Why Would a Person Choose Religion Over Me?

a woman having conversation with a man

Dear Evan,

Have you ever dated someone who was really religious and he/she chose religion over you? The thing is, I’m not of any religion, but I’m pretty open-minded. Someone I used to be with is Catholic and recently discovered that he wants to pursue his faith more seriously. I don’t mind at all but he ultimately felt that because I don’t believe in the same thing, he’ll end up making decisions in the future based on his faith that I won’t be able to fully understand. He says I won’t be able to support his decisions and/or I’ll resent him.

An example is if we were married in the future, he would want to donate lots and lots of money to the needy because he’s willing to sacrifice his own selfish needs to help others as God would want him to. But I said although that’s admirable, I’d rather take that money and pay off our mortgage or save it for the kid’s college funds.

I honestly don’t know if his religion is just an excuse because he fell out of love for me or if it is really true. During our course of relationship, he led me to believe that we were meant to be together and it’s so easy for him to see us married. I guess I just can’t comprehend how someone can choose religion over another person especially when he says we were made for each other.

He must’ve really had a change of heart and I realize that that can happen, but I feel led on and a bit hurt and angry.

Evan, I’d like to know what is your take on this issue?


Dear Sandra,

My girlfriend is Catholic and I’m Jewish.

I don’t take her to synagogue, she doesn’t take me to church.

We saw my family over Thanksgiving, we’re seeing hers over Christmas.

We don’t agree on anything spiritual, so we don’t even discuss it.

Sometimes, I’ll let my secular biases out, and she always forgives me.

She knows I love and respect her, even if I don’t always love and respect the influence of the Christian right.

This is how you have an interfaith relationship. Respect each other, without trying to change each other.

The problem is that most of us can’t really respect when someone sees the world completely differently than we do. In order to have that strong connection we crave, we look for someone who is like-minded. I’ve got clients who want someone who can dance, because dancing is important. I’ve got clients who have to find a dog-lover, because their pets are like children. And yes, I have clients who value religion above all, and demand that a partner feel the same.

These are all arbitrary deal-breakers, which often serve to keep these people alone for a really long time. The thing is: you can’t tell them that they should change. People want what they want.

I wrote an article for Yahoo called “Setting the Bar Too High,” which focuses on the deal-breakers we impose on relationships. There’s nothing wrong with having preferences; the problem comes when our preferences serve to box us in and restrict our options in love….

I used an example of a Jewish woman who wanted to marry Jewish (which is normal), but also wanted to insist that her man be an animal activist as well. And if she simply multiplied the odds of those two deal-breakers (2% of the population is Jewish; .1% might be considered male animal activists), she’s essentially declaring that only .002% of the population is even DATEABLE. This says nothing about whether her man is also kind, attractive, successful, emotionally available or interested in her.

And yet we wonder why finding someone is so difficult.

Some people (including some industrious person who sent me an anonymous copy of Why Marry Jewish, and another who compared me to Hitler) get really bent out of shape about this — as if I was saying that religion doesn’t matter. Not true. Religion absolutely matters — if you make it matter. Loving dogs absolutely matters — if you make it matter. And height and weight and age absolutely matter — if you make them matter. Just don’t be surprised when the more rules you have for your partner, the harder it is to find a partner.

Just don’t be surprised when the more rules you have for your partner, the harder it is to find a partner.

To bring this back to you, Sandra… People have their self-imposed deal-breakers and they always will. It doesn’t matter if he fell out of love, is making an excuse, or really resents that you’ve got no desire to start tithing your income. Anyone who chooses religion over you is not your future spouse.

Which brings up a bigger point: let’s stop obsessing about WHY people do things. The truth is, we’ll never know people’s motivations for acting. “Why didn’t she call me back?” wonders a guy after a first date. It could be any number of reasons — she’s getting over her ex, you have bad breath, she didn’t feel that spark, you talked too much about yourself, she’s seeing three other guys. And since you’re never going to get into her head, why drive yourself nuts about it?

