One of the things that people are most confused about and that I get asked a lot of questions about, is the issue of ‘common interests’ and letting superficial things inadvertently get mixed in with your ‘core’ values. Over the past few days I’ve been talking about value and values in relationships, and in this post, I put a clear division between the nice to have stuff that doesn’t actually cause your relationship to endure unless you have the ‘core’ values covered off.

Values are about what you need in order to live your life authentically so that you can be happy and feel good. These are about your firmly held beliefs about what makes you a person of value and also what you see as valuable in others.

Your values are based on your experiences in life and will impact on everything from who you are attracted to, your political leanings, your tastes, things you do in your spare time or that you have interests in, your religious and social interactions, where you want to live, what you’re passionate about, and more.

Values work in tandem with your boundaries which are your personal guideline of what you are prepared to accept in your relationships and from people, and are tied to your values, so if you have one, you have the other, and where you have little or no boundaries, your values, will exist, but are likely to be focused on more superficial, insubstantial values that don’t make a positive impact on your life.

Values (and boundaries) allow you to know what is good and bad, and right and wrong about life, both in terms of morals and how you feel about everything around you.

If you don’t have them, how will you know if you’re acting in your own best interests?

How will you know if something feels right?

How will you know if something feels wrong?

How will you know when you need to step back and take action that may involve opting out?

How can you stay you, if you don’t have your core values, the fundamental, absolutely necessary things that help to determine your sense of self and help you feel good and enjoy the good in life?

How can you respect yourself if you’re quick to abandon your values to adopt someone else’s?


If you haven’t figured it out already, the lack of values and not connecting them with your actions and choices means that you engage inrelationship insanity – repeatedly doing the same things, going out with same person different package, and expecting different results. Note that I say that values are about what you need as opposed to what you’d like to have. This is because we often inadvertently value things that are superficial, surplus to requirements and add little value to the relationship because they’re not enough to help the relationship grow and prosper.

You have two types of values much like businesses have two types of costs (fixed and variable).

Your core values are the ones that stay in place for very long periods of time and tend to endure even when other aspects of your life change. I like to think of these as the values that you cannot do without and will make you absolutely uncomfortable and acting out of step with yourself if you don’t respect them. They’re very important and tied to your belief system, so if you improve your self-esteem, your values may shift to accommodate your new beliefs, and likewise, if your self-esteem takes knock, your belief system can change as a result. What we believe is reflected in how we act and who we choose in our partners which is all the more reason to address what you believe to prevent you from doing stuff that sabotages your own happiness.

Everything else are what I consider ‘variable’ values and they change as you go through life. These values grow with you and reflect where you are at that point in time.They’re hobbies, interests, some personality traits and qualities, and for the most part, superficial stuff that are nice to have, but not absolutely crucial like your core values, even if it will feel like it at times. You’ll realise that a value fits in this category if you place a high value on it yet it doesn’t actually help the relationship to prosper – basically it makes little or no difference because other more important core values are not being met in the relationship.

To make it easier, let’s think of your core values as your primary values and everything else as your secondary values.

There is no point in having the secondary values if the primary values are not in place.

This is because the secondary values only take on meaning and add to your relationship in the context of the primary values being met.

As I’ve said many times before, everything in relationships is contextual which is why it’s important to see the wood for the trees, the big picture, and basically ensure that those things that we’re focusing on and praising to high heaven are actually in context – if I had a pound for every woman who has told me about how the he helps the old lady down the street, everybody likes him, he’s respected by his peers, he’s a cop, he’s kind to animals and kids, he’s been married before, he goes to church etc, I’d be rich. These things mean nothing if they don’t do anything for you.

A great way of testing whether something is a primary or secondary value is to take something that you value and believe exists in your relationship and put it with something that is missing.

So for example:

If you believe in monogamy and commitment, and they don’t, it doesn’t matter that they’re successful, attractive, like a lot of the same things you do, make you laugh, and are respected by their peers.

Also compare yours and their values, so for example:

If you value intimacy and companionship, and they value their solitude, doing things their way, and no matter what they profess, they consistently do things that exclude you and make you feel anything but intimate or a companion, you are incompatible. The closer you get, the more they will move away. Even if they like a little intimacy, they only want it when they want it, which may be little. If you cannot manage on this, it’s not going to work. If he doesn’t want to get closer, it won’t work.

And compare the values you say that you have with with the things that you look for in a relationship, so for example:

If you say that you value love, care, trust, and respect, but you chase guys for passion, attraction, chemistry, sex, and excitement, you’ll likely end up with a fun loving, great lay, that looks great and makes your heart skip, but treats you like a casual partner and has no desire to be in a committed relationship.

You should also ask yourself, what secondary values will be clouded out if your primary values are not met? If they’re not being clouded out and becoming less important, you should be worried because you’re ignoring things that are fundamentally important to you being happy in your relationships and with yourself. Either that…or it’s time to have an honest conversation with yourself and question whether your primary values are actually what you say they are – I come across many people who don’t realise that they have made their secondary values their primary ones.

If you do this, you will end up with insubstantial relationships with conflicts of interest. This is why many women, for instance, get bewildered because they feel like someone is so ‘right’ for them because they think they’re compatible, that these guys are their ‘type’ and that they share common interests, yet the relationship is going so wrong. You may have a lot in common, but you don’t share the common ground on your primary values, the things that actually matter most to you.

Think about what you value and ask yourself why you value it. Also look at the values that you expect a partner to have – do you embody them? If not, why not?

Interesting values to ask yourself about are: Why do you value money? Why do you value appearance? Why do you value success? Why do you value passion?

Then ask yourself, what do you believe these things will do for the relationship or for you? Also ask yourself what the flipside is to some of the things that you value – classic examples of this is that the flipside to valuing appearance is that you are likely to be involved with superficial partners who don’t value more substantial things about you. The flipside of valuing success is that if someone prioritises success, they may be totally focused on work and uninterested in a relationship or having a family.

