Atheist-Catholic relationship


Hi :slight_smile:

I met a guy at an art show, and we ended up exchanging contact information, spoke on a few occasions, and ended up hanging out again. This is great news, he’s attractive and seems very nice.

So, while we were hanging out we were discussing something and I ended up asking what religion he follows. He said he was a Catholic and attends church twice a week. I guess that’s considered devout.

I’m an Atheist. I was raised Catholic. I’m really open minded and don’t mind his religion at all. I love all types of people regardless of beliefs. Every time I encounter a person from a different background or with different beliefs I see it as a learning opportunity. I also find that it’s really important to meet different people. So, I’m completely fine with his opinions. I’m not looking to have cut-throat debates. :slight_smile:

However, I’m not sure if he would be fine with it. I haven’t told him about it yet, mostly because I’m not sure whether I should wait until he gets to know me better (not sure how it is with most catholics, but my family gives atheists a negative connotation =/) or just do it straight out, as soon as possible, so he knows.

So I guess I’m looking for is:

a) What would you do if you found out a girl you know/possibly like is an atheist

b) should I tell him immediately or wait until he gets to know me better.

c) will his parents hate my guts and think I’m the devil. I’m a really nice girl, I promise! :frowning:


Hi, It’s always pleasant to meet someone mutually attractive, and over the years this happens from time to time, but there is a place and time for decision to get involved or not to get involved…and it is commonsense and decent to do as you have done, consider, and ask questions. All credit to you for doing that!:thumbsup:

I think it is only fair to let him know such a significant issue before he becomes involved emotionally…as in a permanent relations it affects issues like contraception and how the children will be raised. It can be lonely married to someone of different belief, even if he or she doesn’t put up roadblocks…very!

If he is traditional or committed to his faith…and you point out indication that he is, **or he wouldn’t bother going to Mass on Sundays…let alone twice weekly **then this divergence can create serious dilemmas for him, and even you, later on. Therefore it seems fair to give him the choice to decide whether or not to pursue the relationship. He may like or be attracted and vice versa, but in the long run, that doesn’t hold a lot of water. People confuse attraction with love. Love is the mutual commitment to all the effort and compromise that comes later, We can all be attracted to others, but some relationships end up agony for both.

We get some very painful situations of mixed belief in marriage on these forums.

The respectful thing would be to let him know you are an atheist…not even of another Christian faith!..and then the decision to engage with you is respectfully his also. It is too important an issue to a 'devout Catholic" to be less than honest about.

All the best, Trishie :slight_smile:

Oh and no, never again would I marry someone who doesn’t share faith in God…many years of that kind of pain and loneliness and of imposed silence about so much that is important to me, central to my life, is of no importance to his life and thought although he never blocks my faith practice…but is never part of it, is more than enough to convince me, never again. You pray and hope for their conversion, and that also is very painful in itself.


First I want to say welcome to the forums! I hope you find some worthwhile help here!

Would I be wrong in assuming that you have a strong attraction to this person? I am thinking you might since you are seeking answers from other Catholics.

I think much depends on how deeply attached both of you are to your beleifs and how involved your relationship is. If you are very attached to your athiest beleifs and have no real interest in changing in the future then that may create difficulty in a relationship with a practicing Catholic who is very attached to his Catholic beleifs and has no real interest in changing in the future. But you probably already knew that.

Also much matters on how deeply involved you two are. I am married now, but could easily see myself years ago dating someone who was an athiest, or jewish or any other faith. Dating for me meant having fun, going to dinner, dancing and enjoying company! Marriage on the other hand is different. Dating is fun, marriage is building a life and family together…much different! But you probably already knew that too.

Not sure why you think his parents might think you are the devil? Maybe you were joking…I expect my children to date all sorts of people but when it comes to a life partner, I would hope that they find one whom they share faith and values.

I know you said you “are not looking to have cut-throat debates” but if you get serious and consider marriage and family that is exactly the kind of thing that might happen. Can you picture a family life where daddy tells the kids “We are going to Mass every Sunday to love and praise God” and then mommy says “there is no God”. This would be very polarizing I would think.

