This is Why Your Life Sucks

Comments 46

“Could you explain a little more about what you mean by core values?” Lisa asked.


I think most people, including me, lack the ability to summarize their core values, and then shitty things happen afterward, and then we all struggle with trying to figure out why.

But THIS IS WHY the shitty thing happened. Because we don’t know what our values are.

Since we can’t go back in time, the only reasonable choice is to try to make tomorrow better than today.

Our inability to identify our values means we don’t REALLY know who we. And that prevents us from being able to communicate it accurately to others.

And that’s a problem. This non-programmed and ill-defined Life Navigation System is incapable of getting us to our desired destination without blind luck. Thus, whenever we’re not experiencing good luck that we may or may not have earned, life sucks.

I’ve been hammering on this point lately and it’s not just because I think I know things (I don’t), but rather because whatever personal advancements I’ve made in the past three years can be directly attributed to me honing in on my values and learning how to enforce my personal boundaries.

And on the flipside, everything about my life that sucks can be directly attributed to not honoring (or not knowing) my values in certain life areas, or compromising my boundaries (usually because it’s “easier” in the moment, even though we always pay for it later).

“What are Values and Boundaries? This Sounds Like Psychobabble.”

The words “values” and “boundaries” are the kind of words that always sounded like bullshit to me. They don’t sound like they mean anything. They’re just words adults used when I was growing up when they were droning on and on about things that weren’t fun to listen to, and if I HAD listened to them, I’d have had less fun.

Or would I have?

When I was young, I didn’t feel motivated to explore ideas like this or learn new things because everything was always good. I was healthy and safe. I felt loved by family and accepted by friends. All of my needs were met. Because I never wanted for things, I never had to ask myself how to get something I wanted, and then go through the growth process and hard work necessary to achieve it.

But then, almost exactly three years ago (April 1) my wife left, and my son didn’t live at home all the time anymore. I was sad, angry and ashamed.

I was nothing like the happy and confident person I used to see in the mirror back when nothing was wrong.

I was a broken, crying, terrified shell of that kid. If I’m not that person anymore, who the hell am I?

I didn’t matter, and I knew it.

I was weak, and I knew it.

I wasn’t worth a woman’s love or desire, and I knew it.

Those were hard truths to accept, but life is really hard sometimes. After a lifetime of mostly blaming others for anything that ever went wrong because it’s so much easier than raising your hand and accepting responsibility, I finally asked the right questions:

How did I get here? What could I have done differently to prevent this?

The answer is simple enough: I didn’t always live my values, and I didn’t always enforce my boundaries.

Suddenly, these “bullshit” concepts skyrocketed to the top of my This Stuff Really Matters list.

Here are two of my favorite explanations for these critical life concepts.

Here’s Debra Smouse at Tiny Buddha on VALUES:

“Values are who YOU are, not who you think you should be in order to fit in.”

“Why is naming your values important?

“Values are the backbone of life. They are the beacons on our path—in personal life and in business. When you identify your values and get clear with them, something magical happens: They come alive in ways you haven’t even imagined and illuminate and nurture your entire life from the inside out.
“If we don’t know what’s important to us, we spend a lot of time wandering and wondering what we should be doing. There is tremendous power in discovering and living according to our highest values, and experiencing inner peace as the natural consequence.

Here’s Mark Manson on BOUNDARIES:

“Healthy Personal Boundaries = Taking responsibility for your own actions and emotions, while NOT taking responsibility for the actions or emotions of others.”

“People with poor boundaries typically come in two flavors: those who take too much responsibility for the emotions/actions of others, and those who expect others to take too much responsibility for their own emotions/actions.”

Why Does This Matter?

It matters because our lives suck sometimes, and outside of grieving the deaths of loved ones or developing a disease impossible to prevent, it’s pretty much always our fault. We feel INFINTELY more confident and in control of our lives once we accept this truth.

Your wife left you because you were a shitty husband.

Your kids rebelled because you made missteps as their parent.

You lost your job because you failed to make yourself indispensable.

