Core Values in a Relationship

According to Psychology Today, some of the biggest reasons relationships fail are trust issues, different priorities, and different expectations of the relationship. Such serious flaws can doom relationships, but having core values like the ones below will make them succeed. If you’re tired of breaking up or getting broken up with, follow the advice below.

Core Values for Any Relationship


As stated in the Psychology Today article, the number one reason relationships fail is due to trust issues.

Trust issues can come in many forms. It can be that you believe your partner lies to you about where they’ve been last night or who they were with. Perhaps your partner blows a little mistake out of proportion and sees it as a breach of trust. Trust issues, at their core, is a discrepancy between people’s standards of honesty.

Therefore, you and your partner must come together and agree on what honesty means. From there, discuss what it means to trust one another.  Maybe you’ll let your partner go out at night without telling you who and where they’ve been, but they have to tell you if someone’s flirted with them.

Different people have different comfort zones. With the rise of polyamory, more couples are okay with their partner flirting with and even having sex with other people.

Both parties in the relationship have to agree that this is okay at the beginning of the relationship. They must also decide whether or not to report their extra-relationship activities to their partner.

The moral of the story: be upfront with your partner no matter what and be honest when they ask you hard questions. People can sense when you’re evading the truth and being sketchy, so don’t give them fodder for their suspicions.

Open communication and working within the parameters you and your partner set in the relationship is fundamental for establishing honest expectations between you two.


On the other side of honesty is trust. We’ve included it separately from honesty because one can be honest in the relationship but still not trustworthy.

For example, say your partner has been spending long hours out at bars at night. You ask them where they’ve been, and they answer honestly — they were at the bar. You don’t pursue the matter further, but a sneaking suspicion still plagues you. Your partner is honest, but you again don’t trust them.

You eventually ask your partner straight up if they’ve been romantically involved with someone else when you’ve entered the relationship thinking it was monogamous. Your partner says yes. They were honest, but their honesty obliterates your trust in them.

Therefore, you and your partner must not only be honest in words but actions as well. You have to trust that they won’t crush you with their hurtful actions, like cheating on you, hurting your self-esteem, or in other ways harming your life.

The lack of trust in your relationship is a one-way ticket to destruction. It simply feels bad to be in a relationship with someone you don’t trust. That negative feeling harms your mental health and further divides you and your partner. Without mutually building the trust back up, the relationship is destined to fail.

If you recognize the below warning signs of lack of trust, address them immediately with your partner.

Signs Your Relationship Lacks Trust

Just a note: the following works both ways between you and your partner, though for simplicity sake they’ve been written as if your partner is the untrustworthy one.

You Worry

Subconsciously, something about your partner’s behavior feels off. You can logically explain away all the reasons why your partner is trustworthy, but your subconscious sees what your conscious brain doesn’t.

Therefore, it worries. You feel a sense of unease whenever you’re around your partner. Trust your gut feeling and follow it. Communicate with your partner how you feel some way and see how they react.

If they try to gaslight you and tell you you’re crazy for thinking something’s wrong, that’s more reason to worry. But if they take your feelings seriously and vow to work in ways that better align with your trust (in healthy habits), you can clear up that worrying gut of yours.

They Need to Monitor You

Where’ve you been? Who were you with? Let me see your Twitter DMs. Who’s that person texting you? What’s their name?

If your partner is constantly checking up on you, asking you for your social media passwords or in other ways needing to monitor your behavior, that’s a major red flag for trust issues.

Unless in rare circumstances, such as your safety’s as risk or you’re ill, your partner should not always check up on you. If they can’t trust you to spend a night out in the town or message people on social media without cheating on them, your partner isn’t ready for a relationship.

Not only that but being monitored like that makes you feel suffocated. It’s not fun for you either, and it will quickly degrade your mental health.

Do what’s best for your relationship and nip incessant monitoring in the bud. Either break up with your partner or set crystal clear boundaries about how such behavior is not okay.

