Can an atheist date jw?

by concernCitizen 26 Replies latest watchtower beliefs

  • concernCitizen

    Hey everyone!

    First of all, I'm not a JW, in fact I'm an atheist, or if you really want to be technical about it I'm probably something like an agnostic atheist or something.

    But, my girlfriend is a JW, she seems very rational about it though, it seems to me that she believes in a lot of it but not exactly all, for instance she does understands and believes in the scientific age of the earth and evolution.

    When we started dating almost a year ago she made it clear she as religious person. I never saw that as a problem, it's not like I'm trying to convert her or she's trying to convert me. Yet, soon after she raised a barrier in our relationship, her mother could not know she dated me. I obviously thought it was strange and even after meeting with her mother (as a friend) she didn't strike me as someone who would raise any problems because of me. I asked her about it from time to time about why not telling her or what the problem was, yet she would avoid the subject and gave very vague responses, she wasn't living with her mother at the time so I didn't insist and gave her time. I knew something was off but I could really get the gist of it.

    Fast forward to today and she is now living with her mother again and because she doesn't want to raise suspicion about us our relationship as been affected by it. I kept digging and I finally found out why (not from her), the truth is, I didn't know much about the JW religion and I think she never told me everything for the fear of losing me. Her mother is also a JW and very "into it", she is afraid of losing all contact from her and even kicking her out of home. This is because she knows that if she tells her mother about me her mother will definitely inform her congregation and ask for her disassociation. I read something online about "fading" away from the religion to avoid all the shunning and stupid behavior but she can't because of her mother.

    You see, I was oblivious to the whole disassociation thing and I even feel a bit cheated because she never told me about it, at the same time I understand her fear. I don't know if her mother could possibly kick her out of the house but after what I've been reading online about it everything seems possible. I love this girl but I don't know what to do or what to recommend to her. We are always in this state of hiding from her mother and not only it's affecting the time we spend together but also now she started giving me these petty little lies about why she can't be with me to avoid discussing about her mother.

    I have a job and live by myself, she is still starting with that part, she doesn't know when she'll be financially independent.

    What do you think about the situation? Do you know of cases where people got kicked out of their home because of disassociation? What would you do in my situation or in hers?

  • never a jw
    never a jw

    I have been a non believer all my life and married a JW 22 years ago. She is still in the organization and I am very much against it. We have a happy family where both have had a say. She planted the religion, and I planted the desire for higher education in our children's mind. In retrospect, had I known this religion better 15 years ago, I would have never allowed the indoctrination.

    These are different times. Information for you and your girlfriend is available everywhere. Use it. It will help make better decisions and plan your future better.

    The main thing is that you research all you can about this religion and how it can affect your long term relationship with your girlfriend. If I can summarize it in few words, then: BE VERY CAUTIOUS

  • OneEyedJoe

    Best advice I can possibly give you is to cut bait and walk away. She's in a cult that controls just about every aspect of her life. Even if she seems like she doesn't believe/do all of it, the indoctrination can lay dormant beneath the surface for years waiting for some life event (often death or having kids) to trigger renewed cult involvement. There are many "unbelieving mates" on this forum that are here because they married an inactive JW that rekindled their cult involvement in this way.

    Since many folks in your position tend to brush off the above advice, your next best hope is to read Combating Cult Mind Control by Steven Hassan to get a better idea of what you're dealing with and try to help her to wake up from the cult indoctrination. Once you've read through that you can use sites like this one and to learn about the cult and introduce information that may help her to see it for what it is. This is likely to be a large investment for you and is in no way guaranteed to work. She's already shown that she'll put the cult and her mother ahead of you, so there's no reason to believe that she'd change course as you try to expose the cult. Most likely she'll become very cold and push you away, which is why my best advice is to move on.

    In answer to the question in your title - JWs are STRONGLY discouraged from dating any non-JWs ("worldly" people) and will often face pretty harsh sanctions for doing so. If she's having sex with you (or anyone she's not married to) and that is discovered, she will be "disfellowshipped" and shunned by all JWs. Since she was raised as a JW, that means that she will probably be shunned by just about everyone that she's ever had a close relationship with (since she's dating you she's clearly a little more liberal about outside relationships, but I would hazard the guess that you're the exception, not the rule). If she is/becomes "inactive" (this means she stops preaching door-to-door) and stops going to meetings her dating you will likely result in shunning by most/all JWs even without her being officially disfellowshipped - they will assume she's having sex and that she needs to be disfellowshipped but just hasn't gotten caught.