You got sick because you make unhealthy choices.

You don’t have money because you’re unwilling to put in the work or take the risks it requires.

Your boyfriends always cheat and treat you like crap because you don’t love and respect yourself enough to not date men like that.

Bad things happen. And we really feel them because negative emotions tend to register more prominently with us than positive ones.

“A major reason for the more noticeable role of negative emotions is that they possess greater functional value. The risks of responding inappropriately to negative events are greater than the risks of responding inappropriately to positive events, since negative events can kill us while positive events will merely enhance our well-being,” Dr. Aaron Ben-Zeév wrote in Psychology Today.

Maybe everyone else grew up faster than I did, but I was in my 30s before recognizing that the common denominator in most of my life problems was me.

Because I want to feel happy (the real happy that comes from internal peace absent fear, guilt, anxiety and shame) more than I want most things, I made the choice to try to define my core values, honestly communicate my boundaries to others, and then ENFORCE them.

That means, when someone I just met at my birthday gathering says something that genuinely offends me and contradicts my core values, she and I will have a totally uncomfortable and not-fun conversation right in front of everyone, and then when she tries to play nice later and reach out to me via Facebook Messenger in an attempt to score a date, I don’t consider it, even though that’s something I probably would have done just three years ago when I was desperate to feel liked and wanted.

“Your beliefs become your thoughts. Your thoughts become your words. Your words become your actions. Your actions become your habits. Your habits become your values. Your values become your destiny.” – Mahatma Gandhi

Your core values are who you are when no one’s watching. Your core values are what you do and say because it’s your truth, and not what you do to win the approval of your friends, family, co-workers, classmates, neighbors or romantic interests.

Your core values are THE REAL YOU, not who we think we should be so people will like us.

When we live our values and enforce our boundaries, the only people in our inner circles end up being people who share (or at least respect) our values, don’t attempt to manipulate or take advantage of us, don’t bring unwanted drama into our lives, and who love, respect and accept us for who we REALLY are (and not because of what we do for them).



Not the bullshit nonsense I once chalked them up to be, but rather ideas with the power to change everything. For the better.

More on Values and How to Define Them

From Dawn Barclay at Living Moxie: How to Define Your Core

From How to Find Your Values


More on Boundaries and Why They Matter

From Mark Manson: The Guide to Strong Boundaries


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46 thoughts on “This is Why Your Life Sucks”

  1. I like that you’ve developed self reflection but wonder if you are maybe still out on the far opposite arc of the swing. For example, I think sometimes you can be sick because life works that way. Not everything is always attributable to fault. I’d be interested to hear an example from your own values set. Ie. What was genuinely offensive to you in the conversation?

    I’ve been working at setting boundaries better but apparently that exposes my ineptitude with communication as I now just seem to piss ppl off when I call out a breach. Ugh. Never stop learning

    1. The nature of that conversation at my birthday gathering was about faith and personal spiritual beliefs which I prefer to not discuss here.

      I wasn’t so much offended that she verbally shat on those beliefs half as much as how ignorant the statements were and how unwilling she was to listen to a different viewpoint.

      I’m fairly well mannered and polite, sometimes to a fault. I have at many times in my life suffered from Nice Guy Syndrome.

      I’m perfectly fine with that. I AM nice. I’m not going to play grouchy tough guy because it seems “cool.” If I’m grouchy, it’s because I’m actually pissed, and if I’m talking tough, it’s because I feel courageous, even if it’s likely sometimes artificially inflated online because it’s easier to talk tough without eye contact.

      My point of the “being nice” and having “manners” tangent was merely to say I’m not advocating being an asshole to people.

      Striving for kindness IS one of my core values. People treat others horribly. On purpose. All the time. For countless reasons.

      I don’t set out to hurt others, ever. It’s one of the reasons I behaved so poorly during marriage fights. When someone suggests you’re intentionally mean, when you’re actually just ignorantly and obliviously hurtful, it causes righteous indignation.

