Like most people, I have a handful of deal breakers — personality traits or lifestyle choices that, while I don't judge the person for them, I know will make us romantically incompatible. Near the very top of that is someone who is very religious. That's pretty much an automatic no-go for me. Just to be clear, if someone is serious about their spiritual practice, I think that's great. However, I know myself well enough to be honest that the friction our different beliefs would cause would eventually lead us to be broken up because of religion. So, to save my heart and those of others, I just don't go there.
Other folks, however, have not been so lucky. After stumbling upon a Reddit thread about this very topic, women revealed how different religious beliefs — or degrees of belief, if they were from the same religious background as their partners — led to the demise of their relationships. For some, it was a realization that the religious differences meant they had very different values. For others, it just meant this relationship couldn't go the distance because of cultural or familial expectations. If you've ever had a romance end because of a core belief, spiritual or not, you're going to relate to these women's stories.
It wasn't the only reason, but religion did play a large part in one of my breakups. When we met he wasn't very religious, but the longer we were together the more he started going to church and his attitude started to change. He began talking about family values like him being the head of the family, and how I would need to be more of a housewife-type if he was going to consider marriage. We broke up not long after that, and from what I can gather (we don't speak) he married someone else about four months after we broke up.
I've never been able to seriously date someone from my own culture cause I'm not traditional enough. I'm Indian but I'm an atheist, childfree, and on the far side of liberal. My relationships all failed cause of at least one of those.
My first boyfriend was from Lebanon and his parents didn't approve of me dating him. He was always really hesitant and reluctant to make any sort of commitment to me and early on we both knew it wouldn't be a forever thing. We both still had fun for two years until I realized I wanted something a little more serious and kept feeling like he didn't really care that much about me. His religion was one where he would never be allowed to marry an outsider, but they also don't let people convert into it. I'm sure his dating pool would therefore be very limited. Anyway, I think we were both guarded and neither of us got super attached to the other. It still hurt to break up but it was for the best.
Yep, my first love was from a completely different religious background and that's why things ended before we left high school.
We dated for about 2 and a half years and it was the first relationship for either of us. He was southern baptist, I was agnostic raised in a Catholic (in name only) family. I was a closeted bisexual who loved science (especially evolution) and believed strongly in equal rights for women and people of all sexual orientations and gender identities.
He had been raised extremely religious but he was the kind of guy that just didn't think about anything or question it. He never really forced the religion on anyone else or even talked about it but it was a big part of his identity. I questioned everything and had a really hard time accepting any of his values. I think the only reason we lasted as long as we did as a couple was because we were young, and we were extremely emotionally and sexually compatible. The differences in values just didn't matter that much since we were just in high school.
The last year of our relationship things became glaringly obvious. He had started his first year at a local college (he really probably would never leave our tiny town), I was in my senior year of college applying to far away schools and taking a class called theory of knowledge. I was questioning everything and finding less and less reason to believe in any god or religion. I was looking into biology programs at a variety of research universities and he couldn't even acknowledge that the Earth was over 6000 years old. We occasionally debated about evolution and various religious beliefs but I could shut him down so quickly with my logic that he eventually gave up.
We broke up because of it. It was the right thing but it was definitely the most painful break up I've ever gone through, even if I was just a kid. Being in love with someone who thinks you are going to hell and refuses to examine why is incredibly painful. I vowed to never date a religious person ever again.
Oh yes, I'm Christian and it's the core of who I am. I can't imagine being married to someone who [doesn't] share those beliefs. Especially because I'd like to raise our kids that way. It wouldn't be fair to the guy anyway because I believe in waiting til marriage to have sex. I've had to turn down dates multiple times due to this. It sucks now but I know in the end I wouldn't be happy with someone who doesn't share my beliefs.
It was definitely a big factor in one breakup -- he was an atheist, I'm pagan. I don't care if an SO has any interest in my religion -- I'm actually more comfortable with a partner of a different faith than me, or one that's not religious at all. I'm pretty independent and my religion is something that I don't discuss much outside my spiritual community. I don't often talk about with my partners unless they bring it up or they're curious why I'm tromping off to the woods with a pack of women for the weekend.
What I couldn't deal with was him being openly disdainful of my religious practice, and telling me that he hated that I was a spiritual person (it was something he knew about me from early on, so I'm not sure why he got into the relationship in the first place if this was going to be an issue for him). Being disrespectful to me about my religion on a regular basis was something I couldn't deal with and I felt pointed to bigger ways we were incompatible.
If right about now you’re starting to worry about the fate of your relationship with someone across the religious spectrum, don’t panic — it’s not automatically doomed. Let me leave you with one more story from this same thread:
I'm a cafeteria-Catholic married to an atheist. With a bit of mutual respect and compassion on BOTH sides, it works fine.