Topics of conversation on a first date can be pretty tricky. Some say it’s a good idea to go with the same general rule one goes with in business in order to keep it polite and cordial: stay away from religion and politics.

Topical subjects can also be touchy. Things were going well on this date until the subject of Luna the Dog came up.

First dates are a bit trickier, especially if you’re on a blind date. For some people, a person’s political leanings and religious beliefs can be deal breakers. Not that they’re bigoted or close-minded, but if those are the things you care deeply about, then it makes sense that they be guidelines in terms of compatibility in a relationship.

For others, such as myself, I’m a lot more open to other beliefs. Politically, I lean left. In terms of religion, I don’t belong to a denomination and am what could probably be best described as an atheist in the process of questioning his complete lack of faith. But I still find I can relate to and function to people regardless of their politics or religion, unless they’re an extremist or fundamentalist.

Still, I’m not apt to bring up my beliefs or stances on a first date unless I’m pressed to do so or I already have some sort of indication that our views on things line up. Compatibility is one thing, but I worry that people will often disqualify a potentially good match simply because of a disagreement that they may think is important, but wouldn’t be if taken into the context of who the other person is and all the other ways in which they are compatible. So you may not like that I voted for Obama, but you may enjoy pretty much every other aspect of my personality. So why not have that conversation at a later date, when you can approach it with a cooler head?

What do you think, folks? Do politics and religion get tabled until the second or third date, or do you get it out of the way right out of the gate?


16 Responses to Politics & Religion on a First Date?

  1. You’ve known me for a while, and I am not much for talking about those topics unless I feel very comfortable with the individual I’m speaking with. I think I’ve mentioned my religious views to our friend group one time, but not since.

    As far as first dates go, I’d like to get to know a person first, rather than their beliefs. When someone jumps right into the “So, do you believe in God?” or “What do you think about the demise of the US economy?” When someone goes there, it makes me wonder if they really want to know, or if they’re prosthelytizing their position. That’s the cynic in me.

  2. derryX says:

    Here’s yet another example of similarity between us. I’m generally a go with the flow type guy. I’ll participate in the conversation wherever it goes. Under any circumstance (including dating), I tend to stray from the political conversations because I feel that I’m not educated enough in that area for me to sufficiently defend my beliefs. Some people feel very strongly about that stuff, and my views are loose enough that I’d almost never stand off in opposition on a political topic.

    I’d say that for dating, if it does come up on a first date scenario (I don’t think you should instigate it), try to preface and maintain that you are generally open minded, keep in mind any opinions or judgements that paint the person in a negative/positive light, and try not to let it ruin a good time. I’d discourage any attempt at evading the topic if it comes up.

  3. Rat Woman says:

    Depends on how important those things are to you. In my past dating experience, you usually bring up that type of stuff when you already can tell the date is going south and you need something to really kill it. Or maybe that was just my strategy :)

  4. Amanda Talar says:

    If you’re talking about politics/religion on a first date, you’re probably not that interesting of a person. I would be thinking, you have nothing else to talk about?

  5. Will King says:

    Amanda Talar ladies and gentlemen, blunt and to the point, gotta love it! haha

  6. Cute~Ella says:

    In an absolute first date situation, I’d shy away from it unless they insist on talking about it…and if they insist on it and it’s the mainstay of our conversation, likely I’m not going to be interested much longer even if our beliefs DO match up.

    I don’t talk about politics or religion the first 3 hours I know you or after 2 am. Just a rule of thumb I have.

  7. Lola says:

    Discussing politics or religion on a first date wouldn’t be an issue for me. For that fact, I might even be more intrigued by a man that would initiate conversation on this. If we didn’t share the same views I wouldn’t dismiss him as a potential mate. As far as I’m concerned, it’s all in the delivery, not so much what they believe or value, it’s the extremism of it and how they project that belief that would be a red flag for me.

    Maybe I’m the weird one, (and probably why I can’t get a date :-) )but I would find it much more interesting to discuss those topics than Kate Gosselin’s latest haircut. I like people that have some depth and enjoy a nice and solid exchange that opens both our minds a little.

  8. Leigh says:

    I don’t think it’s as cut-and-dry as saying, “None of this, that or the other on a first date.” You want to be on your best behavior, of course, and probably don’t want to get into a heated debate with someone you just met but, above all, be honest. If you’re Albany Citizen Two or something and politics is your main interest then you probably don’t want to hide that information. That’s you! I always tell people I’m an ordained minister (thanks to the interwebs,) just in case they need someone to marry them or give spiritual advice. ;) Ha.

