Are you looking for that elusive Dawkins-character you’ve always dreamt of? You might want to start here. Or not
When it comes to dating, religious people have it easy. If they want to find another religious person with whom to share their beliefs, lives and genes, there are plenty of dating websites to help them hook up. But what does an atheist do? What if they join a mainstream dating site, casually drop in how much they hate the Pope, and then find out that they’re talking to a ‘Religious’? Well, thank God (or not), there is now a plethora of dating sites just for atheists to help them meet like-minded people – people who might also like reading, salsa, and come out in a rash if they walk on hallowed ground.
The principle of joining a site to find other atheists is a good idea, in theory at least. According to a 2013 study from Statistic Brain, 40 out of the 54 million singles in the US had tried online dating, and 64% of those said that common interests are the most important factor when seeking a match. To be fair, the same thing is probably true when you meet someone at a bar, except what you have in common there is that you’re both wasted.
Read next: Atheism: Why the UK is losing its religion
This study cited by the Telegraph suggests that mentioning atheism increases your chance of getting a response on dating sites by around 10%, whereas mentioning ‘God’ actually decreased them, so there does appear to be a market for those who feel that a shared lack of religion is a legitimate foundation for a relationship. In many ways it makes sense, religion is often indicative of a larger lifestyle choice, so could really be an important baseline question on a checklist of shared interests when finding a partner. Once you know you won’t be berating each other for skipping church to sneak off to the pub on Sunday morning, you can get onto finding out what else you have in common, like similar sleeping patterns or a matching collection of small animal bones.
Many of the profiles on the atheist dating site Free Thinker Match appear to support this theory. Almost all of the members I questioned directly about why they had joined an atheist site said that they either used to be religious themselves, or came from very religious communities. One 62-year-old man from the US told me that everyone he knew in his area was religious and he wanted “to escape to a rational area of ideas and enjoyment”. Clearly he hasn’t spent enough time outside the religious community to realise that atheists can be batshit crazy too.
When I asked the president of dating site Atheist Passions what kind of person his service attracts (aside from atheists), he refused to generalise. “Every member is their own person, and no individual implications can be drawn,” he replied. As this was a fair, but essentially useless, response, I joined another site called Atheist Dating Service and tried to strike up conversations with other ‘single and ready to mingle’ non-believers to delve a little deeper. Sadly, and to my surprise, the top question I got asked was not about my feelings toward the big G-o-d – but whether my webcam worked. When I said no, most of them stopped talking to me. I did manage a marginally less traumatic exchange with one man from the US though, and, when I asked what kind of people he’d met so far, he said that ours was the first real conversation he’d had, and that many of them just wanted to show ‘bad stuff’ on camera. “I think most of them are here for lust and sex. Perverts,” he said. So much for our shared bond over atheism.
So, even though the ‘official’ reasons given for membership were often about religion, apparently having the person know you already share their views on atheism actually just leaves more time for them to try and get you on webcam. And as for Atheist Passions’s promise to help me “find a realistic, down to earth date in the UK”? Well, I can safely say that this experience has yet to make a (non-)believer out of me.
84% Catholic? Ouch: The difficulties of being an Irish atheist
Image: Flickr, Insert image: CK_Chan@UK