The most successful relationships are the ones founded on similar core values.
Yes, you can enjoy great physical chemistry, have similar love languages, and laugh at the same jokes, but the key element to a long-lasting relationship is sharing common relationship goals and values—because these are what guide you as a couple as you navigate the highs and lows in life.
Read on to discover and define your goals and values in a relationship.
What Are Relationship Goals and Values?
Relationship goals and values go hand in hand. The core values are the foundation upon which your relationship goals are built, and these might differ from person to person and couple to couple.
Think of your core values as the underlying principles of your life and what you expect from someone you love (and vice versa). Your relationship goals are what you both continually work on to make sure that these core values stay intact.
Each person needs to identify what matters to them most in life and, subsequently, a relationship (their core values), and then come together as a couple to determine their “relationship goals defined”: things to work toward to strengthen the partnership and fulfill the core values.
Steps to Discovering Your Relationship Goals and Values
Whether you’re in a new relationship or have been with your partner for years, it’s always important to understand your own relationship goals and values and then see if they’re compatible with your partner’s. Here are some tangible steps you can take.
Identify Your Own Core Relationship Values
First, you need to identify what matters most to you in a relationship. These are your core relationship values.
Take a moment to write them down (yes, you’ll probably have more than one!). Do you prioritize respect, dependability, and communication? Perhaps family plays a big role in your life, and you value its importance. (For inspiration, read our discussion later in this article of examples of core values.)
No matter what your values are, make sure that you have them top of mind when dating or entering into a new relationship.
Talk About Values With Your Partner
Next, talk about your core relationship values with your partner or the person you’re seeing. Now, you’re probably wondering, “Is it too soon to talk about this stuff?” While you don’t want to unload all of your future goals and priorities on someone you’ve just met, you can at least get an idea of where they stand on certain things with a getting-to-know-you conversation. Ask questions about their family, what they like to do in their spare time, if they follow a religion, and so forth.
For the other big-hitters, like respect, trust, dependability, and so on, you might want to wait to bring them up in conversation until you’ve gotten to know each other better and are considering a committed relationship. (Hint: At first, you’ll probably be able to perceive their values just by their actions.)
Make a Relationship Values List Together
It might sound cheesy, but trust us on this one: making a list of relationship values will help you both see what is most important to the other person, which is key to understanding each other and creating a successful relationship. This is an activity often used in premarital counseling, and it works well for any couple considering a long-term partnership.
Write down your own separate lists, then see where your values align and differ. Discuss how you both can help fulfill the other’s values. If your deal-breaker values don’t align, take a moment to consider what a relationship would look like with differing values.
Create Attainable Relationship Goals
This is where your relationship goals and values meet. Take each of the values you listed and come up with tangible relationship goals that you can both work toward. Here are some examples of good relationship goals based on specific core values:
- Communication: Deciding to practice healthy communication strategies, like talking calmly during a disagreement, not waiting until the last minute to communicate social plans, and so on
- Family: Committing to one trip per year to visit each set of inlaws, routinely talk about options for having a family so that you’re both on the same page, and so on
- Dependability: Being generally reachable by phone call or text, trading off cooking dinner, following through when you say you’ll do something, and so on
Again, these are all just examples of what a relationship goal might look like for a certain core value. Your goals should be tailored to what you both need to meet that value in the relationship.
Examples of Core Relationship Values
Here are some examples of core relationship values that are, or might be, important for success in your relationship.
Family plays an important role in many people’s lives. Perhaps you want to have kids someday, and you need your partner to share the value of starting a family. Maybe you’re dating in your 40s and you have older parents who might need your assistance. This means that your partner should be supportive of your time, energy, and perhaps even finances to assist your family members in need.
Whatever your situation and future goals look like, being on the same page as your significant other is key. But remember that people change, and what you might want or need now regarding family could very well look different in the future. But aligning with this core value is important to avoid future heartbreaks.
Communication is one of the keys to a successful relationship. Couples that learn how to communicate in healthy ways will not only grow closer to each other but also set a solid foundation for any future issues.
But everyone has different preferences for communication and defaults to particular ways of processing emotions. Learn how your partner likes to communicate, and share how you like to, then come together with specifics on how to meet each other’s needs. It also might be helpful to note ways in which you’ll try not to communicate, like giving the cold shoulder, yelling, and so on.
One of the biggest differences in casual vs. serious dating is the element of dependability. In a committed relationship, being able to rely on the other person is crucial. It creates a sense of safety and comfort and develops trust—that they’ll do what they say they’ll do.
In terms of relationship goals and values, trust and honesty are two of the most important (and they’re two top qualities of a good partner). We’ve paired them together because they go hand in hand—without honesty, you can’t have trust.
Every relationship must have trust and honesty to survive and thrive. This involves bringing up issues and concerns when they arise, being honest about your feelings, owning up to mistakes, and trusting that the other person will do the same in return.
While trust is a core relationship value, it’s important to note that this is earned. Creating good relationship goals like those we mentioned about honesty, being dependable, and so forth will help you both earn each other’s trust over time.
Having shared interests is another core value that helps couples bond and create memories. What are your interests, and does your current or future partner need to share in them?
For example, perhaps you go on rock-climbing trips frequently throughout the year, and you’d love to share these experiences with your partner—but they’re not really the rock-climbing type. Consider asking if they’ll simply go on the trips with you to keep you company or at least be supportive of your traveling throughout the year.
Just because someone doesn’t share your main hobby or interest doesn’t mean that they’re not marriage material. Shared interests don’t have to be immediate; you can build them, too. Set a goal of trying new things together and finding something that you can both do to connect.
Religion is a common core value for many people and can be make it or break it for many couples due to cultural differences, family expectations, and more. This value is especially important for people who feel strongly about their religious beliefs. Consider if you can navigate an interfaith relationship or if you need a partner who intimately understands and shares in your beliefs.
Many people might not put this on their core relationship values list, but aligning on finances with your partner is essential. Understand that you and your partner might have different perspectives on how to treat your money. That’s normal! But you need to make sure you know each other’s priorities and habits and work to find common ground when it comes to financial security.
Whether you’re dating in your 30s, 50s, or beyond, defining your relationship goals and values with your partner is crucial to long-term success and happiness. Get more tips about mindful dating from Tawkify.