Are Your Faiths Mismatched?

Do dates say your beliefs are “too strong” and fall out of touch? Here, how to find better matches.

By Margot Carmichael Lester

andy Walsh of Memphis has a problem. “After a couple of dates it becomes clear to guys that I’m pretty religious, and for some of them, that’s a big turn-off. They stop calling and find reasons to stop seeing me. And I can’t help thinking it’s because of my faith.”

Since Sandy’s not going to change her faith, the best plan for her is to change the way she deals with the situation, and develop new ways to weed out
We all have our own belief systems and some people are more judgmental than others.
these kinds of people before she gets too far down the dating road.

Here are some tips for Sandy (and you) to find the acceptance — and love — we all deserve:

Turn the other cheek.
“Once someone makes a judgment about you, either fairly or unfairly, it’s very difficult to change someone’s mind,” admits Kathy Stafford, author of Relationship Remorse. “We all have our own belief systems and some people are more judgmental than others. You can try to explain your position, but beyond that there’s not much you can do. Rather than trying to make this work, it’s better to move on and find someone more compatible with you.”

Remember patience is a virtue.
In some cases, your faith’s not the real issue. So if you give someone time to start digging you a lot, religion might not matter so much, notes Lauren Padgett of Strategic Vision, LLC, an Atlanta-based public relations agency. “If you’re looking for long-term love it’s always best to lay your cards out on the table, just not too soon,” she says. “Once the person you’re dating is crazy about you, your religious differences won’t be a deal-breaker—they’ll be something you work through together.”

Expand your dating pool.
One great way to find potential dates of a common faith is to visit other congregations occasionally. “You may be a member at the Baptist church down the road, but visit another Baptist church once a month,” Stafford
It’s tempting to give up on finding someone who shares or honors your faith…
suggests. “It’s a chance to meet new people and you are more assured they will share your beliefs.”

Recognize your blessings.
Though it’s frustrating to be ditched, it’s actually a blessing in disguise. “When things don’t work out with someone I’m seeing, I try to see that as an opportunity, not a loss,” says Stacey Lee of Suffern, NY. “It still hurts, but I know that getting over it will allow me to get back to the job of finding the person I’m supposed to be with.”

Don’t settle.
It’s tempting to give up on finding someone who shares or honors your faith in the face of rejection, but resist the urge to settle for less than you deserve. “In my congregation, the marriages that struggle the most are the ones that are not connecting with God together,” observes Jeremy Johnston, associate pastor of the First Family Church in Overland, KS. “We will all grow old and the flower of our youth will fade. However, what will always be fresh and new is the connection with God through Jesus Christ—that’s something a relationship can build on throughout your life.”

Bottom Line: Seeking someone who’s compatible with you on all levels, particularly your faith, is an honorable quest. And it’s key to building a lasting relationship, Johnston says. “The greatest bond to keep a relationship strong and fulfilling is not social, not financial, not sexual, not circumstantial. It is the spiritual connection. In relationships that work,” he continues, “the couples who are praying and worshipping God together are able to transcend many of the petty issues that plague dating relationships. When you are connected spiritually, you find those virtues in each other, rather than faults, that make it last a lifetime.”

Margot Carmichael Lester also pens the Ask Margot advice column. Send your questions to her at
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