Coming Out to Friends and Family, How Did You Do It?

All my life up until now I've been an agnostic. But I recently made the move to atheist and I am happy where I am. It has brought a sense of relief to my life. But now there is a new challenge I am faced with. Telling my loved ones. I know I have nothing to be ashamed of, yet I am scared of being judged and treated with dismissal or negative reactions. I told my mother who stays quiet at times and others says she fears that I won't be in the afterlife with everyone else. I mentioned it to my sister and she said nothing.


Besides other friends and family, I need to tell my boyfriend. He is the person whom I wish to marry and have children with one day. He was raised catholic and holds to those beliefs. I don't mind our future children being raised with those beliefs as long as it doesn't negatively impact their lives. And I don't have reason to suspect this, but I fear he won't accept me.


Does anyone have any advice or experiences to share on this topic?

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Tell your mother that if her god is just, he'll allow you to go to heaven based on how you lived your life. If you did good and you're only rejected based on lack of belief, he's evil and not worth worshiping
Great point I completely agree!

It ties into a quote attributed to Roman emperor and warrior philosopher Marcus Aurelius, though it's not properly sourced:


"Live a good life. If there are gods and they are just, then they will not care how devout you have been, but will welcome you based on the virtues you have lived by. If there are gods, but unjust, then you should not want to worship them. If there are no gods, then you will be gone, but will have lived a noble life that will live on in the memories of your loved ones."



I suppose I should say up front that I am not a big fan of the phrase "coming out", you are who you are and there should be no shame in that.  Before all else and above all things, be comfortable in your own skin.


You will spend the rest of your life "coming out" to friends, co-workers and intimate partners; eventually, it will come up.  "Coming out" should be as natural as (in my case) saying, "why yes, I am tall and white and I do, in fact, have a penis".  Be comfortable in your own skin and confident in your reasoning and you'll be fine.

As  much as I know there is nothing to be ashamed of, there is this fear inside. Probably because of how society takes most things, like homosexuality. If it is something their god doesn't like then its wrong and they can't accept it. But I agree with you, its something I've been my whole life and it just took me until now to realize it. Thanks :)
I just upped and said it. One argument and they never got into another one about religion with me again.

I don’t understand the need to “come out.” It reminds me when those of faith go out of their way to let others know what their belief system is. Coming out seems to stem from a need for acceptance from others as if you’re unable to feel at peace with yourself without this external support. Why not acknowledge the fact that you’re an atheist if confronted about it and live your life without fear or shame. Don’t hide the fact or act differently around friends or loved ones.  It’s nothing to be ashamed about. I hate to say it, but atheism is not that big of a deal. By having these coming out sessions, I think we draw unnecessary negative attention to it as if it were a bad thing and we need some sort of official sit down to work through it. If you treat it as if it’s just a fact of life, I think others will be more inclined to do so as well.

Good luck with whichever direction you choose to go.

Good point, thanks.
"Coming out" doesn't just mean to have some big sit-down session where you explain your life to someone. Just acknowledging something in casual conversation also falls under it.

I agree. I more or less mentioned that. It’s just that the way that “coming out” is generally described is some big formal ordeal (see the op for example).

I completely agree, what is it with all that - coming out ?  When i read this and i would not know what atheism is i would think it is something like alcoholism.

You go to a meeting or meet somebody and introduce yourself as "hello, I am Danielle and I am an atheist (like alcoholist). Sounds rather silly no ?


My family and friends all know I am an atheist, because it is rather obvious in my lifestyle. Nobody ever had any problems with it. And if anybody ever does, well that is their problem, and they will probably will never become any friends of mine.


So, to Patty, stop being afraid, be yourself, and never ever think you have to apologize for being an atheist.

I have had to come out twice now. Being gay and now being atheist.  Thankfully I don't have to come out as MALE, WHITE and libertarian-Democrat!! Since I am tired of coming out all the time.  But seriously. The folks that love you will get a grip and go on.  There are those family members that will be leery of you and maybe even avoid you.  And you can certainly be the topic of converstation when your not around.  So what else is new. They do all of that now.  And as important as we believe ourselves to be to everyone else we wind up being just a blip on the screen for a while.  But just as they are to you ...the most important thing in their lives is themselves.  Just as you are to yourself.  When you do come out you will make new friends if your more pro-active.  You will loose others.  SO WHAT! That is the way life goes anyway.  Time progresses and the evolution of our friends happens.  They come and go for all kinds of reasons.   But no one can respect a person who is not honest about themselves.  If your in "the closet" because of others it is miserable! And to make matters worse they don't respect you for it either!  Once you do finally kick the door down and set yourself free not only will your life improve but the quality of your friends and family will as well.  No one can respect a scared little rabbit.  Scared little rabbits are PREY. 



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