If you would take a moment and imagine me screaming the title of this post while jumping up and down on Oprah’s couch like Tom Cruise before his fourth divorce, please do so now.

This post is about values. And how seemingly nobody has them. And how that ruins everything. But before we get into that, let’s go back to Tom Cruise for a second.

Where are your F@#%ing Values?!?!

Where are your F@#%ing Values?!?!

One of my favorite movie openings is the beginning of Jerry Maguire. Tom Cruise plays the eponymous main character: a top sports agent who is beginning to question the ethics of his job. In the opening credits, we see Jerry question whether he is really representing the players’ interests or whether he’s just trying to get the biggest paycheck possible.

One night Jerry can’t sleep. His conscience won’t let him. So Jerry gets up and begins writing a mission statement. It’s about how to represent athletes in an ethical way. As he writes, he begins to “rediscover the simple pleasures of the job,” and remember why he took it in the first place. He writes about how agents should be obligated to their clients regardless of their physical condition, how they should put the players’ health and happiness before money. What begins as one page turns into 25 and soon, the sun comes up.

The next morning, Jerry hands out copies of his new mission statement to everyone at his firm. He’s revitalized and for the first time in years, excited for the future. He believes they can set a new standard of how athletes are treated and dominate the industry by offering more ethical, holistic representation.

And he’s immediately fired.

Modern capitalist society sometimes doesn’t reward having strong personal values. In fact, it sometimes punishes you. Everyone gripes about politicians and their lack of values. But an inherent flaw of democracy is that it rewards those who parrot what people want to hear rather than those who stand up for their core values (see: Mitt Romney, John Kerry). What we get are presidents who talk about peace and go to war, and senators who talk about family values but hire male prostitutes or get caught jerking off in an airport bathroom.

Society rewards the valueless with superficial benefits. But developing strong core values are the foundation of lifelong happiness and fulfillment. They’re the prerequisite for any semblance of a healthy relationship, romantic or otherwise. They’re the compass that always points toward your life purpose.

In short, they’re awesome, and you should know what yours are.

Values are the ideals and standards that you live by, regardless of external pressures or incentives.

Your values are what you’re unwilling to give up despite what other people say or do. Values are the ideals and beliefs you’re willing to fight for, or sometimes even die for.

People who suffer from weak boundaries tend to lack strong core values. Men who exhibit Nice Guy Syndrome lack sturdy personal values. When one lacks values, one is liable to get run over by other people. When one lacks values, they’re likely to base their feelings of success and worthiness based on how well they meet the needs of others and not the needs of themselves. This is codependent or needy behavior. It repels people. And it invites all sorts of problems into your life.

How to Screw Yourself Over in One Easy Step

Recently I received an email from a friend. Before I read a word, I knew what I was in for: drama. The lack of punctuation, the horrible formatting, the smattering of four-letter words in all caps bulging out of the wall of text like zits on a teenager’s face. Rows of exclamation points and question marks running all over, screaming and screaming into the internet void.

“This is going to be a mess,” I thought.

And it was. The woman he had been dating didn’t want to see him anymore. In fact, she had gone back to her ex-boyfriend, a guy who was (apparently) a horrible, evil, child-murdering, small-dicked, rapist who drank the blood of puppies and masturbated to episodes of Gilmore Girls — basically a terrible, terrible human being.

I barely get halfway through the email before giving up. I’m unable to summon sympathy for these types of situations. In fact, all that comes up these days is anger. I want to reach through the computer screen, through the email, through the frenzied exclamation marks and question marks, and shake him. Shake him like you’re not supposed to shake a baby. Shake him hard and then scream, “Where are your fucking values!?!?” with a string of exclamations and question marks of my own.

I never like to proclaim ‘cure all’ solutions for people, and I sure as hell hate it when other people do. But this may be the closest thing I ever post to a cure all. It’s like a magical bandage that fixes all wounds: having personal values and sticking to them.

For example…

In the thousands of dating advice questions I’ve gotten through the years, probably a solid 1/3 have been some variant of the following:

“I met this girl. She was great. We dance/kissed/talked all night. She was way into me. I texted her to ask her out. She said sure. I texted her again to plan the date and never heard from her again. What do I do? How do I get her to respond?”

Ladies, this goes for you too. I’ve had plenty of female friends in this situation over the years as well: meet handsome guy, have a great time, never hear from handsome guy ever again. What should she do?

For a long time, my answer was this: Nothing. Do nothing. Forget about them and meet someone else.

Staring at the phone isn't going to make her call you.

Staring at the phone isn’t going to make her call you.

As you can imagine, people really didn’t like hearing this. In their minds, there had to be some way to “get” her/him to respond to them. There was some secret or trick that they were missing. Or there had to be a mistake. Maybe they lost their phone, or they saved their name incorrectly, or they’re mixing them up with the other Dave they know and hate. Maybe if I text them a few more times they’ll remember.

In almost every single case, this is insecure delusion. When you do this you are protecting your ego because the truth hurts. It hurts to know that you liked someone more than they liked you. I get it. It’s happened to me tons of times too. And it’s not fun to admit.

In Models, I point out that honesty begins with yourself. And you must be honest to yourself in these situations: they don’t like you enough.

But recently, I’ve skipped even bothering with this advice. I skip explanation and go straight to indignation:

Why would you ever put effort into seeing someone who has demonstrated they don’t want to see you? Why on earth would you ever make time for someone who is unwilling to make time for you? Why should you make time in your schedule for them if they won’t make time in their schedule for you?