  9. tonyb says:

    Once went on a date with a woman who had a “magic happens” bumper sticker on her car. Should’ve known, there wouldn’t be a second date. Did have a conversation on how Wal-mart was ruining the country…this was AFTER we saw a Wal-mart truck and i said”Man, I love Wal-mart….”
    I met my wife in church, so I knew we on the same page there. As far as politics, didn’t realize SHE is more conservative than I am, until recently, and we’ve been married for 10 years.

  10. Christine says:

    Sure , why not ? Would you rather spend the entire date talking about trivial things, such as movies and reality TV ? I would much rather know what someone thinks about politics or faith than the latest episode of Survivor. They don’t have to mirror my opinions to get a second date , I am just happy if they have an opinion, and an open mind. Yes it is possible to have both.

  11. Bob says:

    Discussing politics allows you to gauge a person’s connectivity with the world and knowledge of current events, since so much of what the Times/NPR/CNN report on relates to politics. I need to be with someone with whom I can intellectually engage. However, there is a fine line between discussing politics and sermonizing about ideology.

    Even still, if I do somehow calmly reveal that I’m an Obama socialist, and the other person wants nothing to do with it, doesn’t that speak volumes about his or her closed-mindedness?

  12. Courtney says:

    I married a Catholic (12 years of Catholic schools) who voted for G.W. Bush. Twice. These days we both consider ourselves Unitarian (although he says he’s “culturally” Catholic) and we went for Obama unanimously in the most recent election. A lot can happen in 8 years. So I would say these things should be fodder for conversation, not dealbreakers. Besides, do you really want to be with someone so closed minded that they can’t give a chance to some one who fails their ideological litmus test?

  13. Ellie says:

    There are two theories I hold on politics and religion on a first date, or even when getting to know someone you would like merely to be friends with.

    1. Don’t do it. Someone made a passing reference to mistakes he had felt Obama had made on a first date I had recently. I politely said that I thought Obama was being too middle of the road. As we both indicated we were interested in politics before really going on a date I felt this was safe area to discuss. We decided to agree to disagree. He made the comment at the end of the night that he looked forward to many a great discussion and essentially thought he could change my mind. I was so turned off by his lack of actual facts that it contributed to a “thanks but no thanks”.

    2. Go right ahead! One of my last serious relationships began with a discussion of the role of free will vs determinism in religion. At 3am we decided to agree to disagree and get down! It was intellectually stimulating and we both found that sort of hot. A recent get together with a friend revealed him to be atheist – not a surprise – but we had a wonderful conversation about how you can be spiritual without being stupid and how I am often ashamed of religious people. It was so awesome to be on the same page as someone, even though we disagreed on our founding ideas.

    My advice? Check out that facebook page and make sure you’re not walking into a date with someone who is a fan of Glenn Beck if you worship Maddow. If he is posting prayers to have a certain African-American in charge harmed in any way, and you’re a Democratic fundraiser, you probably shouldn’t go on a date.

    Yes, I prescreen the men I date. You sort of have to these days.

  14. Em says:

    Someone’s views on politics and religion reflects a fairly accurate picture of their values and moral standing. Both topics are subject in which I have strong opinions and I always use them as comparisons to see where people stand compared to myself and to the rest of the world.
    I assume people who refuse to discuss these topics are uneducated on current events and/or embarrassed about their beliefs.
    I believe it’s appropriate for me to discuss politics and religion on a first date because it’s a large part of who I am and a potential lover should assume that those types of conversations will be the norm. If they don’t like that, then we obviously shouldn’t be dating.

  15. Angelos says:

    I would try to find out before the first date, about politics anyway. I don’t want to waste my time with someone I couldn’t possibly respect.

    Religion, eh. I am a devout athiest. My wife is not churchy, but believes in some larger, um, thing. We go to her mother’s church on Christmas Eve, as her mom is in the choir, and it’s a pleasant enough time. Once a year, I can deal. I just choose to ignore the fairy tales.

  16. Sean Nortion says:

    I can confirm this is generally a killer for me. I know at least one female I like and get along with wonderfully as friends, with whom i’ll always wonder if we might have enjoyed more had the topic not been brought up, as while I’m sure there’s other things she’s admitted my politics are the killer. I’m not terribly vocal about my politics unless it comes up or I’m trying to get the goat of a friend or family member, but it often seems to come up as does the other killer religion, especially if you’re like myself and well versed on a number of topics, but not terribly passionate about any one. Confidence is the thing most women admit finding attractive, and if you’re a jack of all trades, or nervous to reveal a passion for something non-mainstream, their faith and politics is usually something most people are fairly confident about and can converse about without thinking.

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