      When you’re righteously indignant, but SHOULDN’T be, because you actually did do something wrong without realizing it, a bunch of things break.

      Anyway. I stand by what’s here. Values. Boundaries.

      Speak and live them honestly.

      Your personal life thrives as a result, you become your best self, and good things happen.

  2. I know you’re a busy guy but any chance of adding a resources page to your site where very valuable links out to recommended articles, books and blogs could live in one spot?

  3. I think I agree with the below comment. Sometimes, despite our best intentions, bad things happen. Sometimes you’re really healthy, but you still get sick. Taking on too much blame is dangerous. Taking on the right amount of blame, while still holding others accountable is a fine line. On one side is horrible self-esteem, blaming yourself for everything, and letting people walk all over you because you feel you deserve it. That’s probably even worse than blaming everyone else because it means you’re a horrible sucky person that should probably stop trying because you won’t get any better than what you have. Accepting your faults, and accepting that others do also play a role in the sucky-ness is the goal.

    1. Having good boundaries means you accept what’s yours, and don’t carry the crap others dump on you.

      I’m not asking people to needlessly carry guilt and shame when they were victimized by life.

      I’m simply saying I think most of the bad things that happen to us (particularly in the context of our dysfunctional interpersonal relationship) because we don’t manage effectively these two areas of our life.

      The proof is in the pudding.

  4. Hey Matt, Would love your thoughts on this.
    Do you think some people’s personal core values are “handed down” or learned along the way?
    (just pondering if my cheating ex thought infidelity was the norm since his mom cheated throughout her marriage before the split when he was 15. Monkey see, monkey do?)

    1. In one of those links at the bottom of the posts, one of the writers dives into where our values come from.

      It’s a million places.

      Parents. Extended family, including our ancestors. Social circle. Membership affiliations. Churches. Teams. Schools. Culture related to geography or the town/city we live in. Work environment. Etc.

      And they change constantly.

      A person’s values as a single 14-year-old do not match those of themselves at 32 with a spouse and children, nor will they be the same as 70-year-old retired grandparents.

      If I love my mom and refuse to believe she’s capable of doing wrong, and she has a series of affairs I know about, perhaps I will grow up to believe having affairs is, perhaps not great, but maybe not that bad.

      Mom = good. Mom has affairs. Therefore, it’s okay if I do.

      I can see how a confused person might come to that belief.

      Psychologists and psychiatrists or other types of mental health professionals, or even just someone who has read a lot more books than me, can probably provide more valuable feedback than this. 🙂

      I’m sorry you went through that in your marriage.

      Thank you for reading and being part of the conversation.

      1. Thank you for sharing your thoughts with all of us Matt. Loss teaches us a lot about ourselves. I wouldn’t wish divorce on anyone but what an incredible learning experience and journey. Take on risks and ride the journey called life. With no regrets. 🙂

  5. Read this- I think it applies 🙂
    One of the things I keep noticing is that alot of the conclusions that are expressed here can be applied in so many aspects of peoples lives. For instance, knowing what your values are is probably wise if you want to have meaningful relationships, or meaningful work or meaningful play for that matter. I’m doing the Moxie workbook -mostly because I am in the middle of a demanding and debt producing graduate program, that will in fact pay me back in money, but will suck the life out of me in time. If I thought more about it, I may have chosen differently…or maybe not. But I do now know I get to decide how I will work in my practice- or at least I’m learning what things I will compromise and the things I wont.

    I really like the idea of a “reference page”- I’d like to read some of the books and authors referred to here.

  6. I think it’s valuable to understand that our values change. Or our core changes. I had a lover once who told me I didn’t really know who I wanted to be – I was several different people wrapped into one. And i think it’s because some of my values were still being shaped. I wasn’t sure what my core values were. I think much of my core was learned from parents and family. There was some input from friends and perhaps when you “hang” with someone of different values, you question yours, or you try out a new value system. But I think ultimately when something rocks you to your core, maybe that really helps you to identify your core values. Go back to your roots, so to speak.