    As a side note - her belief in the age of the earth is not evidence of her straying from the JW stance - they have somewhat informally accepted the earth's age in recent literature (just doing it in such a way so as not to turn off old-timers that remember when the earth was supposed to be ~50,000 years old). Evolution is also a kinda weak point for her to be liberal on - most JWs don't put enough thoughts into their beliefs to realize that if evolution is true it completely unravels their doctrine. You may also be mistaking her acceptance of so-called "microevolution" for a real understanding of the issues. JWs believe in the global flood of Noah's day as literal and believe that afterward god introduced variation in the species to get from the limited population on the ark to what we have now. My point in saying this, though, is that she may seem somewhat reasonable about certain issues, but if you demonstrate that they show the cult doctrine to be false then she will almost certainly recant what she's said and burrow deeper into the cult.

    I wish you the best of luck, whichever course you decide to take.

  • concernCitizen

    Uau, I didn't realize the brainwashing could be that problematic.

    In relation to sex we do have something, everything is normal with the exception of actual penetration. I didn't thought to be much of a problem because some people take a long time to be prepared for that and I didn't mind waiting for a marriage even if I don't believe in any of that.

    I feel like I'm ready to try my best to clear her mind but I don't even know where to start, I already know about jwfacts and it was even that website that got me here. But just exposing her to their practices problems doesn't seem to be enough.

    thx for the responses. If anyone else has more to share please do, I'm even considering showing her this thread.

    PS: I'll definitely read that book

  • CookieMonster

    Well, first of all JWs are only allowed to 'date' within their faith and even then its with a view to marriage. So what she has done - dating a 'worldly' person - that is one who is not a JW - is a big No No. She can get into trouble for this but perhaps not disfellowshiped (if things haven't gone too far) - that is being excommunicated which is not the same as disassociation where one chooses to leave by their own accord.

    However, if she has been dancing the 'tango' with you in the bedroom, or petting the one-eyed snake she is in a heap of trouble and can be disfellowshipped. This can be a very traumatic experience for her and her family. If one's daughter or son is disfellowshipped and continues to practice 'wrong doing', JW parents may ask her or him to leave the household. Particularly if there are siblings since they are now 'bad apples'. She could essentially be cut-off from her family, JW friends and left to fend for herself. Its a frightening prospect especially if you are a 'born-in' and all your friends and family are JW. It has driven some to suicide!

    So the question is, does she want to choose JW over you? if thats the case, she will break the relationship, confess to the 'elders' and perhaps get disfellowshipped anyway. But she will continue to attend meetings in silence and accept her 'reproof'. After perhaps a year or so, she will get 're-instated' and will have her family and friends back. This will be the end of the line for your relationship so both of you may decide to have an amicable break-up.

    If she chooses you over the JW religion, then she may 'disassociate' herself which is a clean-break. Her family and friends won't talk to her anymore but she will have you. Or she can try 'fading' - this is when one slowly disassociates from every day JW activity such as meetings, service but still is a JW in the books. But if found out for wrong doing, said person can be disfellowshipped. This is possible but requires careful planning and moving away to an area where no body knows you for a fresh start. Risky maneuver especially if she wants to keep in touch with her family.

    How much do you love her? Is marriage perhaps on the pipe-line? There is a way for her to have her cake and eat it too. However, she will need to come clean with the elders and get disfellowshipped. She goes through her 'reproof' and you continue your relationship and get married to her during this period. She then gets 're-instated' as a JW and gets to associate with her family and friends. They will associate with you since you are both married and as an 'unbelieving' mate and you will get love bombed by the congregation in the hope you get converted. Just keep it sweet, attend the once a year memorial, the sunday of the annual JW convention and things will be cushti.

  • bohm


    I am in (roughly) the same situation as you are (atheist dating a JW).

    Your girlfriend is a very special kind of JW if she believes in evolution and are at all interested in a non-jw let alone an atheist; this suggests she is not fully "in" her religion but has doubts and may leave (or fade out) of the religion in the future. I wouldn't just advice you to leave her (that's certainly not what I did!) but there are some things I would worry about if I were you: (I assume your girlfriend is baptized; that's a very important piece of information so you should ask her about that)

    * Why is she not telling you the truth about her religion? She might be embarrassed or whatever, but it seems to me to be a pretty big thing to not mention. Are you sure she actually believe in evolution? (JWs accept something akin to "change within a kind" and that the earth is 4 billion years old; they just reject common descend and believe man has only been here for about 6000 years).

    * If you two stay together it *will* hurt your girlfriend one way or another:

    - If she stays in, you are in for some difficult times later on. She will in various ways be made aware she choose the wrong partner, and if your girlfriends family are hardcore you can expect them to put you on the shit list at least until you are married and possibly later. She will be expected to bring up her children "in the truth" (i.e. indoctrinated), not to celebrate birthdays. This will lead to conflicts later on.

