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Spiritual Athiest/Atheist dating question

Hi Everybody. I'm a spiritual athiest, and have been for a few years now. I am a recovering Catholic, so I've been away from the church for a few years. I'm currently dating a fella who it may get serious with in a while. He is a life long athiest. Sometimes he kinda knocks the fact that I'm spiritual, even though my practice in yoga and reiki make me feel very centered and empowered. I was married till about 13 months ago, so this is the first I'm really wanting to date someone long term since I realized I was an atheist.

How do I ask him to be respectful of my spirituality? It's not left over from my religious days, but something I've discovered for myself.

By DetroitKatie4
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You have to have that honest conversation that you don't feel like he is respecting of you. Invite him to yoga with you. Often people knock stuff when they don't understand it.


If he's respectful of YOU, he will be respectful of your spirituality. If he's not, you don't want to be with him anyway.


Not liking the sound of this. If he cares for you, being respectful of who you are needs to be part of that. It is not necessary that he feels as you do, but as a couple , being supportive of what makes you content, and helps you to know yourself better has to be there.

It sounds like he may be somewhat insecure in his own mindset, or else he'd have no need to disparage your practices - spiritual, or not.

I'd look at this aspect of him very carefully ...

evergreen Level 8 Jan 31, 2018

It depends on where he's coming from and where you stand. For me the word spiritual means the awe or solidarity I feel with the world on occasion. There are other languages that have words for feelings that we don't in english. So spiritual more or less fills in the gaps. An example of "spiritual" for me is knowing that practically every atom in our body was forged inside of a star. Or when I breathe in I think of how the atmosphere wouldn't exist if it weren't for a form of life 3 billion years before us. If those deep emotions are what you are talking about, maybe explaining it that way would help him understand. If you mean more in a mystical/magical way that might be where he won't understand. In either case he doesn't have to understand, if he isn't respectful after you let him know it's important to you, minus occasional playful teasing, then he's not worth your time.


Impossible to tell from what you've given us whether you should ditch this jerk who doesn't regard you very highly OR have a frank discussion with this guy who's generally caring but just doesn't realize how he comes across sometimes.

Tell him, in no uncertain terms, that he is not to "knock" your spiritual practices. You, likewise, must cease all discussion of your spiritual practices (if you haven't already). If he can't stop his eyes from rolling when you let out the occasional, inevitable "I'm off to yoga class" OR you can't stop your mouth from blabbing about what a great reiki session you just had, you shouldn't be together.

Think VERY carefully about whether you want to get serious with this guy. How important to you is your spirituality? How important to you is this relationship? Can you live with being in a serious relationship with someone with whom you have to hide part of who you are?

If you can't discuss all of this with him you have no business dating anyone, let alone him. If you're reluctant to be assertive and set boundaries because you're afraid of losing him over this, you are not ready for a relationship.

I'm not trying to be mean. Just real.

Hopefully you have a talk that opens his eyes to some stuff he didn't realize and he at least buttons his lip, at most becomes nominally supportive of something that empowers you.

As others have said: don't ask--TELL.


Tell him you don't appreciate his repeated digs. He doesn't get to diminish anything about you. If he doesn't stop when you ask, he's not going to, and his disrespect will begin to manifest itself in other ways. Keep your eyes, ears, and options, open.

KKGator Level 9 Jan 31, 2018

Ask him to respect your feelings, if that does work, tell him he Needs to respect them..If that Doesn't work, kick him to the curb..nobody needs negativity in their life..there's enough of it surrounding us daily.

Charlene Level 9 Jan 31, 2018

Please don't take this as me knocking your spiritual interests. But he is an atheist so he may not be respectful of religious beliefs. He is not into spirituality, so he may be the same about those beliefs. I had a cute little neighbour about 15 years ago, very into reiki, she wanted to become more than neighbours, I declined saying it was because she was a smoker, which is true. However I couldn't see any relationship happening as she was really over the top with the reiki, it would have been hard to overlook. On the flip side, how would you feel in a relationship with someone who does not share this spiritual belief?


It's simple. Just tell him.
Don't ask. Demand respect.
If he can't respect you and your beliefs now, he's not going to do so in the long run.
In which case, you're potentially setting yourself up for failure in the long run.

NeoXerops Level 6 Jan 31, 2018

Just simply tell him. Ask him to respect how you feel and think. If he's a good guy, he will.

BeeHappy Level 9 Jan 31, 2018

Just tell him he’s hurting your feelings and ask him to please stop.

yes, if its not this topic it would be another one. THe issue is respect

You’re right, of course, but in the interest of saving the relationship, some diplomacy is appropriate. @btroje

@Gatovicolo didnt say it wasnt


I'm similar to you..a spiritual sort-of atheist, but I'm open to learning new things.

