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Dating A Christian?


MultifariousBirdLady
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Has anybody dated a Christian after leaving the faith? How did it go?

 

I am seeing somebody who is a monotheist but unsure about many other points of doctrine, despite having a background in conservative Christianity. If we talk about religion (which I enjoy!), every once in a while he'll say something that I find myself wanting to react defensively or aggressively to. These tend to be phrases or arguments that were used in a fundamentalist Christian group I was involved with way back when. I believe that he does not intend to cause this reaction in me and he was understanding when I mentioned that my previous Christian experience was very painful.

 

It seems like these incidents could be opportunities for me to work on de-sensitizing some of my triggers. My fear is that at some point he may express an idea that I would feel compelled to attack, and I would not want to do that to him.

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Well, I was already married before deconverting. I do believe, though, that if I had been single when I deconverted, I probably would have had difficulty with the idea of dating a christian. Here in America, though, it could be difficult to find a mate who's not a believer on some level, since it's so ingrained in our minds that even many of those who aren't religious have some belief in and respect for christianity.

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I came within weeks of marrying a wonderful Filipina lady a decade ago. What eventually doomed us was her strict Catholic beliefs, and her unending attempts to convert me. We started with a "don't ask, don't tell" sort of philosophy buy she couldn't let it rest.

My current better half is xian (so she says) but we rarely mention religion (or lack thereof).

Hope it works out for you. Relationships are tricky ;under the best of circumstances.

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I'm like you, both in enjoying theological discussion and in having strong negative reactions to some (many) doctrines. I'd say, take it a day at a time, watch yourself carefully, and perhaps mentally prepare some kind of verbal disclaimer for times when things get too personal. For instance:

 

"Look, I'm sorry if my reaction felt like it was aimed at you personally. It wasn't. It's just that in my own background, (Et cetera.)."

 

Another angle I'd recommend would be, when running across some damnable doctrinal belief, to keep the focus on yourself, your own journey, the effect on you of having already, as a Christian tried to put that doctrine into action and how it left you in an immoral position, bothered your conscience, and so forth.

 

For one thing, it puts the direct moral burden on you and is less likely to feel like a personal attack on him. For another, the example will confront him with something which he may have not yet thought of, along with the fact that, depending on just *how* Christian he is (Or how Christianized), he will probably see in some way that it might be a good idea for him to address that issue within himself. At least one would hope so. The degree to which he does that will be important information for you to use in making further decisions about how deeply you want to get entangled with him.

 

Think of it as a filter. How he responds to that sort of thing tells you stuff about him which you would *want* to know.

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My current bf is Catholic, but he says some outrageous and blasphemous stuff which even curls my toes. His sense of humor is that raunchy but dry British humor as he asked me last week "If God doesn't believe in birth control how did he keep the animals from mating on Noah's ark and overpopulating?" :HaHa: I was shocked to hear this from a guy who goes to Mass every Sunday, so I said "Oh must be God put a female animal with a male animal from another species- kind of like those videos you see online of chimpanzees having their way with frogs and dogs humping ducks."

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I've got a distance thing going on with a guy that seems to have Christian beliefs...until it comes to sex, anyway (I don't think I'd be able to stand dating someone that's saving it for marriage these days).

 

It bothers me a little that he doesn't accept evolution and seems mildly homophobic, but I find myself hoping it works out anyway. As long as he doesn't try to re-convert me (and he seems to love the fact that I'm embracing my naughtiness because of the deconversion, so that's unlikely), it's all good.

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I have not dated a Christian since deconverting, but since you enjoy the conversation for the most part, I would adopt a "wait and see" attitude. If you still enjoy most of the conversation that sounds good. I would draw the line at attempts to convert you or a bullying attitude.

 

Maybe one day when hes in a really good mood push the envelope a little - say something really provocative and see how he reacts.

 

Just some thoughts. I have no expertise in relationships for sure. I am just glad to see you back here posting, Multi.

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The last time I dated a Christian was in 2001. When we started seeing one another, I was a rather backslidden Christian seeker in the middle of doubting and exploring my faith and others. After he finished with me, I looked at his behavior and realized that if being a Christian meant I had to be like him, I'd rather give it up and go to hell. I also realized that I would never trust a Christian again, much less date one.

