How to Get Thoroughly Acquainted: One Baha’i’s Perspective on Dating

Baha'i Dating close up
When it comes to dating and getting to know a potential partner in the framework of the Baha’i laws and principles, many young (and not so young) people experience confusion and uncertainty. It can be hard to know how to approach this topic, and while many of us realize that the concept and practice of dating in much of society today is largely inappropriate, it can be hard to determine how to get to know a person really well, while at the same time remaining steadfast in the Cause and staying within the framework of chastity.

Abdu’l-Baha tell us:

Baha’i marriage is the commitment of the two parties one to the other, and their mutual attachment of mind and heart. Each must, however, exercise the utmost care to become thoroughly acquainted with the character of the other, that the binding covenant between them may be a tie that will endure forever. Their purpose must be this: to become loving companions and comrades and at one with each other for time and eternity.

When beginning the process of getting thoroughly acquainted with each others’ characters, let us first look at some important guidelines – the first being “Don’t start what you cannot finish!” – meaning, if while getting to know each other it already becomes clear that this person cannot be a potential spouse, it is not wise to start a relationship or pursue the relationship further.

The following four ‘red flags’ are clear warnings and important to heed, so if you see any of these – run the other way:

1. Problems with alcohol or drugs.
2. Problems with chastity (e.g. if the other person oversteps clearly set boundaries, is unfaithful etc. This may well continue into marriage.)
3. Aggression or violence (if someone hits you once it is advisable to end the relationship immediately. Do not give a person the chance to hit you a second time. Not even when they tearfully apologize. A person hitting someone needs therapeutic help!)
4. the partner does not want to have children (as opposed to a person who cannot have children for biological reasons. The purpose of Baha’i marriage is to have children. You should never assume that a person who says before the wedding that they do not want to have children will change their mind later on.)

If you’ve been fortunate enough to meet a person who is compatible with you and to whom none of the ‘red flags’ apply, there are quite a few possible ways to investigate that person’s character:

Exchange your life stories: You can each write down your life history (e.g. divided by years) and let the other person read it. As you read over each other’s history, note areas where you would like more understanding, or greater clarity. Consult about it, ask questions, share. You should be looking for past events that might impact on the other person’s capacity for intimacy, sharing, parenting, etc.

Exchange your life plans: Again, ask for clarification and more detail if you need it. You are looking for ways that your life plans can come together, for dreams that can be shared, and a future that can be lived as a couple.

Ask each other about…
…your respective relationships with your mothers.
…your respective relationships with your fathers.
…your respective relationships with your siblings.
…your ideas and concepts of what marriage should be like.
…family planning and raising children.
…former relationships and how those worked out.
…career/educational plans.

Experience as many different situations together as possible. Don’t just meet for dates, try to get a view from as many different angles as possible. Work together or do a project together. Look into each other’s hobbies. Explore your respective relationships to your faith(s) together. Take care of each other when one of you is sick. Meet the other person’s parents and families, watch how they interact with members of their family (if you get married you will also be a member of their family!). Talk about gender roles and expectations with each other. See how your partner treats women and men. Spend leisure time together. Get to know the other person’s friends, see how you get along, see how he/she behaves around their friends. Do sports together. “Borrow” some kids and spend time with them, watch your potential spouse’s behavior and attitude towards children. Cook and eat together. Host a core activity together. See how the other person behaves under stress, how they take decisions, how they express their feelings, how they handle money, how committed they are to obeying Baha’i laws (if they are Baha’is. If they are not – how respectful they are about your choice to obey Baha’i laws).

Read and study compilations and books about (Baha’i) marriage together. There are many great books and compilations available on this topic like Marriage: A Fortress for Well-being, and Baha’i Blog will be recommending more of these in a follow-up post in the near future.

Participate in marriage preparation courses or seminars together. Studies have shown that couples benefit greatly from professional marriage preparation and that their marriages are happier and last longer. If they are conducted by Baha’i professionals, so much the better.