Where is your self-respect?

If you sold guitars and someone said, “I don’t want to buy a guitar,” would you follow them around and keep trying to sell it to them? No! You’d be a dick. And probably out of business too.

I have a simple value in my life: I won’t make time for people who won’t make time for me.

It’s as simple as that. And no, ‘flakes’ like this don’t bother me anymore. And, in fact, I get far fewer of them, because I make this value clear when I meet someone new. I don’t tolerate it, so they don’t do it to begin with.

Here’s another example. This time from business:

Many of the people who get into internet marketing and online business begin to make money and find that, to their chagrin, they’ve merely created another grind for themselves. Instead of chained to a cubicle, they’re chained to a laptop and third-world countries because they can’t afford to live anywhere else.

They have to wake up, work hours upon hours on a project that they don’t care about, merely to sustain their lifestyle of drinking cheap beer on beaches with anonymous backpackers and travelers who they’ll never see again.

Awesome life for a year. Shitty career path.


They suffer and stagnate because they haven’t built the business on their personal values. They built it on expediency and getting themselves enough income to leave as soon as possible. They don’t believe in what they do. Therefore once they hit a plateau or get burnt out, they lose interest or feel stuck.

Many of these entrepreneurs sell their businesses off within a few years and go get a desk job. Others perpetually start new ventures, and even though they may make good money here and there, they’re never totally satisfied and they never feel any job security.

Define Your Values

The values that remedy the situations above are: I don’t make time for people who don’t make time for me. And I invest my time and work on projects that I believe benefit myself and others.

When you decide those things for yourself, not only is it easy to navigate those situations, but you’re far less likely to end up in them in the first place.

For instance, if you value contribution in your business from the get-go, you never find yourself in a position of aimless burnout, because you’re doing something you believe in and that you believe helps the world. If you value people showing respect for your time from the beginning, then you don’t even bother getting phone numbers of women who aren’t that excited to talk to you or who seem unreliable.

But maybe you’re saying, “Gee whiz Mark, that sure sounds swell for you, because you can come up with business ideas while you crap and hundreds of girls are clawing their well-manicured fingernails out to get a date with you, but what about me? I don’t have opportunities like that.”

I know. I know. It’s true.

But, this is another complaint that I’ve lost sympathy for. There will always be more opportunities. Always. There are 7 billion people on this planet, and society is changing faster than ever before. There are more opportunities than people can take advantage of.

If one billion people can maintain their faith that some guy was born from a virgin and will one day come back to life to save them, then you can have faith that you will get another opportunity to go on a date on a Friday night. Stop hating on yourself and open your eyes.

People who do not define their values concretely end up drifting around in life, pulled in the direction of any external validation they get their hands on.

They get a nice job out of college because that’s what their parents always pressured them to do. They commit to a girl because she’s the prettiest one who makes herself available. They start a business project so they can get enough money to match their friends’ purchases. They deal with manipulative and disrespectful behavior from their partner because they’re afraid of being single again.

This is why I think everybody, at some point, should sit down and hammer out some of these values for themselves. I’ve been having most of my consultation clients do this lately and it’s been helping them a lot.

Make them concrete. Then stick to them. It will make your decision-making so much easier, and it will remove so much ambiguity from your life. You’ll also develop more self-esteem and feel like less of an asshole all the time.

1. Relationship Values

Take five minutes and write down the values that define your relationships. These are things you are unwilling of compromising on, no matter how attractive the other person is, no matter how much sex you have with them, these are ideals that are more important to you than any outward experience.

Some examples:
I do not make time for people who do not make time for me.
I do not tolerate being disrespected and will stand up for myself.
I will not spend time with people who I do not enjoy being around.

Just keeping the three values above will end any worry you have about people flaking on you. It will end any worry you have about shit tests. And you will no longer make yourself miserable spending time with someone just because they like you.

2. Professional Values

Take five minutes to write down the values that define your career and how you make money.

Some examples:
I believe in earning money by providing tangible benefits to society, to the best of my knowledge.
I will not tolerate disrespectful business relationships or unethical deals for the sole purpose of more money.
I will not spam people or convince them to buy something that I do not believe is in their best interest.

3. Personal Values

And of course, do not forget to take care of yourself. This is possibly the most important set of values. As your ability to set expectations and interact with others begins with how you set expectations and interact with yourself.

Some examples:
I will take care of my personal health and hygiene.
I will not get overly angry or critical of myself — I will meet my own flaws with compassion.

Making Your Own Bed

As I said, I didn’t finish my friend’s entire email. For one, it was such a garbled mess that reading was a strain on the eyes. But I stopped reading primarily because I have developed a low tolerance for the kind of thinking it exhibited.

On the podcast with T last week, he made the point that toxic relationships don’t just occur because you engage the negative or manipulative behavior, but toxic relationships can also happen simply by tolerating the manipulative and negative behavior.

As I shot off a quick tough love email to my friend it was clear he got to this position by tolerating such behavior.

When he started dating the woman, he knew she was still involved with her ex. Yet he didn’t do anything. He framed his relationship with her as something casual and on-the-side so he could continue pursuing other women. He regularly blew her off and ignored her in favor of opportunities to meet other people. When she was dramatic and falsely claimed her ex-boyfriend had raped her to get him to become jealous, he engaged and validated her manipulative behavior.