    1. I agree. I think our values change with time and experience.

      I personally need to reevaluate mine. I am sure they are quite different now than the values I had 20 years ago.

  7. Thank you again. This is quite timely for me.

    “Values are who YOU are, not who you think you should be in order to fit in.”

    The past few months, I have been working on avoiding the dreaded “Shoulds”.
    “I should do or feel XYZ” or “They say we should do or have or be XYZ”.

    “Shoulds” for me are like the negative tasks we had to do as kids to gain approval of adults, and now as adults we still feel we must do them but, I am pretty sure that is not true.

    I am trying to find the truth of what I want to do or be. What are my core values? I got so caught up in the triage of my life and work I forgot to ask myself what I really want. And honestly I still don’t know.

    I am lucky enough to not really need anything. My life is not sucky at all, just a bit challenging in my relationships.

    Once all your material needs and life goals are met, then what?

    Presently, I am just doing the things that make me happy (plus some work) and hopefully that will lead me to greater illumination regarding what I value and want to pursue.

    Or, maybe I just am not ready to face and enforce my values.

    I appreciate you for taking the time to share your experience with us.

    It seems you are helping quite a few people to reflect on their lives and actions.

  8. Awesome, Matt! There’s a proverb 25:28 I really like, “He that hath no rule over his own spirit is like a city that is broken down, and without walls.” To rule one’s spirit first requires you to know what your values are and walls are the boundaries you set. A defenseless city is like forever getting blindsided by life.

  9. I had similar realizations, especially about boundaries, recently, it takes a lot of work to unlearn bad habits, and unproductive thoughts. I had awful boundaries as a teenager.
    I also had one person own my outer life and another dictate my inner life, which was all sorts of toxic. Boundaries means standing up for your own individual self, but letting others in. Shitty people can get in your boundaries and tell you who you are. You can also lose opportunies by shutting people out by having to strong a boundaries.
    Boundaries, and defining yourself is important.

  10. A few years ago, someone asked me to make a list of my values. “Values? Let me think about that”. After I got over feeling embarrassed for not knowing what my values were, I made a list. My first list was long and all over the place. I prioritized it and looked at the top 10ish. I sit down and make that list when I’m feeling lost now. Helps me remember who I am and who I want to be in my actions. It’s an ongoing process, a forever process.
    My actions before I made this list were…hit or miss as far as living in alignment with my values. I felt I was and wanted to be a ‘good’ person but good was so subjective. I was always trying to get a handle on what was ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ and never thought to think ‘who am I? I suppose I lived much of my life trying to measure up to what I THOUGHT someone else or society valued. It’s amazing what we do when we’re not aware of what we’re doing. Now, I think of my list of values and choose who I am going to be in any given moment. That is, when I haven’t lapsed back into old habit- but that happens less frequently with practice.

    Personal beliefs are nestled in there with values. As I looked at my beliefs, I found so many of them to be untrue. There were wild assumptions behind some of those beliefs. I used to ‘go along to get along’, which I would say came from my values of harmony and cooperation. But the belief that I’m not lovable/likable blinded me to my values of love and integrity. I think my false personal beliefs made it difficult to live my values. And at the time, I didn’t know that I was living that belief or what my values were.

    Only now, knowing what my values are, have I begun to create boundaries. How do you create boundaries if you don’t know what’s most important to you?

    This is hard work but I am grateful for it and the freedom it gives me. The thing is, I used to consider myself a very happy person who ‘had it together’. Perhaps ignorance was bliss. I was just unaware of the prison cell I kept myself in.

    1. I really love reading everyone’s input. I love the authenticity and honesty. Especially when it surrounds what they are learning and what they didn’t have together. It gives me courage to be who I am, trust who I am and be ok with the parts in process.
      Thanks 🙂

  11. Thank you for such a thoughtful post, Matt. My husband and I sometimes say that we’re different on the surface (movies we like, etc) but we’re the same deep down where it counts.

    Of course, what we really mean is that we share core values. If I had never had to go through the horrible relationships in my past, I may never have found those values though. So, in a way, they helped to bring me to my happy marriage now.

