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How Core Values in a Relationship Can Affect its Progress

by eharmony Editorial Team - November 22, 2023

Our core values can be tough to define but essentially underpin how we view and interact with the world. They can include things like integrity, respect and compassion.

Core values shape your beliefs, which parts of life you prioritize and your decision-making. Similarly, core values in a relationship play out in distinct ways, particularly when it comes to the notion of compatibility. Let’s explore this concept.

What are core values in a relationship?

Core values affect how you approach key situations from intimacy to conflict. How core values and compatibility in a relationship combine defines how you and your partner interact.

You and your partner view the world differently, and this can affect your communication style, decision-making and impact your long-term viability as a couple. While core values in a relationship don’t have to be identical, they should be complementary.

Important values in relationships and they relate to you

Let’s take a look at a basic core value and how it may play out in a relationship. For instance, you believe in absolute equality between partners. So dating someone with different views, be they gendered or cultural will always sow discord.

This is just one example of how your core values in a relationship can affect how you make decisions together. 

Defining your core values in a relationship

Knowing and taking stock of your core values is step-one. It’s only through self-awareness that you can hope to understand how you’re engaging with your partner. To better understand your core values in a relationship and in personal interactions, examine how you react to things like:

  • Conflict
  • Disappointment
  • Life changes
  • Interactions with friends and family
  • Priority management

By looking more closely at these various moving parts, you can better define what core values shape your life and what they mean for your relationships.

Shared vs differing core values

Having different core values doesn’t have to spell doom for a relationship. It can often be solved through compromise and, sometimes, your differing values may help balance out your relationship.

For instance, one of you may be more detail-oriented, while the other focuses on the bigger picture. It’s important to know when your partner is more capable in certain matters. And it’s as important not to let ego get in the way of healthy and important values in relationships.

Here are some tips to deal with these kinds of disagreements:

  • Appreciate your partner’s values and how they enrich your relationship.
  • Prioritize your values. What’s worth arguing over and what are you willing to just let go of?
  • Know that a clash of values is inevitable so try to be patient in those moments

Finding common ground

You and your partner can’t see eye to eye on everything when it comes to core values in a relationship. But here’s how you can find common ground and get a better insight into each other’s perspectives.

  • Honesty – None of this is going to work if you hide your real feelings. Keeping things back only erodes any common ground
  • Be vulnerable – We all like to put up a front early in a relationship but it is when we drop these defense mechanisms that we discover intimacy
  • No judgment – Sharing values is an act of trust and honesty so respect that by approaching what they say impartially and without judgment

You should view this as a fun bonding exercise, not a relationship trial.

We have nothing in common – What to do when you realize?

We have nothing in common. Is this your outlook on your relationship? We look at the effect this has on couples and signs we have nothing in common.

How core values and relationship compatibility interact

How do you establish common ground in personal values and work through those that clash? Simply, you talk. Figuring out our relationship boundaries doesn’t to be difficult or unenjoyable. The more you get to know your partner, the more you’ll find places where you sync up and areas where you’re willing to.

Make time to sit down and go over some of your goals and expectations. Some things may just be old reservations you can overcome and others, such as an incompatible desire for children, may be dealbreakers. The longer you wait to explore your core values and relationship compatibility, the greater the emotional fallout will eventually be. 

How to find core values in a relationship

Finding common ground and unearthing those key core values in your relationship isn’t that hard, particularly when you’ve already built a foundation of trust and intimacy. Try to keep emotions out of the way, because what you’re really looking for is something that endures.

At eharmony, we like to take some shortcuts when it comes to values and compatibility. Using over 20 years of experience and our Compatibility Matching System we match you up with relationship-minded singles who already see the world and relationships like you. Try out eharmony today and see for yourself.

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