Dear Thelma: We are in love, but our different religions are affecting us

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Dear Thelma,

I'm 21 and she is 25. I gained an interest in her when we first met at our workplace. She is so kind, caring and supportive. We started to talk to each other and share our personal stuff.

The more we talked to each other, the more I fell for her. As time went on, I had the feeling that I wanted to be in a relationship with her. One day, I confessed my feelings to her and she said yes!

We were in a relationship for exactly one month before things turned bad. We were talking about the differences in our cultures, and eventually we separated.

After being friends for two months, I tried to get to know new people and everything, yet I still love her. Now I'm back with her, but how can I continue to believe in my religion and she in hers, if both of us want to get married? I don't want to convert, and neither does she.


Dear JTJL,

Some people have totally different ideas about religion and it isn't an obstacle to their relationship. But for you two, fundamental differences are impacting on your relationship in the first few weeks. It's a sign that you are not compatible. If you stick to this, you're going to have issues for the next 50 years.

Therefore, she's a sweetheart but she's not the sweetheart for you. Go and find someone you're compatible with.

Although you've not asked, I think you need to think a little more big picture. You are now 21 years old and you are looking for specific things from a partner: a good heart and a supportive manner. That's brilliant and sensible but as you've discovered, there are other issues.

For many people, what they want at 21 is not the same as what they want when they are 26. This is because there are developmental stages we go through.

Although psychologists argue about the specific stages, generally speaking, we see quite big changes in ourselves at 16,18,21 and 24-26. This is probably partly because our brain is still developing. Although we are legally adults at 18, our brain doesn't completely mature until we are 24 to 26 years old.

Also, there are huge life changes that take place: big exams, going into job training or college, getting a first job, and becoming independent from our parents.

Why am I telling you this? Because I suspect you threw yourself into this relationship because you are experiencing life changes. You're at work, not a school kid anymore, and there's a pandemic raging. So when you meet a wonderful person, you cling because this is one solid anchor in a rather turbulent world.

But while she's adorable, you have different needs. What's more, your needs will likely change quite a bit over the next few years as you grow from a young adult into a mature adult.

I'm so sorry, but I'm going to talk to you like an older aunt: let this one go, my dear. And be prepared for the next couple of years to date several wonderful women who won't be a good fit in one way or another. Don't see that as a failure. Dating is a process that is geared specifically to help you make these discoveries. Be honest, up front, loving and you will find that each dating relationship will bring you joy and teach you a bit more about your needs.

Then, at a certain point, you will meet a warm, caring, supportive woman who will be an excellent match with you in life goals. That's when you'll have your Happily Forever After.

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