So, no, no sympathy. None. He made his bed. He was lying in it. Not only did his lack of clear values fail to define his relationship with her — allowing him to become far more emotionally attached than he realized — but his tolerance of her manipulative behavior also led to him being hurt by her.

And my quick reply? Sorry, not tolerating it. This situation was entirely of your making. Take responsibility. You’re responsible for handling your own emotions. Not me or anybody else.

That is one of my values. Sympathize? Sure. It sucks to see a friend upset. Advice? Of course.

But I will not validate his self-inflicted pain. I will not be dragged into his drama. He’s my friend, but those boundaries between him and me are non-negotiable.

And the fact that I set them and he doesn’t is exactly why he ends up in these situations, and I don’t.

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72 Responses to Where Are Your F@#%ing Values?

  1. Henry says:

    Thanks Mark. This is a well thought out article.

    You mention three kinds of values. I wonder if they couldn’t all be combined into one value system. Or would trying to lay out a “unifying theory of value” be as futile as Einstein’s search for a unified field theory?

    I feel like it should be possible, but then again, I’m not sure if I’ll ever be able to earn my keep without compromising my personal values to build “professional values.”

    I don’t want to become just another one of the talking heads that fills my Twitter feed, advertising SEO and other crap. Hopefully I figure it out.

    • Mark Manson says:

      I think they’re all interrelated. My three types are arbitrary. Maintaining strong boundaries in your personal life reflects your personal health. The way you treat yourself will be reflected in how you run your business, and so on.

    • Zach says:

      Good to see ya here Henry.

      I think you’re getting caught up (like most do at first) in thinking that if you’re excited by the lifestyle that many of the lifestyle business gurus talk about then the only solution is the businesses that they traditionally preach. That’s not the case at all. I spent a long time focusing on the affiliate marketing, easy money angle, but selling for the sake of selling instead of for the good of the person you’re selling to is unfulfilling. Especially when it’s about a topic you don’t care about.

      Slow down and spend some time thinking about what you love that can add value. More often than not you’ll find it can support a nomadic lifestyle as well as anything else. Automation isn’t so important if you love what you’re doing.

  2. Bob says:

    I had absolutely horrendous codependent behavior in my previous relationship. As a result, we ended up arguing constantly and had actually gotten to the point where we were arguing vehemently with what we thought the other person was thinking, without even listening to what each other were saying. In retrospect she showed signs of looking to disagree with me very on early on in the relationship. I ended up setting her off into a verbose rage with every small little comment I made, and actually sat and listened to all of her arguments against what I was thinking, declaring my intention of listening to and understanding fully her viewpoints so she would eventually listen to my viewpoints. Eventually she just flat out would respond to every comment I made with a long list of reasons why I was wrong about that particular point regardless of any argument I had whatsoever. So I guess my big relationship boundary would be to not ever date anyone who actively is looking to disagree with every thought and comment I am sharing at any given moment.

    Marc would it be possible for you to actually go ahead and flesh out all of your 5 minute lists to give a little more depth on what you think would be healthy boundaries for all the catagories?

    • “Marc would it be possible for you to actually go ahead and flesh out all of your 5 minute lists to give a little more depth on what you think would be healthy boundaries for all the catagories?”

      Your values are your values, and Mark’s values are his. If you look to Mark to define your values, that’s another example of not being aware of your own and having weak boundaries. What are your values?

  3. jakemo says:

    F*$&%ng awesome. I’m going to put my values down on paper today, it’s something I’ve been needing to do. Thanks for the kick in the pants, Mark.

  4. Reader23 says:

    Hey Mark,
    Been an invisible reader for a while now and i really cherish everything you put out there, it has helped give me great mental relief and some direction too. Thankyou.
    I’ve been meaning to sit down and think and consider what my values are, as you’ve recommended many times. But when i sit down and engage, i find it very difficult to pin point what my values are. In some sense it seems like all these values that I could choose from are relatively arbitrary. When i try to think of a criteria to consider values on, it seems to all be contingent on its ability to make me happy – but how can i say what makes me happy if i’m not able to reliably make myself happy now? What if something could make me happy given some time of trying it?
    For example I have, with some shame, no real desire to give to charity, and when i have I haven’t felt happy from doing so. But so many people advocate that as a meaningful and healthy route to being happy. Maybe it would, but currently when i engage in it i feel nothing.

    I suppose i could look to my gut to get an instinctual feeling about whether i believe a value is good or not, but that’s quite hard to distinguish from a socialised value.
    For example, one thing I get quite a gut instinct from is getting attention from and sleeping with lots of girls is something that makes me happy. This is what my past experiences have given me, although you could perhaps say that it is relatively short term, and maybe an impure or unreliable sense of happiness. With a lifestyle conducive to it however, I’ve had periods of feeling great. But this doesn’t seem to fit with the type of values you advocate, and strikes me as unhealthy, but only because many deem it so.
    How can I truly distinguish what I consider a value and what I don’t?
    Maybe you could help elucidate this for me a bit, i’m currently a bit confused. Thanks again.

