Ask Margot-She’s Too Conservative

He met a nice woman through church—but she won't loosen up and have fun with him. What can he do?

By Margot Carmichael Lester

ear Margot,
I'm dating a woman I met through the singles ministry at my church. She's very conservative. She dresses like a school marm most days. She won't let me do much more than kiss her. And since she won't drink anything "adult" except the wine they serve at
I don't mean to be flippant, but how many signs do you need.
communion, she won't go out to clubs to hear live music, something I really enjoy doing (even though I'm a teetotaler, too). Honestly, I don't need her to start shopping at Frederick's of Hollywood, going all the way or partying like a rock star, but her conservatism is becoming a problem and I'm beginning to lose interest. How do I handle it without her raining fire and brimstone down on me for trying to lead her from the flock?
– Less Conservative in Leesville, Va.

Dear Less,
I don't mean to be flippant, but how many signs do you need, my friend? Are you waiting for a burning bush? A granite tablet to fall from the sky? A voice to emanate from the heavens?

'Cause I can see clearly from all the way over here that y'all aren't a match made in heaven. Like that striped shirt and madras shorts hanging in your closet, you're not meant to go together. Though you're not requesting she do anything that will cause her to stray from the flock, you do seem to be asking her to stray from her comfort zone—her values. And the annals of relationship history are full of examples of why this doesn't work.

Let's review. You both want different things at this point in your lives. You like to go out. She prefers to stay home. You like a little heavy petting. She prefers to stop at kissing. You like a little sartorial splendor. She prefers to keep it simple. Your lifestyles aren't very compatible, now, are they?

In short, she is very content being who she is, and you're content being who you are. In your cases, though, this makes it hard to be very content with who you are as a couple. So why keep seeing each other? Especially since there's nothing in your letter to lead me to believe you care deeply about this woman.

If you had professed your love for her, I might have advised you differently because in the light of love, you might be able to overlook your lifestyle differences. After all, there are plenty of relationship experts who think spending time apart is good for a relationship. Who believe that pursuing your own interests makes you more interesting to your mate. And I'm not saying they're
Of course, this means standing up and doing the right thing.
wrong. But all that stuff's only true if you're not annoyed by your date's activities and actions. And you readily admit you are. So why stick around?

Of course, this means standing up and doing the right thing. Break up now before she develops deeper feelings for you. Let her down easy by telling her that you want her to be with someone whose values and behaviors are more in line with hers. And that you want to be with someone who shares your more liberal viewpoint.

Avoid being judgmental, though. Don't mention her dress, her homebody tendencies or anything else like that. You'll only come off like a Shallow Hal. Instead, present the entire situation as the right and good thing for both of you. This should help lessen the fire and brimstone she rains down on you.

And while you're at it, take this opportunity to think about some things so you won't make this same mistake again.

Ask and answer these five questions:
  1. Now that you know what you don't want, what do you want?
  2. How conservative can a woman be before you deem her too conservative?
  3. What are your values around sex, and what behaviors do you want to engage in before marriage?
  4. Why do you want to keep dating someone who comes up short on so many important things?
  5. Are you afraid this is the best you can do, or do you really think you can change her?
Devoting some time to this exercise will help you get a clearer idea of the kind of person you should be pursuing. It will also increase your chances of finding someone who shares your lifestyle choices—and with whom you can share a happy relationship.

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