As a 25-year-old single, navigating love within a religious or close-knit community can be an uphill battle. From facing condemnation from your religious community or family for expressing alternate beliefs to choosing between following your heart or staying true to your faith, it can be overwhelming trying to make sense of it all.
This article explores how you can manage the turmoil of navigating love and religion when your beliefs don't align.
The Struggle of Feeling Alone in Your Beliefs
It can be extremely distressing and triggering to feel as though you don't fit in with the standards and expectations of your community regarding love and relationships. This is especially true in religious communities where it is believed that any form of sexual expression should only occur between two people in a long-term committed relationship – or that exploring masturbation is unacceptable if not in a partnership.
While there are many positive aspects to belonging to a family or religious community with strong values, sometimes the expectations around how you should express love can feel overwhelming or trigger distress.
Experiencing this inner conflict often leads to shame, guilt, fear, and self-doubt, especially if you don't agree with the standard views – such as those that favor committed, long-term romantic relationships. It can feel like a personal shortcoming when your representation of or curiosities about love do not fit the mold.
First and foremost, remember that you have the right to question any belief or teaching that doesn't feel right for you. Everyone deserves respect and understanding regardless of their feelings about love, and it is possible to find an accepting environment where varying expressions of love or sexuality are embraced.
Looking Inward: Examining Your Beliefs
Examining your beliefs can help identify which are truly yours, despite external pressures. It's especially important for those with religious or cultural backgrounds that challenge their desire to explore themselves and learn about their sexuality.
It's not easy to go against the grain, but by compassionately observing yourself and what you truly want, you can make decisions that honor your feelings and beliefs and uphold your culture or faith.
Reflecting on your feelings and experiences is key to confidently starting this process. Start by recognizing that while certain beliefs may feel deeply rooted, they don't have to be set in stone — there's room for growth and exploration. From there, consider whether your current beliefs or those placed on you align with the values that are truly important to you.
With self-awareness, compassion, and courage, it is possible to successfully navigate the complexities of defining (or, rather, redefining) our values and beliefs.
Finding Compromise Between Your Beliefs & Religious Teachings
It can be incredibly difficult to traverse between your beliefs and those of your religious community, particularly if they seem to always be in opposition. It is crucial to remember that it is 100% okay to find a compromise between personal belief and religious teaching.
If you wish to express yourself sexually in ways not received well in your community, try not to become discouraged. Let's explore some tips if you struggle to reconcile your beliefs and achieve your desires.
Become More Informed About Different Perspectives on Love
Learning about different perspectives on love, sex, and religion can be a great way to gain knowledge and understanding. One way to do this is to talk to people with diverse backgrounds and experiences to gain new perspectives.
Researching and reading about different religious interpretations, as well as views on relationships and sexual expression from across the globe, can also help you form your own opinions and make decisions more confidently.
As you learn more about the various perspectives regarding love and sex, recognizing your own beliefs in context can allow you to find peace within yourself and respect for others.
By researching, reading, or conversing with others, you can gain a greater understanding of where others' beliefs come from so that you might find values to help guide your decision-making.
Exercise Self-Love & Acceptance Regardless of Judgment
It can be hard to exercise self-love and acceptance when your views differ from the pervading norms of your community, especially one deeply rooted in faith. It can feel like you are swimming against a tide of disapproval and judgment, which can have a damaging effect on your well-being.
Sooner or later, it is important to take a stand for yourself and learn to love yourself no matter what others may think or do.
So, when faced with criticism from your community, focus on staying grounded within yourself. This doesn't mean sacrificing your beliefs but being respectful about expressing them without letting others' views define who you are.
Learning to trust yourself, stay true to your values, and honor your feelings is an important part of building resilience when faced with challenges, especially those from loved ones who may hold different views.
Set Boundaries With Your Family/Community
Setting boundaries is an important part of any relationship, especially family relationships and those we have with our religious community.
When you have - or are exploring - different perspectives and beliefs about love, it can be difficult to create space for yourself in certain environments where everyone else seems to be on the same page.
However, setting boundaries allows you to respect others while allowing room for growth within your beliefs. This can be done by engaging in respectful dialogue with others that communicate your need for mutual respect, even if there are disagreements on some topics.
How Self-Exploration Therapy Can Help
When you are single in your 20s and faced with beliefs that differ from your community, it can be overwhelming and leave you feeling isolated.
Finding the right coping strategies for managing this distress and differences with family or religious community takes trial and error. Still, it's a journey of understanding and coming to terms with yourself worth taking.
Additionally, taking the time to talk with someone you trust or who has been there can be incredibly helpful in managing your feelings and finding your way forward.
Self-exploration therapy can provide a supportive and encouraging environment to help you define your personal beliefs and values.
Through careful exploration, we will help unearth your belief system and nurture it until it is strong enough to be your guide. In this process, we can also look at how you can increase understanding within relationships affected by varying opinions.
I have seen many young singles overcome the hurdles associated with conflicting beliefs, often with better and stronger relationships as an unexpected outcome. So allow yourself to become empowered through this therapeutic journey and claim the confidence to make decisions you believe are right for yourself.