Speak with several couples who lead good marriages in your eyes and learn from their experience.

When looking at these options it becomes clear that this process requires time, and it saddens me to see that far too often, young Baha’is rush into marriage without much reflection and after only knowing each other for very short periods of time (sometimes maybe guided by the wish to start a sexual relationship). From a psychological point of view, I would personally recommend a time period of at least one year of investigation before deciding to get married (provided of course this time is used wisely). The space of one year allows you to experience a whole cycle of nature together (including possible effects like seasonal affective disorders, i.e. ‘winter depression’) in one or both partners). You live through all Holy Days and anniversaries (which can deeply affect some people), and you get a much deeper understanding of what those special times mean to your partner and to his/her family and how they celebrate them. After all, you are trying to blend two lives, two family cultures, two backgrounds and two life plans together, therefore it is very helpful to have a good understanding of what those are before setting out to achieve this.

To finish this article, I thought I’d leave you with the questions of the following short ‘Express Test’, in the hope that these questions will help you decide whether a person is suitable as a potential spouse:

• Did I ever imagine marrying someone like him/her?
• Can I introduce him/her to my family, friends and colleagues?
• Can I imagine having children with him/her?
• Can I imagine that my children turn out exactly like him/her?
• Would I have chosen this person as a (best) friend if I hadn’t been in love?
• Do I feel really comfortable in his/her presence?

About the Author

Kate is a psychologist and couples therapist, specialized in the field of marriage preparation. Her personal experiences in this field are 14 years of marriage and three children. She has studied marriages and their dynamics for many years, both from a Baha'i perspective and from a scientific point of view and is fascinated by this most unique human relationship and its potential to transform people, families and society.

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Discussion 50 Comments

    1. I really enjoyed reading this article, looking back at my life I seriously could have used some of these tips in my past experience. This is very informative and interesting article. Thanks

  1. I am a Bahai born in Iran raised in America by traditional Iranian parents. My ancestors were one of the first Baha’is to ever exit– Mullah Sadegh family. Have attended middle school high school college medschool and residency in four different countries and this is the most bogus article I’ve ever read. Please don’t ruin the image of Baha’is to our community with such writings

      1. …and to expand on how this could ruin the image of Baha’is to our community (don’t exactly understand what you mean to say with this sentence)?

      2. The article was good. I have been married for twentyfive years and I shared this article just now with my three teenagers. Thanks Kate!

    1. Nadia, it would be so much more helpful if you would share your perspective on the Baha’i process of getting to know and select a spouse. Obviously, the author of this article is sharing her perspective and is not making any claims that her ideas are perfectly accurate. It seems evident to me that young people growing up in today’s world have many tests and obstacles in their path to marriage. We are living in an extremely challenging environment and few young people come to marriage unscathed.

    2. Dear Nadia … As a Bahai, raised by Bahai parents, I am confused about your comment/s regarding this article. In the spirit of good will, would you be good enough to clarify the particular issues in the article you believe “ruin the image of Baha’is” and/or why you consider it to be “the most bogus” article you’ve read? Personally, I thought the article to be a wonderful encapsulation of ways in which Baha’is can implement the Baha’i framework around male/female relationships as well as the added imput of sound, research-driven practical advice on entering relationships – applicable both to Baha’is and non-Baha’is. In no way do I see it either as “bogus” or ruining our image!! Warm regards Cate

  2. Well done.
    Wish to hear more articles on this subject.
    All the best & thank you.
    R.Gopal

    1. Thank you! I have published another article on this subject on BahaiBlog, called “Marriage – Preparation is (almost) everything” and i will soon publish one about interesting books on this topic. If you have any specific questions, please feel free to contact me.

  3. A very helpful overview in this present day and age when “instant” intimacy is the norm and relationships are often predominately built upon how I “feel” or how the other makes me “feel”. Thank you.

