As with any question that of an Atheist dating a Christian (or anyone religious) can usually be answered maybe. It would depend on a lot of factors but the first and most important factor is hell. Can you date anyone who believes you deserve unending torture? Some people are into that sort of thing but even they have safe words. It’s hard enough being friends with people who think you deserve to spend an eternal afterlife in unimaginable torture. I know we don’t believe in hell and that could make it okay for some people but we aren’t talking about reality so much as the beliefs of someone close to you. I know some Christians who have ditched the idea of hell and good for them I suppose that would make it easier. As for those who believe in hell I can’t even understand how they can function really. They have to believe that many of the friends they have, family members or even one of their own children would be tortured for ever.
The other side of the coin is the theist is in a relationship with someone who thinks they are talking to themselves. “I have a personal relationship with Jesus” they say and their partner smirks and thinks they are a little loopy. I’ve dated Pagans who talk about spirits and fairies and I have to say it all sounded a little nuts to me but it’s no different from believing things in the bible. Eventually your partner realizes you think their belief is a little nutty, and if you put yourself in their shoes that isn’t a good feeling. Degree of belief is another factor since if they are only vaguely religious, then they don’t think much about their beliefs. In the end you come back to the struggle of trying to respect a belief that deserves no respect, because a human you love and respect has made that belief important to them. Eventually this will become a problem.
Another problem can arise if the relationship progresses through all that nonsense and marriage is entering the picture what sort of wedding are you going to have? Is her church going to perform a wedding they know you’re an Atheist? How is the family handling this? Do your future in-laws tell you you’re going to burn in hell? Will they give you looks that imply it? Will you have to hide who you are for your partners family and pretend to be religious when they are around? Or will your partner put their foot down and stand up to their family for you? Once you’re married, how are you going to handle kids? What are you or your partner going to teach them? Will you have to hide your lack of faith from your own kids to avoid a fight? Relationships are enough work without these added pressures.
There is also the danger that the person you’re dating will start to have their faith shaken to the point that they either seriously question it, or end the relationship to protect their belief. It can work the other way around as well. Not every Atheist is the same and not every Atheist came from the same background. Love can have a profound effect on people and religion offers a good support network that loves a good story of redemption. Your Atheist friends will assume your new belief stems from you ignoring the facts and abandoning reason. On the religious side if your partner loses their faith then her friends will say your partner just wasn’t strong in their faith. If you become religious you get to keep your Atheist friends but if your partner becomes an Atheist they could lose a lot of friends and risk being ostracized by their family. The downside of pretending to be religious in order to make life easier, is living a lie.
As if relationships aren’t hard enough. Adding all this to the mix could spell disaster from the start, but the truth is we don’t choose who we fall in love with. I could name a few women I wish I never fell in love with and I’m sure everyone has been in love with someone they rather they hadn’t. We will always do what we want to do in terms of going after the person we fall for. When we look back we realize just how silly it was. I suppose if you navigate through all those issues you could come out the other side in a very strong relationship. But, I wouldn’t count on it. I know it happens but I can’t imagine it’s too common.