    • anonymouse says:

      Giving to charity and sleeping with women are actions, not values. Even getting validation from others doesn’t seem like a value. I mean, you can give something a value by thinking it’s important, but I think this is referring more-so to ontological values, the beliefs by which you make decisions in life. So, because you enjoy sleeping with women, maybe hedonism is a value to you? Pursuing physical pleasure, that is, over other things. However, as you mentioned, it certainly can seem impure and/or unreliable.

      If you’ve never spent time thinking about what’s really important in life or what would make you happy, it probably will take a little while to define your values. Don’t worry about not knowing right away. You could read about philosophy a little bit, and try to notice how your experiences make you feel in the future (I’m sure you aren’t -only- happy when you’re having sex). If you like blogs, I’d recommend for some easy-to-read and entertaining philosophy basics.

      • Reader23 says:

        Hey thanks for the comment, it enlightened a few dark areas. I think hedonism was never as prominent in the casual sex as the validation really. It wasn’t during sex that i was happy but more afterwards. I think I take a bit of my mentality from the PU stint I had.
        I suppose my main issue is how can I say it is worth it for myself to switch to this value driven belief system over this narcissistic belief system i currently have. I think I’ll just spend time paying close attention to myself and what truly and reliably makes me feel good, and reconsider.

        • Halo Effect says:

          You have to stay aware, though, that there is a difference between having a desire for sex and feeling good after having sex and “sleeping with lots of girls”.

          Having *a* sex life, having your sexual needs fulfilled, is a basic human need or desire. If you felt good after having sex, it could be just that need fulfilled. If, after having sex, you felt you needed other women, and lots of them, then you have a desire for sex with “lots of girls”. Also note that feeling validation after sex is normal. Trying to get sex solely to chase that feeling of validation is not as healthy.

          And I agree that experiencing more in life will make you more aware of your values. I have learned some of what I value in relationships by noting what made me happy in relationships, and what made me unhappy, for example.

        • Mark Manson says:

          You already HAVE a value-driven belief system. We all do. It’s just at the moment your values are determined by superficial pleasures and external markers, whether you’re aware of it or not.

          The trick is to define new values for yourself that reflect the person you want to be.

  5. Rafa says:

    What’s wrong with masturbating in an airport bathroom?
    Don’t you live in a 3erd. world country?: Brazil.

  6. Skylar Black says:

    I have for quite some time worked with my values (both by contemplating them as well as working towards them). Once you get to really know and feel your values, they can be very powerful motivators.

    I did however struggle a lot with defining values that were really my own, and not just my perception of what would make me seem like a success (or a nice person). This is probably not uncommon.

    I think I am much closer to my own values now, yet I can see that values also act as boundaries in terms of what we take from other people, and what we do not want to spend time on. I have never really considered values that way, and this is not reflected in my current values.

    So I guess my values are due for another review 🙂

  7. votsvoboda says:

    Hello mark. I enjoyed the article and this was one topic I was eager to hear about

  8. votsvoboda says:

    your values are all about self esteem, and it’s fine.

    still, wouldn’t be useful to dig into needs first, and then build rules tl achieve those values in the frame of self esteem?
    I was thinking about the values I d want and I totally shared yours. still, I admit that, for instance, the obvious significance of the one of not hunting people who don’t care, didn’t feel so easy for somebody like me.who still recognises a big need for validation. I told myself that it was a cool value, but that I would have lost something. so I answered myself: why not pursuing validation,, that is my present need that I can’t deny, but make a rule to get it just from those real interest into myself, and enjoy that discarding the rest?
    this was an idea I thought interesting.for others too, so I shared. needs need to be addresses too. I personally.know that all the pursuing chicks thing, and the entrepreneurship ideal too damaging if one pursues it without clarity of needs, and without a frame of self esteem. it happened to me

  9. jon says:

    Mark what values do you and your girlfriend share ?

  10. Christian says:

    Mark why are you not famous. This article should be called”grow some balls”. I had a friend in hs, and he started dating this girl, and the entire time I thought to myself, they are dating each other because they are scared of being alone and think they have no other options. These folks are 19 and plan on getting married. I never said anything to him about it, in fact he was suppose to join the millitary, but he turned his dream down, to stay with his soon to be wife. And I believe this is the majority of guys, just because a women is beautiful does not mean you should fawn over her like a dog, or if she makes her available to you.I don’t wanna ramble anymore, props to you mark

  11. Trickster says:

    I wasn’t aware that masturbating to Gilmore Girls was so deviant 😛

  12. jay says:

    Whoa! What prompted the change of the comment section?

  13. I think this is an important article Mark.
    Something I appreciate about your blog – and your life – is that they are an expression of your values.
    When you say, “People who suffer from weak boundaries tend to lack strong values,” I disagree. People with weak boundaries are willing to compromise their values but they do have them. I think deep down everyone has strong values, but some people just aren’t in touch with their values. I talked with someone recently who runs a fairly sleazy Internet business. He was struggling with his ethics and working on developing a new business that was more meaningful for him. I’d say he was in the process of getting more in touch with his values and aligning his business with them, rather than saying he didn’t have values and was suddenly developing them.
    On clarifying one’s values, it’s important to state them in the positive rather than the negative. The reason for this is that people tend to create what they focus on. For example research with dieters showed that people who were told not to think about eating chocolate ended up eating more chocolate. The same goes for values. If a person defines a value as “I do not tolerate being disrespected and will stand up for myself.” then they’re going to end up spending a lot of their life standing up for themselves against people who do not respect them. That’s what they’ll be on the lookout for and that’s what they’ll create.
    In contrast, if that person defines their value as “I value respectful, supportive relationships” then they’re much more likely to start attracting and developing the kind of relationships they want.
    There is an important relationship between values and boundaries. If the person has defined their values in the positive, then when someone disrespects them, they will know their value has been violated and stand up for themselves. But more importantly, if they have to stand up for themselves repeatedly with the same person, they’re much more likely to find a new partner, a better boss, or to disengage from that dysfunctional family member who keeps pulling them into drama.
    With values defined in the negative, they’ll always be fighting what they don’t want. With values stated in the positive, they’ll create a life more aligned with what they do want.

