Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Real Talk With Rachel: Dating the Divine

by Rachel Kurzius

Dear Rachel,

I am a single man in my late-twenties and I’ve been on a few dates with a woman I met through a work function. By picking up on some clues and based on some conversations, I know that she is very religious -- she doesn’t drink, she attends church weekly, etc. I am secular, by the way.

For what must be our fifth or so date, she is coming over to my place for dinner. Before this, we always met in public places. I am attracted to her and would like to take this to a more physical place, but I am worried that maybe she is too religious for any kind of “fraternization.” I like her and don’t want her to think I’m a sleazeball. But at the same time, I am not that interested in a relationship without any sexual component.

How do I find out where she stands on the issue without coming off as too pushy?

Praying for an Answer

Dear Praying for an Answer,

A popular way to answer the question of “do they want to knock boots?” is to kick back a few drinks and see what happens when you’re both feeling less inhibited. Clearly, this option is off the table for you and your devout lady.

But in many ways, this woman’s sense of the divine presents you with an exciting opportunity. Because let’s face it: this situation is just a more intensified version of the dilemma of dating more generally. You’ve spent time together and you enjoy her company, but you don’t know if she wants to get physical. Sound familiar?

Besides religion, there are tons of reasons why people might forgo sex. Bad previous experience, hang-ups, interest in other people, the list is infinitely long. Meanwhile, lots of religious people I know choose not to abstain from premarital relations. So the fact that this woman doesn’t drink or goes to church doesn’t necessarily tell you that much about how she interprets scripture when it comes to the bedroom.

So it’s going to come down to having a conversation, as it always does (only minus potential for liquid courage). Maybe as dinner nears its end, or if you’re chatting on the couch afterwards, you can broach the subject by asking permission to do something more physical. Saying something direct like, “How would you feel if I kissed you?” could be your best course of action.

Now I’ve heard that asking for permission before kissing takes away the mystique and ruins the spontaneity. But it doesn’t have to be a drag! Asking for consent before you try something new is an important part of any healthy sexual relationship and there’s a way to make it enhance the romance.

Awesome author and activist Jaclyn Friedman has written extensively on this idea of enthusiastic consent (she gets into details in her book Yes Means Yes, but here’s a quick primer: Essentially, you’ve got to make sure that you both feel comfortable as you meander towards kissing and all that can follow. She says, “Find someone who is unequivocally psyched about sleeping with you...and if you are unclear if someone is psyched about sleeping with you, you can ask questions. You can ask sexy questions. And you should listen to the answers.”

Dating someone who has different values can be a challenge. The only way to find out if her religious beliefs affect her views on sex is to ask. No matter her answer, you’ll come out of this experience knowing that you can talk about sex in a frank and sensual way without drinking first.

All my best,


PS: This notion of enthusiastic consent shouldn’t just apply to dating the devout. We shouldn’t assume that anyone is or isn’t interesting in “hooking up” based on religion or any other factors, for that matter (dress and sexual history come to mind as particularly bad indicators). Time to ask some sexy questions!


Rachel Kurzius revels in giving advice, and has provided counsel both as a columnist and a friend. She lives in Washington DC, where she works as a news producer. Real Talk with Rachel is published on All Life is Local and the Cleveland Park Listserv,, on Wednesdays. Need advice? You can write to Rachel via or by email to advice @

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