    Could I suggest that a thorough understanding verbal/ psychological/ emotional abuse should also be mandatory as, while some categories contained under these umbrellas are overt – i.e. abusive anger, name calling, most others are covert and are often only displayed after marriage and, the severity of their impact upon individuals in relationships is underestimated.
    See Patricia Evans’ seminal books – “Verbal Abuse”; Verbal Abuse: Survivors Speak Out; The Verbally Abusive Man: Can He Change” and “Controlling People”.

  4. Thank you, Kate
    You did an amazing job gathering such a clear framework about dating and finding a possible partner for our children, youth and young adults. We appreciate that very much.

  5. Wonderful article of faith and practical advice for parents, uncles, cousins to start an important conversation with kids and teenagers… Thank you so much. Love it.

  6. Thank you, Kate. I was in prayer seeking for key tips of sharing chastity/ gender/ education with my 12_year boy. Short of preparation, I was hesitating how to start(actually pretty late now, which I should have stated earlier). Having reading this article shared among the Bahai community in Taiwan, I am inspired by this article shared with the professional advise, and yet written in a easy-to-understand & highly practical way.
    This article is thumbed up by a young man, who is also an animator of my doughter. He has been constantly asked “why such an excellent & handsome youth never have a ” girl friend?” He is happy that he got another powerful widespread article backing him up. After learning from his fb about this article and read this article by my own, I am refreshing again the power of chastity/ gender education the Writings can do to backup the greatness of a person’s charachter, equality of life and achivement. He happened to be one of the animators for my doughter and son, too. This article is exactly the kind that to be the source of my gender education sharing with my son and doughter. I am sure it would be one for all including Nadia as the commenter above as well.
    What a great Bahai world with the cyber community, where we can share the nice thing from another half hemisphere of the world. Thank you, Kate, for the sharing!

    1. Thank you for sharing and for your kind words! I’m happy to be of help to you in speaking with your children about this important topic. My other article on BahaiBlog called “Marriage – Preparation is (Almost) Everything” might also be helpful. 🙂

  7. It was good to see the clash of differing opinions in the comments section of this article, but the differences need to be spelled-out. The spark of truth is often the result of such a clash, such an expression, of differences, but the areas of disagreement need to be fleshed-out, so to speak. Otherwise all one gets is the Facebook-type post, the “I like this” but “I don’t like” that sort of exchange which in the end, is not much use to anyone. Heat is certainly created from the opinionatedness, but little light arises from the expression of difference.

  8. I agree with some points but disagree with some. The red flags are 100% correct. However, I feel that telling everything about your past life to your new potential partner especially if you have had a difficult relationship with anyone earlier is a definite no no! I did that and after I got married that information was misused to make me feel bad about myself etc. hence I would never recommend telling everything about my previous life issues. Wouldn’t it be better to talk about future plans and how to build a new life, rather than start on an old life as foundation… Just a thought! Thanks for the article though…. Food for thought!

    1. Dear Lubna,
      thank you for sharing your thoughts and experience! I do think that wisdom is needed, meaning to judge wisely when to disclose what type of information about yourself to a person you are starting to get to know. On the other hand, if we wish to establish a loving, deep and intimate relationship with another human being, we need to risk being vulnerable and openly and honestly share about ourselves (including our past experiences). The risk that comes with this of course is the possibility that the other person does not prove trustworthy and uses this information against us. But if we don’t risk being vulnerable we will never be really close to another person. It all comes down to trust and finding a person that is trustworthy.
      I hope very much that you will be able to find such a person!

  9. I agree with the overall themes that motivated this article, but the way the information is presented makes me uncomfortable reading this online as a Baha’i youth. From reading the comments, I think that from a parent’s perspective, this is probably great advice. It keeps everyone safe from potential “dangerous” dating. But I don’t think it’s very productive for youth (those of us in this position right now) to create a list of “stay away” qualifications. Given the current cultural climate of the youth generation and the ideas associated around the casual dating culture, this list may come across as judgmental, especially for someone who reads this and who is not familiar with the Faith. It provides too much opportunity for Baha’i youth to pass judgment on others. This isn’t conducive to creating meaningful relationships with others, whether with or without the intention of dating.

