Ask Margot-Women Are Afraid To Date Me!

Potential dates are jumping to conclusions about his faith. What steps should he take?

By Margot Carmichael Lester

ear Margot,
I'm Hindu, but many women think I'm Muslim. Recently, a woman I wanted to date told me that her friends are afraid I will try to convert her and take her to another country, never to be seen again! Many women assume things about me because of the way I look and dress. I want to educate them about the
I can only sort of imagine what it's like to walk in your shoes.
differences between Christians and Hindus (and between Hindus and Muslims), but am afraid to broach the subject for fear that it will make the situation worse. Any ideas on how to accomplish this? I don't want to lose dating opportunities just because of this misunderstanding.
– Vexed Vishnu

Dear Vexed,
I can only sort of imagine what it's like to walk in your shoes. I once dated a guy who was a devout Catholic. I wasn't. His family was worried he was seeing someone who might lead him astray. One Saturday at the crack of dawn, there was a knock at my door. I groggily opened it to find a priest standing before me. He was cordial but refused to come in. Instead, he stood at my doorstep and asked me to stop seeing my boyfriend. I listened politely without responding. He took my silence as defiance, and then told me I was a sinner for trying to lure my guy away from his faith.

Your case is even more complicated because of our country's current climate of fear and intolerance. You're being treated unfairly, no doubt about it. So let's see what I can do to answer your questions.

You're right to be cautious in this endeavor. When it comes to educating others about you and your faith, keep in mind that your "students" may not really want the teaching you have to offer. These stubborn-as-a-mule folks made up their minds about these issues a long time ago. In all likelihood, their feelings don't even have to do with you personally. You're just the most accessible example of something they've been uncomfortable with for years.

A take-it-slow strategy
Does that mean you have to resign yourself to prejudice? Not at all. I just think a more subtle strategy might be more effective. Let's assume for a moment that you're a stand-up guy. You're honest and responsible and you know how to treat a lady right. Furthermore, you have no intention whatsoever of converting anyone and taking them anywhere. Being a decent fella goes a long way to quelling people's fears. And even though you don't owe these
So there's your one-two punch: do right, then talk right.
folks any explanation at all for who you are and what you believe, your actions, I reckon, will speak much louder than even your most carefully crafted words.

Most prejudice is grounded in fear. And much of what we fear comes from what we don't know. Letting these people get to know you — as you, the person, not you, the representative of faiths and nationalities they're afraid of — is your best bet. Whichever gal you date and her pals will have positive evidence of your good nature right in front of them. And that may begin to allay their fears.

Wait to be asked for information
Once people get to know you, they're more likely to treat you as a person, with the respect that you deserve, rather than as a symbol of something they're uncomfortable with. Then, and only then, should you consider broaching matters of custom and culture. And, to be quite honest, even if things are going well, you might want to make a rule for yourself that you let them ask first. Their natural curiosity about you and your beliefs, grounded in their respect for you as a person, is the kind of safe harbor you need to float a discussion of this magnitude.

One other thing you need to know…
So there's your one-two punch: do right, then talk right. But I think I'd be remiss if I led you to believe that this simple recipe would solve your problem. Truth is, the whole world's gone crazier than a wet hen over stuff like this. As the Bard told us, the course of true love never did run smooth. And I've got a feeling that if you choose to go forward here you'll be making your way down an unusually bumpy path.

My hope for you is that you'll one day be surrounded by people who like you for who you are and who accept your culture and beliefs without requiring you to explain yourself or prove anything. Life's too short, it seems to me, to spend time convincing people you're a decent guy. There'll be lots of lovely ladies looking to make the acquaintance of guys like you… ladies who likely have more tolerant and open-minded friends and family.

Margot Carmichael Lester is a freelance writer based in North Carolina. Send your faith-based dating questions to
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