How To Navigate Being In A Relationship With Different Views On Religion

According to the Pew Research Center, 84% of the world's population identifies with a religion. Of those who consider themselves religious, the majority, at 31.5%, identify as Christian, while 23.2% identify as Muslim. Rounding out the top three at 16.3% are those who are "unaffiliated." While unaffiliated may be in the top three, there are still thousands of recognized religions all over the world, and the vast majority of people out there are believers in one way or another. Because of this, in the dating world, you're more likely to find someone who belongs to a religion than you are to come across someone who doesn't.


"Religion is a fundamental part of who you are. It's not something small like what your favorite food is or favorite color," eHarmony's chief of advice Jeannie Assimos tells Elite Daily. "This is something that can truly make or break a relationship. It's important for couples to respect the parts of each other they don't agree on, or a relationship will never work."

Although, as Assimos points out, religious differences can make or break a relationship, if you truly love someone and respect all aspects that make them the person they are, then you need to make space for acceptance. It doesn't mean you won't have your work cut out for you in many ways, but it's possible for an interfaith relationship to not just work, but also to thrive. 


Address the topic

When they say love is blind, it's by no means an exaggeration. Meeting someone new, finding ourselves totally smitten, and then falling in love can be so all-consuming that it's nearly impossible to see clearly. It's in these early stages where things like religion and race barely cross our minds because, as the movies have taught us, there's always a fairy tale ending to every love story. But the problem is that that's not always true.


"People try to minimize the differences when they're in love," the author of "Mixed Matches: How to Create Successful Interracial, Interethnic and Interfaith Relationships," Joel Crohn, Ph.D., tells PsychCentral.

In minimizing the differences in your religions, you're not just avoiding the topic but also committing a grave disservice to your relationship. While the fact that you're Muslim and your partner is Catholic may not seem like a big deal early on, if you're both seriously involved in your faiths, it will eventually become a big deal. Some cultures aren't willing to accept interfaith relationships, so don't ignore the differences and what might potentially arise in the future. Instead, talk about it honestly and openly. 


Learn about each other's religion

Between social media and general ignorance, we tend to get a lot of misinformation about other people's faiths. And, in most cases, we don't realize just how wrong those so-called facts are until we meet someone from a certain religion, and they set us straight. Sharing stories with your partner about holidays and traditions is a good way to not only learn about their religion but also how your partner interprets their religion.


"Share the name of the holiday, what the holiday, represents, how your family celebrated it, your favorite part about the holiday celebration," psychologist Dr. Linda Humphreys, Ph.D., tells Bustle. "Sharing funny holiday stories engages the other person in a non-threatening, non-demanding-of-anything manner."

According to the Center for the Study of Global Christianity, there are 45,000 denominations of Christianity worldwide. That being said, you could be a Christian in a relationship with another Christian, but the only thing you really have in common in regard to your religion is the fact that you both believe in Jesus Christ. Because of this, sharing your stories is important to understand each other on a religious level.


Find a middle ground

Falling in love with someone whose religion is different from yours doesn't mean you can't find a way to celebrate both religions together in a special way. It not only gives you both the chance to honor your own religious beliefs but also to respect each other's faiths. For example, praying together can give make you feel united and keep that respect for each other's religions alive.


"When we pray together, we both take time to end our prayer in our own sacred way," matchmaker Nekisha Michelle Kee, who's also in an interfaith relationship, tells Insider. "We include each other on spiritual awakenings and discuss the meaning and implications from our own interpretation."

Also, incorporating aspects of each religion in your traditions and holidays, too, can make every celebration unique and specific to your faiths, as well as your relationship. You can create a special, one-of-a-kind version of your two religions.

Don't try to convert each other

Unless one of you isn't devout and is open to converting, the last thing you want to do is try to convert each other. Conversion is basically a euphemism for saying your religion is better than other religions when this isn't the case. All religions have their ups and downs.


If you fall in love with an atheist thinking you'll have them praying to your god within a few months, then you're sadly mistaken. Religion, or lack thereof, is a personal and intimate thing. If you both take your religions very seriously and aren't lapsed, but practicing, like politics, trying to convert each other will have you both banging your heads against the wall. You either take them as they are, or you decide the difference is a dealbreaker. Respect is a fundamental component of healthy and communicative relationships, so if you can't offer that for your partner, then it's best to end it before things get too serious.

Realize the worth of having the same values

While there's no denying the impact that religion can have on a relationship, when it comes down to it, values can be seen as more important than religion because religion is part of one's collection of values. If both you and your partner share the same values and ethics, your relationship stands a better chance of holding together in the long run.


"In the previous generations, the majority of conversions were for the sake of the parents," rabbi and religious scholar Ma'ayan Sands tells Refinery29. "But now, fewer people are marrying young, and people in their 30s are less likely to be influenced by their parents — at that point, they're more concerned with general human compatibility."

If it all makes sense, the love is real, the communication is healthy, and you're both legitimately happy, the god you pray to or the way you worship shouldn't stand in the way. You shouldn't let someone go over something that can be managed and worked on together.