 

So that pretty much settled that.

 

Thing is, religion is as much of a problem as a couple makes it. Some are able to live and let live, some are able to clash on the matter but remain solidly caring of one another, and some will dehumanize and reject their partners once religious differences rear their ugly heads. Sometimes things can go swimmingly for a long time, until talk of marriage or children or something big and serious comes up, and then the religious power struggle starts. Can you live with that possibility? I can't.

 

That said, if you're going to be dating a Christian I think it's good to understand how and why you might overreact to some of the stuff they might have to say. That's just good advice in any relationship, really: understand who you are and why you do the things you do, what's behind kneejerk responses, what's driving your emotions, stuff like that. It may be that you can figure out how to talk with your SO about religion without such responses, or it may be that avoiding religion is a better option.

 

I don't know, really. I'm sort of rambling here. I hope it goes well, in any case.

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I am seeing somebody who is a monotheist but unsure about many other points of doctrine, despite having a background in conservative Christianity.

 

My fear is that at some point he may express an idea that I would feel compelled to attack, and I would not want to do that to him.

 

I worry that you will be so afraid of hurting him or being intolerant toward him that you will not stand up for yourself in the face of ideas that you find repugnant. If you're not to the point where you can firmly but calmly disagree on philosophical grounds without it becoming overly personal, you may not be ready to date a Christian. Else I fear that you will be on an emotional roller-coaster, not only from the Christian ideas that he might actually express, but because you'll be constantly afraid that he might say something you dislike. While I agree that you should de-sensitize your triggers so that hearing about other people's beliefs doesn't have power over your inner calm, I see no point in getting into a relationship with someone where you repeatedly have to hold back your negative reactions.

 

In the long term, my big red flag would be that he's from a background of conservative Christianity. I thought that I was marrying a liberal Christian... but I totally underestimated the power of his family and his church to pull him back into Fundamentalism. He's now my EX-husband. When we first started dating, he seemed like just a normal guy- But now it seems obvious that it was just a rumspringa- he was experimenting with what the world had to offer, but fully intended to settle down into Christianity after marriage- to be the Christian patriarch of a Christian family. He became more and more concerned about his family's approval and his status in the church, and before you knew it, we were going to a Bible study, visiting his fundy family all the time, and pressure was being put on me to pop out little Christian babies. If you think there's a possibility of a relationship getting serious, you'd do well to find out how much opposition there will be to your beliefs from his family.

 

That said, my boyfriend now is a Christian/Deist Universalist. He believes that there's a god who is not particularly concerned with the details of our behavior or with being worshiped, and that any religion or moral system can be a path to god. Most of his family members have similar beliefs. While I disagree with him that there's a god of any sort, I see no reason to be upset if someone else chooses to believe in a vague higher power that has no expectations on peoples' lives beyond trying to be good people.

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I'd say, take it a day at a time, watch yourself carefully, and perhaps mentally prepare some kind of verbal disclaimer for times when things get too personal. For instance:

 

"Look, I'm sorry if my reaction felt like it was aimed at you personally. It wasn't. It's just that in my own background, (Et cetera.)."

 

Another angle I'd recommend would be, when running across some damnable doctrinal belief, to keep the focus on yourself, your own journey, the effect on you of having already, as a Christian tried to put that doctrine into action and how it left you in an immoral position, bothered your conscience, and so forth.

 

Yep, I agree with these and the other things you said. I have already mentioned some things about my background and that certain ideas will make me want to respond negatively. I am going to take it slow.

 

It's very early in this relationship so there's lots of time to see what comes of it.

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Sometimes you just have to try on a relationship and see if it fits. My wife is Christian, and I haven't been for almost as long as we've been married (about 20 years).

 

But we don't often get into arguments, and she has the sense to put a stop to it if I get too aggressive. She calls me her "little heathen" in an affectionate manner, and she worries about my going to hell, but her doctrines are so watered down and confused that she has no idea if she will go to hell or not. She wants to believe that her family is in heaven, and she doesn't care to debate it. It doesn't appear to matter if it's "real" because she believes it and, for her, that settles it.