Dig deep and get honest with yourself – it will open your eyes, and you never know, you may actually be with someone who you could potentially forge a relationship with, you’ve just been missing the good things about the because you’ve been too busy worrying about inconsequential stuff. Or…you may discover your incompatibility, but at least you can use the knowledge to focus your energies in the right direction – on you and moving on.

Your thoughts? Look out for a workbook I’ve put together on values that will be out over the weekend. Tuesday 5th May – sorry, been ill today (May 4th) with a humongous toothache.

My ebook The No Contact Rule is now available to buy and provides a dedicated guide to getting over someone by cutting contact and injecting some boundaries into your life so that you can move on to a happier you. For a no holds barred guide to emotionally unavailable men, including separated guys that flip flap in indecision, and the women that love them, you can also get Mr Unavailable & The Fallback Girl. For personal advice or analysis of your relationship/situation, check out my consultation service.

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66 Responses to Understanding your core values in relationships (no they’re not your common interests)

  1. katty0001 says:

    Thanks for braking this down NML! Its clear as Crystal water.

    On a side note. I think you are 100% right about valuing things such as appearance and then get a flipside. However, how do we reconcile the secondary values or better yet, replace primary values and make them seconday values? I don’t think I am making much of a sense but let me explain:

    As an example: I am not a person who looks for the hottest man in town, in fact, overly attractive/hot men are a turn off for me, specially because they tend to have very shallow life experiences,Therefore, I am not that interested.

    In a nutshell, I would like him to be attractive to me personally. I have to admit I have an specific taste in men and tell me if there is something wrong with me and if I should I go to therapy for this :). But when it comes to men I prefer cute over hot, stocky over slender, dark skin over white skin. These are just my preferences, but guess what? I get exactly the opposite of this!. I have thought about this a lot in the past and I think: “Katty please don’t put so much emphasis on this physical preference of yours as it really means nothing! what really matters is in the inside”.

    And all well and good UNTIL I get a match that again, is not consistent with my preference. SOmetimes I wonder, lets say I get to marry this person who is the opposite of my preference one day, and later on in life I find a man who matches these preferences so perfectly.
    WOuld this become an obstacle in my marriage because I put so much emphasis on my preference? Does this mean that I have switched… or better said… I have an innate primary value for this particular physical preference or have I just placed it because of past life experiences?.

    I know this sounds so shallow and I feel horrified by this but in all honestly this has become almost like a challenge in my thoughts everytime I meet a man. Am I as shallow as those I claim to criticize? Does this mean I need to re-evaluate my primary values? And most importantly is it wrong for me to have these feeling about it? I need all inputs I can get. Thanks!!

    • Wendy says:

      I’d say that being physically/sexually attracted to your partner is a high preference or a core value! it is for me also. i have found that i can stray from “type” and click on many levels but if the passion isn’t there…BLAH.
      i don’t think there’s anything wrong with wanting passion and if physical preferences are a part of that, what the hell. I wouldn’t cast someone aside I guess for not meeting the exact preferences but i’d be keenly aware if as we’re dating, i feel sexually and physically attracted to and passionate for them.

    • Gayle says:

      I don’t believe that looks are a primary value, plus they fade. I think your primary values should be trust, respect, integrity and character. This is what makes a healthy relationship.

      • NML says:

        Katty0001, Gayle is absolutely right that looks fade. If you met someone who was everything value wise, and there was attraction etc, but he didn’t look as you envisioned, are you saying that you would let it go? If you met a man that did look as you imagined and he behaved like an assclown, does this mean you’d stay? I get what you’re saying but if your primary concern is appearance, you will end up with insubstantial relationships. I know women who are in the same position as you. Half alone, the other half, they stopped looking for their vision of a man and focused on values and whether they felt good with them, attracted to etc. The latter half have all met people and are getting on with their lives. One is a very close friend of mine. Swore up and down she’d never be with a white guy – she’s been married with two kids with a very white guy for a few years now. Tired but very happy. I suggest you ask yourself why the criteria are important and then you’ll have a clearer idea of your values. If it’s a cultural thing for instance, you may value your heritage and want to continue it. That’s OK, but remember that you potentially shrink your pool.
        @Wendy I’m curious to know what you mean by ‘passion’ and whether this is working for you.

  2. Inna says:

    Thank you Natalie for this post. I have just started realize the difference between common values and common interest. I have never been in a relationship which included both. However, I must admit than thouse with only common values were much better, long, fulfilling, inspiring, happy, etc… than those with only common interests. Very, very interesting perspective…

    • NML says:

      It’s great to make those realisations as you can now make a connection between the lack of values and what is happening in your relationships and choose differently next time.

  3. Valley Forge Lady says:

    This article on the significance of core values in relationships is really timely for me! I have been dating someone for several months and things are confusing. The interaction I have been having with this man seems to be missing some key emotional elements and I have been having some problems addressing them. Tonight he invited me over to his house for a “massage” (by text message which I hate)when he was responding to my saying that I was stressed out by the demands of work. I am also stressed out by the ambiguity of our relationship. Going to his house was very tempting, but afterwards I would have felt like it was a good old fashioned Booty Call.

    After reading this article,,,,,It was easy for me to say that while I was appreciative of his thoughtful invitation…..because I had not seen him in sometime…coming over to his house tonight was not in context with my values. That is a refined way saying…..No Booty calls buddy…. I want a true relationship.

    Thank you for this insight…..it is empowering to take a stand for what I really want!

    • Dawn says:

      @ Valley Forge Lady,
      Good for you for realising what you really want from a relationship and not settling for anything but. Good for you for standing up for yourself and your values and not reducing your value to just a “booty call”. Yay!

    • NML says:

      So pleased you put him ‘back in his box’ and that you realised you’re worth more than a lazy text message and booty call. Good for you!