Your Partner Has Broken Someone’s Trust Previously

Now, this isn’t to say that people can’t change given enough time and introspection. Some people, especially when they’re young, are emotionally immature and need to learn how to handle people’s trust carefully.

But if your partner has recently broken someone’s trust, such as cheating on someone or egregiously lying, then there’s a chance they’ll do the same in your relationship.

It’s hard to say how much time should be given to your partner to determine if they have, in fact, realized their mistake and their unlikely to break someone’s trust again. It depends on the person you see before you and the vibe they give you.

Often, you can intuit whether someone is trustworthy or not based on their body language, speech, mannerisms, and the way they treat someone else’s trust.

They’re Upset When You Don’t Include Them

In a similar vein with constant monitoring, you should have fun with friends and family without your partner feeling jealous or frustrated.

It’s healthy to have people who give you joy and validation outside of your partner. If your partner makes you feel bad for having that circle or in any way makes you feel as if they need to be the center of your life, the relationship is ripe for codependency and eventual failure.

Talk to your partner about how you need space. You don’t have to go a week without seeing your partner, but spending time apart not only fosters outside social support but can give you enough time to miss your partner. Missing your partner means you’ll enjoy their presence more when you finally are around them.


If you’ve been paying attention to the honesty and trust portions, you might have noticed that communication is key to successfully achieving both.

Communication is crucial for a healthy relationship, and it should be one of the deepest foundations from which your relationship grows.

However, to ensure healthy communication, you have to check your communication style. Do you prefer to bluntly state what’s on your mind whenever you feel it? Some people like being upfront like that, but the confrontation can spark anxiety in the other person.

Conversely, do you keep things bottled up until you feel the need to spill everything you’ve been holding in at once? Many people are like that. While you’re communicating your feelings, the communication might come at too late a time to fix anything.

And it’s likely that the accumulation of issues leads to resentment, anger, or distrust in the bottling party which also needs to be addressed.

Talk to your partner at the beginning of your relationship about how they would like to be communicated with. If you have similar communication styles, then you won’t have to do much adjusting. If you have differing styles, though, you’ll have to find a compromise, which requires further communication about what would work for both people.

Make sure you’re bringing issues up as soon as they happen, but also be generous in the praise and appreciation you give your partner as well. Healthy communication isn’t about just airing out the negatives but bringing to light the positives.

Signs of Good Communication in a Relationship

Asking Questions

Your partner cares about your wellbeing, so they’ll ask you if someone’s wrong or if they’re doing something right.

For example, a telling sign that someone has good communication skills would be, “Is something bothering you? You feel reserved in the past few days, and I just wanted to see how you’re doing. ”

From those two sentences, someone expressed that they’ve noticed you’ve been quieter recently and has the confidence to talk to you about it. They’re the ones to open up a channel of communication, from which you can work out any problem you can have with your partner that you haven’t told them or an external factor in your life that’s affecting your mood.

Checking in with your partner like that is essential to providing clear and open communication patterns. If you see something is off with your partner, you should feel comfortable talking to them about it. If your partner snaps at you or makes you feel bad about bringing up issues, that’s a sign they’re not open to communication.


When you share a secret with your partner, you know they’re not going to tell anyone else. It’s one part trust and one part communication — you should feel like what you communicate with your partner should stay with them. Otherwise, you’ll feel less comfortable bringing up issues to them in the future.

They Give You Lots of Compliments

Your partner should notice things about you and praise them. It not only feels nice to be praised, but it shows that your partner has the confidence to bring joy to other people, rather than feeling like they have to suck the joy from others.

These compliments should feel free and altruistic. They shouldn’t come with an expectation that you need to compliment your partner back or else they’ll get mad. It stops becoming communication and starts becoming a barter system, which takes mental energy to keep track of and feels terrible to be apart of.

Active Listening

Communication isn’t verbal. It’s physical as well. When you talk to your partner about serious matters, they should look you in the eye and give you their full attention. They should respond to what you’re saying, such as nodding appropriately or laughing at the right times.