    And, more importantly to me, it reduces the implications of being a Baha’i youth to things that we’re not “supposed” to do, as opposed to creating and acting within a new framework for contributing to the overall progress of humanity. I think that dating and marriage are absolutely included within this framework, but information presented as it is in this article does not make that very clear.

    1. Dear Fran,
      thank you for your very thoughtful insights! I can see your point how the “red flags” could feel judgemental, especially for someone reading this who is not familiar with the Faith (even though i personally think that only people read bahaiblog who are at least to a certain degree familiar with the Faith).
      Choosing a life partner is the only situation in our lives when we have to assess and to a certain degree judge another person’s character, whereas in all other situations – as you very correctly pointed out – we are supposed to have a sin-covering eye and abstain from judgement.
      Unfortunately, many times i’ve seen people have a sin-covering eye before getting married and remaining oblivious to the potentially dangerous behaviours in the person they were intending to marry, which later resulted in horrible heart-ache, suffering, oftentimes divorce and – terribly enough – in a few cases even death at the hands of the partner.
      This quote by Shoghi Effendi reminds us of the fact that there are no guarantees and tells me that it is important to keep your eyes wide open before getting married (while being ever-ready to overlook faults of people in all other situations): “There is a difference between character and faith; it is often hard to accept this fact and put up with it, but the fact that a person may believe in and love the Cause — even being ready to die for it — and yet not have a good personal character or posses traits at variance with the teachings.” (from Lights of Guidance)
      Your other point is also valid and the reason why this article seems a bit “limited” is because of the limitations of bahaiblog (max. 1000 words per posting). Therefore my article had to be separated in two parts. If you would like to read the whole article in “one go”, first read my posting “Marriage – Preparation is (Almost) Everything” (http://bahaiblog.net/2013/07/marriage-preparation-is-almost-everything/) and afterwards this one, then you can see a more complete picture within a framework of Bahá’í marriage and service.
      To put it in perspective though, only one short paragraph in this article is dedicated to the “red flags” (which btw do not refer to things you are not “supposed” to do but are rather warnings to heed in order to protect you from getting seriously hurt), whereas all the rest of the article tries to give support and suggestions on how we can go about creating a healthy marriage within the framework of the Faith.
      Thank you for sharing your thoughts! 🙂

  10. Hello. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this topic. It is important to continue a discourse on such topics, as we are all searching to grow.
    I rarely comment but feel the need to as a few of my friends and I have some concerns about this article.
    1. The formula that is presented: There is no formula to investigating someone’s character. If one was necessary, it would have been given by Abdu’l-Baha, Shoghi Effendi, or the Universal House of Justice – referencing the Writings. However, this is not the case.
    2. Titling the article as a “Baha’i Perspective”: Although the ideas are based off of an individual’s understanding of the Baha’i teachings in her life, the Baha’i perspective of dating is deeply rooted in understanding complex concepts like “chastity,” “rectitude of conduct,” “investigating truth,” and understanding one’s on relationship with God. Therefore it is important to understand that this article is an accumulation of thoughts and experiences of an individual.
    3. The “red flags”: if we “run the other way” we immediately negate the potential for growth for a person with these “red flags”. Besides violent abuse, I feel these are key points for exploration whether or not you have or can arrive at a common belief and approach to these issues before deciding to marry.

