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dating non-Orthodox?

katerina

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I have been a long time reader of these forums but this is my first post! If you have the patience, please read this entirely before commenting...

I have been dating someone for about 3 months who is not Orthodox. He was raised Catholic, but considers himself agnostic. Unfortunately, I met him and knew him for a while before we started dating, and we started falling in love with each other before we even started "going out," and shared our opinions on things such as religion. Had I known this before I had gotten involved, I know I wouldn't have. But here I am.

Our relationship is still new and marriage is not even a topic we are ready to talk about yet, but we both love each other, so it's implied that it would still be a potential option. The only thing we have discussed (hypothetically) is  that any kind of future involves an Orthodox wedding ceremony and raising children to be Orthodox, and he has absolutely no objections to this. I have not tried to hide my religion or my beliefs from him in any way... he knows I am Orthodox, that it is extremely important to me, that I fast, etc.. and asks me lots of questions about it. So far, he has not compromised my faith in any way (I give up Saturday night dates because he knows I'm in church!)... if anything, it has become stronger because I find myself reading about it so much just so that I know how to properly answer any of his questions. He respects me for it, and has even claimed that he admires it and is somewhat "jealous" that I have this kind of faith in my life. He is not completely irreligious, but simply has said that the Catholic church just isn't for him (his words).

Here are my questions:

1. Obviously I am very torn because I know I will never marry him unless he converts. I know that I shouldn't even be dating him. However, even my friends claim that he seems curious and that I should at least expose him to it first before I break it off with him. I have not invited him to church or to any church events yet. Should I at least let him see what Orthodoxy is? If so, how do I do this without pressuring or overwhelming him? Or is it wrong for me to try to "change" him, and I should just stop dating him now?

2. It seems as though I am missionary dating. Is this truly something wrong to do? I know certain families who, if they adhered to the rule of "only date Orthodox"... their spouses would have never converted, and their families wouldn't exist!

Any advice would be truly appreciated. It makes me sad that I am in love with this man and obviously God had placed him in my life for some reason, but right now, things seem quite impossible. He is truly the most wonderful, kind, and giving person I have ever dated (and I've ONLY dated Orthodox guys before!)
 

Achronos

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kerdy should give you some good advice on this.

do you want to get married?

why cant he join you saturday night at vespers?
 

katerina

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As I mentioned, the relationship is still pretty new so serious marriage talk is not where we are yet. However, we both have fallen in love with each other, so considering all other things go well, I would like this to be an option down the road!

About vespers - to be perfectly honest, I haven't invited him to church yet because I have been so afraid of giving him a "bad" first impression of Orthodoxy. That was probably poorly worded, but essentially, I was afraid that him standing in church on a Saturday night (when most people are out having fun), not understanding the majority of the service (my parish does about 75% of the service in Russian), would scare him off. Maybe that is a sinful mindset on my part, but hopefully someone kind of "gets" what I mean there.
 

Achronos

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i think you are handling this too much like an egg and afraid if it cracks.

if it doesnt work out there are plenty of orthodox men out there to marry.

you supposedly love this guy but afraid to "break" him in such a way if you bring up your faith.

i dont know maybe im assuming too much here.

katerina said:
As I mentioned, the relationship is still pretty new so serious marriage talk is not where we are yet. However, we both have fallen in love with each other, so considering all other things go well, I would like this to be an option down the road!
i was just saying marriage in general, but that answers it.

About vespers - to be perfectly honest, I haven't invited him to church yet because I have been so afraid of giving him a "bad" first impression of Orthodoxy. That was probably poorly worded, but essentially, I was afraid that him standing in church on a Saturday night (when most people are out having fun), not understanding the majority of the service (my parish does about 75% of the service in Russian), would scare him off. Maybe that is a sinful mindset on my part, but hopefully someone kind of "gets" what I mean there.
vespers would be better than say divine liturgy for the first exposure to orthodoxy imo.

if he cares or has any interest in what you do, i dont see why he would say no. hes not a staunch atheist or involved in another religion.

it is probably in your benefit he is an agnostic.

i would invite him to come. what do you, and he, have to lose? an hour?

you afraid he wont like it and wants nothing to do with it?

my first orthodox visit was severly disappointing but i went back.

have him go and see where it leads. you cant control what he thinks or feels.
 

