I’ll admit, it’s been a long time since I put dating aside in favor of marriage. So, take what I’ve got to say here with a big cube of salt. Even when I was single, I never used online dating services. I simply met people, face to face, by happenstance.
That said, there’s a particular sort of online dating service that is especially inscrutable to me: The atheist dating service.
… and there’s Atheist Passions, a web site that promises, “You have a better chance of finding Waldo on this site than you do of finding God!” The company that runs it, Passions, also hosts Mime Passions… for mimes who want to date other mines.
How many mimes, looking only for other mimes, actually exist? There are indications that these supposed atheist dating services are really just fill-in-the-blank iterations of larger dating services, a form of link bait to draw people in from a variety of different communities.
Consider, for example, the “about” text from atheistdatingservice.com: “Who are we? Atheist Dating Service is the fastest growing co-operative of online-dating sites in the world. This growth is driven by the totally unique partner concept and range of services that we provide, that are unmatched in the industry…” It goes on an on like that, with boilerplate text, and nothing at all about atheist dating needs in particular. The concept that grabbed my attention here is the the claim that atheistdatingservice.com is “unmatched in the industry”. What industry? The atheist dating industry?
The industry, if one exists, looks awful scammish to me, but putting such concerns aside, I want to deal with a deeper question: Why would atheists want to date only other atheists?
I’m atheist, but I’m not married to one. Given the odds, my guess is that this is how it turns out most of the time. I disagree with my wife about many things when it comes to religion. But then, we also disagree about food, and hairstyles, and movies, and educational policy…
Are dating and marriage about agreeing with people’s opinions? I don’t think so. The phrase vive la difference comes to mind.
Furthermore, while it is true that atheists as a category are rejected as potential marriage partners more than any other group in America, I reckon that, as individuals, atheists end up being just as attractive to potential partners as anyone else. It would be a shame, an a hypocrisy, for atheists to complain about Christians who reject the possibility of dating atheists, but then go off into dating services that are designed to help them reject the possibility of dating anyone but atheists themselves.
There are plenty of fish in the sea, it’s said, and it’s worth reminding that most of the fish don’t look very much like each other at all. I don’t want to swim in sync with a school of people who think just like me – and honestly, most atheists don’t really think just like each other anyway. If I had set out to marry an atheist woman, I would have probably ended up arguing with her about her libertarian politics, or about the way that she folds towels.
In our romantic lives, we learn about different ways of living by hooking up with different kinds of people, until we find the one who feels right – whether it makes rational sense or not. Love is a mystery, and I suspect it won’t work out very well if people try to micromanage it.
It’s true that I don’t believe in the reality of any gods. More than that, however, I don’t believe that it’s gods I wanted to talk about on any of my first dates.
There’s a reason that marriage has been one of the key political battlegrounds in American culture over the last 100 years. Regressive groups want to keep dating and marriage within strictly controlled boundaries.
I think it’s better for everyone if we mix it up.