I've been dating this girl for a while now, and I knew she was Catholic.  I knew that going into it and I accept that.  She knows that I'm an Atheist. 


The other day somehow we got on the subject of abortion.  I simply told her that I'm pro-choice, and don't think that I have any say in what a woman does with her body.  She responds by telling me that women that would consider getting an abortion are "failures as women"(I'm quoting). 


I was forced to sit there an smile and not say a thing because it left no room for discussion.  I had no idea what to say to that.


I feel like I should run away from this girl and not look back, despite the fact that we seem to be compatible in every other way.  Should I over look this, or slap myself for thinking that a relationship with this girl would actually work out?

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compatible in every other way


... but the most fundamental of all ... Run Noah Run!

I've always preferred to be in relationships where there are some differences of opinion, but I couldn't imagine making a go of it with someone that makes fatuous remarks like that and doesn't back them up with any intellectual reasoning. It sounds like she's quoting a slogan that she's just accepted without any critical examination. 

At the end of the day, Noah, it's not about whether you agree with her on everything, it's about whether you can respect her, and you might find it hard to sustain respect for someone who lets others do her thinking for her when it comes to critical issues like this.

I'd ask her what she thinks constitutes success as a woman - and why (but I don't think you'll like her answers, somehow).

Don't look back! Run like hell!

I dated someone who was pro life a long time ago although he conceded that he would have been OK with an abortion in our circumstances (unmarried, students, young). My (now) husband was once against abortion but I convinced him with pure logic one day when he was complaining about stupid people breeding or something.


It's more of a problem when you are dating someone who could possibly make you pregnant or who you could possibly get pregnant. As a guy you have even less choice than she does, and guys can be made to pay child support b/c some woman thinks she's being a hero by keeping the baby.


I'd be OK with someone who would not have an abortion themselves, or who was against abortion or didn't feel so great about it, as long as they didn't want to make it illegal for everyone. This person sounds really judgmental to say that anyone who would consider an abortion is a failure. This sounds like either some kind of "feminists for life" psuedofeminism or something that would be said by a preacher who believes women should stay home and cook and clean and support their husbands.


Then again I think it would be kind of awkward to say "sorry, it's not going to work out because you're against abortion"? What other things do you think you are compatible on?

You accepted that she is Catholic early on, before you began to experience what that really means for her immutable stances on many, many huge issues that define who she is and how she leads her life. There won't be compromising or debating and deciding or even logical understanding. All relationships start out with people on their best behavior and seeing the best in each other, then as time goes on the guard gets let down and the stuff you thought was worth putting up with gets harder and harder to swallow. Personally I've given up even being friends with people whose religion determines their opinions. Not really opinions, not something they decided on one issue at a time, an entire mindset with the answers to every question already in places and no questions allowed.

There are probably other agendas you don't even know she has. Does her life plan include being a stay at home mom to 6 kids and making her husband convert. She's already told you how she defines womanhood. Would she assume Catholic pre-marital counseling is a given. How does she view dating, is it automatically headed for marriage. How do you view dating and where it leads. You could be taking it one step at a time while she might already have a scenario mapped out. You let topics arise and discuss them but she's already got all the answers you're not going to like.

My ex-husband was a Republican when we met (though an atheist, and I was not at the time), but he was always pro-choice. Still, there were a lot of arguments early on, and it was really frustrating. With the help of G.W. Bush I managed to convert him from his remaining vestiges of Republicanism and also managed to turn him into a feminist by exposing him to all the things I was learning in my education. He, on the other hand, helped me get to atheism and introduced me to Lyle Lovett's music. It was an amicable divorce and we both agree that we came out better for the relationship b/c of the above-mentioned changes we created in each other. HOWEVER, I would never have been able to even entertain the notion of dating him if he had been an anti-choice Republican (or even Democrat?) in the beginning b/c I have had an abortion, and that it a very clear line I draw for my intimate relationships. It's THAT important, to me and to all women (even those who consider the rest of us failures as women). Also, at this point in my life (I first met my ex almost a decade ago, and I wasn't anywhere near as political then.) I draw the line for dating at political progressivism in general. I like challenges, but I don't want to have to go through the tedium of a conversion anymore. As for religion, I will date a religious man or woman, but he or she would have to practice a fairly progressive religion and be pretty flexible about what "god" is. If you feel good about her in all other respects (what else do you know about her politics and gender philosophy?) then you can challenge her on this one issue and maybe convert me, but you will likely be challenging her on her religious beliefs as well, so it's gonna get tense. Do you think she's capable of reason?