    The process of investigating the character of another needs to be done in a manner where service to God and the betterment of mankind is at the forefront – which is a process we are all trying to understand on our own paths and one that is not subject to compartmentalization or “red-flag” boundaries

    1. Dear concerns,
      thank you for sharing your thoughts and concerns! I fully agree that it is important to continue a discourse, so here are my thoughts on the points you mentioned:
      1. you are absolutely right that there is no “formula” to investigating someone’s character! This is exactly the reason why I wrote: “there are quite a few possible ways to investigate that person’s character”. In my view, pointing out that sth is a possible way automatically implies that there are other possible ways. Everything mentioned here is meant only as suggestions derived from the study of the Writings, psychological research, years of experience and conversations with many couples. With these suggestions, I am trying to help and support young people in finding a possible orientation in today’s highly confusing world which in the way it approaches dating is very far from what the Writings tell us. In no way are these suggestions supposed to be the final truth on the matter or the only way to see things, they’ve just proven helpful to many couples I have accompanied over the years and in this spirit I am sharing them here. The Writings tell us about the harmony of science a religion and in this article I attempted to bring together my understanding of the Writings with the insights psychological science provides us with. I am always grateful if friends share their experience, their research and their suggestions for getting acquainted with their partner’s character as I am also in a continous process of learning! 🙂
      2. true. In order to see a more complete picture (though of course still very incomplete due to the complexity of the topic!) you could first read my other article on bahaiblog, called “Marriage – Preparation is (Almost) Everything” (http://bahaiblog.net/2013/07/marriage-preparation-is-almost-everything/) which is actually the first part of this posting (it had to be made into two articles due to the nature of this blog regarding word limitations). But it still remains (like all other articles on this blog) an individual’s understanding of the Bahá’í teachings.
      3. In my point of view, it is wise not to enter into a relationship if any of the red flags apply. This does not mean not interacting with this person anymore (here i have to admit that “run the other way” was probably not the wisest choice of words ;-)) or negating their potential for growth, but i would in fact recommend not entering into a relationship while these problems still exist. In no way was I trying to imply though that somebody who has struggled with these problems in the past but has found a way to overcome them should not be considered as a potential partner or that we should not help or support friends who are struggling with any of these problems. The Bahá’í Writings are a source of transformation for any human being so it is clearly possible to overcome any and all of the “red flags”. Thank you for giving me a chance to clarify this point!

  11. Thanks Kate for the wonderful words reminding us about things we should do before getting married, I am youth from Papua New Guinea, you are doing a great job, reading your blog is helping me try and leave a chaste life before i can get married. In my country this is a struggle that youths are facing, we wanted to rush things without getting to know a person better or seeking guidance from the Bahai writings. In our society our parents dont talk openly about marriage as we have some traditional laws that makes people ashamed to talk openly.
    Coming to become a Bahai and knowing the wisdom it provides, i hope to one be a better parent.
    thanks again

  12. If you really want to know what kind of person your perspective date might be, there is a very simple way to find out. First make date to pick them up at 10 am, then show at 9 am and see what happens. Maybe on another date, if there is one, plan an activity where you both stay up 24 hours, a long road trip or concert or something, and see how long you can both hold it together!!