  4. mE says:

    more fantastic advice. i have dated men who don’t even look good on paper, haha but i won’t talk about them. the men i had things in common with, the one i had the absolute most things in common with, taught me this very lesson. the core things were missing. it was like we were a wonderful looking jigsaw and there were a few pieces missing that without them, the puzzle could never be completed no matter what i tried to stuff in the empty spaces. i did not realize how important my values were until i was with someone who embodied everything i told myself for years i wanted, and he didn’t share ANY of those things with me. it was always doomed, and i’d be less bitter about it now and baffled if i had recognized this AND acted. i saw it and i did not act. i just tried to mold and delude. i was soooo drained. and i would say things like ‘everything is great, if only he’d bla bla bla and then bla bla bla, he’d be perfect!’ everything was so not great!

    • Anusha says:

      Im still a bit confused about that.I believe that me and my ex have the same values like being faithful and apreciate more serious relationships than casual ones.The incompatibility is on our vision of how a relationship should be like.But I dont think that can be considerated a value,or can it? That is what has caused most of our problems even and I dont know how to make him get it.I even tried to compare it with other couples so he would see how our relationship was so diferent from what it should be but even so it didnt work.

      • NML says:

        @Anusha I really don’t think you and your guy share common values and even if you do, you don’t want the same relationship so it’s pointless. That ‘vision’ of things represents what you value and if you really did share similar values and both wanted to be in the same relationship, the visions would marry up. That said, you are imposing your vision of things which is largely illusionary driven but also controlling. The fact that you need to impose your vision suggests that you’re not accepting the reality. There’s no point in comparing to other couples – you’re not them.

    • NML says:

      Excellent comment mE “it was like we were a wonderful looking jigsaw and there were a few pieces missing that without them, the puzzle could never be completed no matter what i tried to stuff in the empty spaces. i did not realize how important my values were until i was with someone who embodied everything i told myself for years i wanted, and he didn’t share ANY of those things with me. ” It just goes to show how we don’t realise we’re looking at and for the wrong things. You then start justifying why you’re there and turning crumbs into loaves.

  5. Kat says:

    This is interesting and something that I had…and lost and am getting back again. Though when I lost it..I certainly attracted undesirables. The last one..though turned out to be a disappointment was a very large man and it was apparent his size made him insecure. I would have never thought in a million years that I would be attracted to a man that is 320 lbs. At first when we became friends, I felt it was a safe bet (because my mission was to remain single) and I wouldn’t get sucked in. It was nice to have a male friend to have fun with and know it wouldn’t go any further. WRONG…he grew on me. He has a heart condition as well and his meds..well didn’t agree with his desire and erection. It was frustrating for him, but I was ok with it. I suppose that wreaked havoc in his mind as well. Thoug his subtle touch arroused me more than crazy full blown lust.

    Anyway…inspite of the initial connection we had…when it grew into a relationship..the dynamics changed. It seemed like there was too much pressure, we both wanted it to work. Our core values were there when we “talked” about things. What our relationship goals were, etc. But we weren’t as real with each other, maybe in fear of hurting and losing each other? who knows. I was more real the second time and he ran for the hills.

    I can say though, I didn’t budge on how I felt and didn’t chase him or try to convince him to feel otherwise. I stayed with my core values, which I am learning all over again.

    I have to admit, with the last two relationships, I got sucked in..because I didn’t know myself enough and was allowing myself to be guided by…hmmm..shall we say..the devil himself. At least with the relationship previous to this last one.

    Sex wasn’t a big thing in our relationship..he really did feel like a brother, but I was attracted to him as well. I loved to be held by him..give him massages..recieve them. etc..however more than I would EVER do with my brother. I suppose…I am seeking that ‘family’ unconditional relationship..that I am blessed with.

    In hindsight..my last bf had a great talk, but he did not walk the talk and that is when the true core values colided. I don’t believe he has any as of yet.

    This has given me more strength…thanks!

    • Imdone says:

      Kat I can relate to what you are saying….especially this:
      “I have to admit, with the last two relationships, I got sucked in..because I didn’t know myself enough and was allowing myself to be guided by…hmmm..shall we say..the devil himself. At least with the relationship previous to this last one.”

      This is where I found myself recently…..having to learn the things I thought I knew again. Apparently, I did not know myself either because like you I got sucked in as well. I too allowed myself to be guided….wow it amazes me.

      • NML says:

        Kat & I’m Done – It’s important to be conscious in your relationships and not just coast along and be swept into things – one day you wake up and wonder where the hell you are. Your core values need to be there in your actions as you both discovered. The great thing is that you can open yourself up to new opportunities.

  6. Anusha says:

    My coment above isnt a answer to mE post,I posted it on the wrong place.I have requested deletion and tried to post again on the right place but it didnt work.Anyway just wanted to explain what hapened.

  7. Virginia says:

    I’ve asked myself why I haven’t gotten involved with TWO of these EUMs within one year! You’ve hit the nail on the head Natalie! I can’t thank you enough for your articles. I asked and I received. I thank God for your wisdom! I’ve used the No Contact Rule, it works! I’ve made my list of values and read them every day. I’m sticking to my list and not wavering!
    Thank you!

  8. Nikki says:

    I agree with everything that is said in this article… however in my experience what ends up creating the initial interest is usually the secondary stuff (common interest, hobbies, etc) and it takes a while to find out whether two people are compatible on the main values. Not many people go around claiming they don’t value monogamy for instance, it takes time to see if the actions match the words. I will plea guilty to playing down lack of common views on a primary value because secondary stuff felt so “right” but in the end (after much agonizing) the core values do guide decisions that end up being the right ones. What I am stuggling with currently to find a way to identify these primary values more quickly in a potential mate because I seem to take a long time before finding this out (months)… Pointers anyone?

