How To Have A Strong Relationship With Someone Who Has Very Different Religious Beliefs

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I’ve been dating my girlfriend for five months and we get along great on many levels.  I’m 24 and she is 23.  When it comes to sex though we have clear differences.  I’m all for it and she wants to wait until marriage due to her religious beliefs.  Although, sometimes I think she might want it.  I feel like sex is a natural way to get to know someone and I really take issue with her stance.  It is starting to be a problem in our relationship. What do I do?

You have two options.  The first is to go out and buy a ring, propose, get married, and get the sex part out of the way.  The second, and better, more practical option is to have a meaningful discussion with her about these different views and the role that her religious convictions play in her life.

The fundamentals of a relationship are based upon mutual understanding, respect, intimacy, shared values, goals, and beliefs.  Religious views would fall somewhere between values and beliefs.  Depending on how strong her views are, it might be that she isn’t going to deviate from them, no matter how hot you are or how passionate things might be.  If though she sends mixed messages then she may very well be conflicted.  She might think, “How can something that potentially feels so good, be so wrong? While you wonder why something that feels so good, isn’t happening – therein lies the conflict.

Ultimately you must decide if your interest in her is temporary or long-term oriented.  You must also consider how your different religious views could become an issue even once married.  For example, how to raise kids.  Try to see this young relationship as an opportunity to get to know each other further and learn what is important to you.  Dating is all about cultivating a connection and then deciding what type of commitment you’re comfortable making.

Jonathan Alpert is a Manhattan psychotherapist and author.  He appears on national TV commenting on sex and relationship issues as well as lifestyle, mental health, and hot-button issues. Get more of Jonathan’s great advice in his new book, Be Fearless: Change Your Life in 28 Days. And you can follow Jonathan on Twitter at @JonathanAlpert and on Facebook at, and visit his website at