if they are willing to date at the beginning… it’s generally a recipe for disaster long term.

  • Emily

    Bad luck with Jewish boys. Their mamas often want them to date Jewish and when they discover that you’re an atheist, it removes you from date-able material list, let alone future-daughter-in-law contention in mama’s mind, which often makes Jewish boys move on. So, my advice for dating Jewish boys would be don’t tell his mama that you’re an atheist. 😛

    Personally, my atheism’s had a negative impact on my dating mojo, though I certainly think a theist and an atheist would [and should] be able to work it out. After all, theists still out-number us quite a bit and how can we promote peaceful relations between separate *ahem* schools of thought if we’re unwilling to mingle (as it were…)? Besides, for so many people their religion is such a minimal part of who they are, it’s definitely something that can be worked around if both people are willing.

  • enneract

    Every experience I have had trying to date, or even form platonic relationships with theists has been an utter disaster.

    Mind, though, that I am on the ‘militant’ side of atheism, and find it nearly impossible to respect someone once the whole ‘oh hai, I believe in magic’ enters the picture… So it really is more me pushing them away than the inverse.

    Incidentally, I’m single again! Tucson-M-21~

  • REX

    It would not have worked for me if I had come out in my past relationships, but my current girlfriend is a questioning Christian, and it has been a great discussion for us. We are both respectful of each other. I laugh when someone in a news story calls one survivor from an accident a miracle and she does not get uptight. I do not get uptight when she says “God Bless You” when I sneeze. I know that she is trying to be nice (and trying to protect me from the sneezing demons!), and that it is a knee jerk reaction from a lifetime of training.

    We talk openly about all of those things, but I think the most important question in a relationship is: Do you want to be right and superior, or do you want to be loved?

  • enneract

    REX: “Do you want to be right and superior, or do you want to be loved?”

    False dichotomy sighted, man the harpoons!

    Loved is a hormonal reaction, there is more to a relationship than that.

  • Lifer

    I think you need to consult the experts before going off and giving your own speech! Check out this little diddy:


  • dwimmerlaik81

    For the last 4 years or so, I dated a “sort-of” Christian man who vacillated between agnosticism/”spiritual” Christianity/quoting the Tao at me on a weekly basis.

    We talked about our differences quite a bit, and it was largely a pleasant, intellectual debate, but then he started telling me I just “didn’t get it” as to why religion was good for people, and that my mind was only one way of accessing the world around me and I needed keep an open mind, to try other ways, etc. All of the usual theist arguments.

    He also had the irritating habit of seemingly forgetting that I was an atheist; he had talked about joining a church just for the social aspect, and we’d drive around and he’d say “honey, maybe we could be Greek Orthodox,” and I’d have to remind him that I didn’t believe in god. He told me many times that as soon as he could find a church that was willing to engage me as a thinker, I’d be believer.

    Right before things ended, we were chatting and I cracked a joke about Jesus and he burst out with “I really need you to take my Christianity more seriously!” I pointed out that it was hard for me to take him seriously as a Christian when he had told me that he didn’t belive that Jesus ever really existed. And of course, I just “didn’t get it.”

    Our religious differences didn’t end the relationship, but they certainly caused some friction.

  • Zach

    A devoted homosexual since the third grade, my dating pool is largely diehard theist-free. Who says that religious homophobia doesn’t produce any benefits?

    I’ve dated plenty of guys who claimed to be Christian , but this appears to have had as much relevance to their lives as my having brown hair has to mine. When pressed, they usually acknowledge they didn’t have good reasons to believe what they did, that Christianity generally makes things worse for gay people, etc. Perhaps strong, missionary convictions on either side produce the problems. Not live and let live atheism or Christianity lite.

    The one gay I did date that was fairly Christian constantly complained about the fact that we didn’t share “values”. To ensure this wasn’t code for “delusions”, I made my beliefs about being honest, generous, and kind very clear. As suspected, it was his delusions that I didn’t share. It didn’t work out.