  12. I’m confused. You quote this in big, bold type: “Healthy Personal Boundaries = Taking responsibility for your own actions and emotions, while NOT taking responsibility for the actions or emotions of others.”

    And then an inch later, 3 of your 6 examples assign the “you” to whom you’re speaking responsibility for the behavior of another person!
    Your wife left you because you were a shitty husband.
    Your kids rebelled because you made missteps as their parent.
    Your boyfriends always cheat and treat you like crap because you don’t love and respect yourself enough to not date men like that.

    None of those statements demonstrates Healthy Personal Boundaries as defined above.

    I’m working on boundaries, myself, so let me see if I can rewrite those statements in a way that assigns responsibility accurately….

    “Your wife left you because she chose to stop tolerating your behavior; you chose to persist in that behavior rather than adopt and follow mutually agreeable house rules.”

    “You chose a harsh approach to parenting in which you strongly rejected ideas other than your own; your kids rejected some of your values with the same harshness you modeled for them.”

    “You have dated men who mistreat women; you will be treated better in a relationship if you choose a man who respects women.”

    1. Hi Becca. I’m not the best writer, and I also write really fast and then just publish it without putting much thought into it. I’m sure that’s obvious to anyone paying close attention, because there is a ton of poor sentence structure in these posts.

      The point I was attempting to make is that bad things happen to us in life, and the tendency of many people, including my younger self, is to assign blame to anyone or anything we can that’s not ourselves.

      When a boyfriend cheats on his girlfriend, he’s an asshole no matter what.

      When a girlfriend discovers she’s been cheated on, she has many decisions she can make, and they are her’s to make. No one else’s.

      When a girlfriend is emotionally distraught because of her serial-cheating boyfriend, it demonstrates an appalling lack of personal boundary enforcement.

      When a woman repeatedly finds herself in a cycle of dysfunctional and painful relationships with men who tend to lie/cheat/abuse/etc., it’s because she hasn’t identified her values nor committed herself to following them.

      The only people we can control is ourselves.

      Of course my ex-wife bears some percentage of the blame for our failed marriage. But my share of the blame, whether it’s 1% or 99%, is what I must accept responsibility for. What does it even matter how much of any bad thing is someone else’s fault?

      We are either blameless (which happens when we are innocent victims of chance or deliberate con-artistry), or we are partially to blame for every negative experience we have.

      People would be wise to put their energy into whatever personal growth is necessary to eliminate any behaviors that lead to bad things, instead of doing the thing our inner-childs all want to do: “But if they hadn’t done X, Y, and Z, this wouldn’t have happened!”

      People don’t like facing the darkest recesses of their hearts and souls where the truth lives. It makes us squirm.

      But when we keep asking the right questions and then answering them truthfully, we can ALWAYS find a way we could have done things better.

      Perhaps you’re having heartburn over the Mark Manson’s “…while NOT taking responsibility for the actions and emotions of others.”

      When I read that, I think about not letting parents or siblings guilt-trip us because we don’t always do what they wish we would, or about refusing to give someone you care about money and not feeling guilty afterward because they have a problem with addiction or gambling or whatever.

      All three of those examples are about relationships with people we theoretically love: Spouse, Children/Parents, Partner in committed relationship.

      Those relationships require sacrificial love to succeed, so the waters get a little murky.

      I think it’s less about trying to form and enforce strong boundaries AFTER we are in these cooperative or close family relationships, and more about self-discovery, self-confidence, self-esteem so that we can BEGIN relationships (or more accurately, never enter them at all) with healthy and enforced boundaries.

      It’s really unfortunate that we can reverse-apply any of this to our lives. All we can do is make better choices moving forward.

      This would be such a great thing for MOST people to think about and practice. But I’ll have to settle for the few here who care, and God-willing, myself, walking the walk.

      1. I think your sentence structure is usually fine in your posts! Everybody makes mistakes from time to time, but if you were making a lot of them I wouldn’t be still reading; truly careless writing gets on my nerves.

