Happy Monday, all. Hope you had a good weekend. I did (I was living my values, particularly my adventure value, by traveling out of town to somewhere totally new). But don’t worry. I still thought about all of you. I thought about the stuff I wrote last week about values and what they are and how to identify and live them.
But something seemed incomplete. I felt like I talked about values without talking enough about why they’re so important, especially to our love lives. A lot of us get that living our values is a good thing — it makes for a happier, more fulfilling life and a more satisfying career. Once you know and live your values, life gets better.
But what about dating and relationships? How do knowing and living our values help us there? We touched upon that last week, but only in passing, as if it’s already obvious. It’s not obvious. To me, the impact of knowing and living our values on our careers and personal lives is much clearer than their impact our love lives. Here’s how knowing your values can not only help your love life, but can make or break it:
1. Shared values get you together.
Dating is nothing more than an exercise in weeding through the wrong people to find the right ones. Every crappy date, every rejection, and every torturous relationship or marriage is a clue leading you closer to finding the person who’s right for you. And yes, there is someone out there who’s right for you; if you don’t believe that, then you have an entirely different problem.
The clearer you are on your values and the more you’re living them, the more likely you are to attract people of the same ilk. This is important because down the road, your relationship and certainly your marriage is going to face its share of obstacles and suffering. It’s shared values that will get you through those tough times without shredding the relationship, which leads me to…
2. Shared values keep you together.
I know a couple who’ve struggled like crazy due to each suffering from psychopathology, but have managed to stay together for decades because they share two values: religious faith and fidelity. Similar beliefs and a desire to stick in out rather than see “what else is out there” is what worked for them.
Two other couples I know, both of whom are childless and very physically active, have had long and happy marriages because they share important values. Whether or not to have children (and if so, how to raise them) reflects deep core values. Likewise, a lifestyle of outdoor sports reflects a variety of values — health, fitness, adventure — that these couples share enough to give them a long life together.
Another couple I know seemed to have similar values because they were both raised in strict religious homes and both shared the same faith. However, with time their marriage fell apart. She valued faith and family; however, he found that he did not. Those were values he’d inherited and never questioned. (A good reason not to marry too young, BTW, before you know your values).
Another marriage I know didn’t make it because they didn’t share their work ethic or commitment to honesty. She was a work-before-play person and believed in honesty no matter what the cost. He was a more fun-loving, play-first-work-when-you-have-to kind of guy, and he would bend the truth if he thought it would get him what he wanted. Some couples with these differences can make it, but this one didn’t because their differences were too core to who they were.
The more “core” the values, the more important it is to find someone who shares them.
3. Knowing and living your values makes you more attractive and interesting.
Sure, living your values means you’re more likely to meet others like you, and that’s good. But a more subtle effect is that living your values makes you more attractive and interesting to others. Identifying and living your values takes work and a certain amount of courage. It means you have to know yourself pretty well and then you have to reveal it to the world. This isn’t hard when you value fitness and have the body to go with it… but when you value honesty among those who say they do but then keep their feelings inside when they know they’ll be met with disapproval is a lot harder than you think.
People who are willing to say, “No, I don’t want kids,” or “Yeah, I would rather travel the world than own a house,” or “I couldn’t give a fuck about having a high status job and would rather earn a lower wage and be stress-free,” or “Hey, I work hard all week and have earned the right to get wasted every Saturday night and watch football all day Sunday,” or “Yeah, I’m a feminist/a liberal/a Trump supporter/a socialist” are brave. When you’re single, it’s easier to try to be what others want, and if you don’t believe me, just get on an online dating site and read all the generic profiles trying to make them sound all good and normal and not offensive in any way.
See, values polarize people. When you have a strong core value, there are people who are going to high-five you and people who are going to tell you you’re a fucking idiot. Somewhere, someone taught us that we should try to appeal to everyone. That shit doesn’t work.
By living your values proudly, you will turn some people off. You will get rejected. But eventually, you will find that person who’s right there with you.
Knowing who you are and living that truth is attractive. Even the people who hate you will secretly admire or envy you because you have the guts to live it. That’s some attractive shit. Get some of that.
So, there you are. A few reasons to do the work and hone those values. You might as well, because whether you recognize them or not, your values are buried in there somewhere.