    - If she leaves (not disassociation but rather just stop goes to meetings), she will be viewed as a bad apple by her family. If her family are "good jws", you should not expect that her family wants anything to do with you until you are married, in fact you should not expect them to show up to your marriage. If she does anything "wrong" (like you two living together), she will be disfellowshipped and not see her family again. Most likely, even if you are married you will still have to hide things from her family because she will still be expected not to celebrate birthdays.

    Basically, if you stay together, you guys are in for a giant multi-year shit show no matter what!

    If you decide to stay together, I think there are a few things you should do:

    1) Don't go Richard Dawkins on her, an in particular don't criticize her religion in such a way she can tell you have searched out ex-jw literature. If she says something you disagree with, try to limit your comments to "common sense" objections ("well, I couldn't imagine shunning my child no matter what"), be humorous and be non-assertive.

    2) Work on your communication. Where does she stand in relationship to you? How can you make her comfortable talking about her religion? (ask her). Don't read to much into her living with her mum as she is in a very tough spot.

    3) Be aware that if she is baptized (and probably also if not), if she does something "bad" you can expect everyone she knows to rat on her, including herself. In particular, *noone can know* you have had sex or lived together.

    4) Educate yourself about cults. Standard atheist literature is completely useless. The best reference is probably Steven Hassan's books, in particular "Combating cult mind-control" (or one of the never). Order it on amazon today.

  • concernCitizen

    Thx for the explanation, I thought disfellowshiping and disassociation were the same thing, thx the clarification and the future cases you propose.

  • bohm
    I feel like I'm ready to try my best to clear her mind but I don't even know where to start, I already know about jwfacts and it was even that website that got me here. But just exposing her to their practices problems doesn't seem to be enough.
    thx for the responses. If anyone else has more to share please do, I'm even considering showing her this thread.

    Don't show her jwfacts if she is the least in, it is very unlikely to change her minds (the author of JWfacts is a mentally diseased apostate according to the standard JW view). As a rule, "facts" about her religion is very unlikely to do anything good no matter how obvious they seem to you. And for the love of jehovah don't show her this thread!

    What I think you need to do is to first and foremost work on better communication with her. If she is not comfortable talking about her religion when it comes to objective and non-threatening things (like disfellowshipping), you have very little chance for a good conversation on difficult topics. This is basically step 1 of the book I mentioned :-).

  • bohm


    Disfellowshipping (DF) and Disassociation (DA) are similar in terms of the consequences (she will be cut of by anyone she knows and considered death until she is reinstated, a long process). They differ in that you get disfellowshipped if 1) she is baptized and 2) you are found guilty of a serious sin by a judicial committee (a tribunal of 3 elders), for instance if they learn that you have had sex or just slept under the same roof.

    Speaking of which, is she baptized? (this is very important)

    DAing is most commonly something she does by writing a letter and asking for it. Otherwise she can be "forcefully" DAd if it for instance is found out she is a member of another religion. Insofar as you are concerned, DF/DA are the same.

    The elders have a manual that lay out all these procedures in detail which is secret. She can't know that you are reading it but you can find it online (google: shepherd the flock of God).

    If she is baptized, the best thing that can happen from your perspective is that she fade out. You fade out by slowly stopping to go to the meetings, don't do anything "wrong" (like living with you before you are married) and possibly feigning a depression. After a few years they will begin to leave you alone as long as you don't rock the boat. Then she will be said to be "inactive" and you two will get more breathing space. The bad news is that she will likely loose all her friends who are JW and be viewed by her family as someone who couldn't hack the spiritual life and she will constantly reminded (because the JWs are constantly reminded to do so!) that she should "return to Jehovah".

    If she is not baptized you two are lucky :-). She can't be DFd or DA. If she choose to be with you it will still disappoint her family a lot (you can expect that you will be a disappointment to her family), but it likely won't have so severe consequences. You can still expect her friends not to stick around since she is obviously not "good association", and my guess would be that if it is found out she is sleeping/living with you it will strain her relationship with her parents a lot.

  • Giles Gray
    Giles Gray

    You are way too young for any of this.

    The fact is she hasn't been upfront and honest with you so far so why is that going to change if you continue a relationship with her?

    She also hasn't been considering your needs, especially from the intimate side of the relationship. Not exactly fair for a young man your age.

    She's pulled in two directions and hasn't exactly gravitated towards your side. She's putting herself and the fear for her mother before you. None of these factors are a good bedrock for a budding relationship.

    Guilt and fear are dictating to her now and this is not going to change in the future either, even if she is disassociated.

    Oh, and if you are wise, don't show her this web site, or any other anti-JW site for that matter. It won't have the weight you think it might. It will just mean that Satan is now influencing you to break her faith. Don't even mention you have been looking on these kind of web sites.

    Best of luck to you.

    Edit: Have just seen that my last point has already been covered by bohm. I do apologise.

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