    • Tim says:

      Hmm, this distinction seems a little arbitrary. I agree with your main idea; that someone who goes around looking for his values to be tested will find them tested constantly, and will spend more time proving they have those values than simply living with the life that they create. It’s the same as someone who goes around trying to prove their boundaries by constantly looking for opportunities to set those boundaries. But I think what creates this situation is how comfortable that person is with their boundaries or values; whether they’re secure in themselves and feel the need to prove those things to other people or not. Compared to that I’m not sure the language you frame them in makes a huge difference.

    • Mark Manson says:

      I do think it’s a useful distinction. But after some further thought, I think some boundaries are better expressed in the negative.

      For instance, “I will not drink alcohol or do drugs,” is specific and actionable and there’s no positive counter to it. “I will be healthy and take care of my body,” or “I will only ingest good substances,” lead to a lot of ambiguity.

      Or the flakes one above. “I will only invest time in people who invest time in me.” Well, there’s a lot of gray area there when it comes to time investment. What is sufficient time investment? Once a week? A month? A year?

      But it’s blindingly obvious when somebody is NOT investing time in you. Therefore that boundary is more clear.

      So while I agree with you, I think it depends on the specific boundary and/or the specific value. I do generally agree though that when possible, one should frame their values in a positive way.

      • Richard says:

        This is sounding an awful lot like affirmations to me. Is this the same thing to you Mark?

        • D says:

          To me these are different than affirmations, though I suppose you could make them into affirmations by saying them out loud. This is more about being self-aware enough to a) know what your values are and b) rely on them in a time of emotional need. So instead of trying to get a flaky girl to respond to your text, you ask yourself “why am I chasing a flaky girl in the first place?”. Then make the sometimes-hard decision to delete her from your phone lest you get tempted.

        • I think affirmations are a totally different thing. As I see them affirmations are a form of self-denial, where people try to convince themselves of shit they know is not true about themselves.

          Values are about finding out what is really important to you, and then living your life by that.

      • I agree that boundaries are and should be expressed in the negative. Boundaries are the things a person will not tolerate.

        Here’s why I think it’s worth distinguishing boundaries from values, and always expressing values in the positive. Values are the things you can build your life, your work and your relationships around. They are what guide you in what you want to create. They need to be expressed in the positive so that what you create is positive.

        Boundaries serve a different purpose – to stop what you don’t want. But they should be a corollary of the values you have, rather than what shape your life. As I said before, if a focus on boundaries is what shapes your life, you’re going to spend an awful lot of time dealing with what you don’t want.

      • kathy says:

        Hello, Mark. I am a female, 29 year old, libra/virgo/scorpio aspie in the process of determining if my mother, myself, my father, or a combo of such is emotionally feeding off of myself or whomever. I find that I do not believe I should live on my own despite my dissociated wishes to the contrary and the adverse of such if i don’t watch myself every second to head it off at the pass, yet my parents, both of whom or at least one of which, are aspie, my father esp. (he and I also have adhd, cogdef,execfunc problems, dyspraxia, etc. I seem to have paranoia more often with my meltdowns, which i hoped would cease (the paranoia) when I eat a fod that is on my nono list, as I started the paleo diet last year when i realized these things affect me; i am trying to make myself better. But i have gotten sp pushy and upset that my parents won’t do the same, and at least remove the bad foods that hurt me from the house, and maybe their diets as well. I feel that their behaviour is affected by those foods… yes I know I need ot let go of this and several other things. But udnerstand that desipte this, there is an aspect of such comorbid health issues that affects emotional memory.

        But onto my question, I apologize for the long post…


        When you say that one should not, for their health, make time for people who do not make time for them…

        With asperger’s it is hard to tell when someone is being genuine in an emotion, even more than normal people. And sometimes, your sense of false emotions is in other ways terribly amplified, due to the nerve differences that often occur within this spectrumized condition that is often comorbid witih several other issues.

        I keep having this problem with understanding, once and for all, that it needs to help me figure this thing uoit. (perhaps becaues ofthe executive dysfunction issues) Basically, this is it: Either my mother is a vampire or she isn’t.
        I stopped telling my friends about my problems because i realized i was feeding off them. i don’t want ot be like her. I am actively trying to NOT be like her in every way I can manage currently to do so, and I make sure that I compliemnt my friends, and give them encouragement, and tell them that they can live through their troubles. I try to help them! It makes me happy. But I can;t do that a lot becaue I get so tired due to the requisite socialization involved – asperger’s. i try to tell my mom to find activities she enjoys. Wihout. Me. She won’t leave me alone, claims I won’t spend time with her, but even when I do it’s never enough. URK. my brain just won’t get this message! WHYYY… even my psychologist is not saying one way or the other. it’s insane.

