What if you’re Catholic and her boyfriend is Muslim – should you date a guy who follows a different religion? Interfaith relationships (and marriages) can be strong and happy, but they’re also a lot of work.
Before I give you a few things to think about, I want to give you something to ponder:
“I believe in God, but not as one thing, not as an old man in the sky. I believe that what people call God is something in all of us. I believe that what Jesus and Mohammed and Buddha and all the rest said was right. It’s just that the translations have gone wrong.” – John Lennon.
The first thing you need to do is figure out whether you’re spiritual, or religious, or both. John Lennon was spiritual. I am both spiritual and religious (I follow the Christian faith as my religion, but I am always trying to build a deeper, more spiritual, more meaningful relationship with God).
If you’re serious about dating someone of a different religion, read Mixed Matches: How to Create Successful Interracial, Interethnic, and Interfaith Relationships. You may not be ready for marriage right now, but this book will help you prepare for anything.
Should You Date Someone Who Has Different Religious Beliefs?
The most important thing is to talk to your partner about your spirituality or religion. If you can’t show him or her this article, then you probably shouldn’t be dating (or marrying).
Decide how important spirituality is to you
Is your religion or spirituality an important part of your life? What do you “get” out of being a spiritual person? Do you like going to church, mosque, synagogue, or the temple every week? Would you miss your connection with God or Allah if it were gone?
If you continue to date or even marry someone of a different religion, chances are you will be drawn away from your faith. I know interfaith marriages and relationships are possible and can even be good, but they won’t create a stronger bond between you and your Creator.
I believe that if you hook up with someone who doesn’t have the same religious beliefs, then you will start to lose your connection with your faith.
Talk to your friends, family, and spiritual mentors
While I don’t think you should do everything people say, I think it’s important to listen to your loved ones. Do they support your relationship? They want the best for you. They love and care for you. They aren’t thinking with their sexy parts (like you are) and they are more objective than you are.
If your friends and family aren’t supportive of this relationship, then you need to give it more thought. Listen to their reasoning. Try not to get defensive or hurt; remember that they want the best for you.
Talk to your partner about your faith
I’m matched with a Little Sister through Big Sisters/Big Brothers. She’s Muslim, and I’m Christian.
We have a fantastic relationship – I love that girl! One of the reasons we get along so well is because we talk about our faiths all the time. She tells me how the Muslim religion works, and I tell her about Christianity. We aren’t trying to “convert” each other; we’re just having good philosophical and religious conversations.
But, I’m not dating this girl, thinking about marrying her, or planning to raise kids with her. That’s the difference between having friends of different religions versus having an interfaith marriage. Marriage is complicated and can be a lot of hard work…and marrying someone of a different religion makes things more difficult.
If you can’t talk to your partner about your faith now, then you won’t be able to talk in the future. Start opening up those discussions now.
Expect backlash from your families
If your parents have a strong religious faith, then they will be disappointed or even devastated that you’re dating someone who doesn’t believe. Don’t try to convince your parents or loved ones that you’re doing the right thing, because you’ll fail. Instead, accept their disappointment. Be honest with them. Try not to argue with them, because it’s a losing battle.
Here’s an article that will help you and your partner cope with family problems: When Your Boyfriend’s Family is Ruining Your Relationship.
Also, remember that if you marry someone outside your religion, you’ll have to decide how to raise your kids.
Don’t expect your partner to convert to your religion
Never date or marry someone with the hope or expectation that he or she will change. If you’re dating someone with different religious beliefs, you can expect him or her to stay the same.
It’s not likely that you’ll convert your partner to your faith. On the contrary, it’s far more likely that your partner will weaken your spiritual connection to God. You have to love and accept who your partner is without trying to change him.
When you’re dating someone with different religious beliefs, you need to be firm, kind, gentle, and honest with yourself and others. Try to hold on to your faith and stay true to who you are.
If you think an interfaith relationship isn’t right for you, read How to Let Go of Someone You Love.