What You Need to Know When Dating an Atheist

What You Need to Know When Dating an Atheist

If you were to go online and research the results of dating an atheist, you would discover a plethora of posts highlighting such derogatory phrases such as, “God Hater” and “Bible Thumper.” Dating someone with different religious views is hard enough for some people to grapple, but for a religious person to date an atheist, well, that is a whole other can of worms.

An atheist, according to the dictionary’s definition, is a person who lacks faith in the existence of God. For some faithful few, there is no greater sin. In order to understand what is required to date someone of such questionable moral fiber, you first have to ask yourself some tough questions first.

definition of an atheist

Dating an Atheist for Starters

For starters, if you are of the opinion that anyone who shares a different religious view than you is somehow morally culpable, dating an atheist is probably not going to work out well for you, regardless of how attractive or endearing they may appear on the surface. On the other hand, an atheist who believes someone of deep religious conviction is an uneducated fool may also do better dating someone more philosophically compatible.

Religion can be a spiritually uplifting endeavor offering its believers the opportunity to connect with themselves, and the world in a highly deep and intimate way. In many ways, atheists share this conviction. The main difference resides in the fact that the atheist does not hold God responsible for this connection.

In order to date an atheist, unless you are an atheist yourself, you must have an open mind and respect for beliefs that are different than your own. The atheist must share those open minded qualities. As with dating in general, respect for the other person is the key component to any healthy relationship. Whether discussing religion, politics or how to raise a family, one must always consider there are other points of views. If you want your views respected, it is imperative to respect the views of others as well. Dating an atheist is no exception to this rule.

Understand an Atheist

Contrary to some belief, atheism is not a sadistic endeavor. There are, of course, some hurtful and unsavory atheists in the world. There are also some hurtful and unsavory Christians and Jews and Muslims. Many highly worthwhile philanthropic endeavors were the result of kind atheists seeking to make the world a better place. Would you rather date a cruel Christian or a kind atheist? If kindness wins in your book, dating an atheist can probably work out providing you respect each other’s views and do not encourage conflict.

If you are someone who would rather be alone than with someone who does not believe in God, regardless of how kind he or she may be, then dating an atheist should never be a consideration. Seeking to convert or change a person is a big no-no in regards to dating and is vastly discouraged by licensed therapists and professionals worldwide. Nothing can lead to relationship dysfunction faster than the appearance that another is not good enough as they are.

If you do not see your atheist boyfriend or girlfriend as acceptable for who they are, you best leave them and seek someone you can accept. That said, you should never stand for having your religious views mocked or ridiculed by an atheist either. If you are dating a non-believer, and they do not show respect for your views, they are not worth the time or energy of dating.

Avoiding judgement is the key when dating someone with radically different fundamental beliefs. This goes for both the believer and non-believer. These beliefs tend to be an important aspect of a person’s character and deserve to be treating as such. If you are a religious person, non judgement should already be a part of your religious practice. Even if you do not believe in God, but seek to be a kind and good soul, you will be true to your mission by refraining condemnation. “Respect and be respected.” should be the mantra of this type of relationship, or it will never survive for any great length of time.

holding hands - from Yoel Ben-Avraham, flickr.com

Two Core Principles

In a nutshell, successfully dating an atheist comes down to understanding and implementing two core principles.

1.) A Person’s Religious Beliefs are a Personal, Individual Affair.

Yes, you heard that right. If you are deeply religious and constantly seeking to change your atheist lover into something more palatable to you, you are better off terminating the relationship and finding someone more spiritually akin to you. Your partner’s beliefs are their own, and not a reflection of your own. If you can not respect this, you can not respect them. The same goes for the atheist. You may not believe in God, and that is your personal choice and right.

If your partner does, however, you must respect that regardless of how silly or misinformed you think those views may be. Belittling a believer or mocking their views merely because they are not in line with your own is disrespectful and unfair. Regardless of where you fall on the religious spectrum, if you want your views respected, you must respect the views of others. There is nothing more paramount in a relationship.

2.) Be Open to New Things.

A key component to any healthy relationship is the ability to introduce each other to new and different things even if those things are not always your particular cup of tea. I love baseball, for example. My wife and daughter do not, but out of love for me, they accompany me on my sojourn across the country in an attempt to see every major league park. This makes the experience much more happy for me, as I love having my wife and daughter’s company. On their side, they get to see new cities and places, revel in the marvels of some of the modern stadiums, and enjoy the vibrancy of the home crowd while eating good food and meeting new people.Their openness to my interests makes us all happy.

On the other hand, I am not a religious person. My wife is Catholic. I go with her every year to midnight mass, and other important holidays at our local church. This means a great deal to her to have me beside her. I enjoy the candles and incense. The music can bring me to tears, and on more than one occasion, I have been tremendously inspired by the priest’s moving homily. My wife’s joy, subsequently, brings me joy, too. Why, because I love her, and she loves me, and we are able to meet in the spaces between our individual interests and beliefs.

3.) Respect Their Beliefs.

Do I believe the Virgin Mary ascended bodily into heaven, no. Do I believe that Christ arose from the dead, walked on water, and turned water into wine, no. Would I ever mock or make fun of my wife for harboring such beliefs, never. If you love someone, you respect their beliefs. If you can not, love will never be enough. In our twenty years of marriage, my wife has never sought to make me a member of her church or frowned upon the zen meditation I do every morning in lieu of a religious affiliation. She does not seek to make me Catholic or insist on my believing what she does. If she did, our marriage would suffer as the result.

burning sunset and burning love - from Carlos ZGZ and james j8246, flickr.com

Find the Right Out

Dating is not marriage, but unless you come from a culture that arranges marriages, you can not have those longer, meaningful relationships without dating. If you date an atheist, ask yourself if this relationship has a future. If it does, seek the mutual respect requisite for any lasting relationship. Expect nothing less from the person you are dating. Not every atheist is a “God-Hating” sinner. Often, they are warm and loving people who could offer a great deal to a relationship. Not every religious person is a “Bible-Thumping” moron. In many cases, their religion has cultivated in them a clear sense of purpose and moral integrity.

There are many articles and sites out there that will tell you that an atheist and a person of faith can never be compatible. I am living proof that that concept is not true. Perhaps, if you are a closed minded fundamentalist of any denomination, including atheism, your close mindedness would preclude such a relationship. If you are of the belief, however that religion, atheism included, should open our hearts, not close them, dating an atheist is like dating anyone else with a different viewpoint than our own.

In order to effectively date an atheist, you need to:

  • Be respectful of each other.
  • Be kind and open minded.
  • Do not sacrifice your views for that of another, and never ask another to do so for you.
  • Treat others as you yourself would like to be treated.

Implement these core practices when dating anyone, and you will soon discover that dating an atheist does not have to be as complicated as some might make it out to be. Check out these atheist dating sites to start looking for your atheist partner. 

Do you have a love story related to atheist dating? Don’t just keep it to yourself. Contact us to write for the Cupid’s Library community and help share knowledge for the benefit of all. We are waiting to share your story!

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