 

It is possible to date, love and marry a Christian, but there are certainly unique issues that come about from time to time.

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I have not dated a Christian since deconverting, but since you enjoy the conversation for the most part, I would adopt a "wait and see" attitude. If you still enjoy most of the conversation that sounds good. I would draw the line at attempts to convert you or a bullying attitude.

 

There has been no bullying or any conversion attempts whatsoever. If anything, he seems a little hesitant because he is unsure about a number of doctrines, himself. One thing he is clear on is that he seems staunchly monotheistic, though in a fairly tolerant, somewhat universalist way.

 

I think this could be a real learning experience!

 

Maybe one day when hes in a really good mood push the envelope a little - say something really provocative and see how he reacts.

 

Ahh, see, I don't want to go pushing his buttons just to see how he reacts. However, it's important for me to be able to talk to my partner about emotional issues I'm dealing with, so if something were to come up for me that I felt a need to discuss and then he reacted manipulatively or in some other really counterproductive manner, well, that would probably be the end.

 

My concern is more that, out of fear, I could possibly end up doing the same kind of manipulative button-pushing that I would really resent if done to me, just from a different side of the theological divide. And I really, really do not want to do that.

 

See, if this were some family member or friend, no problem, because there's more emotional distance there and it's a lot easier for me to live and let live. But since we're dating, I would like to get much closer emotionally, but I am not sure I feel safe enough with his worldview to do that... which is why it's helpful for us to talk about it, and why I don't want to overreact. I am getting the impression that, despite some of the phrasing he uses, he has left a lot of his former fundamentalism behind. But the phrasing is just still problematic for me right now.

 

Just some thoughts. I have no expertise in relationships for sure. I am just glad to see you back here posting, Multi.

 

Thank you. :)

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Sometimes things can go swimmingly for a long time, until talk of marriage or children or something big and serious comes up, and then the religious power struggle starts. Can you live with that possibility? I can't.

 

I think that could happen with any of the big issues, and it doesn't take religious differences to have that happen. I am willing to give it a shot to see where it leads.

 

And yes, I agree 100% about learning more about my triggers and dealing with them. I've done a lot of that already and was surprised by my reactions in this case. I do think it's because I'd like to get closer than I would be getting with anybody else.

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I worry that you will be so afraid of hurting him or being intolerant toward him that you will not stand up for yourself in the face of ideas that you find repugnant. If you're not to the point where you can firmly but calmly disagree on philosophical grounds without it becoming overly personal, you may not be ready to date a Christian.

 

When it comes to Christian doctrinal issues, I tend a lot more towards standing up for myself perhaps too much than the other way around, and I have (I think) a lot of practice attacking the ideas rather than the person. What I don't want to do is overreact against beliefs he doesn't actually hold, or beliefs he is not pushing on me, just because the way he phrases things remind me of my past.

 

 

Else I fear that you will be on an emotional roller-coaster, not only from the Christian ideas that he might actually express, but because you'll be constantly afraid that he might say something you dislike. While I agree that you should de-sensitize your triggers so that hearing about other people's beliefs doesn't have power over your inner calm, I see no point in getting into a relationship with someone where you repeatedly have to hold back your negative reactions.

 

If it comes to that, you're right. At this point I'm not sure it will be quite that bad if I can get a handle on my own reactions. These issues have only come up a few times so far and when I think about it carefully, it's MY issues that are causing my agitation.

 

In the long term, my big red flag would be that he's from a background of conservative Christianity. I thought that I was marrying a liberal Christian... but I totally underestimated the power of his family and his church to pull him back into Fundamentalism. He's now my EX-husband. When we first started dating, he seemed like just a normal guy- But now it seems obvious that it was just a rumspringa- he was experimenting with what the world had to offer, but fully intended to settle down into Christianity after marriage- to be the Christian patriarch of a Christian family. He became more and more concerned about his family's approval and his status in the church, and before you knew it, we were going to a Bible study, visiting his fundy family all the time, and pressure was being put on me to pop out little Christian babies. If you think there's a possibility of a relationship getting serious, you'd do well to find out how much opposition there will be to your beliefs from his family.

