Helping your client avoid another relationship with a narcissist by identifying values

By Candace V. Love, PhD

Finding someone who matches up with your values is necessary for a healthy and lasting relationship. Helping your client identify their values is key to helping them avoid yet another failed relationship with a narcissist.


Many clients who repeat unhealthy relationships with narcissistic partners recognize that they are the common denominator in all these failed relationships, but feel helpless and unsure how to pick a healthy partner. Understanding their own values is key to break the cycle. 


Values are what are most important to them, e.g. family, commitment, trust, etc. But they first must identify and understand these values. If clients don’t know what they value, they will not know where they are going or what they are heading toward. This makes them vulnerable to those who wish to force them to adhere to his or her values.


Provide your client with the rationale for establishing their core values and ask them to:


1. Identify twenty values. If necessary, suggest they Google “values” and pick from a list.


2. Rank their top three to five values. These will be their “core values”—those that are the most important to them. They are “deal breakers” that your client will not compromise. The sooner your client recognizes that a potential partner does not share their core values, it will not only save them time and emotional energy, but will avoid heartaches down the road.


3. Define what each particular core value means to them. For example, one person’s value of “family” means they want children, while to another person it means they value their family of origin, and it’s important that their partner will too.


4. Write down their values on an index card and review them before each date with a new person. Keeping their values—especially core values—in mind while they develop a relationship will keep your client aligned with the things that are most important to him or her.

As a licensed clinical psychologist,Candace V. Love, PhD is passionate about helping women avoid narcissistic relationships. As founder and president of North Shore Behavioral Medicine, which has offices in downtown Chicago and Grayslake, IL, Love uses evidence-based techniques derived from cognitive behavioral therapies, including mindfulness and schema therapy. Much of her spare time is divided between the least narcissistic of creatures—namely animals. She is author of No More Narcissists!

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