I’m a big believer in searching for answers, but only where answers can be had. Which is why I don’t spend much time worrying about how we got here or where we go when we die; nor do I obsess about why someone doesn’t like me. If there were feedback forms on every date, it would be useful, but we’re never gonna really know why others do what they do. So how about we just look at their actions instead?

Your boyfriend dumped you for Jesus. Let him go.

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  1. 41

    I went through same thing.. It was my first relationship and my partner was very relihious but i admired that because i liked that he was devoted to something. In the beginning we both shared the same religion but he was way more religous than me, but i didnt mind. As time started to go on he tried to enforce the r eligion more heavily on me, and i really came to an interal conflict with myself because everthing he went against were the simple things in life that i enjoyed. I tried to end the relationship early on because i saw where this relationship was going and i was scared to actually be in one in the first place. He convinced me to give him another chance and that it was just the devil telling me lies, thats God wanted us to be together. After that we had our uos and our downs but i was genuinely happy with him and after 8 months we we’re “in love”, a word he told me he did not use loosely. At 10 months i decided i did not believe in a God and was considering about becoming an athiest. Something he said that hurt him very much. I did expect him to leave at that moment but he said he would stay with me. Months passed by and we were still in love, we had some more downs but nothing too serious, or so i thought. New Years eve came along and we had a talk about religion because he came with me to donate some cuocakes i made for my previous church. I told him why i didnt believe in God and his response was Jesus loved you, and i smiled at him and left it at that. The next week was ok, nothing too great, nothing bad, butbthe week after that was hurricane. We had an arguement because i was angry that he wouldnt accompany me to a basket ball game that was 2 minutes from his house, but instead would drive to my house after the basketball game to be with me. I did take the arguement a little far butbit was because he was treating me different. He wasnt treating me with the love and care he used to, he wasnt trying to make things better with me the way I was trying. He instead talked about our differences and how we went right for each other which totally crushed me, and i immediately tried to sgow him all the things we had in commoon and begged him to start this day over. But he just didnt care. The next day was worse, i dont auite remember what happen but ik i was in tears, it felt like he didnt care about me anymore, i felt no love coming from him. We texted all day long and he finally arrived to my house where i tried to make it the funnest experience ever but i felt that it was different nomatter how hard i tried. I kissed his lips, and he responded with thank you instaed of i love you, inside i held his arm while playing monopoly, and he told me he was waiting for a confromation from God. And i asked him whatbthat meant. He said he was waiting for a sign from God to deteremine if i was the right gurp for him. My insides felt crush and i walked away from him, i felt hurt and confused, if he loved me why would he need a sign. I deleted the pictures i tooke from his phone and he asked why i did that but i stood silent and he went to the bathroom. We sat down in our seats quiet. I decided to soeak up and he asked why i did that. I told him that why would he need pictures of me on his phone if he was just gonna dump me anyway. My eates started to water and i told him that i was not gonna wait like some fool to be dumped. And he held my hand tight and promised me he was gonna stay, and work things out. I felt releived, he kept on asking if i trusted him and i smiled and nodded my head. The next day felt amazing, for me, we played outside, held each other kissed, but two days after that he left me, dumped me through a text and i felt like i was gonna die, he said he lost his feelings for me and that god told him i wasnt the girl for him, he changed completly and nomatyer how hard i begged for him to stay, he left me.

  2. 42

    I can relate to some of the comments   here. I was always completely upfront about being an atheist, and  a few  guys acted like they were completely fine with it.   The funny part is that they won’t even own up to being religious   “oh I have my religion, but I’m more spiritual about it” .After we started to get comfortable they dropped a bomb on me  ” Oh, i’m not judging you but you need to be saved”. I was shocked, but I told them they shouldn’t have lied in the first place, and they should stop with “i’m not religious i’m spiritual” B.S ( another lie to make themselves look more appealing).   I told them this isn’t going to work and to not contact me again.

    Now, I wasn’t in love with them, but I can only imagine   how much more disgusting it would have been if   they told me  AFTER we got   serious( my worst nightmare and yes,I would go berserk on them alright  !).   If a person seriously believes people will go to hell for not being a Christian ( or whatever), what on earth makes you think they wouldn’t try to change you after some point? They believe God is going to send them to hell if they stay with you, so what do you think their new “mission” will be?