        What I need to know to help myself make this better is, since I have to live with my parents for the ofrseeable future, is that, if my mother does these needy things that I find childish, covertly emotionally-abusive and unacceptable to be around, is it okay to not talk to her or ignore what she wants soemtimes, unless she’s you know, on the floor bleeding to death? She seems so needy, I am just sick of it. But I may be neglecting her… as she claims. My meltdowns have gotten more abusive despite my best efforts to the contrary, but i feel that despite the paranoia that ocmes with them, there is a grain of truth inside that kernel of angst. I feel desperate; my parents feel desperate. But I don’t think she will ever be able to hear us. My father eve nsaid once when she stalked off from a grocery store after I called her out on soemthing I saw as selfish with regard to the entire family, that he is too much of a coward to stand uo to her. he is her puppet. I am busy and exhausted tryign to free myself from what I perceive as her clutches constantly. She is GOOD at psychology, and knows how to get you where it hurts without diing it outright. I have seen her admit this to me, then carry out her obnoxious plan to -get- dad or the neighbors, psychologically, soemthing I have always found quite appalling and highly and completely unnecessary and cruel. I am no picnic, but I don’t like that sort of thing. Um, what information would you feel comfortable telling me ab out this? i want to stpop posting about this, but… the situatuoin will not go away, and i cannot leave. I feel stuck, and am unsure how to think about it in a way which I am not already doing. It’s like I am staring right at something, but perhaps because of the asperger’s I cannot see it, or at the least my brain has yet to -flip it upright- so i can -SEE-. My brain has real trouble with seeing things from front to back; i think it’s a combination of the health issues. Waht say, bro? I imagine some of my comment was manipulative; protect yourself accordingly. But then you know that. oh lord I am being a total dbag to myself right now. I need food. i get stupid wiht out breakfast and always end up making dumb posts. GAAACK. Also, these post sites like yours, they have helped me get this far. I am very grateful, and i always direct my friends who i think may be having the same problem to do thse kinds of things, because I want to see them stand on their own feet; that makes me happy for tworeasons; 1. I can;t sustain another person, emotionally. This is doubly evident becaue of the asperger’s. I just don’t have the stamina. 2. i am most happy when i can watch someone grow into themselves and become successful. I just can’t play teacher for too long. ;( I want to stay longer and help forever but I can’t. I’m tired. so i let go, and make sure the other person understands that I can’t be their sole source of emotional feedback. I also try to bolster angry people, but it usually just ends up with me being eaten alive becuae i can’t sustain my armor. i get too tired. ;( but I am istill trying. hopefully this post wasn;t too much of a downer. 😉 happy hugs everybody! good luck and best wishes and lal things jovial! and storms too. mustn’t forget those; tehy teach us awesome stuff like how to avoid annoying people like me. haha -hugs self- just a joke guys. man i am out of it i need some food. I’ma gonna go now before i embarass myself.
        embrace, accept, allow, guys.

        • kathy says:

          also, if you see something damning and or dangerous about the way I post and feel comfortable discussing anything further with me, please tell me. it will be something else I can take joy in finally confronting, seeing and working on.

          best regards.

          • kathy says:

            um, i apologize for this NEw addendum but i just realized a really good other question that will mhelp me and maybe others here.

            If I often have trouble seeing a situation the same way day to day dueto various health/ other interfering issues, how cna I help myself more to get that to happen less? MY psychologist is wonderful, so kind, and a LOT older- perhaps too old to have to take me on completely- I am worried for him, and I worry taht he is not going to be able to be around long enough to help me develop the tools I need to solve all these problems i nthe time I feel is allotted me. Any thoughts?

  14. Alain says:

    Mark, how about changing environments? A girl who matches all your values for an extended period of time suddenly begins to change. How many chances do you give her before you walk away entirely? I find it’s human nature to long for “the way things were”. Why do you think this is, and what’s the best way around it?

  15. Edmond says:

    “They have to wake up, work hours upon hours on a project that they don’t care about, merely to sustain their lifestyle of drinking cheap beer on beaches with anonymous backpackers and travelers who they’ll never see again.

    Awesome life for a year. Shitty career path. ”

    This made me laugh hard. Maybe the most anti-Ferriss paragraph you’ve ever written.

    Isn’t defining your values something you do in puberty around 15/16? I always thought so. Well maybe because I defined mine at that age.

    What do you guys think?

    • Mark Manson says:

      I think it’s something that happens in teens and early adulthood, although if someone goes through problems at those ages they may not ever develop them fully.

      I mean, surely if you had all of your values together and followed them you wouldn’t found your way here, right? Particularly with relationships.

  16. Clarissa says:

    Are hundreds of girls really clawing to get a date with you? That’s pretty interesting. I would be interested to read about how your experiences with women has changed as your website has progressed.

  17. Cogo says:

    Great article Mark as always!

    You wrote:
    “I have a simple value in my life: I won’t make time for people who won’t make time for me.

    It’s as simple as that. And no, ‘flakes’ like this don’t bother me anymore. And, in fact, I get far fewer of them, because I make this value clear when I meet someone new. I don’t tolerate it, so they don’t do it to begin with.”

    How do you make that value clear for people? Any examples?

    • Mark Manson says:

      I don’t call people over and over trying to get them to call me back.

      When I take someone’s number, I set up plans with them then and there.

