Hi Dating Nerd,
I’m dating this girl but she’s evangelical, so we have hot makeouts but no sex, I’m kind of trying to ignore the christian thing, she doesn’t act like most religious girls I’ve met, but I don’t know if that will work out, what do I do?
– All Out of Faith
I blame technology. Probably that sounds like a weird take, but I’ll explain, since I’m being paid to. Here goes.
In the world of dating, as in so many other places, Silicon Valley has given us certain false hopes. (Where’s my not-at-all-geeky-looking hoverboard? Where’s my talking robot dog that pees bourbon? Where are the nano-particles that will make me sexually perform with the game of an Apple product?) When you go on dating websites, whether OKCupid or Tinder or whatever, the basic premise is that the perfect person is out there—or at least another better one.
When you’re on OKCupid, you get a giant questionnaire with a million different attributes, which directly implies that you’ll find someone who answers it exactly as you do: whether it concerns your preferred colour of dildo or your choice for presidential candidate. But then you have a rude awakening: either there’s no such person, or there is, but when you go out for dinner—never do dinner on the first date—you find that she’s about as charismatic as a cinderblock. (Or she finds out that you are.)
When you’re on Tinder, it’s not so explicitly declared, but you’re greeted with a constant parting sea of pretty women, giving you the impression that, somewhere in the data, your True Love Forever is lurking, or at least your True Love For This Week. Even if you swipe through all the women in your area, unless you live in the town of Glazed Ham, Alberta, population 1,000, there are another million users signed up every week. Wherever she is, you’ll find her eventually.
So when you meet a woman who’s not perfect for you, you enter this weird mindset, where, instead of reacting like a sane person, acknowledging that the people who make our nervous systems go crazy don’t necessarily share our values, you do something else. You regard it as bizarre that the person you’re perfectly attracted to isn’t perfect for you; so you regard your very real differences as temporary or superficial.
By the way, I’ve been there, big time, although the specifics were as different as different can be. Michelle was talkative, fun, sarcastic, and had big, blue sad eyes that I stared at like a sucker. She was also big, big into cocaine, chain-smoking, and despair. While I’m not averse to the occasional criminal ingestion of substances, and I have my dark nights of the soul, I consider neither a sustainable hobby. I like jogging, I like sunshine. Foolishly, I dated Michelle thinking that her perilous lifestyle was just a blip—that she was, like me, a jock with a heart of nerd, who was just temporarily doing this sad party girl thing. Well, I was wrong. The more I was like, “let’s not eat Marlboros for dinner,” the more she was like, “be right back, I’m going to buy a bunch of ketamine.” I wanted the girl I thought she was; unfortunately, she was the girl she actually was.
You’re in a similar situation, [reader]. saying that “I like this girl except she’s Christian” is like saying “I like this water except for the fact that it’s wet,” or, “I love Kanye except for all of the crazy shit he says.” Don’t worry, or, rather, worry; she’s genuine.
Consider that she’s probably hoping the very same thing about you—hoping that your stated values aren’t really what you feel, deep down. If she likes you, or, worse, is falling for you, she’s literally praying that you’ll enjoy spontaneous visitation from the holy spirit, or, more realistically, hoping that your desire to progress from light petting to heavy petting will also hasten your progress towards Jesus. She’s telling her worried pastor that she sees that meaningful light twinkling in your eyes—that she’s not dating some porn-watching, hip-hop loving backslider.
More importantly, although it’s serious enough that you’re not banging this girl right now, this shit is going to get very, very serious if, one night, she miraculously decides to take off her pants for you, she gets pregnant and refuses to have an abortion. Or if she suddenly becomes very ill, and you’re by her bedside with her family who are asking you to pray. In your early-20s, dating is usually about pleasantly removing the mutual barriers between two sets of genitalia and, hopefully, brains and hearts. But, quickly or slowly, it becomes about finding who’s going to help you when something breaks down—your body, your bank account, whatever. Dating may be a game, but, eventually, like war or boxing, it has serious consequences.
So get real, because this is real. The way you describe this woman makes it sound like, in your heart, she’s not just another side piece. Given the fact that you’ve got some high-octane feelings going on, you’ve got three decisions—break it off, come to God (or at least pretend to), or live in denial. Breaking it off may well mean months of lonely nights—but it could also mean meeting someone fantastic who doesn’t believe that two dudes doing butt stuff is grounds for eternal punishment. Coming to God may well mean you embrace a religious lifestyle that you never believe in and have a terrible divorce—or maybe you actually do become a true believer, and now you enjoy an unshakeable bond with your totally hot, maybe secretly freaky wife. (Once you’re married, the shackles come off, or come on, depending on your taste in sexual behaviour.)
None of your options are perfect. But, as is frequently the case, continued self-deception your only guaranteed shot at total misery.