    To all the nonreligious men who have been burned by this as I have: DON’T GIVE UP!   Women like myself are out there and we’re looking to meet you! LOL! 🙂

  3. 43

    I am a seventh day adventist with a strict mom. It is always said that we must not be unequally yoked; which means that if two people want to be together they must be of the same denomination. Even though i am a christian, my denomination does not do alot of things that baptist, catholic, anglican etc. I am only to marry a seventh day adventist. Its very frustrating because i have met alot of nice guys but when i tell them what is expected of them to marry me they are turned off by the extremly big changes they would have to make and many give up. I dont feel comfortable trying to change anyone or back them up into a corner

  4. 44
    Samuel Onuegbu

    This is just my story, rephrased. I am catholic, not so religious anyways, she (my girlfriend) is a protestant, who is very religious. she’s had this worrying her for the past four(4) years of our loving relationship, but could not quit because I am all she needed in a man except for the need 2 have a family soaked in her faith. she kept hoping that someday I’ll b converted totally which never happened. she already began to behave confused with me. I eventually ended the relationship myself, making her know that it is all for her supposed good. Each time I think about the whole thing, I feel quite angry and disappointed.
    Anyway, responding to the issue we are all deliberating upon, I believe d person who chooses religion or whatsoever over love as such, is not actually in love, or better still fell out of love. The problem is that people claim to be religious, still they consider what their fellow “believers” would think of them, as if those so called believers are the ones to give them the comfort and happiness they desire in life. Falling in love with someone makes u respect the person’s views, can even make u adjust your philosophies (rather than being selfish).
    When the marriage begins to face its challenges (money, sex, parent’s pressure, sickness, etc.) which are quite inevitable, the only thing that sustains the union is the “foolish and blind” LOVE between both, and not the religion, as we are humans whether religious or not (my parents marriage is a living witness).
    Love will never cease to be the greatest thing in existence of humanity.

    1. 44.1

      @Samuel onuegbu  i truly agree with your last line ”

      When the marriage begins to face its challenges (money, sex, parent’s pressure, sickness, etc.) which are quite inevitable, the only thing that sustains the union is the “foolish and blind” LOVE between both, and not the religion, as we are humans whether religious or not (my parents marriage is a living witness)

      In the end all anyone ever needs is to be loved and be happy… Coming to the topic at hand I think picking religion over a good person is somewhat wrong,(not saying either is less important)…on the contrary I am not a saint, but I am a believer of God and raised by a religious mother… in the long run I came to learn about the effects of picking your beliefs over good people who believe in God,just differently.

      I was raised by 3 dad’s all from different religions (hand picked out of beliefs that they will be good because of xyz belief they had) and none of them treated me or my family right… (Not saying again,any religion is wrong)…but good people who are true followers that talk the talk and walk the walk are rare…so when you find that person and choose to throw them away just because they serve God differently…or not at all the way you do ,it really defines the situation you are in.

      I think serving God the right way should make people willingly want to join us…not threaten them to switch for the relationship. Show God’s love to another through our Good deeds.

  5. 45
    Jorge Oyola

    Hmmm, I have the same issue with my current complicated relationship and me being raised to be a Christian Pastor somehow I found myself as an open minded Buddhist as my soul finds peace with society dehumanized the human race.

    Just remember one thing treat people as you would like them to treat you unless you are a mentally delusional monster then just stay out of the way.

  6. 46
    Brandy Mundy

    My guy seems to find all types of reasons to make a demand that I give him what he want from the start of our relationship I have sacrificed alot of my personality to be with him. I felt like he was constantly testing my love for him giving me ultimatums that he say are not ultimatums but belief. For two years we have been together and I haven’t gone to church. All of a sudden he tells me he can’t marry me if I don’t go to church with him after all he is a biblical Christian with an ego, who cuss and fornicate, and it goes against his religious beliefs. He also stated that he has no problem walking away from the relationship if I don’t wow him to be the dominate force in it. I have to let him teach my son his way. I told him it sounds like he is telling me that his love is conditional upon us letting him control everything. he said the man is the head of the house.I said there’s a difference between a head and a dictator. he said dictator is a word people use when they have a problem with authority   I think I’m probably going to call it quits for the last time. All though it hurts I would have a broken heart than deal with his ultimatum besides I don’t want to go to church   I think I’m just done. to exhausted.