  • Delphine

    My boyfriend of 6 years of Catholic. He’s one of the few Catholics I met that actually studied the bible and theology in general. He’s not a conventional Catholic, as the result of his studies. He doesn’t believe Yahweh’s the ONLY god, and he sort of agrees god may not exist at all. He agrees all other religions are equally valid, including Roman and Greek theology. We get into debates about religion all the time, but we don’t attach each other’s faith directly. I once got incredibly offended and angry when he said, “There’s no atheists in the fox hole.” (He’s a religious programmer with the Navy.) I pushed the topic and asked him how he could possibly say something so offensive and down right false, when 22% of the military are comprised of atheists, more people go into the military coming out atheists than the other way around!? Him, of all people, should be clearly aware of that because of his position. He end up defending himself by saying he doesn’t think that it was just a general comment and “thinking out loud.”
    But yes, as you can see, tensions do arise between us over religion. We fight about religion, and we fight about America’s romance with saving the world by invading them.
    In general, we try to find middle grounds. I agree not ALL Christians are unreasonable, and the ones who are anti-gay/abortion are just delusional and ignorant, and he agrees atheists aren’t out there to attack religions when religions aren’t in our faces.
    I did find out a while ago, that he was adamantly against abortion in high school because it’s “immoral”, and only changed his opinion in college after studying biology and the human body. When he met me, he thought all atheists are extremely immoral and evil. He was taken aback when he found out I was an atheist. (The conversation went like this… “Before we get any more serious… I need to find out if you’re a Protestant.” “I’m not a Protestant. I’m an Atheist.” “…”) Apparently it took him a few days before he came to the conclusion that I’m proof atheists can be more “moral” than religious people. (I practically follow all Catholic doctrines except the ones that discriminate and the believe in god part.)
    We’re still working out our differences. He wants to raise our children in churches. I agreed to it, but only if I get to educate them about the possibility of god not existing and other religions. Our children can decide for themselves. If they’re smart and not gullible, I’m sure they’ll agree with me on their own.

  • Kimi

    In my last relationship, I was the theist, and my boyfriend was agnostic. I was raised Mormon, and was still a believer when we met, though I had had my doubts for years. After several deep discussions about what I believed, I began to research more into the church, and was baffled by what I found in it’s history and teachings. Needless to say, I am now a born-again atheist. Usually, I would caution against relationships between theists and atheists, but there will always be exceptions.

  • I have lots of friends who are theists. I even have a very good muslim friend from my former workplace, where we used to argue about religion and atheism.

    However I could never date a theist, let alone be with in a long term relationship. In that respect I’m a militant atheist.

    I come from a christian backround and converted after I turned 20 and moved from home to study. I feel very strongly about my atheism which is something theists can’t usually understand. I also feel that I have lost something when I was hanging around with christians in my teens. I am angry at myself and my parents for my lost adolescence. For that and other reasons I often have to vent my anger in private and I would go nuts if I couldn’t be myself in my home, so I definately need a gf who is an atheist/agnostic. My girlfriend of 6 years has been unreligious as long as she can remember, so she often can’t understand what I’m talking about, but atleast I can speak my mind with her.

    I can understand that two adults can be together even if they have very different worldviews, but think twice before you start having a family with a theist. I wouldn’t even consider it.

    -lpktk from Finland

  • Nora

    My boyfriend is a theist, albeit a very lukewarm one. Our relationship is just fine (we live together), as long as I don’t “attack” religion. This basically means we just don’t discuss it much.

  • Bob

    Speaking as an old non-theist guy and married 30+ years to a religious wife, it can work. We don’t talk religion much though and I try to be respectful of her. Yeah, she has caught me trying not to laugh sometimes when she tells me about her miracles seminars. A ‘mixed’ marriage can work if you are tolerant of each other and don’t try to force anything on the other. I have grown more toward the non-thiest side later in life. When we were younger I just did not care one way or the other and just ignored religion.

  • SarahH

    I have an embarrassing confession: Back when I was sixteen (and still a “born-again” Christian), I dated a guy who was non-religious. I don’t think he’d given serious thought to his beliefs, but he was certainly the closest thing I’d met to an atheist.

    We didn’t talk about it for a long time, and after a few months, I decided (for reasons completely non-related to atheism or religion) that I wanted to break up with him. So I told him that we couldn’t date anymore because he didn’t share my religious beliefs, essentially taking a complete cop-out. I eventually convinced myself that God had somehow influenced me, so I’d been honest after all!

    I’ve only dated atheists and agnostics since then (and now I’m married to an atheist), even while I was still a Christian. I guess I’ve just never been very attracted to religious guys – the more religious they are, they more they tend to be somewhat sexist and paternalistic, in my experience, and I’ve always been a very independent sort of girl.

  • lurker111

    The major danger in dating a theist arises when they carry an ulterior motive into the prolongation of the relationship (read: marriage), viz., to “save” you. This my spouse admitted to me ten years into our marriage. We don’t discuss religion much. She strongly suspects my skepticism and accuses me of being an atheist on occasion, but I just never say anything. You can’t argue logic with insanity.