If your partner checks their phone when they talk to you or otherwise brushes you off, it shows that they don’t care about what you say to them. If they can’t listen to you, they won’t know how to address the issues you bring up to them.

More tellingly, lack of listening skills your partner doesn’t care about your feelings, which is horrendous for trust.


Respect is essential for relationship longevity. If one or both people don’t respect the other, the respect discrepancy will lead to there issues in the relationship. For example, one person might lie to the other or act dishonestly because of lack of respect.

The disrespectful partner might not be fully committed to the relationship and bail whenever another person comes along, hurting the person who had more respect.

Respect is difficult to talk generally about, as features like age, culture, and upbringing influence how people view respect.

The best way to determine the level of respect in the relationship is to communicate what feels disrespectful and set boundaries as to what you and your partner do and don’t find respectful.

Signs of Lack of Respect in a Relationship

Crossing Boundaries

Can be physical, emotional, or the ones agreed upon. If you tell your partner that you don’t like being touched a certain way, and they continue to contact you that way, they’ve disrespected your boundary.

The underlying message is that your partner’s desires take priority over your own, which is an imbalance of respect.

Disregard For Your Things

Does your partner leave dirty dishes in the sink or break items without apologizing? Do they leave your stuff in worse shape but get mad at you when you defile theirs?

Your things are your property, and so respecting your possessions is respecting you. If your partner shows flagrant disregard for what you own, they probably don’t think very highly of you either.

Breaking Promises

Some things come up, so it makes sense that your partner can’t come to dinner even after they promised.

But if your partner breaks promises because they forgot they made one, didn’t feel like following through with their word, or other ways wants to use promises as a way to raise your hopes only to smash them, your partner doesn’t respect the commitments they’ve made to you. It also shows that their word is pretty flimsy.


Commitment is a deep, non-verbal understanding that your partner will be there for you no matter what. It’s at the core of the phrase, “In sickness and in health” spoken during wedding vows. You need to have the utmost confidence that your partner wants to be with you for years to come.

Signs that show your partner is committed to you is keeping promises, getting emotionally and physically vulnerable, and making future plans with you. There are other aspects of commitment, depending on your personality and desires, but those three are at commitment’s core.

If you feel like your partner isn’t fully committed to you or that they’re using your relationship for other gains, your relationship might not be in for the long haul.

We’ve talked a lot about core values in a romantic context, but how do these core values add up in a non-romantic relationship?

Core Values in a Friendship

Honesty, trust, communication, respect, and commitment are as crucial in friendships as they are in romance. Platonic relationships can be as deeply intimate as romantic ones, just with less physical aspects to them.

Therefore, we’ll have to adjust how we view the core values of friendship and add a few more because of the nature of the relationship.

First of all, you must make a commitment to see your friend regularly. A romantic relationship has a built-in expectation because couples often see each other for physical reasons, such as hugging, cuddling, or sexual activity. Friendships aren’t as inherently physical, but you should still try to carve out time in your busy schedule to see your friends.

Research from the University of Kansas describes the number of hours you and your friend must put in to deepen the relationship. Casual friendships form between 40 to 60 hours together. A friendship arises from 80 to 100 hours. After 200 hours, you two will be considered “good friends.”

After achieving the “good friends” milestone, though, you have to maintain the hours you put in, or else the friendship will fade to people closer in your circles, such as partners or coworkers.

This means you and your college best friend, for example, should at least try to talk to each other over the phone or through video to maintain the relationship, as any time spent together is better than no time at all.

Committing to spending time together should be a core value of friendships. Some people can go years without talking, and when they finally catch up, they feel as if they’ve never been separated. But these types of connections are rare, and most friendships require constant interaction to be maintained through time.

What Are Core Values in a Professional Relationship?

Most of the time, you can’t talk to your boss like you can with a friend. For legal reasons, you can’t talk to them like you could a romantic partner either. Therefore, it’s essential to cater the core values of any relationship to the needs of a professional one.

