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We should all be ready and willing to settle, because nobody is going to be perfect. But we're also entitled to a few deal-breakers. On the subject of good, available men, single women in their thirties don't need to be reminded that the pickings are slim. Many of us have accepted that if we want to have with a partner -- while our clocks are ticking like the bells of Westminster Abbey -- we may have to compromise instead of waiting around for the elusive Mr.

But just how much settling is too much? I really thought by now I'd be married to my childhood fantasy Mr. Tall Dark Handsomeand my only stress would be dealing with the woes of getting my nearly-perfect children into the right schools. But like many women, I always knew I had some things I needed to do on my own before I even considered crossing the altar with someone travel the world, kiss a girl, learn a romance languagebut I never thought I'd be at the point where I'd have to actively look for love the way I have been over the last few years.

I mean, I'm in a relationship with my boyfriend and God. Well, his Christian God a God I don't believe in. It started out as one of those close friendships that blossomed into something deeper over a three-year period don't they say those are the best kinds? Or, as he likes to say, "I am my faith. You can't love me and not love my faith. I grew up in a household where religion was non-existent. Dad is a staunch atheist, mom a wayward Hindu she eats Big Macs and never prays.

There was a short period when I was around eight or nine when I was convinced I would "be doomed to hell" if I did anything bad, like, for example, putting Jell-O in my brother's bed even if he did deserve it.

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I don't even know when I first came across the notion of a god or hell, probably from evangelicals on daytime television. I eventually outgrew that fear since I felt that putting solidified fructose in my brother's blanket was too good to pass up, and it didn't have any immediate repercussions. When I was in high school -- a moderate episcopalian school which I ended up in by chance -- I skipped the weekly chapel most Wednesdays without paying penance. I spent those mornings happily hanging out at the local doughnut shop instead of listening to an hour of sermons before algebra. My past boyfriends have been atheists or, like me, vaguely spiritual, but without subscribing to any organized religion.

I like to believe there's something out there, some mysterious universal power, but it's not anything I try to define or pretend to understand. In fact, I embrace the enigma of it all and, as my best friend -- a self-described Buddhist -- likes to say, "all we know is that we just don't know. For some, though, that's not enough.

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My Christian boyfriend jokingly calls me an imp -- and I call him a fruitcake. I know that's not very nice, but it's my way of venting my frustration. He thinks marriage is the union between a man and a woman and God and I think it's an archaic institution that conveniently provides a legal framework should the unfortunate circumstances of divorce occur and there's children and teakwood furniture to fight over. It's also a great excuse to throw a fancy party with all the people you love. He thinks pre-marital sex is unholy, and I don't think I can marry someone without having a trial run.

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He has conversations with God every day, all day long so he saysand I scroll through my Twitter feed and re-tweet tweets from "Shit Girls Say" and Mindy Kaling. When I first told my friends I was dating an actual Christian, they were all uppity about it: "Well, you have to respect someone's religious views. At first, it was a refreshing -- almost romantic! But slowly, a feeling of insecurity started creeping over me:. I know this all sounds rather hopeless, but the thing is, I love him.

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We can talk for hours about anything. He is funny and kind. He speaks better French than I do and lets me win at Scrabble. He is a great kisser, a great conversationalist -- he even writes me poems. He watched Twilight with me sans complaint and gets what I see in Edward. He is communicative and sensitive ladies, isn't this what we want? He would be a loving, patient father and says he will work hard for the rest of his life so that I can live like a princess.

Some days, when we ignore the elephant in the room, I think, wow, this is it. But then, somehow, his Christianity will snake back into our relationship, resulting in heated, teary discussions about how we'd raise children. He wants to take them to church every Sunday to "help them understand the love of God. Sometimes it just feels like we're on different plains of existence. Here's a sliver of the type of conversation we've had more than once:.

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You know it makes me uncomfortable. You would be such a powerful Christian woman I wish you would read Dawkins!

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All of us. I can't help it. I do feel, in general, we are -- and are entitled to be -- harsher on our partner's views than with someone who isn't going to raise children with us, i. My boyfriend says I have a visceral reaction to anything Christian, but it's because deep down, I know he wants to proselytize me.

He's even admitted he hopes I'll "come around. Look, I'm not denying that there was probably a really nice guy named Jesus who said a lot of things that sounded prophetic. He was in our history books along with a bunch of other people.

Myth #2: christian guys are boring (and unattractive).

But I just don't know how somebody from more than 2, years ago can have such a huge impact on my love life, which has already been riddled with mishaps. Yet we all know rule 1: You can't change a person. You have to love a person for who they are and not who you want them to be. To be honest, five years ago, I would have said: "This guy is too religious for me.

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I've waited this long for love, I can wait a little longer. And as Dr. Phil says, we should all be willing to settle for our 80 percent man, because, let's face it, nobody's going to be perfect.

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He does say, however, that we are entitled to some deal-breakers -- we just have to know what they are. For me, provided the guy is nice, employed, and not an addict of some sort, the deal-breakers have always been mainly physical: I don't like shorties, thin lips, or hairy ears. But I never thought about religion as being a deal-breaker.

A voice inside me says a similar worldview is important, but it's not like my guy doesn't also wish for a humane world. And he's not a weirdo -- he engages in normal male activities like beer-drinking and obsessing about football scores. He doesn't file his nails or anything.

Myth #1: the bible makes all christian guys jerks.

But he wants to go to church, with me, on Sundays, just like he used to with his father a pastor and his siblings when he was. I tell him to go on his own, because I'd rather practice my crow pose at yoga class that's spiritualbut he gets upset. One day, he went to church by himself and said he screamed at God for all the pain and complexity in our relationship, and asked him why it was so difficult, why he had to fall for someone who did not share his beliefs.

Look I'm not saying that proves anything, but what I do realize is that it is a lonely, frustrating experience -- for both of us. I don't understand how he could be the way he is what do he and God talk about all day long anyway? I think it's a deeply personal thing; he believes it's a shared, communal experience that should be discussed regularly at church and at the dinner table. Maybe Alain de Botton is right: Instead of ignoring religion, perhaps I should steal from it. I do enjoy watching religious ceremonies and ancient tribal rituals on the Discovery Channel, though I'm not sure how I would go about incorporating any of them into my workweek.

And I did love watching Kate and William get hitched in Westminster Abbey last year, though I really only remember the dress and the kiss, not the talking bits. But nonetheless, here I am, wondering, should I just be a little less picky and let this one slide?

Or is religion going to be a deal-breaker for me? The older I get, the fewer deal-breakers I want to have, because it's not like it gets any easier.

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But if I decide not to be a part of this holy threesome, I could risk ending up on my own. That doesn't sound like a very good deal to make. In fact, that sounds rather like a deal with the Devil. Popular Latest.