      If a girl doesn’t seem excited about giving me her number I tell her it’s OK if she doesn’t want to meet up with me, but to tell me now instead of then.

  18. Reedik says:

    I actually read this one before I listened to the last podcast. When I actually listened to the podcast a lot of the ideas were also mentioned in there. If anyone hasn’t listened to it I suggest you do. It nicely complements this blogpost.

  19. Baller08 says:

    I’m sure you know a programmer who can write a simple script that looks for the phrase, “There is this girl” (or any variation of) in the first 5 sentences of a new thread and automatically post this article in response. That should take care of about 75% of the new threads and issues on the forum.

    The other 25%… Reesays.

  20. Charles says:

    A friend recently wrote me about a new guy she’s been dating for a month. Everything is going well, and she seeks more commitment from him. There’s however a dilemma: She has a fuck buddy she didn’t want to give up right away, in case the new guy is unwilling to commit, she has a backup.

    All of her friends, who are women, have been telling her to continue dating two people at the same time, making sure none of them know about the other.

    I told her if her fuck buddy finds out her intentions, she is going to get blackmailed. If the would-be boyfriend is a man of any value, he will cut you off immediately. She’d best come clean with the would-be boyfriend by demanding commitment. Then break off the previous relationship. If the guy’s unwilling to commit, then it was never meant to be.

    I then told her that a man of high value would never date opportunists such as her. This is unacceptable behavior. She simply told me that this is what every woman does- The world is a hard place for girls. She’s been through a lot of crappy men, and she thinks being with crappy men is still better than being alone. All her girlfriends think the same way. I can sort of reverberate that sentiment, because I have for the past year and half, only dated women who have boyfriend or are married. They wouldn’t tell me first. They want to see what I’m going to do. I am not even kidding or complaining, I have not in America, met a single woman who is attractive and not taken.

    So there. The world is a very big shade of grey. I have clear, and lofty values. I just don’t think they’re going to sit well with the majority. You’ll have to navigate and find situations where values may not be followed word by word, but nevertheless no compromise has been made, and everyone is happy. All is not only fair in love and war, but also highly contextual/situational.

    • Rich Duncan says:

      I’ve stopped giving that advice out to my female friends. Patience is really the issue here. My female friends have NO patience. I tell my male friends that most of the women they are vying for are currently communicating with a couple other guys and most likely sleeping with someone unrelated (fwb). That is worst case scenario. Because of technology this is just the way it is. Guys do the same and I point it out to them .. “You have a couple prospects too”.

      I would think this would make people hold on to the people that they have found and connected with. But technology makes it easy to start all over again.

      It’s an exciting fly by the seat of your pants world out there!

      • Charles says:

        5 months ago I dated a girl for 4 weeks and finally I took her home. The next morning we woke up. First thing she said was: “That was nice. Btw, I am married to my boyfriend. Does that change anything?”

        “WTF!?” I thought. I could just feel my insides turning round and round.

        I don’t strictly date single women, since there’re none. I know “boyfriend” has a lot of different meanings for Americans. She’s always portrayed her relationship as something she wanted out. But that was the first time I dated a married woman and heard of the phrase “married to my boyfriend”.

        The rest of the story- I laughed, hysterically, and said “get out of here”. She said she is not joking. I said, “me neither, get out of here”. So she did. End of story.

        That’s as low as I’d ever get with my values.

  21. Luci says:

    (Hope you don’t mind girls commenting on here. I feel like I’m sneaking into the men’s locker room!)

    I really like this post. Last August, I fell into a silly philosophical trap where I came to believe that all my values were arbitrary. I figured, some of my values were innate, and others were programmed into me by my upbringing, but all of them were alterable: if I tried hard enough, I could erase even my most deeply held ethical convictions. And so, as an experiment, I tried it.

    And it was awful. I started ignoring all my instincts, and doing things which went against them, figuring that eventually my instincts would disappear. But they didn’t; they only screamed in agony whenever my actions scraped against them. I fell into a downward spiral where I thought I had nothing to live for, and almost quit my really awesome job.

    What saved me was figuring out what my deep, unalterable values are (these were the ones that I couldn’t violate without feeling awful, even after four months of this experiment) and then sticking to them. Also figuring out what I wanted to contribute to the world, then dedicating myself to that task.

    So, based on these experiences, I wholeheartedly agree with this post and your post on having a life purpose. =) These things are essential. When I didn’t have a strong sense of purpose/values, I came into work each day and felt like a failure, and constantly looked to my colleages for reassurances that I belonged there/was doing my job right. These days, I walk into my office, and I don’t give a damn what my colleagues think of me, because I’m not here to gain their approval – I’m here to fulfill my purpose by doing my job.

    Thanks very much for writing this blog. =) It is inspiring, and I reread your posts when the path I’ve chosen feels hard and I need some inspiration to keep fighting my way along it.

  22. Erika says:

    As you say women are always welcome … this is a really solid article. I reposted on my Facebook accounts. The article applies to all life areas.

    I especially love what you say for entrepreneurs. Let’s say for example that freedom and simplicity are really important values for us. Then knowing that we are going to be able to set good boundaries when a well-meaning coach or “expert” suggests we build a bunch of infrastructure or hire a bunch of employees in order to make more money. The money would come at too high of a price if it violated our deepest values.

