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Dogmatism and its influence on relationships.

This article is based on a true story. While I will not use any names, the story itself has really happened to me. I want to share this with my readers, so that you might be a bit wiser when you are done reading this.

Many years ago I met someone just by chance through a common friend we’ve had. It turned out that we got along very well and we became best friends in a short period of time. I knew from the beginning on, that my friend was a very religious person. Not obsessed as she would become later, but definitely more than average. This didn’t bother me and it also was never an issue in our friendship. Since we were best friends, we shared our secrets and dreams, just like other best friends do. Than however, religion started to overtake my friends thinking. It progressed very subtle and at first I didn’t see the changes happening. Than my friend would start to withdraw for weeks or month at a time, and simply not responding to any communication. Not to emails, text messages or phone calls. She had become indifferent. Those "dive" periods would become more frequent. As it turned out, my friend had gotten a job in one of those religious organizations. She started to become more and more involved and turned into a workaholic as well. Since she is a very intelligent person in some aspects of her life, she very quickly became director of the organization. By now, she would only contact me when it was convenient for her, not when I needed a friend.
During the few conversation we did have, I could tell, that she was brainwashing herself deeper and deeper into a dogmatic state.  Since I didn’t want to loose my best friend and in an attempt to save her from herself, I started to voice my opinion. We started to have rather controversial conversations and her grip on reality slipped further and further. Dogmatism took over. It turned into a fanatical behavior, even believing that god is talking to her. Everyone, including me, or especially me (since I was in opposition to her behavior) outside the religious environment was looked at as an underling. Only the religious people seemed to have the right way of live. If you can call that a live.  The complete indifference towards me grew and grew.

All this happened over the span of 10 years. While I was trying to hold on the friendship and rescue my friend, it was by now only a one-sided friendship. The bad thing was, and let this be a warning to everyone, I didn’t see it happening in front of me. At the end we had a big blowout and it was all over. She walked away from a 10 year friendship, like it was nothing. Indifferent, no feelings, nothing. I was left in the dirt and hurting, because I lost, what I than still believed, to be my best friend. It took me a long time to gain enough distance to see the true picture of what really had happened. I realized that my friend had a very dark and egocentric character right from the beginning, but it was wonderfully covered up by pretended religious behavior. I am using the word pretended, because, in Hine sight, the behavioral pattern that she displayed was absolutely not in line with religious practices. Those disappearing acts should have been a warning sign for me, but I didn’t see it, since friendship means a lot to me and I made up excuses for her.

I’m writing this article to show how dogmatism can destroy any relationship. It is also a very convenient way for people with deep seeded psychological and character problems, to cover their short comings and not having to face their own daemons. It is of course not entirely a persons fault when they retreat into religious world view. However, dogmatism is perfectly made for people with underlying problems. It offers relive from your own self, but once you get to close, you get sucked into it like into a black hole. Nothing can escape it, not even light. That’s actually ironic, because Light is the thing you need most to find your way out of any dark place. Dogmatism robs peoples of any sense of reality or reasoning. Any reasonable argument is vehemently opposed. Indifference towards other, who thinks differently, is also a very convenient tool to avoid facing reality. Don’t care, don’t feel! The other thing that dawned on me later is, that those religious dogmatist, cherry pick the religious elements as the become convenient to their dark character traits. It’s truly a convenient marriage. When people are immersed in dogma, they will refuse to even consider the smallest evidence, or even a hint of evidence, that could unravel their belief system. As we have seen, people actually “flee’ into dogma so that they don’t have to face their true inner self. They life in denial. Dogma gives them a cover to hide under and not having to face the truth. That’s why they are easily offended by any reasonable remark. Deep inside themselves, dogmatists have adopted a strategy that allows them to life with their dark characters while actually making themselves feel good. They are brainwashed so far, that they believe that anything that religious Dogma teaches. Based in reality or not.

Breaking a friendship, being indifferent and egocentric has certainly nothing to do with religious behavior. Quite the contrary.

So, my friend. Be aware of any religious organizations out there. Especially the ones who are kind of their own community and trying to teach people about faith. Once someone is sucked into it, it’s almost impossible to get them back out. Be also aware of people who tend to try to justify everything with religion. Dark character traits like indifference toward other human being as well as symptoms of frequent withdrawal are signs that something is wrong. If a person like this is around you, be very careful when you invest your feelings or emotions into any type of relationship with this person. Of course I am no saying that any relationship with a religious person is going to fail. I’m just saying that you should be aware of certain symptoms and dogmatists, so that you are not getting hurt as I did.

There will be more articles that deal with the reasons why and how people get into religion, but for now I just hope that my story is a bit of a heads up to you.

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  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Hi Werner:
    That was a very powerful article, however; My husband and I are Christians. For Christians it is not about "religion", it is about a "relationship" with Christ. You are absolutely right when you say that people use religion as basically a cover up. They use religion to show that they are better than most, who do not have religion. For a Christian, we know we are sinners and know we are no better than the next person. We strive to have a "relationship", not religion with God. We know we fall short from the perfection that God demands. We have the law in the Bible, not to live by, but to remind us that we are sinners in need of a Savior. I'm sorry for what happened with you and your friend. It almost seems like a cult that she had gotten into.Of course I don't know that to be true and I'm not passing judgment on her.

  3. Hi Werner,

    Powerful article and observation. It hit home, I hear exactly where you are coming from and throughout all you wrote I also felt your pain over a "best" friend you thought you had.
    I've been in the self development field for over ten years now and have gained so much clarity about myself and others.

    I was brought up religious, and like many do I questioned my religion and some hypocrisy I felt around it. I eventually fully rejected it and turned to what people refer to as "being spiritual" "awakened" and this consisted of people who no longer were believing in traditional religion, and in fact fully rejecting religion as being judgmental. etc. and looking for a more....'accepting" loving way of life that they believed traditional religion did not give them.

    I started to see that even in the "spiritual" community there were unsaid rules of what it meant to be Spiritual, as well and that slowly if you chose to you could use spirituality as a way to judge etc.

    I've come full circle in the work that I do. i do not have to fully reject religion although I am not practicing any religion, ( and I do not feel that you are rejecting it, you are pointing out what often IS, which yes I do see that)

    What I have started to use in my group meetings is the fact that I am not here to change anyone to take away their beliefs, religion, spirituality, BUT I do believe that within any religion there are people questioning an aspect of it.....and I believe this for people all over the world.

    There will be the fanatics who will believe I will go to hell if I dont believe in....... but these people I will never reach anyway, they are not going to be inspired by me, so yes I totally see your point.