The #2 Dating Deal Breaker of 2016 (But Why It’s Actually #1)

In Dating, Single by Debra Fileta15 Comments

Earlier this week I published a post revealing the #1 Dating Deal Breaker of 2016, based on well over 20,000 responses from 1,500 single voters across the nation. If you are curious what that deal breaker is, than give this post a read.

Interestingly enough, after that post was published, there was a rush of hundreds of new voters who decided to go and cast their vote and ended up actually changing my data, bumping this #2 deal breaker up by 4% and making it the #1 Deal Breaker on the list! (By the way, for those of you who are curious, the poll is OFFICIALLY CLOSED TO VOTERS).

I tell you that, because no matter how we look at the numbers, it’s important to note that this #2 Dating Deal Breaker, is actually right up there with number one! And in my personal and professional opinion – it surpasses #1 because it is hands down the MOST IMPORTANT THING a couple can share in their dating relationship.

This one aspect informs and influences every other item on the list:

88% of voters agreed with me that for a Christian, dating a Non-Christian is a deal breaker!

I’m thankful that there was such a high response rate to this specific question, because we live in a society in which singles are under a TON of pressure to settle for less. Singles are bombarded with lies that make them rethink whether or not it’s even worth it – much less – even POSSIBLE to marry a believer these days.

But dating a Christian, specifically, a believer in Christ, is such a crucial component to the health of your relationship because out of the overflow of your relationship with God comes your ability to love and be loved.

Our spiritual life is such a significant part of who we are, and to enter a life long relationship with someone who doesn’t identify with that part of your life is doing yourself and your relationship a grave injustice.

I’ve shared a lot of my personal thoughts on this concept, and I go as far as to explain that just because someone is “Christian” doesn’t mean they are healthy – so yes, there’s a lot more to this question that needs to be unpacked. Being a Christian is not simply a label that a person puts on themselves, it’s so much deeper than that. So if you’re interested in reading more about the importance of dating a believer (and I highly recommend you do) you can check out these articles:

Why W.W.J.D. Doesn’t Work In Dating

Marry Someone Who Loves God More Than They Love You

Marrying a Believer is NOT Optional

And then check out this guest post by my friend, pastor and author Gary Thomas:

Does It Matter If I’m Dating An Unbeliever?

For those who may or may not be on the fence as to whether or not this is something worth waiting for, I’d love to start a discussion in the comments below:

Why (or why not) is this such an important factor in a dating relationship?

If you are a Christian, what has your personal experience been dating and/or marrying someone who was not a Christian?

“Your love life needs this book!”

– Drs. Les and Leslie Parrott, NYTimes Bestselling Authors and Psychologists

tld-3d-book cover

Download this audio lesson where I talk you through the top 10 dating deal breakers from a professional counselor’s perspective!

10 Dating deal breakers

Debra Fileta is a Professional Counselor, speaker, and author of True Love Dates: Your Indispensable Guide to Finding the Love of Your Life21 Days to Jump Start Your Love Life, and 21 Days to Pray For Your Love Life – where she writes candidly about dating, relationships, and how to find true love. You may also recognize her voice from her 150+ articles at Relevant Magazine or! She’s also the creator of this True Love Dates Blog!  Connect with her on Facebook or Twitter or book a session with her today!


  1. Before I got into a relationship with my current boyfriend, I dated two guys: one who was an atheist and one who was a devout Catholic. First, let me say that Christianity vs. Catholicism has its huge differences, and in dating, it doesn’t always work. When I dated the ex-boyfriend who was a devout Catholic, that also was a hindrance because his beliefs were in God but on a level and way that didn’t align with my Christian beliefs. So I’ve found that for me, it was a dealbreaker.

    But for the ex-boyfriend who was an atheist, it was harder and it drew me away from God. It was hard to connect because when I had a revelation or shared how God has been working in my life, his response was very nonchalant and didn’t share my level of spirituality. It was tough for me to connect with him intimately and it made me feel very lonely in our relationship. I broke it off, for other reasons, but it was one of the reasons I decided to end it.

    Now that I’m in a relationship, cross-country long distance for almost 2 and a half years, where it complements my relationship with God and it helps it to thrive instead of drawing me away, it is much more fulfilling and we can be more emotionally and spiritually connected. Our relationship thrives because we are able to be ourselves and a big part of that is our mutual love for God.