    Similarly, in a relationship situation recently, I was able to look at the relationship compared to my highly-clarified values and say “no” to the situation. Then instead of drama and weirdness and conflict, I was able to communicate my values clearly so that we parted on very amicable terms.

    The one thing I wanted to clarify probably elsewhere is that sometimes other values can trump some of the values you mention here. For example, in several situations in my life, following intuition and highly valuing healing have trumped “needing to be respected right now.” So that I was willing to put in more effort in spite of apparently not getting anything back and yet still be in alignment with my values. With a good track record of these intuitions paying off in the end with happily healed relationships.

    I really like this article and am going to repost some more. It’s not often anymore I see an article that I really like, it’s why I stopped reading blogs. Thank you for this, very solid 🙂

  23. Samir says:

    This. Is. Amazing. I was half expecting to read something about how you consoled your friend and told him to get back out there. Wrong. You did something even better. You told us (and him) the real truth. Yes there are bad people (and things) out there. But deep within you have ALLOWED yourself to put up this behavior and now your whining about it. Stop allowing people and things in your life that you don’t benefit from. You gave me time and love, I’ll do the same back. Otherwise see ya later. So clear and concise Mark. Amazing job once again.

  24. Vinayak Killekar says:

    Hello PM Team, It was great luck to visit by your visit through my FB friends interest like.. I need some more info details about values.. Look forward to discuss some more details wrt business term.. Please let know if we can Skype and voice-chat together. Thanks!

  25. Richard says:

    Mark, I am currently in a long distance and open relationship with a girl who is married. We had been going out for approx six months before she made the decision to marry her ex for the sole purpose of extending her Visa and finding employment in the country. Problem is her husband doesn’t realise this and has no idea about me. She never had any intention of breaking up with me during this process but has been completely honest with me from day one. She did what she had to do.
    We love each other very much and she is also my best friend. I don’t want to end what we have because it is very special albeit a bit fucked up. We talk every day and are completely open with each other. I get to see her every couple of months. As bizarre as this sounds, what we have together feels so organic and healthy.
    Mark, what would you do in this situation? Would you keep something like this going and if not, why not? I don’t feel like I am compromising my values because she is so respectful and honest with me at all times. I’m a compassionate person and I understand the predicament she was in cause marrying me instead was not an option at the time. Your opinion on this is most appreciated. Thank you.

    • Richard says:

      Btw, please be as harsh as you want. I have a feeling i’m about to be punished! ;p

      • Andrew says:

        Dude, read the damn post 😀

        This girl is in a (according to you) fake marriage with a man she doesn’t love in order to extend her visa. You say she’s being open with you, but why isn’t she being open with her husband? What kind of values does that kind of person have?

        I’ll ask you what Mark was to ask his friend: Where’s your self-respect?

  26. Nick Black says:

    Nice. I can definitely see the influence of the Ricky Raw Podcast on this post…totally needed to be said though.

  27. realistik1 says:

    The highest value in the world is self-preservation/survival. This value stays with us throughout our lives. It’s reflected in the work place where the highest goal of any employee is to keep their job which directly conflicts with new ideas that are proposed if it means that one’s job becomes in jeopardy.

  28. Ana says:

    Heya Mark,

    I had one of those sessions with my therapist today I’m sure you’d love due to it’s quantitative yet emotional nature. I was on the couch, hugging myself, cause I felt vulnerable like that, and the reason it was great is that I do hate it when I sit there all numb and just basically act smartas for 20 euros an hour. Jaysus, one can hone intellectualization levels just fine for free via stolen ebooks @ home.

    So, the bit is about various types of relations people have, and how you distinguish the important ones – something I, not surprisingly, have no good clue about. The tendency for me is to withhold judgments based on internalized values and just effortlessly float under guise of acceptance of everything and having fun and learning about human nature. As it turns out, that is simply not possible for extended periods, as it morphs to mere tolerance and waste of time at best, and at worst bending under whim of psychos of all sorts and following resentment. And so my therapist, in this jolly moment of uber wisdom, says how it’s easy to tell – and if you don’t know it, wait for it – how any relation that changes you is an important one. How when you take something or give something you become different as a result.

    There is a tiny revelation in those words, and I felt it, and immediately used it to cross-analyze everyone that popped on my mind. And by the end of the night I got back home and read your article, and it was funny, and totally corny, but I felt it, so it was also true, how I’ve known many people and spent bunch of time and did all these things with them, but they didn’t change me. And you, I don’t know you, I just read some stuff you wrote on your blog, and I’m different because of it, so I guess that makes you important (at least a little bit – validation time! 🙂

  29. GG says:

    The volume of accomplishment points granted pertaining to everyday triumphs has been altered. GG

  30. Original Jammer says:

    Great to see Livefyre’s demise…

    On a brighter note, this is one of the best posts I’ve read in a long time, Postmasculine or not. It has a lot of application in our lives and really shows how manipulative people are to gain for themselves simply because they lack something.

    I got stuck the other day because I had been helping my girlfriend A LOT, and had some family issues I’d run away from. I told her this, but when she wouldn’t listen and continued to complain and ignore me I just snapped and told her that while I took pleasure solving her problems, I couldn’t just keep running away from my own. She understood after a while that I was mostly angry at myself, helping her and others but forgetting about myself. As men, we don’t like to ask for help or be given assistance in fighting our battles, particularly by someone younger, more junior in rank or female. It takes time for women to realise this, but then again they have their own intricacies.

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