        Yes, absolutely, many of us tend to assign blame to other people, and you’ve made that point well. But if you turn it around to assigning blame to yourself for what other people do, that’s the same mistake in reverse, not healthy boundaries.

        When a girlfriend is emotionally distraught because of her serial-cheating boyfriend, it demonstrates an appalling lack of personal boundary enforcement.

        I think what you mean is that he wouldn’t have cheated more than once if she’d enforced her boundaries; is that right? I think that’s not necessarily true. She may have stood up for herself very strongly after he cheated the first time, and she may have felt that they worked it out so that she could trust him and it wouldn’t happen again. If it then happens a second time, seems to me she is emotionally distraught because her boundaries have been violated BY HIM, not because SHE failed to enforce them–she did her best, but he violated them anyway. Now, if they keep on in this cycle after that, then yeah, she’s not following through on her claim that his cheating is intolerable to her–she’s tolerating it.

        When you’re upset because somebody violated your boundaries that you had previously explained, it is true that the person “caused” your feelings. You can blame him for choosing to do something that he KNEW would upset you–like leaving the glass by the sink, in your classic example. Where Mark Manson’s “taking responsibility” comes in, I think, is in understanding that your boundaries are yours rather than a universal what-everyone-needs and that your actions expressing your feelings are your choice and not something the other person forced you to do. “Your wife left you because you were a shitty husband” is no more true than, “Your wife smashed a glass and slit your throat with it because you left that glass by the sink.” Your wife left you instead of killing you or doing a martyr act for 50 years. You are responsible for your choice to violate her boundaries persistently. She is responsible for the action she chose to take to express her feelings.

        When a woman repeatedly finds herself in a cycle of dysfunctional and painful relationships with men who tend to lie/cheat/abuse/etc., it’s because she hasn’t identified her values nor committed herself to following them.

        So, you think it’s totally about her and not at all about the men she’s with and the patterns of behavior they’ve already formed before meeting her? You think she would get the same results no matter whom she dated?

        I think that identifying and committing to her values will help her recognize an asshole earlier in a relationship or before it begins. But I also think that finding a man who respects women will help her to stick up for herself, both because he’ll do less to hurt her and because he’ll care when she tells him he’s hurt her.

        I think it’s less about trying to form and enforce strong boundaries AFTER we are in these cooperative or close family relationships, and more about self-discovery, self-confidence, self-esteem so that we can BEGIN relationships (or more accurately, never enter them at all) with healthy and enforced boundaries.

        I have to disagree. If I give up now on identifying the boundaries I need and enforcing them with my partner of 21 years, my son of 11 years, or my parents of 42 years, they are going to walk all over me and I am going to feel sorry for myself. It wasn’t until 5 years ago that I realized how similarities between my mother’s personality and my partner’s were cuing me to do things for myself that I would like my partner to do for me–I didn’t feel safe asking for help. I was letting him “make” me feel things and do things for a totally warped reason! He’s not like my mother in every way, and the fact is that when I ask him to do something for me that I (still) fear is overly indulgent, usually he’s happy to do it, and if he isn’t he does NOT respond with biting, condescending sarcasm that shames me for thinking I might be worthy of such attention. It took a lot of analysis of my feelings and reactions for me to understand where my, “I wish you would help me, but I couldn’t possibly ask,” feelings were rooted. When I started to understand, I didn’t have to throw out my existing relationship, get 100% healthy all alone, and then try to find something new. Instead I’ve been growing in this relationship and changing it.

  13. I too used to suffer from Nice Girl Syndrome and let people push me around because I wanted to be liked, just like you Matt, but it got to a point that I realized that I was breaking and bending myself into all sorts of shapes for other people and losing sight of the amazing person I am in the process. It took a lot of suffering and the advice of perhaps the realest friend I have to make me see this. My life only began to be satisfying when I established (or found out) what my values are and set boundaries. Unsurprisingly, nearly all the friend I had back then left, but I was blessed with new people who respected who I am and who accepted me.
    Your life experience becomes so much richer when you have convictions and you stand by them.
    And I totally love what you do here. I am neither married nor divorced (I am barely legal lol) but your reflections here help me to think and help me understand this crazy complicated world of relationships that I barely know anything about.

