By// Mariah Craddick
When dating or thinking about potential partners, personal faith and religion are sometimes afterthoughts. But can differences in beliefs eventually destroy a relationship? With the Faith issue of JET featuring Nia Long on the cover on stands now, JETmag.com spoke with Demetria L. Lucas, life coach and author of A Belle in Brooklyn: The Go-to Girl for Advice on How to Live Your Best Single Life, for guidance on the subject and five tips for how to date a partner of another, or no, faith.
JETmag.com: Should religion or faith be a first date question? How long do you suggest waiting before talking about it?
It depends 1) on your purpose in dating; and 2) how important religion is to you?
If you’re dating to have a fun time and meet new people, then no, just enjoy the date and figure out if you actually like the person you’re spending time with before you bring up a potentially divisive topic like religion (and while we’re at it, politics.) When you like the person enough to think you might want to be in a relationship and religion/faith is important to you, ask how they practice their religion/faith, if at all, and have a discussion of your differences and similarities to see if you can find a common ground.
If you’re dating with the intent of having a long-term relationship or marriage AND a person of a different religion or who does not practice as you do (i.e., all Christians don’t go to church every Sunday, tithe or abstain from pre-marital sex) is a deal breaker for you, then yes, ask away.
Should you ever try to convert your partner to another faith?
No, it’s arrogant and disrespectful to your partner’s belief system to treat yours as “better.” And also, annoying. No one wants to be badgered about their religion/faith or lack thereof. Accept your partner for who they are and what they believe. If you can’t accept their religion/faith as is, then seek another partner who is more compatible.
What if you disagree wholeheartedly with your partner on a particular aspect of their religion? How do you voice your opinion but remain respectful?
It’s fine to disagree with your partner and to express that. Be mindful not to use judgmental words that devalue your partner’s religion/faith. State the issue and why you believe it is wrong. And too, know what you want the outcome of the conversation to be. Is it that you want to express yourself? You want your partner to change a particular behavior? Anytime there’s a disagreement, it’s important to remain solution-oriented and not just get stuck on the point of disagreement.
Click through for Demetria’s 5 tips on how to successfully date a partner of another (or no) faith.