Why shared values are more important than shared interests
While sharing the same love of Latin music and a passion for pasta might enhance your relationship, what really makes a difference is the values that you share. Fran Creffield explains why shared values are more important than shared interests
It’s lovely to have a relationship with someone who enjoys the same hobbies, activities, holidays or food as you. While it’s important that your interests aren’t off-putting to your partner, there are many examples of long and happy relationships where couples actually have interests that are totally diverse. The reason these relationships continue is because they share values.
If you have shared values, regardless of your interests, your relationship has a good chance of success. On the other hand, if you have no shared values but lots of common interests, you might have a great time together for a while but when it comes to making decisions about marriage, children and careers, you could find that you lack the strong foundations that move you forward.
These are the fundamental beliefs that make you unique. Many of them will have been formed in childhood, inherited from your parents. Your core values will affect all the decisions and choices you make in life, including your religion, your political beliefs, your career choices, your lifestyle and how you spend your time.
Each of us is constantly making decisions based on what feels ‘right’ to us. It’s an inner feeling. When you go along with something that doesn’t fit with your core values, you will feel uncomfortable and unhappy.
Core values can change over time as we grow and learn more about what’s important to us as individuals but it’s unlikely that anyone will be happy in a relationship with someone whose core values conflict with their own.
You may decide a relationship is worth changing for because you have so many shared interests. If you adapt to fit in with another person’s religion, for example, unless you find a way to make it suit your own values then it’s unlikely that you will feel authentic within the relationship – you will feel compromised.
What are your values?
Many people aren’t very clear about what their values are. They don’t know that they feel strongly about something until it’s threatened. It’s important to spend some time getting to know yourself and what’s important to you if you are going to find a compatible match.
Also examine what values you’re looking for in a match, are they values you actually have yourself or are they things you aspire to?
There are values that change over time according to what life stage you’re at. What’s important to a teenager is usually very different from what’s important to a parent of young children. These secondary values are usually underpinned by core beliefs, so a teenager who is passionate about animal rights will probably still think being a vegetarian is important in later life.
Having a lot in common
We tend to judge people on how they spend their time. We do this because interests are often reflective of someone’s core values, but they can be misleading. One person may be involved in charity work because they believe passionately about the cause while another could be involved because they’re hoping to meet new people and have no real interest in the cause.
The test of values usually comes later in the relationship when big, life-changing decisions have to be made. Discovering you have completely different values about the upbringing of children often doesn’t come up until a couple actually have a child and then all sorts of problems can arise. Get to know someone’s values in the dating phase of a relationship.
Couples who (happily) grow old together are the ones who connect at that deep level. When the kids have left home and the glittering careers have ended, they’re still in tune with each other at a deeply compatible level, joined by their values. This is the level that eHarmony uses to select matches and it’s the one that will stand the test of time.
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