    1. This, I was such a pushover, for assholes who either actively worked against my interests or at best apathetic friends who were more into their problems then having a balanced friendship. Was good and loyal, almost to a fault. To the degree my own individual identity and desires were erased and denied.

  14. This speaks to a lot of my personal beliefs, and the stuff I have been trying to write about for the past few years.

    Holding yourself accountable for your own actions, and only yours is a very, very difficult balance to find. It’s very easy to go either way – blaming others or taking on more than you are responsible for.

    This is a topic though that in my experience people don’t like to think about, especially in their own lives. When you’re down, and hurting, it’s very easy to look to point fingers and blame, or to make yourself a martyr and see everything as your fault because “I’m a screw-up and I never do anything right”.

    I do think that until you can find that balance and take ownership of your part and only your part, you can’t really ever improve as a person. And improving as a person is something we should all strive for in our lives. It doesn’t matter who or where we are in life, I can always be a better “me” tomorrow than I am today.

    And improving as a person is a key to happy and healthy relationships.

    1. bygeorgeithinkyou'vegotit

      “When you’re down, and hurting, it’s very easy to look to point fingers and blame, or to make yourself a martyr and see everything as your fault because “I’m a screw-up and I never do anything right”.”

      I am having great difficulty finding that balance… Typically I end up on the “I’m a screw-up” end. Especially now going through the divorce process and trying to raise teens.

      It’s quite exhausting.

  15. Such wonderful conversation and perspectives from all the commenters. I absolutely love it!

    Regarding Matt’s and Becca’s response to “When a girlfriend is emotionally distraught because of her serial-cheating boyfriend, it demonstrates an appalling lack of personal boundary enforcement.”

    (Thoughts – I’ll try to make it short).

    Husband cheats on wife. Wife’s forgives him. Husband cheats again.

    Maybe it is because “Trust”, one of her core values, does not include another important core value; “Respect”? Perhaps she gave him another change because she didn’t have “Respect” as a core value but had “Patience” instead?

    Personal Core values: Trust and Respect = you cheat, you’re out
    Personal Core values: Trust and Patience = you cheat, I’ll give it another shot because my Patience trumps trust?


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  17. I saw a couple comments on here about “life sometimes just…happens, right?”

    Well, sure it does. But don’t you want to do everything in your power to prevent the bad stuff? You won’t prevent ALL of it, because yeah, sometimes life is random.

    But it’s not as random as you think. And if you assume it is…you’re giving power away. Power to influence the outcomes.

    When bad things DO happen, you don’t need to beat yourself up with guilt. But you DO need to understand -and own- how you contributed to the bad thing happening.

    We all have done regrettable things, and life isn’t always fair in how she doles out the consequence cookies. But we do have tremendous power in understanding ourselves better to learn instead of suffer.

    Those “woe is me” types sure do woe a lot, don’t they? THIS IS WHY. They’re not doing what Matt is writing about here.

    (OK, a titch oversimplified. But valid nonetheless.)

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  19. I have read your blog and you are so right, I so wish I had found it sooner. My wife is divorcing me, you know why. Can I ask, did you and your wife ever reconcile, could you ever persuade her that you had changed? I long for a second chance with mine but she is now seeing the man who’s phone number I saw text messages to in January. Divorce is just starting but I still long for another chance?

    Also you say you know of success stories, can you share any

    1. I know what you mean, Steve. Like, on a very foundational, gut level. I get it.

      It’s so hard to convince someone you’ve changed after you’ve (probably unintentionally and unknowingly) disappointed or hurt her repeatedly for years.

      This is an important conversation, but one I don’t like to have publicly. If you want, fire me a note at [email protected], and I can share more.

      I’m really sorry this has happened to you guys.

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Matt Fray

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