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Dublin: 2 °C Thursday 23 November, 2017
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Dear Fifi: I'm a non-believer - and I think I'm falling for a staunch Catholic

It’s Dear Fifi time.

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Storm Ophelia has been and gone. It taught me one important lesson – I won’t be able to rely on my neighbours in the event of a disaster, apocalyptic or otherwise. A large chunk of them didn’t take in their bits from their balconies in our apartment complex’s shared courtyard.

My advice? Sure. Go ahead. Love thy neighbour, but don’t necessarily rely on them for anything except making noise at the most inconvenient times possible.

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Dear Fifi,

I have fallen for someone who is a staunch Catholic, and I’m a non-believer, with a lot of problems with the Church. This has never been an issue for me before, as I tend not to be attracted to that type of person. But this woman is different. I respect where she’s coming from, and healthy disagreement is good, but I worry that our worldviews are too different for a relationship. It’s a difficult thing to talk about, because it’s so fundamental. But feels silly that this could be a bar to being with someone I like so much else about.

Take away the issue of a specific religion for a moment. You say that you’re “worried that your worldviews are too different for a relationship”. Let’s take that as the basis for your problem.

Modern Catholicism is a wide spectrum. It includes people who identify as pro-LGBT and pro-choice. There are Catholics out there who attend Mass regularly, or don’t even attend at all, but still want their kids baptised and a Church wedding. That said, it also includes people who were fiercely anti-marriage equality and are anti-choice, and hold those positions intractably. It also includes people who will ardently defend the Church against any criticism that is levelled their way. It’s a mixed bag, to put it mildly.

So what exactly is her worldview? And what is yours? As you don’t specify, it’s hard to give much more guidance to you on that front. But it’s got you worried, so it must be fairly significant.

Some people might be okay with – or even actively seek out – a partner who doesn’t see the world the same way as them. Agreeing about politics (as well as life, the universe and everything) isn’t a fundamental element of a relationship for everyone. What matters is whether or not it is for you.

Lots of your mates might tell you that they personally couldn’t dream of dating a staunchly religious person. That’s grand. They don’t have to. It doesn’t really matter what other people think, and don’t allow that to muddy the waters. Honestly, ask yourself: do you think you could pull this off? Or do you think it will lead to rows, and worse?

Once you’ve answered that question – and there is no right or wrong answer, so don’t feel at all guilty for being true to yourself – you’ve got to start communicating.

I may not be able to tell you whether or not you’ll be cool dating a committed Catholic, but I can tell you one thing for sure: it hasn’t a hope in hell of working if you don’t start having a few completely frank conversations about where you both stand.

Don’t run because it seems tricky, but on the other hand, don’t stick around because initially the other parts of her personality might seem tempting. Essentially, this is a balancing act between giving this a fair shot and accepting it’s just a major red flag for you.

God bless!

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