Dating Someone with Another Faith Background
You're dating and your religious beliefs are different. How
much difference does this make?
The answer is: Another person's religious beliefs are
important to you to the degree they're important to you.
This may sound like begging the question, but it's an
important thing to 'get'. Assuming you're looking for
marriage, you need to make a 'must have' and 'can't stand'
list. If certain religious beliefs go into either group,
pay attention to them, because you won't be happy if they
aren't there (or are and shouldn't be) and the relationship
won't work in the long run.
Begging the question is what Zen koans are all about; those
maddening 'answers' that the 'master' gives when the novice
asks a question. He seems to answer all around something
without coming out and saying it. Why is this important?
Because the master is also teaching the novice how to think
and how to answer his own questions.
The master answers so that the learner understands they're
either asking a question no one knows the answer to (like
- Will this man make good children?), or it's a question you
don't need an answer to in order to get on with your life
(like, 'Will this man go bald when he gets old?'), or that
you know the answer as well as anyone else, you just don't
know it by reason (which is limited) and you can't accept
that (like, 'Are we compatible?'), or that only you can
answer (like, 'Is this the right man for me?').
In the case of religious beliefs, the emotionally
intelligent thing to do is to figure out what you want (work
with a coach for clarity; it's worth it) and then experience
It's important to formulate you spiritual 'must haves' and
- can't stands' in the correct way. Do you mean adherence to
a certain set of principals as espoused by a certain faith,
such as being Methodist, or Buddhist? Do you need someone
to agree with every word you say about it?
Or do you want the person to believe in certain spiritual
principals which could be compatible with various faiths?
Does it matter to you more how the person argues their faith
verbally in their head, or how they live it in their daily
actions and behaviors? Some people live in a way that's
very compatible with certain faiths, though they may not
officially belong to any religious organization. Some
religions require only faith; others require certain
If you want to see certain values and principals in action,
what are they? Honesty? The Golden Rule? Compassion?
I do encourage you to take the time to see how the person
lives out their principals. It's easy to say you believe in
charity. It's not so easy to tithe.
Now since we began with koans, here is one to help you
understand how to go about this, from Lao Tzu: 'A tree that
is unbending is easily broken.' This is referring to the EQ
competency of flexibility.
Choosing a good life partner is a matter of both head and
heart. I know all the self-help experts out there are
telling to make a list, make a list, but, really, your
common sense will tell you that people don't conform to
lists. That's why you're still looking, right? Most of
the clients who've come to me for relationship coaching
have list that don't work in the real world. In other
words, they only make sense on paper.
It's nice to make a list, yes, except it's just words. Also
the things on the list may not add up to someone who loves
you treats you well, and is a responsible, pleasant and
comfortable person to be. (Unless of course those things
are on your list.
You're going out to add something to your life 'a partner.
Think of it in terms of choosing a pet. You can head out to
buy a Chocolate Lab, or you can head out to buy a female
Chocolate lab with a gentle disposition who's good with
kids, or you can head out to by any dog with a gentle
disposition who's good with kids, or a dog under 50 lbs.
with a gentle disposition who's good with kids, or a dog
that's got a gentle disposition, weighs less than 50 lbs.,
is good with kids and is anything except a cocker spaniel.
On the other hand, you could go to the pet store and look
for a dog that appeals to you!
What's the best way to proceed? I think it depends upon
your experience and EQ, and if you're rather new in either
area, I'd suggest some coaching. There's a lot fo learn,
and the more you learn, the more you can make wise choices.
In just about anything in life, first you have to learn the
rules. Then you learn how to break them.
Back to the dog analogy. After owning dogs for more years
than some of my readers have been alive, I'd go somewhere
with likely candidates and then choose a dog that appeals
to me. That's because I've had a lot of experience with
dogs, and I have good intuition, an EQ competency.
Intuition is leading from heart and suspending the
intellect. Of course I would set forth with certain
intellectual parameters in mind. I don't want a dog
that's known to bite any more than I'd want a date
who's known to bite!
Good intuition allows you to suspend the intellect, which is
important in matters of the heart. For instance, I know now
that an English Spring Spaniel can make a wonderful animal
companion, and so can a Basset, a Heinz 57 and a Siberian
Husky. By the same token, I know I can enjoy a male
companion with a Ph.D., an M.A., no college but lots of
smarts, or an M.D. In other words, I don't 'rule out' on
the education (or the breed).
However, I also know that a dog that can't be house-broken,
or one that bites, or one that's too abused to be able to
enjoy people isn't a good choice, any more than a man with
too much emotional baggage, or a set of bad habits such as
addiction, is also not a good choice. I will 'rule out' on
There's a kind of list that works, and a kind that doesn't.
If you spend some time doing your homework, you'll have
better luck. Learn how to make a list that works, and
develop your intuition. Then you can date in an emotionally
Why be the tree that bends so it doesn't break? Because you
might meet someone who would be an outstanding life partner
for you who doesn't happen to have something that's on your
list. In other words, be flexible about your list.
Generally speaking, you can bend on almost anything except a
character or personality trait, and you can even bend on a
personality trait if there's enough good in the
relationship. For instance, more than one client I've
worked with has found out that the 'boring' man they were
considering turned out to have the sort of stable,
consistent personality traits that made for a good life
partner, and that a pretty face is just another pretty face.
Look beneath the surface and have a list that allows for
what really counts.
About the Author
Susan Dunn, The EQ Coach, www.susandunn.cc, helps women find the relationship they dream of and is the author of 'Midlife Dating Survival Manual for Women," www.webstrategies.cc/ebooklibrary.html.Mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org for information on coaching, Internet courses, discrete investigative service (to find out about the guy you're datig or the other woman) and ebooks.