PeterTheAleut

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Not to be flippantly dismissive, but something of such a personal nature as this is best addressed by your priest, not by anonymous yahoos on an Internet discussion forum.
 

Achronos

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PeterTheAleut said:
Not to be flippantly dismissive, but something of such a personal nature as this is best addressed by your priest, not by anonymous yahoos on an Internet discussion forum.
i have a problem with the word yahoo, peter.

;D
 

yeshuaisiam

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To the OP, the truth is the truth, a lie is a lie.

The truth sets you free.  All you can do is ask.
 

pensateomnia

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katerina said:
As I mentioned, the relationship is still pretty new so serious marriage talk is not where we are yet. However, we both have fallen in love with each other, so considering all other things go well, I would like this to be an option down the road!

About vespers - to be perfectly honest, I haven't invited him to church yet because I have been so afraid of giving him a "bad" first impression of Orthodoxy. That was probably poorly worded, but essentially, I was afraid that him standing in church on a Saturday night (when most people are out having fun), not understanding the majority of the service (my parish does about 75% of the service in Russian), would scare him off. Maybe that is a sinful mindset on my part, but hopefully someone kind of "gets" what I mean there.
Makes total sense. You might consider reading a book together. I did that with my wife when we started dating. She was Lutheran at the time. Reading a book together -- I think it was Kallistos' "The Orthodox Way", which includes theology and spiritual practices -- helps the non-Orthodox person develop a deeper interest before attending a service, and also will encourage many valuable discussions.
 

Kerdy

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You should never start dating someone you already know you can't marry.
 

katherineofdixie

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If he's not willing to stand for hours on a Saturday night listening to an incomprehensible service now, then what does the future hold, except you taking the kids to church and church events by yourself for years?
All you can do is ask.
 

LBK

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katherineofdixie said:
If he's not willing to stand for hours on a Saturday night listening to an incomprehensible service now, then what does the future hold, except you taking the kids to church and church events by yourself for years?
All you can do is ask.
As ever, katherineofdixie, the voice of reason. Brilliant! :D
 

vamrat

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NicholasMyra said:
Kerdy, cut it out.

You don't get to talk to real human beings with dismissive stock response.

That sort of hardheartedness should be post moderated.
BS.  It's best to tell someone the hard truth up front instead of letting them delude themselves for years and then get hurt in the end.  Your method is a lot more insidious and damaging than his is.

"You should never start dating someone you already know you can't marry."  It is better to face this up front than dragging it on for three years.  I know, I have.

That said, I don't think the OP is in the "cannot marry" stage just yet.  Marrying an Orthodox person is the ideal, but sometimes you just run into the fact that there just isn't one willing to marry you when you are ready for it.  If she has at least made an effort to date men in her church then really, what the hell is she supposed to do?  (On re-reading her post it looks like she has.)

Katerina, a couple of questions - how old are you?  How old is he?  How did you meet?  Have you talked with anyone yet who is not an invisible internet person?  Your parents, your priest, your friends, him?  There is an advantage to asking faceless internet folk in that you probably have less inhibitions and are bareing less of your soul while providing more information, but also take into account that if you have a good family life, they and your friends probably know you better than you do.  Their advice should not be spurned, and should probably take precedence. 
 

Fabio Leite

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Does he know that it is important for you that he converts if you two are to marry, and that although you agree it's too early to even think of marriage you're not into dating for dating's sake only (if that's the case)? It's important that he knows this, because that's part of who you are. If you don't tell him this, you may be deceiving both of you.

Would he consider conversion as a fair possibility at least or is he one of those who think it's an "oppression" or "manipulation" when someone simply tries to convince another of a religious point of view?

Because simply there aren't here any Orthodox women who are at around my age, and single and with whom there is mutual interest I have to seriously consider non-Orthodox women. I am willing to find some middle-ground in our religious lives and I am able to live well with that. I also don't like the idea of getting married with what I think the person might become. If I marry a RC or Protestant woman, I would like but not expect that she converted. You marry the person as he/she is, not your expectations and hopes for the person.

