Earlier today I ran into a woman who I haven’t seen in a few years at work. I found her more attractive than I remember, and the “what if” scenario ran across my head of asking her out. I should say that while I’m open to the idea I’m not actively seeking a romantic relationship with somebody. But that doesn’t exclude such stray thoughts coming across from time to time. Anyway, as I started thinking about it I remembered in her personal information on her Facebook page that she’s Muslim.
Now I should emphasize before I go any further that I am well aware that the following line of questioning in the next paragraph is bullshit. My whole point is that I find it interesting that it appears at all, and what does that fact say about my own biases or that of the culture that I live in. So before I go any further I’ll provide the answer that no, I wouldn’t avoid dating a Muslim based on the following grounds.
Would, I, an outspoken atheist who blogs about such topics (alright, well, I used to on a more regular basis than I do now), date somebody who practices a religion that has such a bad reputation, at least in this part of the world? Never mind the issue of dating a religious person at all (which I’ll get to, hopefully more intelligently, in a moment). Never mind the point that it may not interfere with how we might get along. Wouldn’t it be a bad public relations move?
Yup, I told you it was bullshit. Mind you, while all of this went through my head she left the store already. So by the time I realized how stupid those thoughts were, I didn’t even have time to decide if I would ask her out, anyway. If I had, I would have to face what really is the more important question: would she be interested in me?
This does raise a larger issue of dating somebody who has differing religious views than my own. I know this isn’t a new issue as far as humanity is concerned, but it’s something I apparently haven’t resolved for myself. Even though I just said I’m not actively dating right now, I’m still addicted to browsing dating websites. But if I’m not planning on connecting with somebody, why am I still filtering my search strings by only looking for fellow atheists or agnostics?
It could be that I’m subconsciously still interested in meeting somebody after all. But even so, why would I still filter out that one field? The truth is that if I were to become involved with somebody I would be open to her being religious, as long as she doesn’t try to push her beliefs on me. That leads me to what really is the larger question here. It’s not “would I date her” but “would we date each other?” In other words, I’m afraid of things not working out based on that one point alone. I also filter my searches by the field “doesn’t want kids,” but that seems more valid. I’m not budging on that one.
So, should I budge on the religious issue? I know that I wouldn’t try to convince a girlfriend* to become an atheist any more than I should expect her to try to convert me to whatever she believes. Then I shouldn’t worry about it. Still, if I think what she thinks on a fundamental level is wrong, then it could be hard to not interpret anything she says as an extension of that.
I could also be reading too much into this—yes, I know, me of all people—and say that I would be more willing to date an atheist for the same reason I would be interested in a woman who rides a motorcycle, plays a musical instrument and reads voraciously. In other words, I lean towards dating a like-minded person who has similar interests. But it might make things more interesting if I ignored that idea and mixed things up a little.
Like I said, though, I’m not really looking right now… aren’t I?
*I know that “girlfriend” isn’t a fashionable term, especially if I date somebody in my age group, but I hate the term “partner.” It sounds too much like a business arrangement.