One of my best friends and I have been getting serious with each other. We both would love to become more than just friends, but one thing stands in the way: We have different religious views. She is a very strong Christian, and I love that about her, she loves what she believes and I want nothing more than to support her with them. I am an Atheist. While I can accept that we have different beliefs, she can't. I also can't get upset with her for believing that. We all have reasons for what we believe. She believes in dating people that are marriage material (and I agree), but she also believes that she should date someone who will bring her closer to God. We have been through so much and have discussed this countless times. If you have any advice on how to handle this situation, that would be great. We both want to be with each other, but due to this situation, we can't. How do I deal with this Charlie?
Signed: A down-in-the-dumps lover boy
Dear down-in-the dumps, Charlie hears your dilemma. You say you “have been getting serious” with a friend. You say that both of you would like to become more than just friends but something stands in the way. This “something” is your differing views on religion. She identifies as Christian and you as atheist. Charlie hears the respect you voice for your friend and her Christian views. You say “we all have reasons for what we believe” and say that you want to support her in her beliefs. Charlie thinks that all of this is admirable. However, you add “while I can accept that we have different beliefs, she can’t." Therein lies the rub for you. You’re asking for advice on how to deal with this. Charlie will provide you with some food for thought. In his Eclogues (c. 42 BC), the poet Virgil wrote omnia vincit amor or “love conquers all." If you think about it this way, perhaps you and your friend can have a romance together--in spite of your differences. Such a romance would require a number of adjustments. For example, at the very least, your friend would need to come to some sort of resolution on the issue of how dating you would or could bring her closer to God. In addition, the two of you would need to be willing and able to give each other the “space” to believe and practice your respective religious preferences. From a very practical standpoint, if you were to marry and have children, you would need to come to agreement on how they would be raised. Though these are not easy waters to navigate, Charlie knows there are couples who’ve been able to do so. On the other hand, omnia vincit amor doesn’t always work out. When issues such as those noted above go unresolved, they can eat away at a relationship and/or a marriage until the initial attraction and/or love that brings two people together is destroyed. With this in mind, Charlie wants to share these two cautions with you: First, if Charlie hears you correctly, your relationship has not yet become romantic or sexual. If this is the case, you can continue to maintain the current boundaries and/or part ways without anyone getting hurt. If you choose to proceed, the potential for one or both of you to get hurt will increase. Secondly, you deserve to have someone who can give herself to you without reservation. If your friend’s religious beliefs preclude this, you may be better off keeping her as a friend and looking elsewhere for romance. Charlie cannot provide answers for you but can help you think through some of the issues involved before making a reasoned and mutual decision. Hoping this helps you feel better, Charlie
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