On the other hand, I would be very sad if after a couple of years of being married, I noticed that she is sad and depressed, thinking she did something wrong marrying me because she had hopes I would convert to her religion.
 

WPM

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Isn't non-Orthodox exclusive? ... I don't mind socializing with non-Orthodox
 

vamrat

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NicholasMyra said:
vamrat said:
"You should never start dating someone you already know you can't marry." 
She doesn't know that.
You really suck with that whole soundbiting thing.  Read the entirety of something before retorting, for once.

Here are a couple for you:

katerina said:
Obviously I am very torn because I know I will never marry him unless he converts. I know that I shouldn't even be dating him.
And my favorite...

katerina said:
If you have the patience, please read this entirely before commenting...
 

NicholasMyra

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vamrat said:
Obviously I am very torn because I know I will never marry him unless he converts. I know that I shouldn't even be dating him.
See the bold.

I don't appreciate you guys acting like she's stringing the dude along. Sounds like she's made it pretty clear to the guy what her expectations are and he hasn't shut her down.
 

vamrat

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NicholasMyra said:
vamrat said:
Obviously I am very torn because I know I will never marry him unless he converts. I know that I shouldn't even be dating him.
See the bold.

I don't appreciate you guys acting like she's stringing the dude along. Sounds like she's made it pretty clear to the guy what her expectations are and he hasn't shut her down.
How have either of us done this?  God knows, it will hurt her as much it will him.  I am more concerned for the pain that she may inflict on herself, as he is not the one asking here.

And no, it does not sound like she has made this perfectly clear to him.  At least, this is the conclusion I have come to having read her two questions.  I don't think things are hopeless for her at all and that she has a lot of options open and avenues yet to pursue, but she did come looking for advice and letting her know everything is going to be better for her than coddling her.  She will feel best in the long run if she has all of the tools at her disposal to make as good a decision as possible.
 

katherine2001

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If the person is an agnostic (which she says he is), the Church will not marry thm.  They will marry an Orthodox to another Christian, but not to a non-Christian.
 

orthonorm

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vamrat said:
NicholasMyra said:
Kerdy, cut it out.

You don't get to talk to real human beings with dismissive stock response.

That sort of hardheartedness should be post moderated.
BS.  It's best to tell someone the hard truth up front instead of letting them delude themselves for years and then get hurt in the end.  Your method is a lot more insidious and damaging than his is.
Project much?
 

orthonorm

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PeterTheAleut said:
Not to be flippantly dismissive, but something of such a personal nature as this is best addressed by your priest, not by anonymous yahoos on an Internet discussion forum.
I don't know her Priest.

I say talk to Opus. He seems to be the most kind and insightful romantic around here with many decades on most of us.

I thought he was the one for half a fortnight after all . . .
 

Achronos

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Kerdy said:
You should never start dating someone you already know you can't marry.
...and if he decides to convert?

and really kerdy how are you gonna decide to marry someone without a little dating there? whos to say the other person wont be receptive towards your religious views.

she loves the guy and i dont see any reason why she should break it off with him.

if it doesnt work out well theres plenty of other dudes out there.

depends on what she wants here.

i didnt know she wanted to get married initially.
 

orthonorm

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Kerdy said:
You should never start dating someone you already know you can't marry.
Cerulean wonders abound restfully in tears.  
 

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katherine 2001 said:
If the person is an agnostic (which she says he is), the Church will not marry thm.  They will marry an Orthodox to another Christian, but not to a non-Christian.
No, I doubt any sane priest will actually inquire into his personal beliefs . The most they'll ask for some proof of baptism. If that.
 

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Hey all, I appreciate all of the insight and responses, really. They've helped me a lot. I think I've somewhat lost track of the situation a bit, since as I've mentioned, we're not really talking about marriage yet. As I've also mentioned, I've never dated someone who wasn't Orthodox, so dealing with this sort of freaks me out a little bit.