If your guy doesn't respect your beliefs, dump him and move on.
Mockery of someone is a serious red flag and if you tolerate it, that in itself is problematic.

I've been there, and the story doesn't end well.


If, like me, he does not believe in a soul (which is implied when you say Spiritual) and he does not believe that some people can heal with touch, then it has less to do with his atheism and more to do with his scientific mind-set. If I were him, I'd feel the same way (though I hope I wouldn't tease you so much about it.)
He needs to respect you and allow you to believe what you will. But you also need to acknowledge (if you haven't) that there's little or no science to support what you believe about spirits/souls and reiki. If you can both do that, then I think the relationship could work. You just need to agree that you may never agree on those subjects.

MrLizard Level 8 Jan 31, 2018

Learning to accept people for who they are is an important thing. You and he must come to a middle ground where you can comfortably disagree without hurting each other.

If either of you must have the other agree then the relationship is doomed. No one has exactly the same experience and no one agrees on every thing.

People change because they choose to change, and trying to change them is bound to fail.

I do not disparage other people's beliefs; but I am not required to agree.

I do take offense when other peoples actions do not honor my own right to believe. Telling be that I am going to go to hell would set me off; simply telling me that you believe people who xxxx are going to go to hell is simply explaining your view.

Some people are not good at communication or seeing the difference.

So basically if you cannot learn to disagree with each other without hurt and disrespect, then you should both move on.

arnies Level 7 Feb 1, 2018

I literally was just watching a movie tonight, that has a small piece rhetoric between a middle-aged non-religious man and his children's Rabbi. The father says something along the lines of where he feels most at piece, the most connected to everything, was when he was laying with his kids under the stars explaining how space was infinite, and just kept going. And the Rabbi told him not to think of god in the typical an all powerful man, but rather as that infinite, those infinite possibilities of how everything could have been, but how they were there, talking, guided by that infinite to take up that small piece of space, to be there for that point in time.
I'm not religious, I'm not spiritual, but I'm open minded. I'm just saying of the infinite possibilities who am I to excluded that there may be a force out there, that may not even on a perceivable plain of existence to some if not all beings.
I'm not saying change the way he thinks, but we all live, think, and act differently, and that's definitely something I think most everyone can agree to respect.

DareBear Level 5 Feb 1, 2018

Unless you're running around trying to line up his chakras all the time and trying to get him to swallow your woo he shouldn't tease you about it....but if you're trying to shove that woo down his neck he has every right to point out how silly it is. Basically if you can't sit down and talk about it you need to move on and not date for awhile longer. Communication is the most important thing a person needs to master.

Pooska Level 6 Feb 1, 2018

I'd say that, yes he should be respectful about your beliefs, However, you should also keep your mind open to what he has to say. You are an atheist, so you understand how ridiculous religion is. No offense but, frankly, the belief in anything in the realm of the supernatural is just as silly.

Have you ever experienced the supernatrual? I have. I have experiences that go back to my childhood. Thats why, for me, its a real thing.

@DetroitKatie Nothing outside of the natural world can be experienced. Whatever happened, it was in your head.

Or perhaps the human mind and science are too young to understand that which we currently consider "supernatural". One doesn't have to be religious or spiritual to recognize that the universe is amazing and that anything is possible, without there having to be a tie to the divine.

@bmchizzle Just because we don't understand something does not mean that is outside the natural world and the laws that govern it. The universe is amazing but to believe that anything is possible is just wishful thinking.

@RoboGraham actually it's just statistically sound.

And if you'd take the time to reread what I said, it's that science may just be too young to understand "supernatural" does not mean that phenoma is NOT natural, just that our current understanding has not evolved to that point get. If you think we are at the apex of knowledge already, I feel sad for you.

@bmchizzle You responded to me saying that nothing outside of the natural world exists so I thought that you were saying that there are supernatural things, we just don't understand them. I get what you meant now and I'm with you. As we continue to learn about our world, more and more of what was once considered supernatural phenomena become understood aspects of the natural world.


Yoga is not "spiritualist" in the sense that you go for the metaphysical (unless you do!). I, who consider myself an atheist, tend to side with Matt Dillahunty on "spiritual". It's so broad & ephemeral (pun only slightly intended) that it's next to impossible to truly define. Many atheists tend to be a bit more "natural/material", & the whole idea of spooky stuff & woo tend to be offputting. Nevertheless, your guy should give you more credit & you should both maybe explore what you both mean by the term & see if you're really that far apart.