I would consider this more than anything: You said you are a former Catholic. Perhaps this might be an opportunity to re-examine why you left? Were you put off by the behaviours of religious people? Were you feeling your questions werent’ answered? Did you feel marginalized by your church? The fact that you are so attracted to him and were drawn to this internet site are very interesting. Perhaps there is a small part of you that longs for a faith life again? Maybe I am way off base. I am not trying to analyze you, just offering a suggestion. Wherever life takes you and wherever your journey winds up I wish you the best.

Take care and hope this helps a little.


This is a big issue and you should tell him immediately.


Welcome to the forums! :wave:

When I was single, if I found out that a guy I was starting to like was atheist, I would keep my emotional distance. Faith was #1 for me, so anyone who didn’t share it was automatically removed from the marriage pool unless they were interested in converting. And that was before I was even baptized. :smiley:

At the beginning of our courtship, my husband took me to Mass because I was interested in the Church. If I had been atheist, he probably wouldn’t have dated me.

Has he asked you? If it’s important to him, he should ask. If he didn’t ask, I’d tell him as soon as you can. It’s really important to have that kind of information before emotional attachments get strong.

I honestly don’t know how his parents would feel. I had friends who were atheist, and I didn’t hate their guts. :wink: I just didn’t marry them.


I’m an agnostic myself, and I think if I were in your position I’d tell him at the next convenient opportunity. If he’s a devout Catholic, it’s bound to come up (I’m surprised he didn’t ask you after you asked him).

You’re definitely right when it comes to learning a lot from someone with a different background than yourself - whether or not this ends up being a a friendship or a relationship, there is a lot you can both learn from each other. I just think it’s important to remember that he should be as open to your beliefs as you are to his - relationships are give and take, and he should like you for who you are, which includes your religious beliefs. :slight_smile:

Just thought I’d offer my viewpoint as someone who has been in a similar position!


a) I wouldn’t worry about it unless she actually had a problem with my religion… the only place where I have to draw the line with religion and dating is if I think, hypothetically if we got married and had children, would she be ok with me raising them Catholic? If yes, then there is no problem.

b) Prolly best to let him know.

c) If it was my parents, they wouldn’t hate you, but they would be angry at me and at the situation in general. However, they’d eventually accept it.


Marriage is a vocation in the Catholic Church. Its purpose is the begetting and raising of children IN THE FAITH. The vocation is to get yourself, your children, and your spouse to heaven.

All Catholics must vow to raise their children Catholic. All Catholics must marry according to Catholic Canon Law-- therefore requiring a dispensation to marry a non-Catholic and most especially a non-believer.

Given all that-- as a Catholic I did not date ANY non-Catholics, let alone non-Christians.

Values and beliefs are core to any marriage. If the couple does not share them, it is headed for trouble.

I’m sure you are a nice person. That does not overcome the difference in values and beliefs.

Yes, you should tell him immediately.

No way to answer. We don’t know his parents.


suggestion… if you have time, ask if you can go to mass with him… ask lots of questions, and don’t be afraid…


Dear friend.

I’ll try to make this short. Yes you should tell him and he should ask… and I am sure he will if he is in fact a strong believer.
I would not date an atheist if I could help myself in any way. Not because I could not fall for one… but here is why
These are the beliefs of a serious Catholic:

  • The faith in Christ is so extremely important to all aspects of life. Not being able to talk about this and be understood by your significant other is extremely painful and not something I wish for anyone.
  • Many serious Catholics dont believe in dating but in courtship.
  • Christ is the centre of life… that means a man or woman should love Him more than they love their gf or bf or spouse. Would you have a problem being second to a god whom you think is an illusionary person? I know I would.
  • No sex before marriage… Not just no intercourse. No sex.
  • No artificial birth control within marriage. That means you may have more children than you plan on.
  • The Catholic Church does not believe in divorce nor does it believe in abortion for any reason under the sun.
  • A serious Christian will have the longing for unity with his wife in a sacramental marriage and to have a family that is rooted in God and holiness… A family that prays together stays together, we say. A Catholic man would wish to go to Church with his spouse and children at least once a weak as a family.

