How Can You Tell If You & Your Partner Have The Same Values? An Expert Explains
If you and your partner go to weekly religious services together or family is super important to both of you — you may already know that you care about the same things. Of course, no matter how long you've been dating or how similar you are, when it comes to unpacking the "big picture" things — it's natural to sometimes wonder: How can you tell if you and your partner have the same values?
"Shared values can broadly be understood as shared world views," Dr. Joshua Klapow, Ph.D. Clinical Psychologist and Host of 'The Kurre and Klapow Show,' tells Elite Daily. "Perspectives about the self, others, and the world that are foundational and lay groundwork for how a person lives their lives." According to Dr. Klapow, your personal values don't need to exactly match your partner's, but should at least be compatible. "While we may not see the world exactly the same way, how we see the world and how it drives our actions cannot directly impede our partner," Dr. Klapow says. If spending time with your family is super important to you, your partner doesn't have to super love seeing their own family, but should be supportive and respectful of the time you make for your mom every week.
According to Dr. Klapow, the best way to tell if you and your partner have shared values is to frequently discuss them in an open and honest way. "Talk," Dr. Klapow says. "You may discover their values in their actions, their words, and their choices." If your partner tends to be private or they didn't grow up openly discussing their thoughts and feelings — articulating their values may be a little tricky. Yet, according to Dr. Klapow, understanding that shared values can be seen in your partner's actions and choices (like calling their mom on Mother's Day or saving the movie tickets from your first date) can frame conversations in a way that takes pressure off of them to say the right thing in the right moment. Rater than "What matters to you?" sharing something like, "I really admire how hardworking you are," opens the conversation for your boo to express how much their job means to them.
Of course, when talking about shared values with a partner, Dr. Klapow notes that making room for your values to change (i.e. being open-minded and supportive when change comes along) is super important. "Our values are not set for life," Dr. Klapow says. "Through learning and experiences our values can and do change." Checking in with your boo, and being open to change lets you see what your partner is really thinking before assuming where you think their head is at on a big topic. If you and your partner met in college, your relationship may look different as your graduate and start working. Having smaller and more frequent conversations about what your shares values are can help you through the transitional periods of your relationship.
Dr. Klapow shares that there can be many values for a couple to consider, which includes kids, career goals, money, religious, and politics. From universal healthcare to texting during dinner, values can look different for every couple. Dr. Klapow attests that the term "values" can be pretty vague. "Values is a very broad term," Dr. Klapow says. "Because of the breadth it is critical that any couple get very specific about topics that will likely impact their relationship at some point." According to Dr. Klapow, when discussing shared values with a boo, it can be important to get as specific as possible. Rather than, "My job is a big deal to me," stating your perspective like, "My goal right now is getting a promotion, and I am willing to relocate for a promotion," shows your boo what you're thinking and what direct actions you are willing to take. "If you want to know if your partner shares your values at a deeper level then discussing them specifically is the way to go," Dr. Klapow says.
If you're wondering if you and your partner have the same values, Dr. Klapow says that the best thing to do is to talk about it. Understanding that values change over time can open the "values" conversation to make everyone feel supported. At the end of the day, if you and your partner value each other, the "big picture" things can fall into place.