Every time you turn around, there's another layer of complexity surrounding dating. Online dating. Personal ads. Families. Being a single parent. Wondering if he is, in fact, the one. Wondering what's wrong with you if you're not the one for him.

One of the most important components to a functional relationship is sharing the same values and beliefs. This can include religious beliefs as well. So how do you handle it when you fall in love outside your faith? How do you handle interfaith dating?

Here are some tips.

First, and before things get TOO complicated between you guys, you're going to have to have a more serious discussion, which can be really scary when you first get together, because that's generally the honeymoon phase of a relationship and you're both all over-the-moon about each other.

This discussion should include how strictly you both follow your faith and how you feel about dating someone of another religion. You should also talk about how this difference would change the future - should there be one - as in, would one of you convert? How would you raise your children?

Knowing how much these issues affect you and your partner is key to interfaith dating.

Another thing to keep in mind is that while many people have been raised in a certain faith, they do not necessarily practice that faith. They may simply identify themselves that way because it's easier than saying "Lapsed (insert religion here)."

After speaking with your new partner, it's time to do some soul-searching. How do you feel about conversion to another faith? Do you feel strongly that you (or he) should have to convert to make the partnership work? Can you live and let live?

Basically, you're going to have to figure out if you can allow your two different religions to co-mingle and create new or separate traditions, or if being with someone of another faith is unacceptable to you. If it's a deal breaker, it's a deal breaker.

But if dating someone from another faith is NOT a deal breaker, talk to your partner about his religion. What does he believe? Learn more about each other's faith. It can be very eye-opening, inspirational, and educational -- and can lead to an even fuller, richer relationship.

What do you think about interfaith dating? Could you date someone outside your faith? Have you?


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