    I know this was a long comment but it’s something I wanted to share it so that those who have started dating or have been dating and are considering marriage, would know the consequences and downfalls of marrying or dating a non-believer. Hope it’s an encouragement to you 🙂

  2. I am very happy this has made (the new) # one. While I agree that smoking is an undesirable trait that is definitely a deal breaker for me…the smell/cost and what it does to your health are but a few reasons why. If you are truly walking with God, than getting into a relationship with a nonbeliever would not be a good decision. The one thing I have learned….you cannot change someone! I know there are times when being with ‘someone’ is better than being alone. Be careful before taking that plunge, remember even if they agree to attend church with you or they seem enthusiastic, if they are not ready to make a true commitment to the Lord Jesus, they could become resentful. Please don’t hope that they will have a “come to Jesus” moment when you get into a serious relationship where by, it may be too late to turn back or worse get married. The only way to change someone is to pray for God to change them and if He feels they need to be changed, He will be the one to do it. The best advice is what God said in His word….do not be unequally yoked.

  3. I am not trying to be the bearer of bad news, but it doesn’t seem to me through my experience that women want a Christian man or one who is equally yoked as it says in 2 Cor 6:14!!! Let me explain, I am a man who found Jesus and a relationship with Him almost 4 years ago. Before that I was lost and lived for the world. I claimed to be a Christian, but didn’t go to church or honor God in and through my life.
    Today I am continuously striving to serve God in any way that I can. I am with my church family listening, learning, and have done a little teaching about Jesus Christ! I make it very well known that I have a relationship with Jesus and that I attend church when the doors are open! I have made this known on the dating sights I have joined and that I will except nothing less then a Godly woman!
    I am surprised to say, it doesn’t seem there are any out there! At least not from my vantage point! They say they want a Christian and then when you actually are one its a no go!
    Here’s a good example, I came across this woman that was attractive! For men that I believe hits us first! So I start reading her profile and she says she is a Christian and how she lovessssss the beach! Then about half way through she says, I am a Christian but you believe you need to be in church every Sunday so I do my own thing and love people bluh bluh bluh!!! I was like are you kidding me! You say you are but you don’t honor God with your time and assembling yourself with other believers as the Word says!!!
    I am not sure about you, but getting filled helps me to make it through life til the next time I get filled and if that is missed being at church then it makes it easier to be attacked by the enemy!
    This is a huge deal breaker for me and that is why I am still alone. Being alone is not fun but it beats being with the wrong person hands down! I did that in my first marriage, but I too was a lost soul. Jesus is the way, I trust Him!

    1. Hey Raymond,
      If you don’t mind me asking, what sites are you on?? Where are you meeting women?
      I believe that with Gods guidance, you can and will find the right “Godly” woman for you.
      Don’t give up hope.

      God bless.

  4. One thing I’ve learned is that the person you’re dating or have married becomes a part of your family and impacts them for good or bad. My family has suffered because a sibling chose to marry someone who not only is not a believer but frequently expresses her dislike and anger towards our family. It draws my sibling away from the rest of our family and makes it painful and difficult to be together. The cost of dating/marrying an unbeliever goes far beyond the relationship and can bring destruction and pain into the rest of your family, including your family in Christ. I’ve seen that destroy once strong families in the church too many times.

  5. I’ve been in a relationship with a non-christian, and in the first couple of days I could see that the relationship wasn’t going to go far. I disliked the fact that I had to compromise some of my values for this relationship because to him it wasn’t a big deal. I also didn’t like the fact that we couldn’t go to church together – that’s when I realised that this is not the type of relationship that I had prayed for. I want to have conversations about God with my partner, I want him to understand what I’m talking about when I tell him that the Holy Spirit is saying such and such about my life. I don’t want to have to explain every aspect of my faith to him, I want someone who gets it. I liked him, he was a nice guy, he liked me a lot, took care of himself (financially, physically etc) but I knew deep down that he and I didn’t connect on a spiritual level, and that was a huge deal-breaker for me. I also felt guilty because I felt like I was moving out of God’s will by being with him. From this experience I told myself that i’d rather wait (even though it can be hard sometimes) than get myself involved with someone that I’m not compatable with spiritually.

  6. I do believe that dating an unbeliever is a dealbreaker. But it is interesting that Paul says in 1 Corinthians that if a Christian gets saved while being married to an unbeliever they should not seek a divorce. Why would Paul encourage someone to stay married to an unbeliever? Isn’t being “unequally yoked” the kiss of death for a Chiristian? While I do agree that dating a non Christian is a bad idea, Paul is implying that it is possible to be in the deepest covenant relationship with someone and still have a successful walk with God. He is also implying that the person of faith in the relationship should be influencing the unbeliever, not the other way around. Also, with so many Christian marriages ending in divorce, two people starting out fully commmittes to Jesus does not guarantee success either. Someone’s faith waynes, or they grow cold and one person finds themselves in a marriage that looks nothing like it did when they started. At some point everyone has to realize that all they can do is control themselves and not be dependable on someone else to to stay faithful.