  • After my deconversion, none of the women I dated were theists but rather atheist, deist or apatheist. I didn’t know their religious beliefs before dating, but if I found a woman who was religious, I generally stayed away. Now I’m married to a lovely atheist woman, so no more dating for me!

  • cicely

    When my husband and I were first married, I was a post-Christian agnostic, and he was a vaguely-Christian non-denominational theist. Now, 27 years later, I’m an atheist, which he knows, and he’s a weak theist (the Christianity having substantially diluted). It hasn’t mattered much since neither of us has been a church-goer at any point in our relationship, so neither of us has been drifting out of tune with a larger religious community, which I suspect of being a huge problem in many relationships. We occasionally talk about religious matters, but since neither of us is trying to “convert” the other, it hasn’t been a problem. We didn’t raise our son with any religious biases, though I know he encountered several flavors of Christianity through his friends; he seems to be an agnostic/atheist.

    All in all, religion hasn’t been a problem at all. Other things, such as the need for newer, shinier tech-toys, or how many beads one woman should be allowed to own (and store), have been a lot bigger issues.

  • Most of my relationships have been with the non-practicing religious. There were two relationships that were impacted by my non-belief.

    My first girlfriend stayed with me under the assumption that we could only be “together forever” after I found God. At the time, I was open/undecided, so we managed. At least, until she found out I did not hate homosexuals. That ended it officially.

    My most-recent ex was fine with me being a non-theist but wanted to have a religious wedding and wanted me to make the religious pledges that are associated with it. :\ That discussion more-or-less ended unresolved as:

    Me: Are you OK with me just saying the pledges and not meaning them?

    Her: No! You have to mean them! But I understand that you’re a non-theist and I accept that.

    Me: What? That makes no sense. But uh, anyway, I’ll never be able to say them with meaning.

    Her: That’s OK. One day, maybe soon, you will! I bet within a year it happens!

    That relationship ended, too. 🙂 I’m now with a non-theist (2 years) and things are much more smooth.

  • Kayla

    I dated theists in the past. Each one of them tried to manipulate me and pressure me into believing in God. (One tried very hard to convince me he had broken his neck, and that his mom was wanting me to pray for him.)

    Now, though, theism is an automatic deal-breaker for me. I need someone who has my morals – theists, especially those following Abrahamic religions – just don’t have them, thus I could never really be with one as a life partner.

    I found my wonderful, slightly-Buddhist agnostic boyfriend via a dating website and couldn’t be happier. <3

  • SteveC

    Dated a theist once, got dumped on account of my atheism (which at the time was not at all outspoken).




  • I’ve been married to a theist for 8 years now, but it hasn’t been very hard because she’s basically a non-church-going apatheist. So the worst I get for my atheistic comments is a harsh looking at like I said something vulgar (and usually, I did…hehehe!) It’s been nice on the marriage, but it’s hard to have “deep” discussions about religion with someone who just doesn’t care about the topic. It has been nice when raising our daughter though, my wife doesn’t care enough about religion to fight me over how I present it to the kid. I typically try to stay non-judgemental of people and simply instill a love of the natural world and the use of reason. One of our fun activities is to see what kind of flying dinosaurs are in the trees when we go outside. 🙂

  • miohippus

    I got set up with a theist recently. It was apparent that the only way for us to continue in a relationship was if I shared her delusion.

    I run into her infrequently, as we live in a small town. We make small talk about the weather and our dogs. Yes, that’s right, dogs.

  • I once dated a Jewish girl. I’m pretty sure she followed the more liberal, modern Jewish sects, but she was still a believer. The relationship lasted about two weeks, and that had more to do with some of her psychological issues than anything else.

  • never been an issue in my life.

    but writer/director kevin smith is a non-practicing catholic (but a believer) and his wife, jenn is an atheist. she is raising their kid without faith.

    bet you could contact him via viewaskew.com

  • cassiek

    I dated mainly very secular Jewish guys in high school and college. I made no secret of my atheism and got along famously with their families. My one experience dating a christian theist was awful; he kept reminding me that I was going to burn eternally if I didn’t start believing. He ended up joining one of those weird christian cults where the pastor and a few “elders” control who they date, marry, and even where they can work. I eventually married a fellow atheist and have been married for 25 years.