  13. Allah u abha to every one,
    The article is extremely useful..but one small issue is that sadly as Baha’is we do not have a wide option.
    To marry someone who will tear the family into two religions is aweful.
    To find Bahai partner its really difficult you have to end up getting into wrong marriage or marrying what is present or different religion who ends up dividing family.
    Some countries you have two options and one is extremely demanding :’).
    For the ones who dislike this article they hate the part that says chastity..
    Otherwise its perfect…
    The only obvious problem is most Bahais are not ready yet to marry internationally and accept different cultures for marriage…this issue is aparent and many divorce happens because her or his culture does not fit with his. Eastern western etc.
    They get excited ohhhh im black he is white Im Asian she is middle eastern but when they hurry into marriage to find out their life style is totally different…Oh whyyyy although we seemed like angels when we served at this temple together? Now everything is so different…well the man thinks I didnt not ask about chastity because in my country its a normal thing men and women marry as virgins….but found out she is or he is not? Okay maybe he is new to the faith? Your fault you did not take the time needed to get to know each other…..servibg few days together is not enough…you kept yourself faithful to your future partner she/he did not now you married and found out through a thirt source….your fault…oh but Ive been searching for years now im almost 27 and a girl..Its so hard to find he seemed best out of my other 2 option one old man one divorced…..lol yep this is how it is…we try to make things shiny the truth we have a very very high divorce rate…and Bahai girls frankly abuse the new teachings..they expect to boss the man since women in Iran and middle east have been persecuted Bahai faith gave the rights to women its new right and they are abusing it…thousands complain that my friends muslim wife treats her man like a man ..come home from his house is clean food is on table..treated good I come home from work she does not work and wants us to be equal wants me to cook and clean too…and every now and then threatens to leave and speak to council for every small argument…marrying a man or a women from other countries bringing them to the west is a bog risk…they suddenly get tons of rights they cannot handle they want to control the money start sending their family back home…they work once in their life time and brag about it..and once they do younsee their fangs…they divorce get an apartment by social service and live away…and we bahais marry OK looking partners for the scarcity of option…then this OK looking partner thinks he or she is the king of the world. We marry lower educational background or emotional intelligence then end up with no compatibility…sometimes retarded children…we marry from different culture some one who have their own dreams that do not fit at all with ours…we get stuck and afraid to divorce for sake of children…I think thr HOJ should find solution to this..we are living a miserable life most of us…..our divorce rate is TOO much…oh forgot to say rich bahais do not marry poor bahais men or women….girls demand too much even if they are short and ugly…boys get old and bald trying to make money…etc 🙂 good luck

  14. Good article, the main thing is, no matter what ways you choose, get to know your prospective mate as many ways that are possible for you!! Whether it takes a whole year is problematic!! Some couples four months, some six, some three years!! Just really get to know the person. I’ve been a Baha’i since 1968, I’ve been married three times, the first time it lasted only a year, second 6 years, the first time we were young and stupid, the second time, I was just stupid!! My third marriage has lasted almost 30 years, we are both Baha’is, we took the time to really get to know each, and surprise, surprise, it works!!

  15. Greetings,

    I came across your blog while doing a Google search on this topic for a deepening I’m having this coming Saturday. I do appreciate many of the perspectives you offer in this entry, but there is one that greatly concerns me that I feel the need to address, as I believe it to be an inaccurate statement and misleading to others.

    You listed individuals who do not wish to have children as a “red flag”. I find that quite alarming. I have read letters from the Universal House of Justice that state that while the procreation of children is a primary function of marriage, it is not the only function. And no where in the Baha’i Writings does it state that it is a requirement that you must try and conceive children if you are to marry. Some simply can not; others choose not to. Whether it’s a choice or not, the end result is the same which is a marriage without children. And a marriage without children is still valid and can be a wonderful marriage. To state it as a red flag and lump it with those struggling with Baha’i laws such as alcohol, pre-marital sex and violence is completely misplaced and inappropriate.

    I do not wish to have children myself, but I love children and fill the role of auntie to many of my friend’s children. I am also not opposed to adopting some day. But, for many personal reasons I do not wish to bear my own children. This does not mean that I do not deserve to find a husband and be in a loving marriage and partnership with that individual whether we ever decide to raise children or not. There are many admired women in the history of our Faith who never had children, but dedicated their lives in service to the Cause. I am dedicated to my two fold moral purpose – to grow spiritually and contribute to the advancement of society – and I would make an amazing help mate and life partner to someone along that journey.

    1. My general understanding is that for young people who are of child bearing age, that getting married and explicitly state to *other people in the community* before the marriage that they are never going to have children what is technically forbidden.

      Thing is, that many young people are heartsick and headstupid, so marry someone else who doesn’t want children, thinking they will change their mind. This person often does not change their mind, and so it causes a lot of problems. It is an EXCELLENT piece of advice.

  16. What needs to be #5 on this list is “family history of mental illness”. That is a huge red flag, do not marry into the crazy!

    The bigger problem with this is that while it’s a good filter for behavioral issues… What is not mentioned is things like attractiveness. Too often this goes unsaid in our society.

