Religion is a near inescapable topic when it comes to dating.
Chandra Johnson of Deseret News National reported that daters often look at religion when deciding whether or not a possible suitor is the right match. There’s also been numerous accounts of faith-based dating techniques, like the act of speedfaithing, where people open up to each other in a date-like approach about religion.
But sometimes bringing up religion in conversation can be tough, especially when dating someone with differing religious beliefs.
This is not to say being religious and dating is an awkward experience. In fact, some of the biggest online dating websites — which now account for 25 percent of new relationships, according to match.com’s 2014 “Singles in America” survey — have religious ties, like ChristianMingle and JDate. And a 2013 survey by Oxygen Media found that race and religion are no longer a main concern for daters.
Still, talking about religion isn’t always an easy task when you’re on a date with someone whose beliefs and experiences you may be unfamiliar with. Here are 12 ways you can bring up religion on a date without feeling uncomfortable.
Find a date online
It’s as simple as that. Finding a date online is an easy way to make conversations about religion less awkward. Not only are places like JDate, ChristianMingle and Christian Singles racking in the religious daters, but other dating apps and websites like OKCupid, Tinder and Plenty of Fish offer users a chance to identify their religious beliefs. Having a conversation before the dating begins about religion will surely allay some concerns that could arise down the line.
Like the speedfaithing method mentioned above suggests, talking about religion on a first date may be as easy as just asking, whether it's about different religious beliefs in general or what that particular person believes is important. Not a debate, but just general wonderment of what any and all religions entail.
Say you’re not an expert
There are more than 4,200 religions in the world — including these 15 that you might not know about — so it’s important to assume that you don’t know everything about every religion. Letting the other person know you’re not an expert may open up the airwaves a little bit and allow both parties to feel free to talk about their own beliefs.
Ask about family history
Religion has been linked to strong family bonds, and it’s no surprise that believers tend to follow their family’s thoughts on religion. That offers you an easy way to start talking about faith. Ask a little bit about what your date’s family practices, or what his or her most cherished traditions are, and you may get a little insight into what your date’s religious life is like.
Talk about college
Higher education may offer more clues into the religious background of your date — especially if they went to a private religious school. Currently, about 10 percent of U.S. students go to private schools, according to The Huffington Post. So if your date is one of those students, there may be some clues into his or her religion behind that decision. Public schools, too, have religious communities, mostly found in different housing units, as Deseret News National pointed out in 2013, so asking those graduates too about their campus involvement may also be helpful.
Bring up a topical religious issue
Want to test your date to see how much they know about religion or what faith they follow? Bring up something topical that relates to religion. This could be something like “Noah” — which drew both religious and non-religious crowds — or ongoing religious tensions across the world. These events may give clues as to where your date stands in terms of religious tolerance and beliefs.
Talk about movies
Like the “Noah” example above, talking about movies that have religious influences and themes may also give you a clue as to how religious your date is, or even what faith they follow. Tell them that the man who formerly played Batman is going to be in “Exodus: Gods and Kings” or that “Heaven is For Real” wasn’t about faith at all.
See where they shop
Shopping can also give clues into a person's spiritual life. After all, some of the biggest companies in the country have religious ties. Bringing these companies up in conversation, or simply asking what shops your date likes to frequent, can give a clue into how he or she feels about religion and faith.
Talk about your favorite authors
Simply talking about books may get some ideas out on the table, too. Whether they like C.S. Lewis, or they’re fans of Mark Twain, there are certainly some religious ideas to come out of that. It may even be that your date finds the Bible or the Quran to be their favorite as well. Or maybe they like the Left Behind series, instead.
And then there’s music
Your date likes Creed? Switchfoot? These Christian rock groups can be an indicator of your date's interests and upbringing. In fact, BuzzFeed pointed out a variety of bands you may not have known were Christian rock groups. What better way to start a conversation about faith?
Ask about future plans and holidays
How a person celebrates popular holidays can give you large insight into their personal and family history with faith. If they’re big Christmas fans, you might assume they’re Christians. Or if they mention other important religious holidays — like Rosh Hashanah, Ash Wednesday or any of these interfaith holidays — you could learn something deeper about their beliefs.
See what they order
Some religions don’t approve of drinking alcohol, while others prefer to have kosher-free meals. CNN has a long list of foods and drinks some believers prefer to stay away from. By seeing what your date orders, and how he or she reacts to what you order, you may get some additional insight into a person's faith and feelings on religion.
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