    1. Author

      Good thought, Matthew. I think back in that time, there were many NEW converts coming to Jesus in huge numbers….so Paul was probably taking them into consideration because it’s possible that many came to Christ whether or not their spouse did. I would imagine that there were a lot of people in marriages at that time where one or the other spouse embarked on a relationship with Jesus, so it’s important in that context to know how to move forward. I think that still applies today, as so many people come to Jesus AFTER they are married. I know many of those people myself.

    2. Author

      I also want to add with you that just because you marry a Christian DOES NOT mean success….there are so many other factors, and I think the REAL determining factor is how fully you are led by God’s Spirit and moving into healing and wholeness along the way – because that is EXACTLY what God offers us through a relationship with Christ. Although not all people allow Him to have that sort of transformation in their lives. At the end of the day, it’s still up to us to be submissive to God’s leading in our lives as individuals.

  7. This is so true Matthew . This bible verse goes with your comments also, “To the rest I say this (I, not the Lord): If a brother has an unbelieving wife and she is willing to live with him, he must not divorce her. And if a woman has an unbelieving husband and he is willing to live with her, she must not divorce him. For the unbelieving husband is sanctified through his believing wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified through her believing husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but now they are holy” 1 Corinthians 7:13. The word says that “the unbelieving husband is sanctified through his believing wife, and vice versa.” I actually saw this in my own family where my grandfather only went to church to attend the funerals of deceased family members. He wasn’t an “atheist” and he was born, raised and baptized in church. In fact, my great grandmother, his mother lived right next door literally to the church he was born and raised in. For whatever reason, he got disconnected from God in his adulthood I guess. But he never smoke, or drank, or cursed, and I always saw him treat my grandmother with the utmost respect and love. He did cheat on my grandmother, however, when she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, he was right there taking care of her, and taking care of me because I was like 12 yrs old and my mom died when I was 10, and my dad was remarried with another child. So my grandfather raised me, he worked and was a great provider, he fed, clothed and changed and bathed my grandmother, and always reminded her of how much he loved her and that he would never ever leave her, and he did not. He spared no expense for her nurses and medical care. He gave her the best care and love possible until the day she died even though she forgot a lot, including him and who he was and who we were. He always showed her unconditional and everlasting love. When I was 18 my grandfather died of cancer. I found him when he died in his room. And I will never forget the glow I saw on his face and surrounding him. It was like God had forgiven him, absolved him of all of his sins, and had him enshrouded in his love and care. I believe that my grandfather made his peace with God, and that he went to heaven because God was pleased with how he took such good care of my grandmother and me. God studies our heart, and our intentions, not just our actions and what we do. Because when we do “good” things with bad intentions, we are not pleasing in Gods sight. And as Debra stated up-thread, you can go into a marriage with someone that is a believer, and who seems more “Godly” than you are, and along the way things change, and that person changes. There was a question from someone on a radio show about a woman who’s husband decided that he wanted to be muslim and wanted them to convert to islam. This is after 10 yrs of marriage, and 2 children. So these are things that we must be prepared to properly deal with and handle within marriage. If things of this sort are handled Gods way, and not our way, then God will lead both people to him, and use the situation to draw them closer to him.

  8. Mmmh, here (on this topic) we (Nigerians Christians) need prayers! For there is a diversion! Here Brothers are marrying unbelievers! Because the sisters who claims to be Christians go for the Jerks! And majority go in with pregnancy. Please keep praying for us not to go to the world to search for partners.

  9. I have been wondering how much of the view that it’s only permissible to date/marry a Christian comes from complementarian views on marriage. If your husband is supposed to be your spiritual leader and is at least somewhat responsible for your spiritual health, then yeah it would be pretty bad for him to not be a Christian.

    1. Author

      My husband and I are personally not in line with the complementarian view of relationships, but I still think the component of an individual relationship with God is a KEY component to the well being of any relationship!!

  10. I just broke up with a nonbeliever, we where together almost six years and have a kid together. As I went back to God more and more, she hated Him more and more. She actually left me over a fight we had that opened my eyes to who she really was. She let her mom claim our daughter on her taxes. I disagreed with this and she left me. I could fight for the relationship, but dating a nonbeliever is making me sick. I couldn’t be myself anymore. I had to act like the person she wanted me to be.

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