Even more difficult can be the emotions and problems that accompany one's relationships and interactions with other people. Distrust and dislike of atheists is so pervasive and deep that it can be very difficult to maintain the same relationships with people -- either certain topics are forever removed from the list of possible conversations, or honesty in these conversations lead to hard feelings and broken friendships
A forum member writes about his own experiences and feelings:
One thing I don't like about being an atheist is that it sets me apart from people I associate with in my everyday life. I've never been comfortable with that. In the worst cases, I get outright rejected for my lack of belief in God, and in the best cases, I sense people's discomfort with my lack of belief.
I deal with this by avoiding discussions on the issue, but lurking in the back of my mind is a vague sense that my life a lie. I wouldn't lie to people, but I commit a sin of omission. Well,... at least for as long as I can get away with it.
A few years ago, I had a very close relationship with a husband and wife who were my neighbors. The husband used to do a lot of "Amen Brother" exclamations, which I let pass, until one time when he tried to get me agree that supernatural forces were at work. I told him, I was an atheist and didn't believe in supernatural forces. Both he and his wife took open issue with this, and became angry. They withdrew from me from that point on, and I was saddened.
I want to get along with people, and I want to be liked (sorry, I have to admit that being liked is something that feels good to me).
It seems to me that I can be a liberal and still be respected by my conservative friends, but their tolerance doesn't extend as well to my views on spirituality.
I do have a close friend who is deeply spiritual and who knows about my atheism, but the issue prevents us from getting closer, because we cannot discuss this issue. I suppose I could force it, but it seems clear to me that he is not interested.
One thing that makes me uncomfortable is that spiritual people will go on and on about their belief in god, but I can only remember one person ever bothering to even ask me why I didn't believe, and when I tried to explain it, the discussion was dropped after two sentences.
So I end up listening to people prattle on and on about their God as if it's a one way street. I get to listen to them, but they don't want to listen to me. I don't get to express my views, but they feel it's OK to prattle on about theirs.
Have you had similar experiences? Have you developed any means for avoiding some of these problems? Share your stories here in comments or write about them in the forum where you can also read about others' experiences.