When I was a little girl, thinking about dating was akin to thinking about a garufalump. What’s a garufalump? Exactly! Not only did I not know many people who were dating, I also didn’t receive much practical guidance about forming those kinds of relationships. The concept itself was completely elusive to my tween imagination. I don’t think it really got much better even later into my teens. I’ve now been happily married for over 15 years to my first “true love” and have two daughters, the older of whom will be dating in the next few years (gulp), and dating still looms as mysterious and large as that garufalump.
After spending a great deal of time with many young adults, and single older adults, my sense is that my feelings about dating aren’t rare, even for people who have dated for decades, and even (maybe especially) today, in the age of Cosmopolitan Magazine, the Bachelor, and Hookup.com (or whatever those sites are).
Relationships are messy. It really all boils down to the fact that humans are, on the one hand, very complex and on the other, very simple, encountering matters of love with our lizard brains.
Setting aside the question of how to make a relationship last – a definitive answer to which is about as elusive as the garufalump – we have the matter of religion to consider; and statistically, atheists are at a great disadvantage if they want to date someone of like mind. Additionally, if the numbers are accurate, anyone who wants to date an atheist woman is at an even greater disadvantage. For example, according to this usage statistics screenshot taken recently from the Atheist Republic Facebook Page, only 28% of our fans are female, compared to 46% of Facebook as a whole. This seems relatively representative of atheism beyond our community as well. So, are atheists doomed?
Taking the matter further, in many countries, it’s not safe to be “out” as an atheist. How do you find an atheist partner if you can’t even openly admit you’re an atheist?
Looking at the numbers alone, it’s not surprising there are so many atheists dating or married to religious people. Are these relationships destined for failure?
There are many matters to consider when two people are thinking about taking a relationship to deeper levels, including marriage, and factoring in differences of religious beliefs adds more questions:
- What will you do about holidays?
- What will you say to your kids?
- How will you raise the kids?
- What will you do about the in-laws?
- What happens if Sunday or Friday religious services become more important to one person who now wants their partner to come along?
Is your head spinning yet? Is it even worth the bother trying to make it all work?
We’re not done yet:
- How do you handle different ideas about sex before marriage?
- If you decide to get married, what will your marriage ceremony be like?
- What about when one person dies, how does the living partner handle the funeral when the wishes of the deceased don’t align with theirs?
- What books will be in your home? What about art, will the atheist be ok with a crucifix on the wall or a wiccan altar?
- All of these matters might seem surmountable now, but later, will one person start feeling resentful, either the theist because they have to suppress too much or the atheist because they have to be exposed to too much?