How To Let Your Personal Values Lead When Looking For Love

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Love

How do you know when someone is date-worthy in your quest for love?

Is it a look? The chemistry? The common interests?

And where do your personal values fit in without spoiling all the fun of “following your instincts” and being open to romance?

Are your values and romance on the same page? Do they need to be?

RELATED: Couples Who Share This One Core Value Have The Happiest, Healthiest Relationships

If finding true love is important to you, then yes, personal values need to be honored with the romance.

Sure, there are all kinds of unique dating arrangements out there. There are casual hook-ups, friends with benefits, and rebound romances that carry on with a closing date in the shadows.

But marriage-minded people know these options aren’t really for them.

They’re distractions, time-fillers, sexual outlets, and ways of not stepping up to the responsibilities of being in an authentic relationship. At best, they’re ways of not being alone without really being “with” someone who seeks similar life goals.

How many times have you witnessed someone behaving immaturely, irresponsibly, or unkindly? And how many times has that little voice in your head whispered, “Obviously his parents didn’t raise him (her) right?”

While you’re shaking your head in disbelief, your core value system is busy at work.

It’s comparing what it has witnessed to its own established guidelines. It’s making judgment calls about what kind of people to befriend and what kind of people to avoid.

It’s also making judgment calls about itself and you.

“Do I need to change something about my belief system? Have I been too irresponsible/insensitive/self-righteous/undisciplined/dishonest in these situations in my own life? What values do I need to notice? What values do I need to step into at this time or let go?”

The reason core values are so important is that, as fundamental beliefs, they influence your decisions in all aspects of your life.

Personal values are the basic construct for dealing with your life’s big questions and potential areas of conflict.

And in that regard, they end up painting the picture that defines how others see you — and how you see them.

So, when it comes to looking for love — your life’s biggest commitment — what could possibly be a more important criterion than values besides your life goals?

Whether or not you realize it, you’re always drawn to others who reflect or deflect your personal values.

You either blend right in or get stopped in your tracks by someone who points out which of your values you’re going to pay attention to.

Perhaps you find yourself attracted to a person who is “just like you.” You like the same things, have the same world views, talk the same way, spend money the same way.

You’re convinced you’re perfect for one another... Until your own values, expressed through this other person, come back to hurt you.

Suddenly, your criticism of this person whose behavior made you pull back isn’t just a criticism of him or her. It’s a deep-down evaluation of your own values. And you can either turn your head or pay attention.

When you know and adhere to your personal values, you can recognize those instances when you start to stray from them.

You can make the necessary adjustments that will keep you aligned with what matters most to you.

Translate that to relationships, and you have a built-in compass for recognizing when another person’s values are aligned (or not) with yours. You also have a built-in filter for screening potential matches.

The key to letting your values lead in the search for love is to first know your values. It’s important to be as specific as possible, as life will throw countless, detailed challenges into the face of your values.

RELATED: Take This 'Walk In The Woods' Test To Find Out What You Value Most In Life

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Not sure how to determine your core values?

Use this guideline and inventory to get you started.

In terms of relationships, common core value topics include:

How you live your life, your lifestyle expectations
Accountability
Religious beliefs
Attitudes toward health
Attitudes toward and management of money
Attitudes toward children
Attitudes toward career, ambition, and family-work balance
Attitudes toward a physical relationship
Communication needs
Conflict-resolution styles
Expression of anger and negative emotions
Companionship needs
How you want to be treated

Leading with your values isn’t about the austerity of seeking a perfect clone of yourself.

Even in the most important areas of your belief system, there are bound to be shades of difference between you and a mate.

But your compatibility with a romantic interest ultimately comes down to how well you can navigate in the same direction together. And that ability starts with knowing yourself and knowing yourself well.

Then and only then can you place yourself in the most conducive environments to find the best candidates for dating. Avoiding what's contrary to your values and drawing near to what supports them should be your goal.

Even what online dating sites you use will be a reflection of your personal values.

There is a big difference between Tinder and JDate or ChristianMingle and even MeetMindful.

Why put yourself in an environment that runs counter to who you are and what you stand for?

What you write in your dating profile is enormously important.

What you share about yourself defines who you’ll attract.

Sure, you can say that guys never read profiles. But you can also say that the guys who matter do and will. At least you will have done your own due diligence and portrayed yourself authentically.

If someone who is not in alignment with your values approaches you on the grounds of looks, chemistry, or interests, you can always point to your honest disclosure.

Once you have met someone you feel a connection with, communication is everything.

Once you get past the introductory niceties, it’s important that your communication expresses who you are in a natural way. Remember, please don’t announce your checklist of core values and conduct an interview.

If you’re volunteering at the children’s hospital or animal shelter is a weekly part of your life, I recommend you make it known. Doing so will reveal volumes about your generosity and humility, and it will inspire your date to express their values in a similar way.

In addition to direct communication, it’s important to be observant.

Watch how your date interacts with other people besides you. How do they treat wait staff in the restaurant? How do they handle conflict or deal with situations that don’t go as planned?

As you grow closer in your relationship, you can delve into deeper questions in a more direct way.

Do you both want children? How do you believe they should be disciplined? Do you both practice a religious faith? What are your attitudes about money — spending, saving, investing, retiring?

These are just a few of the essential areas to explore when looking for love.

And by knowing yourself well and consciously living by your own core values, you will learn to set clear boundaries. You will know what you stand for, and no amount of hoping that someone else will change will make you abandon your values.

The amazing thing is that, while you are busy getting in touch with your values, you're actually strengthening your self-love. You’ll feel more empowered!

And when you love yourself enough to stand confidently in who you are and what matters most to you, you’ll attract a similar, loving life partner.

RELATED: Couples Who Share These 8 Core Values Have The Happiest, Healthiest Relationships

Amy Schoen is a D.C.-based national expert in dating and relationship life coaching. If you’re ready to stop spinning your wheels with online dating and finally find your true love, then download her free online dating checklist and see how you stack up with your online dating profile.