So, you want to date an Atheist? (Pt. 2)
6. Gnothi se auton. (Translation: Know thyself) That is, know yourself as an atheist or freethinker, if you will. There are many different sub-divisions of the free-thinking populace, and it's important to know under which category you fall. For example, are you more of an agnostic or a humanist? Do you truly believe that God does not exist, or are you merely looking into the possibility? If the idea of standing on top of a mountain during a thunderstorm and yelling "F*CK GOD!" gives you pause, you may want to determine whether your date would have the same misgivings. Remember: in the free-thinking society, you're certainly less apt to run into problems, should your convictions differ from that of another free-thinker's. After all, that's the foundation for everything behind everyone here: To think freely and to come up with our own ideas about what we feel makes sense to us. But if your convictions simply aren't as strong as your date's, you may find yourself at odds with him/her during your conversation over dinner. I'll use my relationship with my own brother as an example:
Damon feels very strongly that there is nothing supernatural-no "god", no "spirits" or "angels", nothing exists which cannot be proven by science. He is adamant in this belief and has no problem with confronting a random individual and berating them for their belief in God. In fact, it's often been said by those in our mutual social circles that Damon is to atheism what a Jehovah's Witness is to God. I'm leaning towards atheism, but I must admit that some part of me still allows for the idea of something, kind of like "The Force". I acknowledge that there is an energy in the universe (which Einstein would tell you cannot be destroyed-only transferred) which is what we call "life". I have a difficult time, however, accepting that this energy has a name, or that it has a consciousness. I have an even more difficult time accepting that any person could possibly know what it would want for us. So I guess one might say that I'm more agnostic than a true atheist. Where Damon and I find ourselves at odds is when we are compared by our willingness to take constructive action concerning organized religion. Damon is content to attend meet-ups with other atheists, to sit and enjoy a cup of coffee while reaffirming his own atheism to himself and others who are also content to do the same thing. They share stories about how they became atheists and compare their up-bringings in their respective religions, but it always comes down to idle chat in some coffee house or café. I, on the other hand, am the Nevada chairperson for the recently-formed National Atheist Party. I understand the need for action and when I came across an organization which is devoted to keeping Church and State separated, I jumped at the opportunity to get involved!
So, which sort of free-thinker are you? Are you Atheist, Agnostic, Humanist, or Non-Theist? Your date will certainly be curious and it's always a good idea to have an answer ready for a question which you will most likely be asked.
7. Invite your date to meet your family/friends/room mates and observe their interaction. Somebody who is "stand-offish" when it comes to meeting those who are already close to you probably has something to hide. The worst-case scenario is that he or she is minimizing the chance that an accurate description can be given to the police, should you come up missing the next morning! Speaking of the next morning, introducing your date to whomever you happen to be living with will make that awkward moment when they stumble into each other on the way to the bathroom just a smidge less awkward if they have at least been introduced to each other! But horror and porno film plots aside, what does it tell you if your date isn't at least interested in meeting those with whom you live? Essentially, it indicates that he or she isn't really interested in you. The people with whom you share your domicile can say an awful lot about the person you are, and anyone who is remotely curious about the person with whom they will be spending the evening should be curious to find out as much about you as he or she can. This all may seem contrary to the advice I already gave concerning meeting your date for the first time in a public place, but not to worry-introductions can be conducted at any time-even just "swinging by your place" to pick up something you "forgot" can serve as a haphazard opportunity to invite your date in before you're deciding whether to invite him or her in.
8. Talk about your ex-just don't over-do it. This one is, admittedly, a little touchy and requires a bit of finesse. If you're older than 12, chances are good that you have some sort of ex. Whether it's an ex-boyfriend or girlfriend, ex-husband or wife or just someone you used to see, we all expect the person with whom we're on a date to have had at least some sort of prior experience with romantic relationships. Avoiding the topic completely may feel to your date as if you're trying to hide something. He or she may also be interested to know what sorts of mistakes your ex made that he or she should attempt to avoid in the future, should things go "right". On the other hand, reminiscing about your ex too heavily would obviously be a bad idea. So where to draw the line? Perhaps a good rule of thumb would be to avoid making judgment statements regarding your ex. Wistfully voicing that he or she was "the best you've ever had" would be an obvious "NO-NO!" You'd never wish to put that kind of pressure on your date, nor would you want him or her to spend the rest of your relationship, worried abut whether or not you will have the willpower to resist the temptation, should you find yourself in a compromising situation with your ex. On the other hand, going on about how terrible he or she was (in bed or otherwise) puts an equal amount of stress on your date. He or she will probably be more anxious about getting nakey with someone who demonstrates what a harsh judge they can potentially be. Either way, the essential message that you are communicating is that this person is still on your mind in an enduring way which could possibly prove dangerous in the future. So admit that your ex is a person who exists in reality and that you did, in fact have a relationship with him/her, but try not to talk too much about whether it was a "good" experience or a "bad" one.
9. Ask questions. Learn to master the art of asking questions. You may be surprised to where a simple question like, "So, where did you get that jacket?" can lead. Asking questions about your date conveys interest in them and also serves to boost their ego. You'll find that many people love to talk about themselves, and this should not always necessarily an immediate deal-killer. Somebody who is more interested in educating you regarding them and what they like is probably selfish and may not be someone you choose to see again, but before writing them off, try to appreciate how open they've chosen to be with you and encourage them to continue doing so.
10. Answer questions honestly. The ultimate piece of advice I can give anyone, besides "Be yourself" is "Be honest." If you can't remember or simply don't know the answer to a question, don't make one up, and certainly do. Not. Lie. Attempting to cover up a lie sometime down the line will almost always prove to be much more trouble than it can possibly be worth. One potential hazard that is probably shared among all people who are dating a "free-thinker" is skeptical scrutiny. It's probably the one trait that it's safe to say that we all have in common and being caught in a lie is potentially the easiest way to bring a quick end to something that could otherwise be beautiful.
So, there you have our top ten pieces of advice for anyone who is considering dating an Atheist. Most of these can (and should) be applied to anyone who is dating anyone, but Alisha and I feel that these are especially pertinent when dating someone who has learned to let reason be their guide in life, rather than a collection of fables and fairy tales which have been written re-written over the past couple of thousand years, or so. A man or woman who never allows him or herself to be guided by "what their heart tells them" can be intimidating, but at least you can rest assured that there's probably a good, logical reason for anything that he or she does. As my wife would probably tell you, that's enough of a reason, in and of itself, to take on the challenge. Warm wishes to you (And for those of you who still believe in "luck", good luck!)
Missed part one? So you want to date an atheist?