Most people posting personal ads on the Internet focus on the outer aspects of their lives and the life of their desired partner. They offer and solicit information regarding their physical, educational, financial, and geographic health, location, experience, taste in music and other personal interests. This information is undoubtedly relevant and useful when it comes to assessing the likelihood of creating a compatible match with a potential partner. The problem with this list isn’t what is on it but what isn’t. Successful relationships, particularly those that endure over time, tend to be those in which both partners share common core values that they not only believe in but actually live by.
Revealing these values and being honest with ourselves and each other in regard to our willingness to honor them on a daily bass can be a daunting challenge. Assessing each other’s commitment to actually embody them, rather than simply paying them lip service, can be considerably easier said than done. The truth, however is that unless we are a good fit in the values department, whatever other traits and interests we have in common. The likelihood of being able to co-create a mutually fulfilling long-term partnership is slim.
Complicating the situation is the fact that not all values are created equal and when it comes to relationships, some values are more user friendly than others. Some of the values that don’t often show up in the process of interacting on-line with others have to with character traits, inner qualities, personal principles and standard of behavior. Examples of these include honesty, compassion, integrity, authenticity, vulnerability, forthrightness, playfulness, generosity, courageousness, impeccability, commitment, trustworthiness, and responsibility.
While many of us would like to have a partner who can bring qualities like these to a relationship, we may be reluctant to mention them in public for a couple of reasons. For one thing, implicit in my expression of a desire for someone to bring positive values into a relationship is the expectation that I will reciprocate to the same degree. And unless I can I trust myself to live up to the level that I am setting for others, I’m likely to be reluctant to put myself that far “out there”. I might want to stick with focusing on characteristics that are more easily measured or more “realistic”.
If I do decide to go for it and put out my own values and invite others who share those with me to respond, it is likely that I won’t be hearing from many of the people who are threatened by my forthrightness. They will deselect themselves. The ad is speaking to those people who place a high value on authenticity and personal development. This is a way of more quickly and efficiently cutting to the chase and illiminating the time spent trying to create distorted perceptions of each other. Instead of trying to come across in ways that will impress others, we come across as we really are and invite the same response from them.
The major complaint that we hear from the singles in our network isn’t just that the information posted is superficial, but much of it is outright dishonesty. People regularly misrepresent themselves regarding things like their age, their health, their financial health, their relationship history and even their values. The points that we are making are not to discredit the dating services. They are performing an essential and needed service. We want to offer the possibility of taking maximum advantage of this technology, and to offer an example of what a truly authentic, honest, and compelling self-description might sound like.
The quality of integrity that shows up in your ad is likely to influence the quality of integrity that shows up in response. And by the same token, this doesn’t just apply to singles. It is the foundation of all healthy relationships. Making our own core values public is also an excellent way to hold our own feet to the fire of integrity. It quickly becomes much more difficult not to “walk the talk’ when we’ve publicly proclaimed our core values. And who among us couldn’t use all the help that we can get to stay on that path?