  7. 47

    Darling thank your lucky stars.   He is being categorical and it’s his right (and wrong) to be so.   Methinks that if you did go ahead and marry him, you WOULD resent him, but that’s because he cannot think outside of the box.

    It really is difficult to marry someone who does not share the same beliefs, that’s true – but he knew that in the beginning.

    So……..if he’s still around, maybe tell him that the Bible (and the Koran, and Buddhism and all other religions ….) talks about telling the truth.   Infants get it….so why can’t he????

  8. 48

    This is really an important topic, as I read on I can see that the real issue here is difference of believe, and personality plays a big part. However the core of it is ones choice made, and when a person makes a choice to benefit them spiritually for mental peace   or wheather it may be for other reasons it’s their life period. And the sooner we accept that the sooner we will be on our road to recover our broken hearts.

  9. 49

    Fuck religion it’s all bullshit it’s all prices of story’s pit tpgether taken from other religions you can’t prove any of it is real, like for instance  “santa, oh wait that’s ridiculous it’s a guy who delivers present to every kid in one night, but an invisible man that can hear everyone murmur to him at the same time, now that I get” no it’s all rediculous they are all just too caught up in it and won’t change, find someone that believes the same way as you mainly atheist because atheism doesn’t have to much to argue over, I got dumped the same way but by a Christian girl and 2 months later I still think the same about religion, fuck it, just to let the christians out their know your religion is bullshit think of me all you want but remember thy shall not judge onto others, your religion is story’s taken from other religions it’s not the only religion with a guy born to a virgin, or born on December 25th, died and came back found by 2 women, or even baptized or whatever in the river, they’re are plenty others like it, not saying fuck the people, just the religion it’s far more easier to let loose and not constantly felt watched over by an invisible man and always being judged think of life and and the laws then the principles of your religion it doesn’t turn out till where any of it is theoretical, forget religion find someone like you

  10. 50

    I’m too old to have children anyway, so I’m completely open to interfaith dating.

    I am Christian, but I would actually prefer a Jewish boyfriend to a Christian boyfriend.

    I have a pattern of dating guys who “breadcrumb” me. I hate that more than anything, and Christian guys are the worst. They treat their girlfriends just awful. 🙁

    I have been told by so many people that Jewish men make the best partners, and that they are very attentive and treat their wives or girlfriends like princesses. That would be really nice for a change. 🙁

    Even though it’s hearsay, there’s probably at least a kernel of truth to it.

    I don’t live in a city that has a large Jewish community, so if I meet a Jewish guy, it will probably be online. I haven’t signed up for JDate – that would make me feel like a fraud. But I might just go on my other dating profiles and change up my match preferences to make sure I’m being matched with Jewish guys only.

    Do Jewish guys even identify as Jewish on secular dating sites? Do they more often identify as agnostic or atheist? It’s like searching for a needle in a haystack already, due to the tiny population size.

    I once met a *very* attractive Jewish guy who was working as a waiter in a Chinese restaurant, but he disappeared (moved away?) before I was ever able to screw up enough courage to leave him my phone number with the tip! 😉

    It’s the attentiveness, the intelligence, and let’s be honest – the hair. The dark corkscrew curls get me every time. I hope I find someone like that soon.

    1. 50.1

      “I have been told by so many people that Jewish men make the best partners, and that they are very attentive and treat their wives or girlfriends like princesses.”

      Sorry Vicki but Jewish men are good and bad and indifferent – the same as any other men.