 

Oh wow, I'm sorry to hear that.

In this case his family is Catholic but at least some of them (from what I hear, I haven't met any of 'em) are not particularly staunch about it.

 

That said, my boyfriend now is a Christian/Deist Universalist. He believes that there's a god who is not particularly concerned with the details of our behavior or with being worshiped, and that any religion or moral system can be a path to god.

 

Despite some of his triggering-for-me phrasing, I think this is a little more along the lines of what he seems to believe now.

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Sometimes you just have to try on a relationship and see if it fits. My wife is Christian, and I haven't been for almost as long as we've been married (about 20 years).

 

But we don't often get into arguments, and she has the sense to put a stop to it if I get too aggressive. She calls me her "little heathen" in an affectionate manner, and she worries about my going to hell, but her doctrines are so watered down and confused that she has no idea if she will go to hell or not. She wants to believe that her family is in heaven, and she doesn't care to debate it. It doesn't appear to matter if it's "real" because she believes it and, for her, that settles it.

 

It is possible to date, love and marry a Christian, but there are certainly unique issues that come about from time to time.

 

I'm glad you responded here. It's good to hear that things can work out long-term in situations like this.

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Most I'd do is fuck one, and I'd feel not one ounce of guilt unless she broke down crying afterwards or something.

 

Bonus points if I get her to scream "Oh Lord Jesus!!!" while... oh, nevermind. :lmao:

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I came within weeks of marrying a wonderful Filipina lady a decade ago. What eventually doomed us was her strict Catholic beliefs, and her unending attempts to convert me. We started with a "don't ask, don't tell" sort of philosophy buy she couldn't let it rest.

My current better half is xian (so she says) but we rarely mention religion (or lack thereof).

Hope it works out for you. Relationships are tricky ;under the best of circumstances.

 

 

Yeah, a few years a go I was dating a part Filipino/Asian girl who also was quite steeped in Catholicism. While she didn't try and convert me, some problems did creep up. She insisted that prayer and devotion to "Catholic miracles" could change your life, and was a little but too much in "wish" mode some of the time. However, the relationship didn't fall because of that; there were other unrelated issues.

 

 

I think it can work between an atheist and religious partner, especially if the religious one isn't too bent on "converting" their spouse. That's got to be a trouble-maker right there.

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I think it can work between an atheist and religious partner, especially if the religious one isn't too bent on "converting" their spouse. That's got to be a trouble-maker right there.

 

 

I'm a Pagan, so we're both theists. I agree that any attempts to convert the other partner one way or the other would spell real trouble.

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My current bf is Catholic, but he says some outrageous and blasphemous stuff which even curls my toes. His sense of humor is that raunchy but dry British humor as he asked me last week "If God doesn't believe in birth control how did he keep the animals from mating on Noah's ark and overpopulating?" :HaHa: I was shocked to hear this from a guy who goes to Mass every Sunday, so I said "Oh must be God put a female animal with a male animal from another species- kind of like those videos you see online of chimpanzees having their way with frogs and dogs humping ducks."

 

In ancient times, ship captains had the authority to perform marriage ceremonies, or so we are told.* So we can be sure Captain Noah acted on his authority to prevent those critters from engaging in sinful premarital sex by performing the proper nuptials whenever the threat of illegal mating raised its furry/feathered/scaly head.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

* Of course, the notion that ship captains had the right to unite couples in the bonds of Holy Matrimony is largely a myth. But so is Noah's flood, so it all works out. :lmao:

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My husband and I have begun to have differing views on religion, although we started out from the same view. It can cause a bit of a challenge, but it can also lead to interesting debates and discussions. I don't think I could ever mesh with a fundy type christian though, just wouldn't work since it is too large of a part of who they are.

 

But differing views can be fun and stimulating, as long as you keep the right frame of mind. I try not to change my hubby's views, he doesn't try to change mine, but we can still enjoy presenting each side of the arguements, share interesting things we've read, etc.

 

The key, I believe, is that the other person is open enough to share and discuss without feeling the need to change you. If two can find that balance, then it certainly can work.

