"When should be the right time to talk about religious belief? I am a very devout person, and I expect that from my date if they want to continue a relationship with me. When would be the right time to broach this topic?"
This was written for the Humpday dating app's Newsletter, ask your anonymous question at the bottom of this article.
Thank you for your question. It made me stop and think about what we expect from potential partners. How our expectations are important, but also how, when they move into checklist territory, they can close us off from potential connections. I believe religion is a value, and that we all have values we want to share with our partner or partners. So – you say you’re religious and expect that from your partner. I am therefore assuming that your partner being religious is a non-negotiable for you. If that is the case, then discussing religious beliefs as early as possible when dating is best. However, I also encourage you to think about whether you need a partner to have the same level of devoutness as you, or if respect and support for your religious belief is enough.
Let’s dive in.
To the question of the right time – I am not saying you must do it on the first date, but I think when we have non-negotiables it's best to discuss them as soon as possible. Equally, it's important to first try and establish some safety (inform friends about the date and where you are) and see if there is a connection there first. Typically, we can determine a connection during the first or second date.
Say things are going well, you feel there’s a connection and you’re moving to a third date – it sounds like it’s time to have this conversation. In terms of how to raise this topic, I see two ways forward.
If you’re looking for somebody spiritual, but not necessarily practising the same religion as you - or perhaps they’re practising loosely - then you may prefer to get to know this person first. I suggest exploring if your values align overall and then discussing how religion may look within the relationship. It’s unrealistic to assume that you will share every single value with a partner so it’s important to determine if you can respect your partner's different beliefs. I also challenge you to be open minded to dating a partner who may be a great match and supportive of your faith but not necessarily religious themselves. Sometimes dating outside of our usual ‘type’ can result in surprising and meaningful connections.
Now the first conversation about your faith may just be disclosing that you are religious, and a basic overview of your beliefs to see how the other person responds, giving them space to share their relationship with religion as well. The conversation doesn’t end here though, I recommend when you are comfortable enough (it may take a few weeks to get to this point) to break down your values within your religion. It’s important to identify any potential conflicts and how you want to practise religion together as a partnership.
Some important questions could be:
How do you practise your religion?
How do you practise relationships and intimacy?
How do you feel about your religion?
How would we like to practise our faith together?
If we were to have children, how would you like to practise religion as a family?
Using these questions as a jumping off point will allow you to get to know how this person sees religion in their life, beyond a simple check box. I believe approaching the conversation with curiosity and open mindedness will serve you both better. You might find that someone doesn’t practise religion formally, but they have many commonalities with your faith, and that might be a relationship worth exploring.
Most importantly though it's important to have fun while dating. Dating is a chance to determine what you do and don’t want in a partner and not everyone’s values will align with yours and that’s ok!