Growing up, my family didn’t necessarily go above and beyond with religion, but I still ditched the concept of a higher being once I realized I had a brain of my own. The freedom that comes along with atheism has allowed me to live my life without constraints, but I face a lot of resistance, especially when it comes to dating.

Traditional dating was hard in college. Going to a catholic school, I was surrounded by religion. Sure, I signed up for a school like that, but even when I found people with similar beliefs, the only thing discussed was that they were better than everyone else and how to prove religion was wrong.

Online dating is better but still artificial. Swipe left. Swipe left. Oh, you’re cute. Hmm, you do fun activities. You have a good social group. What does your bio say about you? “Jesus is my man.” Swipe left. I’ve had guys stop responding after I said “oh my God” in a joking manner. Don’t even get me started on the number of conversations that have started off great until someone thought they were in it for a hookup or just plain ghosted me after a few days.

It makes the dating pool that much smaller. I’m already fairly picky when it comes to who I interact with; I have high standards and low expectations. I don’t swipe for anyone who doesn’t have a bio (come on, it’s not that hard to write a few things). I want to date someone taller than me. Oh, and I can’t swipe on anyone who mentions religion in their bio. It’ll never work.

There’s still a stigma around atheism. A lot of people think atheists are stuck up, conceited, and believe that they’re better than anyone else. Usually, the people with this kind of attitude are religious and think I’m here to dissuade them from having their faith, which just isn’t true. I use the term atheist because that’s what works for me, not because I think everyone else should be one. I don’t think I’m better than anyone because I came to a different conclusion about religion.

I don’t want to be converted. Look, I really don’t give a crap if you think there’s a God. Everyone is gifted with their own minds to make their own conclusions about life (and afterlife, I guess). I’m more than happy to hear why God or religion works for you, but as soon as it becomes anything more than that, see ya. Unfortunately, this is a situation I run into way too often online and it sucks.

My ideal date is Sunday morning. Nothing is better than coffee on a Sunday morning. There are no lines at the coffee shop (because everyone is at church) and I think it’s a time when people are the most relaxed and stress-free. No worries about Monday until later in the day, you’ve recovered from any Friday night activities, and conversation is chill as hell. I’m not interested in dating someone who can’t hang because they’re at church.

Just because I’m an atheist doesn’t mean I’m against a relationship. I think some people believe that without religion people will just run around having meaningless sex and short-term flings. Don’t get me wrong, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with any of this, but it’s not what I’m interested in. I want connection, ease, challenge, growth, and more—none of which can solely be achieved through religious beliefs.

I’m not here for traditional marriage. No, I don’t believe in the old-school wedding: say your vows and profess your dedication to each other under the eyes of God. However, I do believe in committing to the person I want to spend my life with, so when the time comes, yes, I’m happy to get married by way of the local courthouse. A small party would be nice too because I really like cake.

I’ve found happiness outside religion. I don’t need God to give me peace and happiness and direction and love. I can create that for myself and with others. It makes for an uncomfortable (if any) response to have that conversation more often, but in the end, it’s who I am and I’m willing to continue looking if it isn’t a right fit.

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