I will definitely speak to my priest about it and in the meantime, continue being truthful with him about my concerns, and introduce him to my church life. If he doesn't object and continues to seem interested, I will do my best to help him learn about Orthodoxy and see what happens. If he admits that it doesn't work for him... well, after carefully considering this, that's a very legitimate reason for me to break up with him, and though any break up is painful, I could come to terms with accepting that. It's just a bit early for me to really know any of this.
 

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I'm married to a devout Christian yet she is Methodist.  That has not caused any issues largely because she knew about my religious preferences, was comfortable with that and we agreed to a live and let live policy.  That said, let me make two points:

1.  If the point if dating is to lead to marriage, then why has the subject of religion  not been brought up yet?  You don't want to wait too long.  Religion is a major part of many people's daily lives.  Ignoring it does no good.

2.  A friend of mine who is a divorce attorney once told me that the single biggest reason for divorce in this country after finances and infidelity is difference in spouse's religion.  That pertains to Muslim-Hindu marriages, Buddhist-Christian marriages and even divergent christian traditions particularly between devout Catholics and Protestants.

Mixed marriages can and do work, but they will require work and the discussion very early on must include what religion kids should be raised in.  You cannot afford to wait too long to discuss these things.
 

Kerdy

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NicholasMyra said:
Kerdy, cut it out.

You don't get to talk to real human beings with dismissive stock response.

That sort of hardheartedness should be post moderated.
Not so much.  And if you think my response was hard hearted, you didn't read it or the scriptures.
 

Kerdy

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NicholasMyra said:
vamrat said:
"You should never start dating someone you already know you can't marry." 
She doesn't know that.
She does now and will be better off with that knowledge.
 

Kerdy

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Achronos said:
Kerdy said:
You should never start dating someone you already know you can't marry.
...and if he decides to convert?

and really kerdy how are you gonna decide to marry someone without a little dating there? whos to say the other person wont be receptive towards your religious views.

she loves the guy and i dont see any reason why she should break it off with him.

if it doesnt work out well theres plenty of other dudes out there.

depends on what she wants here.

i didnt know she wanted to get married initially.
Where do you folks get your ideas about dating and marriage?  Oh, the secular world.  Sometimes I forget.
 

Kerdy

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augustin717 said:
katherine 2001 said:
If the person is an agnostic (which she says he is), the Church will not marry thm.  They will marry an Orthodox to another Christian, but not to a non-Christian.
No, I doubt any sane priest will actually inquire into his personal beliefs . The most they'll ask for some proof of baptism. If that.
You and I know different priests...and have different definitions of sanity.
 

Achronos

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Kerdy said:
Where do you folks get your ideas about dating and marriage?  Oh, the secular world.  Sometimes I forget.
yeah from the real world not from some fantasy of yours.
 

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katerina said:
Hey all, I appreciate all of the insight and responses, really. They've helped me a lot. I think I've somewhat lost track of the situation a bit, since as I've mentioned, we're not really talking about marriage yet. As I've also mentioned, I've never dated someone who wasn't Orthodox, so dealing with this sort of freaks me out a little bit.

I will definitely speak to my priest about it and in the meantime, continue being truthful with him about my concerns, and introduce him to my church life. If he doesn't object and continues to seem interested, I will do my best to help him learn about Orthodoxy and see what happens. If he admits that it doesn't work for him... well, after carefully considering this, that's a very legitimate reason for me to break up with him, and though any break up is painful, I could come to terms with accepting that. It's just a bit early for me to really know any of this.
Sounds good/like a plan :)
 

augustin717

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Kerdy said:
augustin717 said:
katherine 2001 said:
If the person is an agnostic (which she says he is), the Church will not marry thm.  They will marry an Orthodox to another Christian, but not to a non-Christian.
No, I doubt any sane priest will actually inquire into his personal beliefs . The most they'll ask for some proof of baptism. If that.
You and I know different priests...and have different definitions of sanity.
I take it as a compliment.
 

Shanghaiski

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PeterTheAleut said:
Not to be flippantly dismissive, but something of such a personal nature as this is best addressed by your priest, not by anonymous yahoos on an Internet discussion forum.
;D
 
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