    The most bargaining power you have with someone is before you commit to them. If they are overweight now, delaying marriage until they get their weight under control is the time to do it. If they lead a sedentary and inactive lifestyle associated with many health problems, getting them to change BEFORE getting married is the time to do it.

    If you’re not really that physically attracted to the person now, it will not get better once you’re married. Typically, you marry someone and over time they just get worse looking.

  17. I’m very happy to find and read this article. I’m not an English native speaker and i’m not living in a english country. So there will be many mistakes in what i’ll write. i am in thé beginning of a relationship with a Baha’ie like me and it is a chance to me to meet this article and this stage… Thank you Kate and may God helps you to continue in this way…

  18. Thanks a lot for this article Kate! I had read this at the time it was published and back then I had just started investigating a potential partner, a friend that for years I had admired for his spiritual qualities, his dedication to the Faith and his selfless service. I remember that your article confirmed me that we were on the right path. I was so happy that none of the red flags applied to our situation and that in fact, I even passed the “Express Test” with very confident answers when thinking of him. During the past 8 or 9 months, our relationship has become closer and stronger and we both think that we are a suitable match for each other from every possible perspective. He has helped me grow in so many possible ways and our time together has been one of the most cherished times of my life. However, what brought me back to your article again today is that he has recently confided to me that in the past( around 4 years go) he had some serious transgression from the Bahai law on chastity. Coming to terms with this piece of information has been very difficult for me and although I appreciate his honesty, I am totally shattered and bewildered as how I should think of our relationship and if I should practice a sin-covering eye or if I should consider it as a red flag and run away as you have suggested here? He repeatedly mentions that he has repented so many times, that he is not the same person and that he is trying to ask for God’s blessings by focusing his life on service. I am really torn apart right now as how to move forward and how the situation should be approached? I have been searching online and have not found any material on how to deal with the past transgressions of a potential future partner in Bahai marriage? Can you( or anyone else reading this) share your own insights into this? Is there any readings that you would suggest to someone in my situation? Thanks a lot 🙂

  19. Dear Saba,
    If this person is the one for you then talk about the dilemma you are experiencing. From what I have read of Baha’u’llah’s, Abdu’l-Baha’s and The Bab’s lives and interactions with humanity and the world forgiveness and understanding are desirable attributes. Therefore, it appears that your friend deserves your understanding; yes, he has made an error, but he is remorseful and he has shown trust in you by sharing something which is obviously painful for him. That one transgression surely will not debar him from obtaining God’s good pleasure and if he continues to be honest in his relationship with you then surely it should not be a barrier to your partnership being a blessing for both yourselves and the world.
    All the best,
    Sharon

  20. I am an atheist and I have gone on a few dates with a wonderfully nice Baha’i woman. I actually did not know of this faith before meeting this lady and I think that it is by far the most freethinking and open faith that I have encountered. On that note I have to ask what you mean by “Problems with drugs or alcohol”. I like to drink and use marijuana which is legal in my state. I really don’t believe that I have a problem with ether, we get along swimmingly as far as I’m concerned. I just found it disconcerting to think that my perfectly legal and morally acceptable (to me) use of these drugs would put up a “red flag” meaning that I should be viewed as undependable. Does the use of drugs and alcohol at all constitute a “problem”? I don’t view belief in a God that I see no evidence for as reason to not date someone so I fail to see why my non adherence to your religious doctrine should place me in that category. I’m a caring, open minded person who just happens to like legal drugs.

  21. Thanks Kate for these wise suggestions. In addition to activities to do together, I would also add that attraction is an important but complex. Baha’is are to develop a “cordial affection” which is very different from the kind of passionate affection we are so used to seeing in our favorite TV shows and films in the West. Many eastern cultures do not place such a high value on passion, with arranged or family-networked marriages still being common. As the vast majority of Western Bahais under 30 are single and unmarried, there is still much to be seen as to how this foundational law develops in practice.

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