    • NML says:

      You’re right Nikki and one of the things I mention in the values ebook is that the stuff we initially pin our hat on about them is what we *think* we value. The thing is, while some stuff you will discuss, a lot of values is actually shown by actions not through talk. It’s all about paying attention to red flags, how the relationship starts, whether it’s in fits and starts etc, is it casual etc. It’s one thing if you genuinely have no red flags to speak of and then things change suddenly but there are signs of values from the outset. They don’t wear a sign – it’s the alertness about red flags and boundaries. Most people actually show who they are early on in the relationship – you just need to be watching and listening. And while some people are very good fakers, the majority of people are not, and you quickly get a sense of whether they are casual or looking for something serious, because they show signs of the secondary values and not just the primary ones and will seek their values out in you too.

  9. Moving on in 2010 says:

    Natalie-

    God, I wish this post was around when I was dealing with the douchebag. What a wake up call this is. It really resonates with me. From now on, whenever I feel myself getting weak and feeling bad about my relationship with him, I will ALWAYS refer to this post.

  10. Wendy says:

    what if you value love, care, trust, honesty, and respect, but you also HIGHLY value passion?
    What is the “flipside” to passion??

    sue me, i want it all ;)

    • NML says:

      The flipside to valuing passion is your idea of passion may be someone else’s idea of a nightmare on drama street. It’s subjective and it’s not realistic to expect passion to be in your relationship 24:7, otherwise it goes from being prime steak feeling to boring old mince. I have passion in my relationship but it’s not what I looked for and it’s not a primary value because when it was, I was involved with dubious people who gave insubstantial relationships and a lot of pain. If passion rates very high for you and you are not aware of why it does, or what you derive your passion from, you’ll likely end up in appearance driven, substance lacking, sexually charged relationships that won’t last.

  11. Wendy says:

    @ Nikki…what are the core values , that it takes you a long time to identify?

  12. ph2072 says:

    Wow. Great food for thought. Gonna re-read this later today. :-)

  13. RoseTigger says:

    I agree with Nikki. I got to know a man (admittedly via the internet, an experience not to be repeated!) who professed similar values to me. It took me some time to to realise that he was not the person he portrayed himself to be despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary. Even when I ended the relationship he was still claiming he loved me and that I was the one whilst letting me down and have sexual relationships with other women. I have learnt that actions speak louder than words. If he loves you, you will know it. If you feel confused then he doesnt.

  14. MaryC says:

    Just the title of this post made me instantly think wow I’ve been believing that for a long time. Thanks NML for another great post.

  15. Brad K. says:

    NML,

    These things mean nothing if they don’t do anything for you.

    This I think is the tricky part. It is tempting to think that an increase in excitement, or feelings of togetherness, may be the same as “do anything for you.” These I would consider “fun” parts, even though they are the glue that holds things together in tough times.

    Essentials might be things that increase a sense of value to yourself and your partner and your community and extended family. Respect and honesty, honor and integrity, I think, count here. Essential core values should increase a sense of security, of believing you are on a path of bringing together a shared life. These would be simple to “flip”, to consider what they mean if turned around. If he easily deceives and manipulates anyone (disrespect, dishonest, deceitful), then his moral standard is pretty iffy or plain dodgy – you could never feel secure he won’t turn on you when convenient.

    Without core values, you have a choice between trusting him because he tells you to – or because his actions and life make it plain that he is trustworthy. You might have to face a divide, when he complains “You don’t respect me,” when he hasn’t actually earned respect for his words, and actions.

    Flip “exciting” around – and you wonder where he will go to find excitement, if you ever have a bad day or issues in life. If you are attracted to him (or him to you) because you are “hot” – what will happen when the next hottie appears?

    Thanks for pointing out the differences between core and secondary values!
    .-= Brad K.´s last blog ..To Jamie, about divorce and child custody. =-.

    • ALonerAgain says:

      Brad,

      You raise some good examples here, of which I have been guilty of doing:

      How could I ask respect from my ex or criticise him for being disrespectful when I did not value this in myself and behave in a respectful manner to him?

      How could I complain about his emotional dishonesty if I was not honest with myself?

      How could I value constructive communication when we BOTH weren’t communicating our needs and expectations, with one another in a calm, empathetic manner?

      And that is why we’re better off without each other…

      • juli says:

        “These I would consider “fun” parts, even though they are the glue that holds things together in tough times.”

        I’m not sure who originally wrote this, but I STRONGLY DISAGREE. You are wrong. I will tell you why. Right now, I’m sitting at a children’s hospital with my son, who is being checked in. My EU is with our 2yr old daughter at a different hospital, who had a terrible accident last sunday, so she is in the burn unit. We are going through a “tough” time, that just keeps getting tougher. Do you think I give a sh*t right now that he is HOT and amazing in bed?? Or that he is FUN and SPONTANEOUS? no. that crap means nothing in a crisis. That is not GLUE binding us during a hard time. The glue would be PRODUCTIVE COMMUNICATION, EMPATHY, COMMON SENSE, and being able to be SELFLESS.

        And yes. I am having a VERY hard time, as my emotions are those of a normal emotional woman, who has 2 children in 2 different hospitals with major issues. He is handling it in a superhuman way, as his emotions are not overly involved. After all, he is a narcissist. The way I view it, if I am feeling sympathy toward my daughter at 100%, he is feeling it at 10%. He mentally knows he should be feeling it 100, and tries to act like he does, but I know him better than that. He is calm cool and collected, not hindered by my near hysteria and tears under the surface. He is doing the best he is capable, but my point is, the glue that binds is not sex or good looks. That is ridiculous. Or maybe your idea of “tough times” is different than mine.

  16. Dawn says:

    Thanks NML for your generous help. Your insights and ability to convey them is priceless.

  17. ALonerAgain says:

    Thanks sooo much NML for putting into black-and-white (for lack of a better term) the problem that I’ve been having.