  • The Lock In, on youtube.com
    The Lock In is my atheist dating story. I tried dating a Christian girl in high school shortly after realizing I was an atheist. She took me to a “Lock In” put on by her Christian youth group.

  • Chris Nowak

    Never really been a huge issue but I think it’s because It wouldn’t even get that far with someone who was very seriously theist. But really, I find it easy to date someone who is “technically” religious, but to whom religion really doesn’t play much part in their day to day life. Really, it’s the same with me…Atheism is something that interests me but on a day to day basis it really doesn’t change that much how I live my life.

    Obviously with less moderate people it would be more of a problem. And I doubt I’d be able to marry someone who insisted that our kids go to Church without letting them be exposed to my views as well. But at least in most of the people I hang out with, it’s really not that important, even though most of them identify as believing in a god.

  • I was a Xian when I met my hubby. He was an atheist. Now we both are atheists. Happily ever after!

  • Emily

    I am an athiest (no duh right?) and I had a thing wih this guy who a was a pretty hardcore Christian. He made it rather obvious that he thought I should convert to Christianity whenever the dirty little “A” word came up. Let me just tell you, I have no problem with other people being religious, but the moment you try to make me do something I don’t want to, there will be Hell to pay: “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.” but more like pissed off beyond reason. I had absolutely no issue with his beliefs, and yet it was okay for him to question mine? I don’t think so. I think I’ve been an athiest all of my life, but not officially. I was not brought up with religion, and being in churches make me feel extremely uncomfortable. I get this overwhelming feeling that I’m not supposed to be there. But needless to say, we did not work out, for reasons other than differences in thought.

  • The last Christian guy I went out with will probably be the last Christian guy I’ll go out with.

    During our dinner, he mentioned God, his faith, and his church (Resurrection MCC, a member of the Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches—”the gay church”) several times. Finally, I decided that coming out was in order. I said, “I’m an atheist. Is that a problem for you?”

    Then he spent 15 minutes rationalizing how it didn’t have to be a problem for him as long as I didn’t have a problem with his beliefs and practices. In the course of his explanation, he used the phrase “unequally yoked” several times. I wasn’t familiar with the term, but it was obvious from the way he used it that he’d given this a lot of thought.

    At the end of the evening, I went home and looked up “unequally yoked.” It’s a reference to 2 Corinthians 6:14–18, in which Paul exhorts Christians, “Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common?” (Check out more inspiring words for all you “unequally yoked” couples: unequallyyoked.net.)

    I called him later and said, “I haven’t made up my mind about Christians, but I don’t want to date a hypocrite. If you believe that you’re righteous and I’m wicked, but you still want to go out with me, I think you need to take a more careful look at your faith.”

    It’s hard to imagine a meaningful relationship with someone who starts from the assumption that I’m evil.

  • Becky

    I was agnostic when I met my (current) fiance; he was atheist. I had dated an atheist before, but I refused to call myself an atheist. My ex even told me that I would “join [his] side” eventually. He was right, but it was someone else who did it. I asked all the stupid questions like: “If scientific proof was found that god exists, would you believe?” (Yes, duh) My fiance and ‘The God Delusion’ helped make me unafraid to identify as an atheist. Yes, I think I was really afraid before. Before that, I was agnostic with a religious boyfriend. We would fight over theism all the time as I was very much questioning god after going to a religious high school.

  • EdtheHobbit

    I’ve been in two major relationships with Christians, both of which were wonderful and loving partnerships. One ended well, the other, not so well. I’ve always been very open about my atheism, but always very open to understanding my girlfriends’ views and spirituality. It wasn’t really an issue most of the time. However, I did make sure the questions came up on occasion, because both times, marriage and children were topics of conversation, at least casually. There was one point on which they did agree:

    If I died an atheist, I’d probably end up in hell.

    I can actually understand this. If it’s what you believe, then I can live with that. As horrible as that sounds, the only thing I really care about is a second point, wherein lay the difference between the two girls.

    The first girl had a hard time reconciling her God as one that would send someone as “good” as me to hell. She struggled with it. It was a moral dilemma. She loved me, I know that much — and she also wondered what kind of heaven she could possibly enjoy, knowing that I was in hell. She was willing to ask the question, and although it did not shake her belief in God, at least she wanted her god to be at least as moral as she was. We had an amicable breakup and we’re still great friends to this day. I think we both struggle with matters of faith, but we end up landing on different sides of the fence. I’m okay with that.

