Dating Partners of Different Faiths

I dated a lot before I met my husband, and I don’t regret any of it. I met lots of interesting people and learned a lot, not just about others, but about myself as well and what I want. 

I dated a lot of different people, including those of different faiths. New relationships were always exciting and I always had hope for the future. Inevitability, they didn’t work out or else I wouldn’t have met my husband.

Oftentimes, my partner’s faith would prevent a relationship from ever becoming too serious. Or even worse — they wanted to convert me. Being an atheist is too important to me and I would never give in for the sake of a relationship. 

It’s really kind of funny because I dated so many people from so many different backgrounds, but the person I ended up marrying is just like me in so many ways. My husband and I are from the same area and both from German backgrounds. Our families are Christian and we are not. I even frequented the bookstore he worked at years before we met.

My husband and I are like puzzle pieces — our personal strengths and weaknesses balance the other out. Everything just seems to fit. I’m not saying we’re perfect, but I’ve never worked so well with someone before. We love each other, but it takes so much more than love to make a marriage work.

So I am really curious — I have seen in some of your comments that your partner is of a different faith. How do you guys make it work?


  1. says

    How do you guys make it work?

    I filter out believers, libertarians, wiccans, racists, republicans, and supply-side economists at my first encounter with anyone. Whether they’re a possible romantic interest or not, they’re not worth the time it takes to unpack their foolish beliefs (and they are welcome to feel that way about me in return)

  2. says

    I don’t even try to make it work. I consider that wasted effort. Just like Marcus, I also filter out various groups of people immediately—all religious believers, all bigots (transphobes, homophobes, racists, misogynists, etc), white supremacists, and people with more extreme stupid political beliefs, like those who are libertarian or strictly conservative. Conveniently, there are at least no Republicans in my part of Europe.

    My current partner is very similar to me. We are both atheists, socialist leaning, non-neurotypical, former debate teachers in a university debate club, we also have the same political opinions in terms of individual freedom (we both support abortions, euthanasia, marijuana legalization, LGBTQIA+ rights, and so on).

    • John Morales says

      Just like Marcus, I also filter out various groups of people immediately—all religious believers, all bigots (transphobes, homophobes, racists, misogynists, etc), white supremacists, and people with more extreme stupid political beliefs, like those who are libertarian or strictly conservative.

      If I’d done that, I wouldn’t have met my life partner.

      • says

        I am bisexual, agender, sterilized, with a preference for open relationships, and no intentions of ever getting married. On top of that, I strongly dislike various prescriptive traditions like gender roles.

        A relationship with many devoutly religious people would be impossible for me, because their religions teach that my very existence is an abomination and that I am sick.

        Theoretically, I can imagine a functional relationship with somebody vaguely spiritual and liberal, but definitely not with somebody who strictly follows the teachings of some church.

        Still, I think it is not worth the effort. I live in the atheist land, majority of people are nonreligious here. Dating a believer is not worth it in a society in which I can meet atheists everywhere I go.

        • John Morales says

          Fair enough, but in my case it kind of just happened that we hit it off, and it went from there. No effort involved, just an opportunity not squandered.

  3. Rhe-bel says

    My wife was Catholic, I was atheist. We pretended for a while. Eventually she became a closet agnostic, her parents would eliminate her from the will if she came clean. Our kids were raised Catholic but each came to their senses on their own. Son is atheist, daughter is spiritual but not religious. In laws are oblivious. My mom raised me ELCA Lutheran dad was non religious. We have I got booted out of church and Sunday school numerous times for irreligious comments. Just glad I married an intelligent woman.

    • John Morales says

      My wife is a practicing Catholic; I met her when she was in a Catholic school.

      45 years later, she is even more devout, and I am even more atheistic.

      How do we get along? Well, I tolerate her hobby, and she agrees that it’s all very silly, but she nonetheless has faith.

      So: tolerance both ways. Pretty damn simple recipe, but it works.

  4. publicola says

    I am atheist, maybe even nihilist; my wife believes in a God but not necessarily in a conventional way. She respects my lack of belief as I respect her beliefs, although she has, over the years, occasionally expressed her sadness at not being able to be of one faith with me. Her belief gives her comfort, and I would no more try to change her beliefs than I would try to harm her, for they would be one and the same. Sometimes, she’ll talk to me about her ideas of God, and I listen empathetically and respectfully, and she doesn’t try to “convert” me. I was a devout Catholic until I was 19, so I can see things from her perspective. I don’t consider it a waste of effort because I love her, and because I consider her a superior human being.

  5. A Lurker from Mexico says

    What works for me is the knowledge that at the end of the day, the main difference between atheism and religion is the one answer to the one question. And out of all the questions that you could ask, and judge people based on their answer, the question “is X god real?” is probably among the most irrelevant to real life and the relationships between people.

    My girlfriend of 9 years is a catholic, I’m an atheist. Our answers to the “Is god real?” question is clearly different. But our answers to questions of morality, tolerance, respect and love are remarkably similar. For example, she respects LGBT people, believes they deserve the same rights as anyone. As silly as you may think this is, she believes that “God made them that way, so god must love them, so them being true to their nature can’t possibly be a bad thing”. I guess you could argue that she arrived at the right conclusion through a faulty thought process. To that I’d say that there are too many “perfectly rational” atheists that fail to reach that conclusion so there is that.

    She’s got similar paths to arrive at the right answers on feminism, abortion, etc. She picks and chooses which parts of catholic tradition are relevant (As does any catholic ever), and cherry picks the passages and legends that help her justify the answer she already believed (As does any religious person and a shitload of atheists if you ask me). The exercise of using faith to justify her stances is just a reflection of her innate moral compass. The moral compass that guides her is pointing to the same places mine does, that helps a lot.

    On my side, being an atheist means I’m pretty good at playing lawyer with the bible. I’m not as good as I used to be because discussions on religion are like dancing Macarena and that gets boring fast. But me being an atheist smart ass helped her out when she was coming to terms with her polyamory. She was feeling guilty, trying to unpack the morality of it, tradition was obviously against it. So I pulled out a bible verse that said some shit like “woman must honor thy man” or something and argued that her exploring her genuine self and being true to it would honor me. A handful of conversations like that really did the trick. My being rather good at litigating bible contradictions and interpretations seemed to help her accept that side of herself.

    At the end of the day I think that stuff like intelligent chats, compatible morals, a sense of humor, respect, and not being a douche who’s trying to force their beliefs (or lack thereof) down people’s throats is more conductive to a healthy relationship than having the same answer to the one question. Also, she likes anime, superhero movies and videogames, so she hits, like, all of my checklist.

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