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I've only known a couple atheist girls, and none of them were anyone I would want to date. So I've dated nothing but theists. All christian except for 1 muslim girl. It really wasn't much of an issue except for 1. Most christians I meet my age are just like atheists behavior wise. They have pre-marital sex, some of them drink, they enjoy the "sinful" things in life as much as I do. Sure, some of them can get kind of preachy, most don't "understand" atheism. But it's only caused a riff once, and it wasn't her, it was pressure from her family because I didn't go to their church every Sunday (something I will never do).

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See, you've got your cafeteria Catholics or your twice-a-year Episcopalians that are pretty laid back about it and mostly don't give a shit. That's all well and fine.

 

A fundie girl? If I happened to meet one that wanted to fuck without any formalities (apparently there's plenty such creatures throughout the Bible Belt), then sure. Otherwise, about the only time I consider the possibility is when I'm jerking off, halfway out of spite, to the thought of my former senior pastor's oldest daughter. I could go into more detail than that, but I shan't.

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Been there, done that. Failed. I advise against it. Sooner or later, it's going to become too much of an issue. Maybe you'll have kids and then you'll fight over what to teach the kids, or maybe one of you will eventually stop pretending you're not bothered by the difference and realize that you're never going to change the other person, so it's just not going to work. Maybe a major life event or simply older age shifts a half assed religious person into overdrive and they become really religious (gf's dad is currently doing something like that). Maybe you can work things out with someone with a religion, but I think it just ads another big point of contention that will eventually show it's ugly head. Personally, I will never do it again. For one thing, I have grown to hate the average religion with quite a passion. I can't stand the stupidity and/or intellectual dishonesty involved in believing in religion so I simply can't admire someone who is religious. But that's just me.

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I've only known a couple atheist girls, and none of them were anyone I would want to date. So I've dated nothing but theists. All christian except for 1 muslim girl. It really wasn't much of an issue except for 1. Most christians I meet my age are just like atheists behavior wise. They have pre-marital sex, some of them drink, they enjoy the "sinful" things in life as much as I do. Sure, some of them can get kind of preachy, most don't "understand" atheism. But it's only caused a riff once, and it wasn't her, it was pressure from her family because I didn't go to their church every Sunday (something I will never do).

 

I dated 1 xtian girl since I became Atheist. I wouldn't do it again. She was exactly as described above, but had serious issues. We'd go out and get drunk, come home and smoke pot, then fuck like rabbits. Then afterward, she'd get down on herself for "being sinful". We would discuss this from time to time, and she would let her church "friends" judge her for having sex with her BFs. I tried to show her how the church invents the sins she felt she was committing (basically listening to her human drives) and how they offer the only cure to the problem they invented. I tried to get her to see the circle she was in, but she wouldn't allow herself to do it. I eventually just let things fade because I felt so bad for her. She was a great girl, and a lot of fun, but I couldn't watch her torment herself anymore.

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Maybe you'll have kids and then you'll fight over what to teach the kids,

 

Well, I made a surgical decision more than 10 years ago to ensure that kids would not be an issue. ;)

 

'Course, that alone could be a no-go for some, but it won't have anything to do with religion.

 

or maybe one of you will eventually stop pretending you're not bothered by the difference and realize that you're never going to change the other person, so it's just not going to work.

 

Possibly. But I think if the relationship continues, time will tell if this will occur or not. There's really no rush. I do not expect to change him, BTW. I do want more info on where he stands on certain issues to better gauge whether we'd ultimately be compatible (I've been asking, a bit at a time). But if he is somehow thinking in the back of his mind that he'll change me -- and mind you I have no indication he's thinking this -- then I agree that's trouble.

 

Maybe a major life event or simply older age shifts a half assed religious person into overdrive and they become really religious (gf's dad is currently doing something like that).

 

This is a fear for me, yes, but there's no way to know what will happen in the future. But again, it's entirely possible to be with someone non-religious who suddenly finds one religion or another, too, so only dating non-religious people doesn't necessarily protect you from that. Any of us could potentially convert to a compelling religion or worldview at some point. But I don't think there's any reason to end a relationship because of things I can't predict that might happen in the future.

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