As a disclaimer, this advice is being generated with straight men in mind. To all the bisexual women and lesbians, you know I love you gals (and most of this advice is probably still applicable), but I'm a straight chick and writing what I know. And even though my many years of listening to Loveline and Dan Savage make me feel like a qualified relationship guru, I'm just some blogger with opinions and a vagina. No suing me if you're single for life.
The first major problem men seem to have is finding atheist women. There's not really anything different that you need to do for an atheist woman versus women in general. If you're a jerk/creep/slob/etc, finding an atheist chick isn't going to magically solve your girl problems - especially because atheist women have their pick of the litter. We're not necessarily outnumbered by atheist men, but I think it's safe to say we're currently harder to find. Many atheist groups, meetings, and conferences currently have a male bias (the reasons why are for another post), so we have more out atheists to choose from. Women are becoming more out and active, and I suspect we'll see an equal gender ratio soon - but you need companionship now, so enough of this speculation.
Where to find atheist women:
- Local atheist organizations: Starting with something painfully obvious, go to your local atheist/skeptic/freethinker meetings. Some have better gender ratios than others, but if you're looking for someone who's active and vocal about her atheism, it's the place to go. Unitarian Universalists also tend to attract a lot of atheist women, so don't count them out.
- Other nerdy or liberal organizations: Looking for clubs is probably easiest for those of us at college or in a big city, so I apologize to all of you atheists living in the middle of nowhere. Don't limit your search to explicitly atheistic organizations - not all atheists need a club for their atheism, and you can find them elsewhere. A lot of (but not all) atheists tend to also be science oriented, geeky, and or liberal - so take an Evolution course, check out the Anime club, or get active in your local ACLU. Obviously, pick things that also interest you (more on this later).
- Artsy, non-traditional hangouts: As an artist I can speak pretty confidently on this one - for every artist that's crazy into woo, there's one who thinks it's bullshit. Artsy people tend to be pretty non-traditional and independent, and that can manifest itself in anything from weird spirituality to rabid rejection of religious dogma. Even the woo ones tend to be fairly tolerant of atheists, since they're at least not following the man. Or something like that. Check out local coffee shops, art galleries, poetry readings, or any other avant-garde events you may find.
- The internet: Online dating may weird some people out, but I know women (atheist women!) who have had it work out great for them. OkCupid is teeming with atheists, to the point where talking about atheism greatly increases your number of replies (and religious talk is a conversation stopper). There are also plenty of atheist women who blog (woo!), comment on blogs, post in atheist forum, tweet, put videos on YouTube, etc. However, don't be a stalker (more on this later).
- Let them find you: If you're comfortable with your atheism and don't feel like it'll get you lynched (people in the Bible Belt may want to ignore this advice), wear it proudly! Put on a skeptical shirt. Wear a scarlet A or Flying Spaghetti Monster pin. Deck out your backpack or man purse with heathen buttons. Decorate your lap top with skeptical stickers. Read the God Delusion or any other godless book in public. I know I'll usually at least say "nice book/sticker/etc" or give a smile to a kindred atheist - that can be your opening to start a conversation. Now, doing all of these things at once may come off as overkill - you don't want to be a walking billboard for atheism (as cool as our billboards are) unless you only want a woman who'd appreciate that. But small things do help. If you're out, it's more likely someone will find you or you'll pique her interest. When I was single, friending a new acquaintance on Facebook and seeing that he lists himself as "atheist" or "Pastafarian" or "Jedi" definitely made me interested. Once I was tempted to drive after a cute guy because he also had a Darwin fish on his car. Being out pays!
How to not scare atheist women away:
- Don't be a poser: Remember when I listed all those cool hobbies and clubs you should frequent because they may have atheist women? Only go to the ones that you're actually interested in. I'm not saying you have to be a master of whatever subject the club focus on - novices are often welcomed in organizations so they can cultivate their interest. But if you have absolutely no interest in Astronomy and you're hanging around just to pick up some godless chicks, stop. Women will find out you're feigning interest just to get in their pants, and it's creepy.