He either is respectful of your spirituality, or isn't.

Additionally, I'd give yourself more time than 13 months before getting back into a long-term relationship, especially with someone who from the get go is not respecting your core beliefs. As a divorcee myself, it is important.

More time? Time is precious. If you're secure enough with who you are, there is no need to "give yourself more time." We only have so much time here. Why waste any of it? We spend too much time doing things we have to do. We should spend the rest of it the way we want. "Know thyself. "

@Lateralus and I think after a marriage it's helpful to take time to "know yourself" after having identified as part of a couple for a while.

If you disagree, cool, then don't take my advice. To each their own. And I appreciate time and the shortness of life after death at 17 years old and being revived, so spare me the lecture on "life is too short". I already know.

Lecture not intended, nor meant to offend. Poor wording for the sentiment I meant to convey. I should have prefaced it as my opinion.
That said, I have always been fascinated by stories of those with nde! (near death experiences) Without seeming to forward, I would be intrigued to hear your story. Only if you're willing to share. I understand how personal it must be.

@Lateralus glad to share.


Stand your ground. I don't see any thing wrong with being spiritual.

Leutrelle Level 7 Jan 31, 2018

Stop using the word "spiritual" and start using other words that better describe what you get from your practices such as "empowering" and "centered"....

... an "empowered atheist" or a "centered atheist" has a secular tone to it but a "spiritual atheist" will always be likened to a "spirit" which is very much associated with religions.

Also, stop doing reiki... psuedo-science and atheism don't mix well.


what do you mean when you say spiritual atheist?

btroje Level 9 Feb 1, 2018

Let me put it this way... all Catholics are atheists, some of us just don't go to church any more. Lol. On a serous note, if it bothers you, talk to him about how it makes you feel. If he's worth keeping around he will understand.


Hate to break it to you, but a "spiritual atheist" is an oxymoron. It's one or the other, but you can't have both.

I disagree.

I like to know exactly what words mean and I looked up Spiritual.- relating to or affecting the human spirit or soul as opposed to material or physical things. The spirit is the essence of us, it has nothing to do with religion or "holy spirit". It is who she is and she is honoring that. She can have both.

@HippieChick58 I have no soul, but people have thought me spiritual. In some ways, it's semantics. The root of the word is spirit and spirit means ghost and ghosts are lost souls. Personally, I doubt DetroitKatie is really spiritual, based on those definitions. But what is the human spirit or soul? To me, those are both religious terms.

@MrLizard My understanding of spirit or soul is that spark that makes me who I am. Not given by any god, but born with me and grows with me. It is what makes me different from any other person, why one size does not fit all. My uniqueness if you will. I nurture my uniqueness.

@HippieChick58, then please, point out WHERE in the human body it resides.

Suggest you read the Wikipedia entry on "spirituality", and learn something. Spirituality has nothing to do with "spirits" in its modern understanding.

Hate to break it to you, but "There is no single, widely agreed definition of spirituality.[11][12][note 1] Surveys of the definition of the term, as used in scholarly research, show a broad range of definitions[10] ranging from uni-dimensional definitions such as a personal belief in a supernatural realm[5] to broader concepts such as a quest for an ultimate/sacred meaning,[7] transcending the base/material aspects of life, and/or a sense of awe/wonderment and reverence toward the universe."

I''ll go you one further: I'm a RELIGIOUS atheist. I practice rituals, celebrate holy days, and have a set of moral values and operational principles, all in the context of a science-based, god-free cosmology.

You clearly have a lot to learn about religious studies. Before you start opining about "oxymorons", it would help to learn something on the subject.

@Atheopagan: Sorry if it offends you, but it's all "magical" thinking. You can call yourself whatever you want, but that which you described has nothing to do with atheist.

@splittingzero: The title of the thread is Spiritual Atheist. If it was Spiritual Agnostic, I wouldn't have bothered, but you think agnosticism and atheism are synonyms?

Yes, it is a semantic argument, one in which you would think intelligent people would be able to discuss without forming assumptions such as you did with me. Nonetheless, language is an important tool in order to effectively communicate, but if we begin changing the meaning of words to suit ones fancy, then it becomes meaningless.

@LucifersPen Just because you are ignorant about something doesn't mean it doesn't exist. There is NO magical thinking in my cosmology, and I defy you to identify any.

@HippieChick58 I get that. I just don't think we should be using the word spiritual. Uniqueness is fine... but I don't think that that is what the conflict is about between these two. (See my direct comment). No offense intended.

@MrLizard I understand, none taken.


I do not demand anyone to respect me at all, I have to earn it.

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