    The second girl believed I deserved hell. I’m also sure she loved me as well. This is where the real insanity of Christian thought comes in to play. Christians are perfectly capable of holding these two contradictory notions in their heads, that a person could simultaneously deserve eternal punishment for their sins, but also love them for the person they are here on Earth. I broke up with her because of the fallout from this question. I couldn’t look her in the eye with the knowledge that she would be willing to watch me burn, and call it justice.

  • My current boyfriend of 19 months is a Baptist with a strong tradition of religion that’s typical of black families. I’m an outspoken atheist who doesn’t think twice about saying what comes to mind. Most of his family knows I’m an atheist, and the one who had the most trouble with it (grandmother, completely flipped out) has gotten over it.

    The key to an atheist/theist relationship? Respect. I refrain from making religious jokes, he understands that religion makes me uncomfortable. We respect each other’s theological differences: I’d never be with him if he had the balls to try to convert me, and he wouldn’t be with me if I always told him he’s delusional. Compromise helps, too – we’ve agreed to a church wedding, for example. As for kids (ex. church VS no church), we’ll see what happens.

    It helps a LOT that he is the GOOD kind of Christian. You know, actually Christ-like. He isn’t about hating “TEH HOMOZ N HERETICZ N STUFF” and uses his religious beliefs positively, to better himself. He’s one of those people that isn’t obviously religious – he doesn’t preach, doesn’t use blatantly religious speak all the time, only prays at church and big meals, etc. And he’s ridiculously kind, forgiving, patient, and all those positive personality traits. 😀 If he was something otherwise, that would be a deal breaker. I could NEVER be with a bible-thumping, book-burning, hate-spewing fundie psycho.

  • MP

    I have my own dating story. But before getting to that, let me mention my parent’s stories, which I believe are also very relevant.

    My mom and dad are both Jewish culturally, but are secular when it comes to religion. Although they had similar religious (or lack thereof) beliefs, their marriage only lasted 10 years or so before they separated and then divorced.

    My father’s second marriage:
    My father quickly remarried at age 38, marrying a woman much younger than he. She was Catholic, but was a 22 year old party girl who certainly didn’t seem to have religious characteristics when they dated or for the first few years of their marriage. However, after she had 2 children, one day, as she puts its, she felt the spirit of God enter her. She then became a born-again/fundamentalist Christian, having everything in her life revolve around God, the bible, and the church. I would have thought that my father, who is not religious at all, would have ended up leaving her. But, despite her fervent fundamentalist beliefs and attitudes (which she has had for over 25 years now) he has not only remained married to her for 33 years, but he says he is still in love with her as much today as he was the day he married her. I have no idea if he would ever say that he considers himself an atheist (I think given his generation, he would probably use the term “secular”), but, I certainly consider him one.

    My mother’s second marriage:
    My mother dated a Jewish guy who was a ladies man. They would go out dancing and go out for dinner, including lobster dinners. They dated for a while and she fell in love with him. All seemed good, and then, shortly before he proposed — six months or so, if memory serves — , his doctor warned him that he might not make it through a surgery because of his excessive smoking. Well, he ended up making a deal with God that he would dedicated his life to him if he would pull him through the surgery. After he survived, he made good on his promise and became ‘Baal Teshuva’ (sometimes referred to as “a born again Jew”), and embraced Jewish orthodoxy fully. Although orthodoxy was at complete odds with her view on life, she decided to marry him because she was already in love with him and she hoped that she could return him to the man he used to be. To her chagrin, he instead became more and more deeply religious, and imposed full orthodoxy upon her (he would not let her use hot water on the sabbath, would not let her drive on the sabbath, etc.). Although she has remained married to him for 20 years, I think that her marriage has been a miserable one for the most part (my relatives are of the same opinion).

    As for me:
    Having seen the dynamics of both of my parent’s second marriages, I knew that I never wanted to find myself in that situation. I wanted to be with someone who was aligned with me mentally and spiritually. Seven years ago I began dating a woman. Early conversations revealed that she considered herself a Christian (she was an Episcopalian, and was upset how fundamentalists co-opted the term “Christian”). Although I was a little shaken by the fact that I was into this girl who saw herself as a Christian,noting that she didn’t behave in a pious manner, I decided to keep dating her and see how things go. As the relationship developed, I discussed with her why I was an atheist, and let her know that I could never see myself marrying or remaining married to someone who became very religious. I also tried to feel out the reasons that she thought that Jesus was a diving being, and what she thought God was. I also took her to many of my family gatherings, where she got to hear all of my born-again siblings speak, as well as my step-mom. Over time, she began to see the logic in my views and began to see not only the zaniness of taking the Bible as literal, but also how people, such as my siblings, who believed this were being turned into political pawns to cause great harm to society (no gay marriage, stop sex education, no stem cell research for medical advancement, stop teaching evolution as a solid scientific theory, etc.). I consider myself an atheist. I don’t know what term she would use to describe herself, but in my opinion she is now as much Episcopalian as I am Jewish (although she has the culture, she has no belief that the Bible is a holy book). She and I are very happy together, have lived together for years, and are now engaged to one another.

