When Your Date Has Different Beliefs

By Paula Shute

I wanted it to work. He was the tall, dark, and handsome basketball coach. I was the Shakespearean theater graduate student. It was the perfect set-up for a hallmark movie–minus the Christmas decorations.

We met on a dating app. He took me on some adorable first dates. He said he was Christian. He knew I was Catholic. He even went so far as to buy me a saint medal when he knew nothing about why I wore them.

I had butterflies when a restaurant we were supposed to go to for an early date was closed; he grabbed my hand so we could run together to the next open restaurant. He was very good at the whole “wooing” thing.

We called it something official rather fast—so fast that I hadn’t yet discovered he had a personality that enjoyed making fun of my sensitivities and my religion. Whether that was me needing to work on my own emotional triggers, him needing to be kinder, or us just being incompatible, it remained clear after only a few days that nothing was clicking and nothing would click.

We ended up calling it something official abruptly and it ended just as abruptly. I can’t even remember exactly how it happened anymore. I think I technically ended it; but we dragged the possibility of us out over a few months. I don’t recommend that strategy to my biggest enemy. All it does is distract you from what you really should be doing with your time. It certainly was a time of learning and made for great stories for my grad school friends. But people deserve more than just love stories that turn into nothing more than sad party jokes.

I don’t think that couples need to have the same faith beliefs necessarily. I do think that being supportive in the differences will go a long way if there are big differences. It’s hard to choose the right thing and, if I’m allowed to say this, some days it’s hard to be Catholic. It’s hard to get out of bed to go to Mass on Sundays when it’s freezing cold outside (before my Florida days). It’s hard to carve time out (of what I think is my busy life) to squeeze time in for a rosary or scripture or adoration. It’s hard until it becomes a habit, until I fall deeper in love with Christ. So why would I choose someone that made it harder to do something that is already difficult? I want to choose someone who calls me higher, just like Christ does. I wish I knew that back then, but like I said before, it was a time to learn. Sometimes we have to go through things before we understand them. I now know that one of the most important things to look for in a significant other is support. Life is hard enough; don’t settle for someone that tears you down because of beliefs that make you who you are.