So this is not about you being a bad person or him being better than you. But I hope he finds a Catholic woman for the sake of himself and of his family, both his parents and his future children. One thing is that its also very difficult to stay chaste in todays world…So he will need a person who helps him and does not just say: “I respect YOUR wish but I wanna sleep with you whenever you might fail to fight the temptation”.
Would you help him to get to Heaven?

His parents would not hate you. But they will worry about your salvation and whether or not you will somehow influence their son in a direction which is not the best…
And yes: Atheism and Christianity are not equals. God loves us all equally, BUT according to the Bible atheism is a sin. Our Lord says it clearly and we all need His Salvation. We are not relativistic. The Catholic Church is by nature countercultural if its serious…

People are often blinded by attraction and by the gentleness of a person. The man you have met is probably a gentleman by a huge part because of his unity with Christ.
I hope he prays hard before entering a relationship with you… just like you should consider it for a long time before you get involved with him.

There is something about this guy that is higher and more than himself… and that is Christ. I wish a Christian marriage for all my brothers and sisters in the Lord and the Church also encourages this for very obvious reasons.

How about being his friend?

Grace :slight_smile:

Ps. Great of you to come in here and ask for an advice… it shows that you are not just looking for what is best for you but also what would be best for this guy that you like.
I have benefitted much from these fora myself. I havent always been a Christian and I hope you dont feel bad about the above points. We dont look down on you but we do feel that the belief that you adhere to /atheism is very bad for the human person in generel. I believe I have to just be honest with you.

I wish you all the best (how about reading the Gospels?)…


If you’re open minded, why not read some really good, Catholic material and discuss it together?


How old are you? Sometimes even nice Christians go through an agnostic/atheist period. I know I had mine. It took me telling someone that I wasn’t Christian, to make me realize that was a lie.

I sort of wonder if your attraction to this fellow and your discomfort that you are now feeling with revealing that you are an atheist could be the Holy Spirit at work within you. Afterall, you were baptized a Catholic, and I do believe that the Holy Spirit is going to come calling for you. Jesus is someone that we know will come looking for his lost sheep. I believe that with my whole heart.

How much do you really know about the Catholic faith? What is it that convinces you that there is no God?


My Catholic grandfather and my agnostic grandmother were married for many many years and raised two great Catholic men. It can work but I believe it works against the odds. Having been in a marriage before where my spouse and I did not pray together and invite God to help us in our relationship, I can tell you it’s very hard to have long-term success without some extra help from the divine.

My biggest concern would be the children’s education. If he’s devout and y’all married, expect to send your kids to sunday school, take them to Mass, etc.

Now that Grandpa has been gone for a while and Grandma is getting close to the end, I see her fear, too. She sees the crucifix around my neck and wants to ask me about it. She is afraid of death. I’m sure she wonders if she will ever see Grandpa again. I wouldn’t want to be in that situation.

Tell him right away…secrets kill trust.


Have you talked about it with her? Even if she hasn’t come out and asked, you might be doing her a favor. Sometimes all it takes is the gentlest nudge. I think those simple little invitations tend to work out better than all of the preaching and schlocky evangelizing of those who get carried away.

I know for me, what really got me on track, was my friend’s husband, after one too many beers, saying that he wished we would go to church with them. We had been once on a Christmas Eve, and he said he had liked it and wished we would go more.


I’ve told her God loves her. It’s very hard. She really has an aversion of all things Catholic and it amazes me that she and Grandpa were able to work. The parish ladies knitted her an afghan when she was in the hospital and she did not even want it in the house. I’m sure it’s a fear of being proven wrong after all these years.

She lives 1000 miles away. Next time I’m with her in person I hope to have a discussion. Please pray for her. She’s in good health but 95 years old…still lives alone!


Hi :slight_smile:

My concise answers follow:

a) If I found out a man in this situation was an atheist I would discuss this lack of faith in great depth. I would in no way continue a relationship with an atheist.

b) You should tell him immediately so that you can discuss it.

c) I can’t imagine his parents would hate you at all. If his parents have any concern for his eternal life and the raising of future children, they will be think that being nice is not enough.

Peace be with you,



I will pray for her. That is a tough situation. I think prayer means a lot, and I am sure that your grandpa is praying for her from heaven.


Welcome ohnoes!

Don’t beat around the bush. Tell him straight out what your views are.


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