Some time back, I wrote a post called “Dating a Christian Isn’t Necessarily a Bad Idea“. This is someone else’s story, as you can tell from the title. She is the one who helped me to realize I should gather multiple stories on the issue.
Hello, lovelies. My name is Candi. I grew up swaddled in the Bible by a fundamentalist family convinced theirs was the only correct interpretation of the Bible and pretty much everyone outside their group was hellbound. Common story, yeah? I started my journey out of Christianity at 13 and by 17 was an Atheist. I backslid not long after and spent several years practicing a flimsy form of Dark NeoPaganism. Exposure to people and the world at large eventually convinced me that there’s not really anyone or anything up there. I am now 28 and identify as an anti-theist atheist.
I am also bisexual and polyamorous. As you can probably imagine, this has given me quite the tour of humanity.
Dating theists is often a vitriolic topic among nonbelievers. An atheist will post somewhere seeking help for an issue they’re having with a believing partner and the comment section goes wild. Calls for the partner to be dumped, insults thrown at one or both people involved, it becomes quite the mess.
We’re human. We don’t like being disagreed with. The story of the internet, right?
I’ve had several successful relationships with theists, and as such I don’t always rush straight to “Oh, dump them and find someone you agree with!” So here I am writing this little series, using my personal experiences to hopefully shed some light on what exactly happens in crossbelief relationships and share some ideas on how to successfully navigate them.
It’s generally considered wisdom that the best place to start is the beginning. The beginning is as good as anywhere else in my opinion, so…You’ve met someone. You’re interested, they’re interested, and then you find the bugbear: The new target of your affections believes in god.
Where do you go from here?
The answer to this question is “WalMart.” You’re going to need some Tylenol and some not overly heavy alcohol to make it through the next few conversations.
Thus warded from headaches and overly complicated thoughts, your first conversation will be with yourself. Can you see yourself dating a person who believes in god?
For me personally, the answer is “Yes, if…” If the theist in question is not of the modern evangelical stripe. If this person is not going to attempt to convert me. If they can understand that I come from a heavily Christian, abusive upbringing and I have baggage thanks to that, and that they will have to deal with this baggage.
Your “Ifs” will be your own. They will likely differ from mine. Or you may have none at all. What’s important is that you’re honest with yourself. Communication is integral to making this type of relationship work; both with yourself and with your mate.
If you decide that yes, this is something you can and want to do, the next item on your agenda is a discussion with your potential partner about their beliefs. How deep this discussion delves is really up to you. Decide how much information you need for your final decision. Will a general summary of what this person believes work, or do you need details?
I am currently with someone who goes by the name Axton. He grew up Christian, and when we first started dating was still in the faith. Axton is fairly liberal in his opinions and definitely counted as a “Liberal Christian”–Did not believe in hell, things of that nature. He did not like discussing religion at all, and still to this day thinks I take it too seriously. It was just a thing he grew up with and casually believed.
I felt that I could deal with his beliefs. We’ll have been together 3 years in October, and he is slowly turning agnostic. It hasn’t been perfect; there have been a few issues that concerned his beliefs, but I definitely do not regret taking the chance.
We as Atheists tend to pride ourselves on being independent thinkers. To immediately write off someone simply because you find out that they believe in a god defies that kind of thinking, and undermines your credibility. Ultimately, theists vary in their beliefs as much as we do in our opinions. You owe it to both yourself and your potential mate to feel things out before turning them down. What if you’re passing on someone who could make you incredibly happy?
Plus you’ll be giving the finger to the common stereotype that atheists are cocky and arrogant. This stereotype always deserves the finger.
Give people an honest chance. If you find that they’re incorrigible jerks, you can then dismiss them for their real failings instead of madeup ones.