    @ Katty – “I have to admit, with the last two relationships, I got sucked in..because I didn’t know myself enough and was allowing myself to be guided….Sex wasn’t a big thing in our relationship..he really did feel like a brother, but I was attracted to him as well. I loved to be held by him.. etc..however more than I would EVER do with my brother. I suppose…I am seeking that ‘family’ unconditional relationship..that I am blessed with…”

    OMG this is exactly like me! I didn’t expect my last r’ship to last as long as it did: I wasn’t that attracted (physically) to him, but as I got to know him (and from a little persuading from my friends), I actually found that he fit my initial list of “Great boyfriend qualities” (ie. looked good on paper) and I soon found ourselves slotting into the “We have so much in common” type. I felt so comfortable around him, I let him see (what I thought) was the “real, warts-and-all” me. And because he didn’t runaway, I believed that he would love me “unconditionally”

    It was all very well coasting along (as he put it) and I *thought* I was happy, but only because I wasn’t really taking the time to look at MYSELF, and MY core values, which would’ve opened my eyes to seeing the bigger picture. During this time, my bad r’ship habits started rearing its ugly head again. In truth, I haven’t really resolved my insecurities: I was using the r’ship to avoid having to face them.

    “…my last bf had a great talk, but he did not walk the talk and that is when the true core values colided.”
    Yep, even though my ex-EUM had lots of great qualities, ultimately we are a mis-match. :o(

    • ALonerAgain says:

      (and I didn’t mean to put a smiley face on the end there!)

      • Holly says:

        Wow, Aloner Again, you have just described my last relationship to a T.

        This whole article has struck so many chords with me. The main thing that has stood out in many recent articles and comments is that I’ve spent far too much time feeling uncomfortable and confused in relationships, talking a LOT about it with the EUM, seeing NOTHING change and feeling even more frustrated. The problem is, it often hasn’t got to that stage until I’m quite emotionally invested.

        I guess I will be extra vigilant about the red flags from now on and, as tough as it is, be ready to walk away if those familar feelings return.

  18. JJ2 says:

    If you have limited experience with relationships, you may not *know* exactly what your core values are.

    You need to have a few (or a LOT of) relationship experiences to figure out what YOUR values are.

    My recent EUM, we were both “loners” but apparently he REALLY WAS a “loner.” I figured we could be two “loners” together, but he really was WAY more “loner” than I am.

    • Imdone says:

      @JJ2 I laughed when I read this: My recent EUM, we were both “loners” but apparently he REALLY WAS a “loner.” I figured we could be two “loners” together, but he really was WAY more “loner” than I am.

      This sucked me in about the EUM I found myself briefly involved with. Reserved, quiet, keeps to himself kinda like me. I thought we could understand each other…I made that a value. Yet it could not be…since att the end of the day the loner wanted to alone.

      • JJ2 says:

        Imdone, “at the end of the day, the loner wanted to be alone.” Yeppers! I got treated like a “Roommate.” Heck, I did a candlelight dinner one night, he said he loved it, but what happened, he ate his dinner and retreated back to his computer. HUH?

  19. Dazed and Confused says:

    I have had a lot of trust issues lately and recently joined a dating site on which someone asked me one of those generic questions about “do I trust people or am I naive.” I didn’t want to come across as untrusting with baggage but I realized I am trusting, but have put my trust in the wrong people. For example, I started dating someone who cheated on their girlfriend with me. I know, what was I thinking? Why would this person be a good choice. I comes back to common values. I am someone of strong character, who is not afraid to address those tough issues in a relationship. People who are cowardly often just lie because it’s easier on them. I think I can trust people who have shared values, not simply of “honesty is a good thing” but of open communication, wanting to treat someone how they would like to be treated, etc. The fact that you both like movies and hikes, does not mean much if this person thinks that lying is acceptable.

  20. JJ says:

    Res Judicata

    You made some great key points. You mentioned that he abandoned his wife and three kids. That in essence speaks for itself. No need to go further. My ex narcissts EUM was divorced but constantly on the RUN from his ex wife and two children. I would ask him everyday… Have you spoke to your girls? He made it seem like she was the BITCH and that she was keeping his kids away from him but I knew better… That’s the picture that he painted to me from day one. How can a man not communicate and take care of his kids? If he couldn’t handle his mere responsibilities as a father how could he be a real man capable of giving and receiving love in a committed relationship? I still feel bad for his children cause they are the one’s that suffer through his neglect. I had to cut ties with him. There is no way that I could allow him to PUSH THE REPEAT BUTTON and bring this same SAGA into my life.

  21. Res Judicata says:

    This post made a lot of sense to me. I had always thought that if two people shared common interests, that this was enough. When my last EUM was faltering, and I was trying to figure out what was going on, I asked, “We have so much in common — how could he be absenting/abandoning me”? Now, when I look back over the 14 intervening months, I note that he abandoned his wife and three kids, so my abandonment paled in comparison to that heinous exercise.

    I now understand the importance of shared values, such as commitment, honesty, respect, mutual care for one another, sharing both the good and bad with one another, follow-up, meaning what you say, saying what you mean, having your actions match your words, and clear and complete communication. This sums me up — and he did not share one of these values with me.

    It makes so much sense now…
    .-= Res Judicata´s last blog ..Understanding your ‘core values’ in relationships (no they’re not your ‘common interests’) =-.

