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Was it right to admit I am an atheist to a guy?

I know the right thing to do is to be true to yourself. That is why i decided to tell the truth when I told the guy I was really hitting it off with i was an atheist. unfortunately he was really religious and he seemed really put off. In fact, we had planned to go out and eat later and he totally just made an excuse and ended the day early. I don’t think he even wants to be friends with me anymore. I am absolutely crushed. I can’t help but feel that I did the wrong thing because if I just had said “yeah I’m christian” then we would be having a great time right now. I am so depressed I can’t even think right now.

Posted: November 8th 2010

Eshu www

Like everyone else, I think you did the right thing. It needs to be said sooner or later and sooner is probably less painful in the long run.

However, if you say it straight away or make a big fanfare about being an atheist, that might get more adverse reaction.

To declare that you’re an atheist early on is like you’re picking the one thing that is used to define you. If you’re anything like me, then being an atheist is just incidental to everything else in your life. I was asked by a Christian what sort of impact being an atheist has on my life, which I found quite confusing. I responded that it didn’t have any impact, just as the Earth being round or the non-existence of unicorns doesn’t have an impact.

The point I’m trying to make is that sometimes it can be worth people getting to know you and find out that you’re a nice person, before letting them put a label on you. If they’re thinking of you as an atheist from the start, they may be viewing you according to their (probably negative) stereotype and it will be an uphill battle to shift that preconception of you as a “nasty atheist”. Whereas, if they get to know you, get to like you and only then discover that you’re an atheist, there’s a chance they will question the stereotype of atheists being evil… then again, it might be a difficult conversation.

I certainly don’t think it’s worth lying about your atheism. It makes life complicated for you and it’s generally good for atheists to be openly non-believing if possible. However, I think there’s a lot to be said for not bringing up the subject unnecessarily, especially when you first meet people. But yes, in a serious relationship, it will probably need to be discussed sooner or later and may be a factor in how compatible you are.

Posted: November 11th 2010

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SmartLX www

If you hadn’t told him at first and things had gone well, he’d have eventually found out when the relationship was farther along, and (at least inwardly) had the same reaction. He might even have broken your heart.

The religion question is just one of the many questions two people have to work through early on to determine their compatibility on a superficial level, before they decide to go deeper. Sometimes, as with my wife and me, completely different positions aren’t a real problem. (She’s a Christian, albeit a liberal one.) Sometimes it’s a deal-breaker.

Don’t worry about it too much. After all, would you really want to be going out with a guy who shuns people like you?

Posted: November 9th 2010

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flagellant www

It all depends on the relative values each of you places on religion or the lack of it. My experience is that if someone finds their religion very important, any free-thinker wanting a close relationship with them is likely to be disappointed.

Some believers are wishy-washy about their beliefs and atheism isn’t a challenge to them. On the other hand, 'deep’ believers often feel unsettled by alternative, natural views of the World. It is possible that the guy you met felt threatened by your atheism, so I don’t think you should blame yourself.

Curiously, many years ago, I found myself in almost the same position: someone I was going out with assumed that we had similar religious beliefs and, when she found out that I did not share her faith, she gave me a verbal 'Dear John’. (Interestingly, I never had the opportunity to explain my position, to see if we had any ground in common.) I was upset at the time but very soon, with the benefit of hindsight, I realised that, if religion was that important to her, then it would be bound to come between us sooner or later.

I hope you will come to see it in a similar way: meeting someone new with whom you get on well is so enjoyable. Perhaps, when next you are exchanging ideas with someone new, you might consider being a bit less definite about your position. When you come to discuss God, you could describe yourself as being sceptical about gods, or that you don’t have a religion. This is still being true to yourself. And don’t forget to ask what the guy thinks – not about religion but about belief in things like gods. You should certainly be able to have an interesting, but non-confrontational, talk.

Posted: November 9th 2010

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Eric_PK

You aren’t clear on exactly what happened, so I’ll cover both cases.

Assuming you volunteered that you were an atheist.

Advertising your atheism early may not be the best thing to do, not because you are ashamed of it, but because people gauge the importance of things by how early you say them. If you met somebody and in the first 5 minutes you knew they were a christian, you would put them in the “religion is very important to them”.

Or, to put it another, you stereotyped yourself by revealing that early.

If he asked…

If you were asked I wouldn’t recommend saying you were a christian.

If people ask early it usually means they are quite religious, and I don’t think you want to get involved with that. If you said you were christian, what do you do when they ask you to go to church? Bible study? Etc?

Posted: November 8th 2010

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logicel

Yes, it is very crushing. You were looking forward to a good time and a blossoming relationship, and instead you were rejected. To place it in perspective, that could have happened even if you did say you were Christian.

I can’t list the countless times this has happened to me in my life—the first flush of interest and excitement fades as quickly as it had appeared, and you see that you were just wrong in your perceptions. Humans like to count their eggs before they hatch. In reality, you did not lose a relationship; it is a loss of potential for which you were hoping. If you do talk with him again, say very gently, that you suspect that your lack of god belief has put him off but you felt you had to be honest.

Give yourself some time before you can make sense of it. You will work it out and get some handle that feels right with you eventually.

Posted: November 8th 2010

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George Locke

If religion is so important to him, then it just wouldn’t have worked out for you two.

You were right to tell him. He probably would have found out eventually. Either that or you would have had to keep making the effort of hiding who you really are, and I very much doubt that would make you happy.

Posted: November 8th 2010

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