      Sounds like you have a strong case of the grass is always greener – same as white guys who think white women are all awful and Asian women are better or black men who will only date white women – the reality is that you are the common denominator in all your previous relationships. You have to really be honest with yourself and ask why you have tolerated these relationships – because thats whats happening; you don’t ‘attract’ bad guy, you attract a full range of guys but these are the ones you choose.

      This is a slightly un-PC bit of advice but if you want to be ‘treated like a Princess’ you’re going to have to date a guy who is less attractive/has less value that you; you’re probably dating more attractive guys who have more options – thats the cause ‘breadcrumbing’ I’m afraid. In fact that’s a strong theme in Evans articles – you’re going to, in the long run, be happier settling for a guy of a similar level to yourself rather than being in the harem of a 10/10 type guy.

      1. 50.1.1

        No, the guys I date are fairly ordinary. I don’t go after Alphas.

        I don’t date guys who are unemployed, living in Section 8 housing, with drug and alcohol issues.

        I don’t think it would be productive for me to lower my standards *that* far.

        I think Evan said in one of his videos or blogs that dating a 7 doesn’t mean dating someone who is ugly, fat, dumb and poor.

        I’m pretty sure the breadcrumbers are 7s, if that high. Maybe 5s in   most cases.

      2. 50.1.2

        @Adam – I agreed with your first few paragraphs.   It’s silly to suggest that a certain religion/ race/ height/ hair colour/ national identity makes one a better partner.

        However, I disagree with your last paragraph, but not bc it’s “un-PC” (there are plenty of un-PC statements that I agree with).   Men of every “SMV” can treat their wives or girlfriends beautifully or poorly, depending on what lifestage they’re at, how they were raised, how they feel about themselves, etc.     I used to believe that less attractive, less successful men would be grateful for more-desirable girlfriends but watching couples through the decades, I’ve learned this is absolutely not necessarily the case.   My own experience: out of all my boyfriends, the one who treated me the worst was the homeliest, tiniest-endowed (!) and had the fewest friends.     Go figure.

  11. 51

    I don’t get why people go out with people of radically different religious convictions. You can fool yourself and say “Let’s be open and tolerant” but somewhere that devout person is going to make a decision informed by their religion.  

    If her significant other was a Christian for instance he shouldn’t have been dating an atheist or agnostic anyways e.g. the NT says one should marry “in the Lord”. Marriage to a non believer is an “unequal yoke.”  
    2 Cor. 6 “14  Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness?  15  And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever?  16  And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you  are the temple of the living God.”
    What if this woman believed in abortion on demand and he didn’t…and he goes out with Christian friends and protests what she believes. What a confusing marriage that would be. Someone would lose compromising their convictions. I think it was good they broke up IMO…both dodged a heart aching bullet.


  12. 52
    Nelson Silva

    Hello “Brothers” and “Sisters”

    When i was a kid i was curious about God and so i embraced Christianism. I was there for a couple of year and well, it was a nice experience. After that i disconnected myself from it. It was a natural process of  disinterest that came from my interior. I’ve to state that i was a single case in my family. I’am the only one that went to church. So i wasn’t nor obliged not convinced by anyone. It was pure curiosity that took me there. And disinterest that made me abandon that path.

    Now, i’ll divide this story in 3 parts and i’am gonna try to make it simple:

    1 > While still living back in my country, i meet a nice woman. She was mormon… and she was married. So i had to face a double-living-hell situation due to that, Altough on a story like this, there are no innoncent u might expect casualities from both sides

    2> i migrate to a different country and there i got acquainted with a Jeovah witness girl. It didn’t last long because she had no   way to introduce someone like to her family/friends

    3> i migrate again recently, to a different country and i met a muslim girl. Awesome person, i think that i would marry her. Honestly. But hey, she’s a religious person and like she said to me:”this is not going to work out because of XXX and YYY and WWW”.

    In the end, my advice to u people is: get away from people that judges others before even know them truly, for what they are, or what they believe. Because regardless Love, for a believer there’s something they call faith. And faith my friends, isn’t something you should try to face in an open field. Basically, don’t start a war without any allies.