  22. Res Judicata says:

    JJ, where I was misled in the beginning was him “throwing” all kinds of money at the girls, “missing them”, seeing him here or up there when he could, and fretting about them with this new man his ex-wife began to date after they split. I reasonably saw his fear that a “new man” would eclipse the “old dad”, and understood why he was having such a bad time with this. Plus, in these current times, I can understand being concerned about three young daughters with a new, unknown commodity of a middle-aged man 800 miles away. Where things went awry was when he zoned out on me, I wrote him a lengthy, heartfelt e-mail trying to figure out what was happening to him, and to us. After a month, he got back in touch and we saw/texted/e-mailed each other in fits and starts throughout the spring and summer of 2009. When I saw him three times in four weeks in late July/August, I thought that we were back on track. Despite e-mails and texts back and forth since that time until Thanksgiving, I never saw him again. Based on information gained two weeks ago, it now appears that he returned to his home state, a little closer but still not close enough to the three girls and found a new G/F. I torture myself with thoughts of “why did I ever allow contact again after he zoned out”, “why did I ever see him again”, “why did I think (or hope) that this would work”, etc. To add crisis to crisis, my XBF of some long standing, now gone for 5 years, moved back to my state last Saturday and stopped by the other night to see how I was doing! I suspect that he wants to get together, but I am dead inside from the most recent XBF turmoil. I am so exhausted by these two that I am committing to spending the summer with my two pups while swimming the months away! Seriously, what is wrong with them?
    .-= Res Judicata´s last blog ..Understanding your ‘core values’ in relationships (no they’re not your ‘common interests’) =-.

  23. JJ says:

    @ Res Judicata

    I know right? I don’t know what’s wrong with these men these days. Hell Hally Berry is just now single again so good looks won’t even keep them now days at least not for long.. That connection just has to be there.. and I mean on all levels.. spritually; emotionally; all of the above. You state that your XBF came by to visit. The devil knows you’re VUNERABLE right now so just keep your eyes open. When I had just met this past ASSCLOWN narcissist (of which I am 30 days FREE of THANK God) I had just come out of another relationship that ended pretty badly. So the devil knew that I was vunerable during that time that he asked me out and we started dating. I think we women have to be careful of the things that suddenly pop back into our lives cause at the end of the day it could be the same story just a different chapter.. Same player… same games… and then we are left wondering DAM not again!! One of my ex’s tried to pop back into my life just a few months ago but I didn’t let him back in… He hurt me pretty badly and he was the one that turnt a deaf ear to me so I’m like this NEGRO.. (EXCUSE ME!!) has some nerves to just do me like he did me and then a few years later you call to see how I’m doing? I’m doing just dam fine.. LIVING LIFE!! To this day I still have not returned his call and that was couple of months ago so I’m sure he got the message. See his HIGH off of his other SHAGS had come down so he had to see what was up with me.. He needed an EGO stroke and most of them when they are out of your life and they pop back up as if nothing has ever happened just know that’s the case. Its been my first 30 days of NC from my narcissist EX… and its about to be 30 more days.. lol

  24. Res Judicata says:

    Best of luck to you, JJ. It sounds like you too have had some hard times. Don’t let your narcissist/s get the best of you, as there is never anything in it for you. I feel nothing for the XBF — it has been 61 months since we last spoke, and since I last saw him. I have lived an entire life (or is that “lives”) since he and I were last together. I don’t feel vulnerable — I wholly lack energy at present to deal with these not-too-fun games. What energy I have I must preserve for me, my work, and my dogs. I will just try to coast for a while, and see what happens. This is difficult for me, as a “Type A/OCD” person, but it is my best present alternative. As for the other one…it is hard for me to stop playing the audio- and videotapes in my head of our relationship, or to make any sense of it. I suspect that at a point, I will let it go, but it won’t be soon.
    .-= Res Judicata´s last blog ..Understanding your ‘core values’ in relationships (no they’re not your ‘common interests’) =-.

  25. Melissa says:

    Great post! I’ve been chewing on this exact issue a LOT since my last relationship ended a few months ago. My ex-boyfriend and I shared a ton of interests. Values? Not so much. Although there were clues all along, I didn’t quite get it until the end, when it became suddenly and abundantly clear that he valued ease and personal comfort over commitment and loyalty. Wow! This was a good (if painful) lesson that meshing values really have to be top priority, and that I have to consciously hold out this priority as I assess each new man I meet!
    .-= Melissa´s last blog ..7 Reasons to Date More Than One Guy at a Time =-.

  26. So many men AND woman say they want one thing, but they truly are looking for something else.
    So the real question to ask ourselves is, “Why are we afraid to admit to ourselves what our true core values are?”
    Society has placed an untold amount of pressure on both men and women to feel a certain way and want certain things, but we’re all individuals.
    So we all have to be honest with ourselves or we won’t ever be truly happy.

  27. Valley Forge Lady says:

    I think a careful evaluation of core values will keep me from justifying a realtionship that is very charged with sexual chemistry. Two years ago I was jettisoned from what was essentially a three year booty call! He wanted frequent sex and I wanted a connection to a man who looked good on paper. It was a disastor because of the difference in our values.

    Today I passed him at sporting event for our children. I am so relieved to be away from him. His dumping me and moving on to a new victim is very liberating.
    However, I need to be very mindful of my pattern to put up with incredible crap if the sex is decent.. In fact in some cases the sex was less than satisfactory but I have always had a very strong romantic streak that made me justify any man with whom I was sexual.

    Now I am going to have much stronger boudaries for sexual involvement and look for really great compatibility out the bed room first.

    I can just hear me telling some hot guy…..”You and I are going to be sizzling in bed….I just need to know that we are compatible outside the bedroom.” Then really getting into a dialogue about values and long term goals. Hope this works …… I enjoy thinking about this strategy and how much power it gives me.

  28. Myrtle says:

    Natalie,

    Breaking it down into primary and secondary core values is really the key.

    He was all the secondary core values. Unfortunately, he wasn’t the primary ones.

    Primary
    1. Is ready for love
    2. Believes in God
    3. Wants verbal intimacy

    Secondary
    1. Likes the same music, hobbies
    2. Our famiilies like each other.
    3. He makes me laugh.

    Breaking it down like this, it’s so ludicrously obvious I have to laugh. Wow, I’ve come a long way.

