As one of the many 'spiritual but not religious' out there, I found this aspect of dating particularly fascinating. Understanding my own beliefs and expressing them respectfully was especially helpful along with these tips.
Know Yourself and Your Priorities
How important is religion to your personal identity? There is no right or wrong answer, just a matter of preference. My whole spiritual concept kind of follows a 'live and let live' philosophy, so I am open to interacting with people of all types as long as they don't force their beliefs on me. This also applied when I was single and dating. When dating, I thought a lot about my own limits. What beliefs made me feel comfortable or uncomfortable and why? It's important to be honest with yourself when it comes to these questions - that way you can give your date an honest answer. Before the religion conversation, ask yourself:
- Would I convert to another religion or expect my partner to do the same?
- Would I change my place of worship?
- Are my answers based on my own feelings or just to please my parents?
Discuss Morals and Values
If you're not sure about your date's comfort level regarding the topic of religion, try approaching the topic from the more general perspective of morals or values. Because I am not a part of a specific sect or religion and because I have pagan leanings, I found myself answering a laundry list of questions from dates. Most of these were just general moral questions rather than curiosities about scripture or doctrine, and I was very comfortable with this.
For many, having compatible values is far more important than sharing a religious doctrine with a partner.
That said, controversial topics such as abortion and same-sex marriage could come up when discussing morals, regardless of whether you are discussing religion. Be prepared to discuss this in a tactful and respectful fashion to avoid a major disagreement.
Understand Your Own Feelings on Children and Religion
If you want to have children (or already have them), define your own feelings on children and religion. You should ask yourself the following questions:
- Would you be comfortable with your children being raised in your partner's house of worship? Why or why not?
- Would having children raised in another sect or religion preclude them from participating in your own establishment's worship?
- Are you going to raise your children in a set religion, or are they free to choose?
Ending or Pursuing a Relationship
After the discussion, you and your partner may need to determine whether to continue or end your relationship. If your beliefs are fundamentally opposing, it may not be possible to pursue the relationship. However, if you disagree on only a few points, it's likely that you can respect each other, compromise, and work around any issues.
When my husband and I were dating, we found that we shared most moral beliefs and family values, even though our religious affiliations differed. This factored into our decision to continue our relationship.