- Remember that women are people, not just mates: While you may be on the prowl for a date, that doesn't mean every woman is too. Atheist women will go to clubs and coffee shops because they enjoy club activities and want a cappuccino. They'll partake in atheist activities on the internet without the goal of a relationship in mind. That's not to say they're completely unwelcoming to flirting - but constant flirting from every atheist with a penis does get old (Obvious Tip: Don't stare at boobs). It's enough to scare women away from atheist meetings because they're seen as a piece of meat rather than a fellow human being. If you follow the previous tip about being sincere about your interests, you should have common topics to talk about instead of coming off as desperate. Or at the very least, try to recognize when your advances are unwanted - I suggest all men go read Schrodinger's Rapist to see how many women perceive unwanted flirtation.
- Have interests other than atheism: I am a very active atheist activist - I'm President of a club, I blog, I'm outspoken - but I have other interests. I have favorite books, TV shows, foods, sports, hobbies, etc. I am a person, and so is every other atheist women. When you meet one of us, the conversation shouldn't only be over how religion is silly and Richard Dawkins is awesome. Not only will you seem a bit one sided and obsessive, but it'll also make it seem like you're not really interested in us as a whole. This is especially true if you're dealing with a non-rabid atheist chick - she may not want to discuss religion at all.
- Don't stereotype atheist women: I know this whole post I've been speaking in generalities, so this seems a bit hypocritical, but it really is important. Don't assume all atheist women are alike just because they're atheists. Some may be science oriented, and some may be bored to tears by your geek talk. Some may joke about eating babies, and some may punch you for such a crass joke. Some may be all about promiscuous sex and kinky orgies, and some may be waiting for marriage. This is yet another reason why communication is key; you just can't judge someone's personality, interests, and political beliefs because of their lack of religion.
- Look presentable: I didn't want to delve into general dating tips, but this is so important that I have to mention it. You don't have to be endowed with fabulously handsome good looks, but simple effort to look decent is noted. Shave, unless you're one of the few men who can pull off the sexy rugged look (if you're not sure, you probably can't). Wear deodorant. For the love of FSM, shower. You'd think by now I wouldn't have to say that, but I've seen far too much greasy, unkempt bed head in my days at Purdue. I personally don't care about clothes as long as they're clean, but not every woman is as fashion apathetic as I am - something other than baggy sweatshirt can give you that extra bonus point over the other atheist guys. I fully understand that everyone has their bad day - I've stumbled off to meetings looking horrible and not giving a damn - but consistent sloven appearance leaves a lasting impression. If these suggestions sound patronizing, then you've probably been doing it right all along and they're not for you. If they seem like novel ideas, I suggest you take my advice.
- Don't judge a book by its cover: A giant studded cross necklace or religious t-shirts don't automatically mean the woman wearing them is religious. I know my friends and I own some religious merchandise for irony's sake - because nothing is funnier than an in-joke of an atheist wearing that tacky "Jesus Saves" lifeguard shirt. Yeah, I know what you're thinking - now women are camouflaged? Why do they have to make it so difficult?! I guess it's just to teach you a lesson that you need to get to know a person before judging them. Sorry, guys.
- Lame atheist pick up lines are still lame: No, you are not the first guy to joke about your noodly appendage. No, doing the "I just wanted to tell you about Jesus - jk, I'm an atheist and Christians are dumb" switch isn't funny either (about 25% of the messages I receive on OkCupid do this; not creative, guys).
- Don't rule out non-atheists: Agnostics, deists, and "spiritual but not religious" types should be dating options as well - don't rule out someone who may have a little woo in their life. And while I believe you should never go into a relationship with the goal of changing someone, people without strong religious beliefs can and often do become atheists. Sometimes it's from being around an atheist so much, but other times it's because they were an atheist all along but never comfortable enough to admit it.