    Myrtle
    Recovering assclown addict since 12/29/09.
    P.S. I think I’m almost fully recovered and fully ready to respect myself in future relationships.
    : )

  29. Maria says:

    “How can you respect yourself if you’re quick to abandon your values to adopt someone else’s?”

    I think the opposite of this can happen, too. Sometimes we (women) stay with a guy we know is wrong for us, but hoping *he* will change his values for us! The “I will fix him” syndrome, or the even more delusional “He will change for me, because I am soooo special. I will achieve what other women in his life didn’t”.

    • Olivia says:

      Maria I completely agree..too many women including myself have adopted that attitude. Unfortunately the little narcissist in all of us may believe that we are special enough to make him see the error of his ways, We will evantually bring out the goodness in him with our penetrating warm glow! .. Yeah right. Never happens. You cannot change someone else, they can only do that for themselves. 9 times out of 10 he doesn’t see anything wrong with his behaviour and he doesn’t want to change so it ain’t gona happen! The problem is that it can take many painful years to come to this realisation. For those who desperately want some payback for their emotional investment it is heartbreaking to realise that this will never happen. And they have really been wasting their time. Tough.

  30. JJ says:

    To Olivia

    You are so right. If you think you can change a Nar and an EUM you may as well forget about it. The only way that you yourself can help them is by removing them from your life period and that means all the way. No half stepping because the vicious cycles of repeated breakups won’t help them realize anything. These type of men cannot be helped by a woman. Core values and all that crap are out the window too with these type of men.

    • Olivia says:

      To JJ…100 percent agree. The breaking up, getting back together cycle only tells them one thing – they can behave how they want and you’ll still take them back with open arms. As these men behave like naughty children the only real way to respond it to teach them a language they understand – consequence for their actions. If you say, don’t do that or I’ll leave then you MUST leave. Otherwise don’t be surprised when 2 months down the line he’s doing it again and with more gusto.
      JJ it’s apt that you trivilise core values/needs in regards to Nars and EUM’s as thats exactly what everyone in relationships with them must do! No point in overanalysing or trying to make them compromise with you, they don’t care about your feelings and never will. It’s me me me. If you’re comfortable living in another’s shadow then by all means stay but if you want to be a part of a relationship not just a passenger of someone else’s fantasy and ego then get out!!!!

      • Used says:

        Olivia–

        #1: I am confused:
        When people do the “breaking up, getting back together” (a/k/a “on-again, off-again”) stuff, isn’t this always done with the threat of leaving, and then the actual leaving takes place? I don’t understand how you differentiate “on-again-off-again” from “break-up-with-consequences”.

        #2: To NML:
        When someone does something that really pisses you off, then you say “no” to it, then they try to meet you 1/2 way (but, of course, after the big piss-off-move), and you say “no” to that, and emphasize that you are NOT mad at them, just that you won’t put up with things you don’t want to put up with, to be followed by the person NEVER speaking to you again, how woud you analyze this when the person was a (female) friend?

        • NML says:

          This is a tricky one. The person attempted to compromise and you didn’t want to, so it may have communicated that you don’t really want to be her friend any longer. They may have felt that they had nowhere to go from that point as it sounds like an uncomfortable situation. You may have said you weren’t mad at her, but the lack of attempt to compromise may have suggested otherwise, plus it sounds like an unforgiving situation where there was a lack of giving the benefit of the doubt. If she was your friend, and she screwed up, and you told her so, when she offered to compromise, even though it followed you getting annoyed, it was an opportunity to move on and give the benefit of the doubt. She may have thought you were cutting off your nose to spite your face, or being mean.

          • Used says:

            NML–
            Thank you. I can see what you are saying…but:

            O.K.: let’s add to the above facts the facts that my friend wanted to go to lunch at a place VERY close to where my ex-EUM (whose wife is close friends with my friend) works. I can’t tell her, “No, I won’t go there, b/c he works close by” b/c, first, i am married, and I don’t want to acknowledge his existence, much less make him important in any way, second, it would look like I am accusing her of being conniving/sly/bitchy (and she is the same person who took me to his hangout on a night when we were supposed to have gone out, way back, when I dated the EUM/AC). Just like she wanted to see me squirm back then, she may have wanted to see me squirm now; you see? Maybe even tell the wife, “Look at that! She is stalking your husband!” Maybe decrease my status/esteem as to him.

            The way she tried to meet me 1/2 way was to propose a location that was better for me. But the location she initially proposed was bad for her and me (it was far from where we both usually work downtown).

            Change your opinion?

        • Olivia says:

          Dear Used,

          I agree that there is little difference between an on/off relationship and a break up with consequences as long as you do finally implement those consequences! I was really gathering from my own experience with a Narcissisist in which I never did follow through and leave when I should have. This just acted like a turbo boost for his cruelty and he would continue unafraid of consequence as time after time I had not implemented any!

          • Used says:

            Olivia–
            So the breaking up cycles you went through were basically like “time-outs”? In other words, you fought, telling him where he went/did wrong, then didn’t see each other for a while (probably b/c HE decided that, as a means of “punishment”). So he never got the sense that you’d be gone for good, that you’d leave, b/c yu never told him that after a fight. Right?

            I guess that, when you say, “Fix x, y, z and shape up–or I’m gone!” and you actually do go, they take you more seriously. BUT when this happens in a serial manner, the above will still apply, b/c they won’t take you seriously anyways! (It’s like, “Hey, haven’t you learned? I WON’T CHANGE! Take me as I am.)

            With my friend, I never told her how I felt b/c it was too hard, as her “way” was to be passive aggressive and/or pull stuff where I couldn’t say anything! So she was shocked with what I did.