Her being pro-life wouldn't bother me nearly as much as the phrasing of her stance.  I dunno, man.  I could respect even a Libertarian more easily than I could respect someone who just declares such an absolute with no thinking or internal justification going on.


I don't know if I'd be quite so quick to run screaming, as many have suggested.  At least have the knock-down-drag-out fight first.  Find out if there's an argument behind her stance on abortion, or whether it's simply blind adherence to Catholic dogma.  While you're at it, go through all of the questions that Judy listed above, along with a lot of others.


Then, if it looks as bad as it instinctively feels to me ... then run.

It can work out. My dad is a pro-life agnostic/atheist, my mum is a pro-choice christian. They've been married for 38 years. They'll never agree on the issue of abortion, or religion for that matter, but they're unlikely to break up over it.


Whether a relationship will work or not doesn't depend on whether there are disagreements, it depends on how you disagree. If you can debate a topic respectfully, or avoid it happily, then having fundamental differences (no pun intended) can be completely harmless.


You're unlikely to change her mind about abortion. She's unlikely to change your mind. If you are both happy to avoid the subject then it should be fine. If you think about it there are only two ways that this issue would have an impact on you. 1) That she supports for pro-life political candidates who you don't support, and 2) that she chooses not to have an abortion in the event of an unplanned pregnancy. Since any person is entitled to vote for any candidate they like I don't see 1 as impacting on your rights, and given that pro-choicers believe that women control their own bodies, her decision to continue a pregnancy would be entirely her right according to both of your beliefs.


If you both treat each other respectfully and aren't trying to convert each other then I really wouldn't sweat it.

  • Whether a relationship will work or not doesn't depend on whether there are disagreements, it depends on how you disagree. If you can debate a topic respectfully, or avoid it happily, then having fundamental differences (no pun intended) can be completely harmless.

Yeah, I think what makes the issue a major one is that ... at least it sounds like Noah suspects that there could be bad conflicts on the subject, if I'm reading him correctly.


Anytime you're dating someone with such a profoundly different basis for his/her entire world outlook, you've got to really sit down and talk through everything.  Seek out any potential landmines and see if they'll be deal-breakers.


The biggest one that worries me is raising children.  Do you want children?  Does she?


I can't imagine serious Christians being willing to raise children outside of their religious teachings.  It's kind of drilled into them that you have to raise your children within the church, because without that pressure, a religion would die off within a few generations.  Children that aren't indoctrinated from birth will break away from the religion once they start thinking about things rationally.


Likewise, would you be willing to let her indoctrinate your children into Catholicism, if the relationship goes that far?

I guess I should answer to your responses in the way that seems the most logical.  First, there's the issue of whether this is an indication of other beliefs of her's.  From other talks we've had there's nothing that would make me think that she has completely accepted Catholic dogma.


She is a very intelligent and logical person, this instance non-withstanding.  For her Catholicism is simply part of her childhood, and a connection to her family.  Like all other Catholics I've meant she doesn't even go to church.  So I guess that it's possible in time logic could change her mind.  She did go on a rant about how she doesn't like GW Bush so I guess that's a start.


I guess what bothers me also was that when she said it I couldn't do anything but smile and nod, because it left no room for debate.  Like many of you have brought up, in the long run our happiness may be dependent on my ability to not debate her on issues of belief, which isn't really something I'm going to be able to do forever, especially if I've been drinking.


Another issue raised was what might happen in the event that I got her pregnant.  I suppose I'm not completely against the idea of having kids.  I'm not thoroughly convinced that I would be a good parent but anything is possible.


If we had children I wouldn't be against her trying to raise them religiously.  There's no better path to atheism than being forced to learn religion as a child. 


I guess that's all I can think of for now, it's late and I'm tired.  I'll probably read this again tomorrow to make sure that it's actually coherent.

Hmm, dunno about the G. W. Bush thing.  Lots of Catholics didn't like him.


And having religion forced upon you as a child can lead to atheism, if there's sufficient dissonance from outside sources, such as you.  However, you sabotaging her religious teaching of the kids could destroy the relationship/marriage.  It's better to reach an understanding on the subject, before it comes up, and this is one subject with which there often isn't much give.

Maybe I should take the gloves off and ask her if she thinks evolution is a theory, and therefore non-factual.




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