  • I’ve been happily married to a moderate Christian for 14 years now. Our secret comes from the inverse application of the evangelical saying “Put God First”. We “Put Marriage First”. This means that neither of us forces the other one in aspects related to what one believes. It also means a bit of give and take for both of us. I have gone to (and participated in) church. I have also put my foot down and said I’m through with a particular church. Recently, I meet with the pastor of an evangelical church we were attending to discuss with him why I was leaving. My wife is free to keep going there if she likes. Our kids hate going there and may well be inoculated against religion at this point. They know I’m an atheist but I don’t tell them what to believe. I want them to know that atheism is freedom from belief and freedom comes from within.

  • My husband is an atheist, and I am a deist. I suppose what it all comes down to is respect for one another even if you disagree. That kind of respect flows over into all areas of the marriage and will help you survive and be happily married while other couples seek divorce. We just celebrated our 8th yr.

  • Manul

    My first girlfriend, was a Catholic. Spiritual, I’d say. Moderate/liberal and pretty bright. She was 21, I was 17 and still a deist back then, so her imaginary friend wasn’t an issue. We drifted apart due to other reasons, but had we stayed together I’d be trying to persuade her to skeptically evaluate the basis for her beliefs.

    My current girlfriend of two years is into some kind of NewAge/Buddhist spirituality. I initially downplayed its significance. But now it is an issue, as I became a real skeptic and antitheist over the course of recent year, and found out a bit more about her beliefs. So it’s pretty confusing – being with a person, who doesn’t understand skepticism, and whose thinking is very obviously flawed, I can’t feel quite true to myself. Yet I do love her, and she has no problem with atheism, so I hope these things will work out fine.

    BTW, I find it much more challenging to argue with such a ‘custom-crafted’ set of superstition (based on ‘personal experience’), than an established religion. Wish me luck (duh, that’s so superstitious!) ;).

  • About 4 months ago I broke up with a guy after a year and a half; 9 months cohabitating. I’ve known him since jr. high and we’ve always been very close. He knew I was an atheist, I knew he was a born-again Christian; we both knew each other to be very intelligent people and we could converse for hours about many subjects, including religion. Until we actually lived together, of course…

    In the end, he couldn’t get over the fact that (in his words) my “intellect got in the way” of having faith, and that I was NEVER going to even pretend to RESPECT his chosen brand of magical thinking, any more than I (or he) would pretend to respect the beliefs of a Scientologist. Worse still, I actively seek to discredit public figures he holds in high esteem because they are a threat to my First Amendment rights.

    At least 3 weeks before the final “Sayonara,” I realized there was simply no way I could partner up with this guy for good (no matter how much I love him like my own kin) when he steadfastly denied the biological fact that humans are primates. Along with his refusal to listen to (much less actually research on his own) even a minimal amount of the history of his chosen flavor of Christianity, I had to finally admit that despite his otherwise stellar intellect and ability to rationally analyze anything else under the Sun, when push came to shove he’d always be blinded by the Jesus-goggles.

    At my age (47), any man whose self-worth and worldview hinges upon “faith” simply isn’t emotionally or intellectually mature enough for me to consider as a potential mate. The older I get the less tolerant I am of anyone who makes claims and is either unwilling or unable to back them up; even more so those who take offense at being asked to do so. Be a grownup or begone!

    I’m a vocal, unapologetic and I’m sure many would say MILITANT atheist. It stands to reason that the probability of successfully pairing up with a theist of any sort is extremely low. Meanwhile, I’m sure I’ll have any number of interesting discussions and arguments, which is just fine by me!

  • It’s all about whether “making it work” means “staying together indefinitely, possibly including marriage”. I’ve had a few relationships with theists which weren’t intended to be long term and were a lot of fun (I think) for both parties. Can’t imagine how they would’ve worked over the long term though.

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