          • Olivia says:

            Dear Used – exactly that! Even if you do follow through with a break up (which is usually twisted so it’s his idea anyway – right on that aswell!) and you forgive him evantually it is sending a msge of doormat – do what you want to me I’ll forgive you! I have struggled with this cycle of behaviour for years and he has got worse and worse, continually pushing boundaries.
            I know all about passive aggression, am sorry you have experienced that too! However a normal empathetic person does not need to be repeatedly told that their behaviour is unacceptable! They can manage it themselves. The fact that your friend was surprised when you told them where to go I guess means that they were quite damaged in their mind to think they had done nothing wrong??

  31. JJ says:

    @ Olivia… it is definitely all about them.. When I was dating my Nar it was all about him.. He was never concerned with my feelings.(only in the beginning he appeared to BE). He was always trying to get this and get that but didn’t have a pocket to piss in nor a window to throw it out off. And he was trying to get his USE out of ME By telling me he needed this paid and that paid… I could not have sex withhim unless I paid a bill or something. It did not start out like that believe me. He saw me as a way to his supply. Its been 30 days or so now since our breakup and NC and I’m well on my way to 30 more days. Last week my phone was flooding with calls from numbers that I could only identify during our previous short breakup cycles. He must not be too sure of himself that I am done with him so he has others to even call and ask for the wrong person. DUMB ASS!! I have never felt better. When I have my dry spells I keep in memory that going back to him would be like a NIGHTMARE on ELM STREET so that’s why I continue to post and acknowledge everyone’s else comments to help me get through. I can only pray for his next victim. It may be all find and dandy in the beginning of whoever he’s with but give it few months… JEKYLE AND HYDE starts creeping in and her needs are out the window… Then he’ll have her thinking that she’s not good enough; and there comes the blowing hot and cold and attitude changes. As soon as he knows that a serious committment is expected of him he is going to make a RUN for it. These type of men are incapable of giving and receiving LOVE. With them its just not happening. Now I know what to look out for….

    • Used says:

      Olivia–
      My friend likely is an EUW/narcissist. This is why she gets along with the ex-EUM and no one else from her past.

      What she does wrong you can not put a finger on (you never know whether she solely, if at all, is to blame), you can not directly accuse her of, OR is passive-aggressive. (See above.) Another friend criticized her to another mutual friend (maybe my ex-EUM’s wife!); she found out; and has not spoken to the woman since. She was wrong for what she did; the frind was wrong for not confronting her directly. But her behavior was such that the friend could not tell her why she was wrong without sounding like she was putting herself down.

      I can’t imagine that she DOESN’T know when she is being a jerk. Gimme a break! But, when someone calls her on something, and does it directly, like I did, why am I
      “wrong” in her eyes? ESPECIALLY given all of the above! She is willing to make me look like a STALKER to an ex when I was dating the ex-EUM and even now, when I am MARRIED.

  32. Olivia says:

    To JJ..
    I am so happy for you that you have found the strength to try and move on from your EUM. You’ve done what not everyone can do. I hope that the next 30 days are easier than the last and then the next 30 even easier and so on until you are fully back on track to being emotionally whole again. Good luck.
    Interesting that you commented on the unusual phone numbers he used to call you after you had broken up, that is classic EUM behaviour isn’ t it. Multiple phonelines – one for this one, one for that. Urgh, it’s quite sickening atchually. Unlike you I am only at the beginning stages of making the cut from my Nar, and like you I am finding these forums very theraputic in helping me gather the strength I need in order to start ignoring him for good. My EUM also calls me from different phones and expects unreasonable sexual activity. At first he was loving and passionate (as yours was) but now all he wants to do is fornicate in varying degrading and sadistic manners. I am slowly being turned into some sort of object and am losing my identity fast. He intimidated my work colleague to such an extent that I had to quit my job and I have recently found out he has another family and kids. Yet he does not accept responsibility for any of it. Unbelievable. I am 22 and should be enjoying my life to the full but instead often find myself housebound and miserable waiting for him to call, If i do venture out with friends to enjoy myself he finds away of flying into a narcissistic rage or becomes overly verbally abusive and critical. At other times he is charming and superficially loving saying all the right things. He is the charming monster, the wolf in sheeps clothing. And I am the lamb trapped in the lions den. It is a true Nightmare on Elm Street. Except Freddy Kruger look like Brad Pitt. So awful. I hope I will be in the place where you are soon. Thankyou for your insightful posts.

  33. JJ says:

    NML

    I have a question which will probably fall under the NCR… I am 30 days plus NC today and have no intentions of letting my EUM narcissist back in to my life. That means all avenues. Should the NCR rule apply to facebook and twitter as well? like should you leave these pages blocked so that they have no access into it. I feel like i need to keep them both private because lately I have been getting loads of friend requests on twitter that in actuality could be him trying to gain access to see what I’m up to. Should I be keeping these pages private and does doing so apply to to NCR?

  34. Res Judicata says:

    The more I read this post, the more I see the narcissistic qualities manifested by my most recent XBF. Too little…too late.
    EXAMPLE:

    When a guy tells you:
    “I’m done making (ex-wife) happy.
    I’m done making (ex-girlfriend) happy.
    Now I am going to make me happy.”

    And you ask him, as he is kissing you passionately,
    “Does this make you happy?”

    To which he responds,
    “Yes”.

    Run for the hills! It’s all about him. If he meets someone else that fits his needs for that moment (new housing arrangement in new state, for example), you will be history.

    Geez, it’s great to be a Monday morning quarterback!
    .-= Res Judicata´s last blog ..Understanding your ‘core values’ in relationships (no they’re not your ‘common interests’) =-.

  35. Kathy says:

    This is such a thought-provoking topic. It occurred to me today that if my guy does stuff that I am not doing/have never done/can’t imagine myself doing in a similar situation, then that would indicate our values are in conflict. Duh!

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Stop believing that you did something to make them unavailable or that their inadequacies are down to your inadequacies - it is not about you; they are unavailable!
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