Again, you should be thoroughly communicating, maintaining honesty and trust, and respecting your coworkers.

However, at the forefront of these values is respect and communication. You must respect the other person’s time and humanity, even if your coworker is under you in terms of status at your company. Otherwise, your actions can chafe against your coworker, spurring resentment, and other negative emotions that could harm your ability to work with each other.

Boundaries are another vital aspect, as you should make clear what you are and are not willing to do for the sake of employment. For example, some professions require you to check your emails regularly, such as business or academia.

But if communicating well into the night impacts your mental health or social life, you can talk with your coworkers and set a time boundary. You will not check your emails beyond a certain hour.

If your coworkers or superiors chastise you for prioritizing your health and happiness overwork, you should reconsider your circumstances and see if there are other ways to communicate and fulfill your needs. Boundaries are important for preventing burnout, which is something you could leverage if you meet resistance from your coworkers.

Summary of Making Any Relationship Thrive

Make Priorities

If it’s a romantic relationship, make your partner your priority. You’ll have to ensure your partner isn’t your only priority, as you should ensure you’re supporting yourself before supporting your relationships.

However, dropping everything to help a loved one in crisis is one of the best ways to show your commitment. Actions speak louder than words, so acting with your loved one as a priority in your life means the relationship is strong and healthy.

If it’s a professional relationship, the type of job you have determines its priority in your life. Doctors and EMTs, for example, must prioritize their work over their personal lives. But other types of workers have more leeway into prioritizing person relationships and mental health overwork and decrease the likelihood of burnout.

Practice Empathy

Empathy significantly strengthens the emotional bond in a relationship. When you can empathize with a person’s situation, you can not only understand whatever struggles they’ve gone through, building a mental connection between you two but facilitates communication.

Experts also say that higher empathy leads to less overall anger. Decreasing frustration and negative emotions with those around you means fewer fights, which means fewer issues to work through.

Having higher empathy helps foster excellent communication, trust, and emotional bonds in relationships, so practice empathy with those around you — and encourage them to do the same for you.

Not only that, but empathy allows you to reflect on your actions and see how it could have been detrimental to the people around you. You can apologize if you’ve made egregious mistakes and work to make them better through the next technique.

Actively Listen

The difference between listening and hearing is attention. You hear various noises around you, but could you definitively say how often a car honked outside or what the bird song sounds like outside your window?

The chances are that you can’t — you weren’t paying attention. The same goes when people talk to you. You don’t know what valuable information you miss when you don’t pay attention, so bettering your active listening skills is one of the best ways to promote healthier communication, which then cascades throughout the relationship.

Active listening involves maintaining eye contact with the person you’re talking to, so put the phone away when someone’s speaking to you. Be curious and ask questions when you want clarification, and make sure your body language is as open to communication as you are.

You’ll find that your life — and relationships — tremendously improves when you listen more.

Spark Growth

Try to spark growth in every relationship. Respectfully challenge people to break out of their comfort zone.

If your partner wants to try writing a short story, offer to read it, and provide feedback. If your coworker wants to take on an ambitious project, say you’ll help them if they need it. Fostering growth not only improves the people around you but can have mutual benefits for you as well — people will be more likely to help you in your self-improvement journey as well.

Care About Their Happiness

Finally, care about maintaining a positive atmosphere with the people around you. Do nice things for those around you and brightening their day. Spreading selfless positivity makes people like you more and improve trust and respect.

Maintain the Core Values of Your Relationships

Of course, tailor the values to your circumstances and the personalities of you and the people involved. But know that at the core of every relationship will be excellent communication, open honesty, trust, and copious respect. If the relationship lacks any of these traits, the relationship is ripe for resentment, anger, and veering toward a breaking point.

Be cognizant of how the relationship is going. Be humble, freely admitting when you’ve messed up. It’s hard to maintain healthy relationships, but following these core values helps the process.

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