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Dating After 50: Spirituality and Religion

Copyright © 2014 AARP All rights reserved.

Spirituality and religion, sexuality, passionate pastimes, family participation, lifestyle, and money — these are all usually important to daters over 50, but you may put some higher on the list than others. In any case, it's important to think about them in advance so that you can discuss them when you're interested enough in someone to think about future dates and perhaps a bigger future.

Religious daters

Spirituality is the cornerstone of some people's lives. Their religious practices are a trellis upon which all other aspects of their life are hung. They're observant daily and go to the temple, mosque, or church of their choice regularly. Of course, there are extraordinary variations on this theme.

Some very religious people don't attend services regularly but subscribe to the principles and practices of their chosen or inherited religion, and others are casual about their religion's traditions and practices but still have an emotional attachment to their faith.

Sometimes, people who are more casual toward their religious traditions or dictates may be mistaken as unattached to their religion. But the culture of religion runs deep, and they may have strong feelings of attachment, even if they disregard religious communities and never go to formal places of worship.

Non-religious daters

Then, of course, there are people who don't like religion, don't practice it, and would find themselves upset to be with someone who did. Many of these people feel that religion is either irrelevant or the cause of much of the world's violence and vengeance. They see religion as a practice that happened because people needed an explanation for the mysteries of life or a set of rules and ethics for people to follow rather than the wisdom and direction of God.

Spiritual daters

Somewhere in this mix are people who describe themselves as “spiritual but not religious.” They find themselves moved by a higher power, but they have their own unique explanations for what that power is and how they evoke it. They may believe it comes from nature or from exploring one's own humanity.

Spirituality is important to them, but they reject traditional religious institutions and either create their own or just privately have their own spiritual path.

There's room for all kinds of common cause or all kinds of conflict when people are in different categories of spiritual or religious practice or belief in God. Some couples who differ greatly on religion do find a way to practice their own beliefs without disrupting the relationship. In the child-raising years, this is hard to do, and a differing vision of a child's religious path can be a deal breaker.

If the child-raising part of the life cycle is over, however, there may be more room for a “live and let live” position of religion and religiosity. Nonetheless, some people feel so strongly about religion that they can't date, much less live with, someone who doesn't share their practices and beliefs.

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