  13. 53

    My husband is   buddhist.   I’m not religious at all. I actually think religion tends to do more harm to humanity than good on a grand scale. That’s another discussion for another day. The point is, he and I too have our issues. He feels his dead mother possesses his sister to speak with the family. I think his sister has deeper issues and desperately seeks attention, based on the fact that she has a history of mental illnesses. I can’t change his mind. He gets incredibly defensive about the entire topic. My opinion is this, at the end of the day, if he feels he needs someone who will play along with him and his sister more than he needs me, than he and I are BOTH better off to separate. Take the blessing in disguise and move on with a brighter outlook.

  14. 54

    I don’t understand how someone from a different culture could possibly date Jews, given how narcissistic and insular their community is. They’ve general got no respect for other cultures and their ideas, and frequently the parents disown them and their children; plus they want to push their religion on the kids. All I’m saying is that she has got to feel weird, if not a little disrespected and left out, with you and your family. I could never go for it.

    How does it work?

  15. 56

    Catholicism is a false religion as their view on Salvation contradicts the Bible so turns out he dumped you for no reason. It does say in the Bible that a Christian is only to marry other Christians.

  16. 57

    My girlfriend is 20   member of the RSSB group who also calls themselves “science of the Soul. The teachings dictate 2 1/2 hours of medication per day and prefer the medication happen at 3 in the morning. we have dating for   1 1/2 years.

    she didn’t tell about her “path” until 6 months into our relationship and then it was great caution. By then we had included   her 15 year son into the picture.

    we were so happy . as the months worn on more of her path became clearer to me.   she hung a picture over the stove of her gurus eyes, mouth nose and beard so she could spent every moment in the kitch in his presents.

    I asked her to take it down—maybe put the picture somewhere else in the house.

    She flew into a rage and accused me of demanding she stop her path. more time goes on the picture is still there.. more time meditating.

    she has made clear that this path and guru are the most important thing to her and has stated that she wishes she was dead so she   can follow him to the world.


    last week it was tears– claims she can barley hang on –she can’t wait to go


    depression– she claims not –


  17. 58

    I feel weird telling my Catholic boyfriend that he has to put me before God, if religion holds such a high place in his life; it feels disrespectful towards his beliefs. But it’s hard to feel like a second priority in literally everything he does and this priortization totally affects our relationship. I’m agnostic but I understand if people have different views than me and I don’t think a happy marriage is incompatible with different religions, but priorities must be the same, I feel, and thus my problem. What should I do or feel? How can I tell a Catholic that he can still live a Godly life and put me first? How do I get the priortization that a true relationship needs without sacrificing my partner’s relgion? If it helps, we are both in our early 20s and hold jobs in the STEM field.

    1. 58.1
      Nelson Silva

      Hi Rose. You can’t. I mean, you can try but the outcome might be devastating. You see, throughout my life, I learned that there are just some battles that were drawn for us to lose.
      You can put yourself between a man, two or even three. But against someone’s beliefs, it can be tricky. Honestly??? Just sit with him, tell him what do you want, who you are, what do you expect, what do you feel. Then, listen to him. But listen to him attentively. Try to reach an “agreement” with him, where both should make concessions. If you can’t? Well, just accept it. At that point, you’ll feel out of the chair. Then, time to stand up again and the rest you can imagine

  18. 59

    I have   arrived at a point where my husband (5,5 years married, nearly 8 years together) said to me: you’ll have to convert to christianity or the marriage is over. I’m not sharing his believes, though i’ve always tried to respect them (which of course I have failed at times).

    It really hurts because if we take religion out of it, we have a perfect relationship. We are both artists, we work together very well, we like each others company etc. If he could you see that in the end all that matters in love and respect for each other? So therefor even though it breaks my heart, I know I need to leave…


  19. 60

    A willingness to prioritize another’s happiness above your own,extreme feelings of attachment, affection, and need is love. Marriages have nothing to do with religion. It is all about the trust, love and responsibility they have about each other. How can it be love when he can love the world but overlook her. Forget the realm of spirituality, it is all about love and faith you have towards you partner.Thank you for sharing a thought provoking post.

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