HopefulPoet

Religion as a dealbreaker: How can you say it nicely?

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Hey guys! (And also girls, I'm just too lazy to post to both forums!)

 

I know I haven't been active on here in a while, but I need a bit of advice about something.

 

So, I've been talking to this guy for about two months (we live in the same town, but I'm currently in England studying abroad, and we didn't really know each other until a week before I left), and while we haven't been able to hang out or go on a date yet, he's told me it's his intention to take me out as soon as I get home in a few months. I really enjoy talking to him, and he's incredibly sweet and smart, but I've recently found out that his faith and mine don't align (I'm Christian and he's Atheist). Not only that, but when I bring up my faith (not in a "I'd like to talk to you about Jesus and convert you" way, but in a "hey this really cool God moment happened today and I'd like to share it with someone I care about" way) he shuts it down immediately, and doesn't seem interested in what I say at all.

 

My faith is such a vital part of who I am and how I live my life, and the discord between our two beliefs is honestly too much for me to really continue to want to date him. I need someone who I can grow in faith with, and who shares my sense of hope and optimism for the universe. This guy is smart, funny, and really sweet, and I just don't know how best to say this to him? I'm worried that using this reason will turn him from God even more so, or that he'll think it's bogus and get angry/his feelings hurt? Is there a way to say this gently? Or is it going to be a Band-Aid situation no matter what I do? And, for the girls that read this, have you ever had similar problems? What should I do??

 

Thanks so much for reading that super long thing, any advice helps! :)

 

-HP

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What about something like "I think you're really sweet, but since our faiths are different I don't think there'd be harmony if we ever got married."

 

Mentioning marriage might get him thinking about the long run...50, 60, 70, 80+ years together.

 

You can do your best to be respectful and try not to hurt his feelings, but in the end his reaction is up to him. If you're being considerate, respectful and truthful it's not your fault if he gets angry, or hates God because of it. That's entirely his choice.

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I'm worried that using this reason will turn him from God even more so, or that he'll think it's bogus and get angry/his feelings hurt? Is there a way to say this gently? Or is it going to be a Band-Aid situation no matter what I do? And, for the girls that read this, have you ever had similar problems? What should I do??

 

Thanks so much for reading that super long thing, any advice helps! :)

 

-HP

I'm going to be honest, telling him you won't date him won't make him turn away from God any more than he is now, he already sees God and religion as bogus. He might be a little disappointed in you, and he'll be hurt by the fact that this imaginary god of yours (How he'll perceive it) prevents you from dating him. But he should be able to accept it as like you said, your beliefs will just be too different in the long run.

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I think his reaction will largely depend on how clearly he perceives the huge difference in your belief systems. Since he has already shut you down a few times when talking about religion, that tells me that he is already feeling some significant tension around that issue. However, if you've been downplaying your beliefs somewhat for his sake, it might come as more of a shock when you break things off due to your incompatibility. Either way, I doubt you can entirely avoid hurting him. I'd say it is best to take care of it as soon as you can, though.

 

I also agree with everything Mirage said; it is unlikely that anything you say to him can turn him further away from God, as he already has no belief in God. He might be more miffed at the *concept* of religion for a while, but you can't really feel drawn to or turned away from something you have no belief in. Also, if he is lacking in hope and optimism, that's all on him, not atheism.  :P

 

Keep us updated!

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He probably already senses that your opposing beliefs are incompatible and thus it isn't going to work out anyways. Also, if he gets angry and thinks less of you for it (assuming you tell him honestly and respectfully) then he's the one with the problem, not you. I have no doubt that he's sweet and a good guy. But if you want to be with someone who shares your faith in God and to help you grow, then please don't compromise on that no matter how great of a guy he is.

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Before I was Christian, I was impressed when people would only date other Christians. It said their beliefs weren't wishy-washy but were solid and important and real. So it's possible for people to come closer to God, when seeing another steadfast in their faith.

 

It's challenging for us predict how people will react to things in the long run, so we can act according to the bible and Holy Spirit because God guides us above our own knowledge.

 

Holding love in our hearts the whole time.

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It's always hard when you don't know how someone is going to react to something like that, but everyone here has given great advice. You just have to remember that you are thinking about the 'long run', and knowing what you NEED for you and your faith to grow in God is something that, if he can respect it, could make him a good friend, but if he can't... then he probably wasn't meant to be a part of your life as more than this anyway. Everyone that enters our life, is there for a reason. We learn from them, they learn from us, we lean on the, they lean on us, whether it's good or bad. Whatever. The best you can do is be as honest, and as kind, as you can be. Just let him know that you like him, but that (in this case religion, but whatever the reason is) because of this it's just not going to work out as more than a friendship, and let him know if you're open to that or not. Maybe you'll have a new friend, maybe they'll pass through your life. Just leave it in the capable hands of God.

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You can't hurt him by sticking to your principles, it should only make him respect you more. It almost sounds like he has a bitterness against God, and bitterness like that would only poison you both.

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Okay, so these answers were so eloquently put and helpful and wonderful and jeeze, you are all really perfect. :D Thank you so much for the help, seriously! I'm hoping to tell him today, and keeping what you've all said in mind is going to make it much less difficult to say. I love that everyone on this site is always so quick to help, it's really incredible. Thanks again! :)

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This is coming a bit late, but....

 

I didn't reject anyone per se because they were Christian, but I've made it abundantly clear to guys that I was looking for a Christian to date.

 

That principle scared everyone off except for one guy. He was not a Christian, but decided to learn about Christianity on his own. He started to go to church, read books on the Christian faith and I answered a lot of his questions and searched for answers with him when I couldn't.

 

Thankfully I knew him well enough to know that he was genuinely invested in finding a solid foundation of morality/spirituality, which may not be the case for people who have only known each other for a couple months.

 

But as there are those who pretend to have interest in Christianity, there are also those who truly believe that they believe in Christianity and have no interest in it.

 

Frankly, I'd choose the former rather than the latter. At least they know where they stand.

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I hope everything went well? I've contemplated the conundrum myself. I would say that my faith is a too large and important part of me that I couldn't see a serious (marriage) relationship being successful if it wasn't shared by my spouse. Especially if kids were to enter the equation aswell.

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Thanks for the help! Update: Things did not go very well at all, which is alright because I was able to find out what kind of person he really was. At any rate, I've decided to be happy living in a cottage in Ireland alone for the rest of my life. It turns out that my soul mate is a place, not a man. Happy days!

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A bit off topic, but I myself would only considering marrying a Catholic. Some of my Catholic relatives have married Protestants, and everything worked out fine. They are good people, but especially when it comes to raising kids, I would want us both to be on the same page with our beliefs.

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