Respect in Relationships and What to Do If It’s Gone


Love is a complex notion. It’s difficult to describe what it is, but it’s possible to figure out its main components. Respect is one of them, along with care, concern, responsibility, trust, and acceptance. It can be said that respect is a prerequisite for love. Any healthy relationship, be it a romantic or friendly one, is based on mutual respect. Ironically enough, many couples whose relationships initially included respect either lose it over the years or multiply. Should you respect your partner by default or they must deserve it? What role does respect in relationships play? How not to lose respect for your significant other? Keep reading to find the answers to these and other questions.

respect in relationships

What is respect in relationships?

There are so many different interpretations of respect in relationships that it can compete with the definition of love. Very often, respect is confused with elementary politeness. Sometimes, it is identified with attention and friendliness, interest, indulgence or on the contrary – subordination. Respect is a broader notion. It may include all those things, as well as exclude some of them. You can look up the meaning of this word in the dictionary, but let’s turn to the expert on the nature of love, Erich Fromm.

According to his definition, “respect is not fear and awe; it is the ability to see a person as he is, to be aware of his unique individuality”. This word originates from Latin respicere, which means to care for, consider, gaze at, respect. You look at your partner, know them, and you love them for who they are. To respect your partner means to admit their autonomy. They are not your property but an independent personality, different from you and beautiful in this difference. You don’t want to change them, because you want to cherish their uniqueness.

Reasons why respect is important in relationships

Respect is not an important element in loving relationships, it is a fundamental one. You may say that love is the main reason for two people to start a relationship. Most people think of love as passion in this case. Yet, real love is much more than that. It’s been already mentioned that respect is a constituent of love. If you don’t respect your partner, you don’t love them for real. Respect has a lot of manifestations. Here are some of them that prove that respect is a cornerstone of successful long-term relationships.

The ability to see the virtues and put up with the vices. You know your partner very well. You’ve talked a lot, you’ve been through different situations, you’ve revealed their true nature – and that didn’t repel you. There are some habits or qualities of your loved one that you are not very fond of, but you realize that those things are part of their personality. Respect is about accepting a person as a whole, not trying to analyze the good and the bad.

Self-control and patience. It is respect that stops you from making a biting remark. It is respect that doesn’t let you focus on your partner’s flaws. It is respect that helps you remain calm in the middle of an argument.

relationship respect The driving force to work on your relationship. Any relationship is not secured against some crisis periods. It’s not a crime to ponder over your relationship, wonder if there is still between you two. Sooner or later, partners become more like friends rather than lovers. Living under the same roof, they get used to one another. Their passion transforms into the feeling of fondness, and it’s a normal scenario. Young people may say that if there isn’t passionate love, the relationship is over. Not at all. Mature spouses rarely use the word “love” but often emphasize the importance of respect. This is what keeps them together. There are a lot of things they have been through. That experience saturates their mutual respect and makes them hold on to their relationship.

Preventing potential damage. It’s rather respect than love that makes spouses think about the consequences of their actions. If you deeply respect your partner, you’ll think twice before doing some hurtful thing. You’ll think twice before flirting with a stranger or succumbing to the temptation of adultery. Respect sets strict boundaries in your mind and doesn’t let you cross them. Respecting your partner means keeping them from suffering.

Enhancing trust in relationships. Such components of a happy relationship as respect, trust, and love go hand in hand. They are all in the equation. They are also interrelated. The absence of respect is indicative of fake love or dysfunctional relationship. The absence of trust undermines respect. When you see that your partner accepts you totally, you know you can be honest with them, and vice versa.

What is mutual respect in a relationship?

A relationship is a not a one-way street, neither is respect. It always takes two to build a harmonious and respectful relationship. Everything should be reciprocal. If you are kind to your partner, always ask for their opinion when making important decisions, show genuine interest in your partner’s life, accept their views, appreciate their interests and talents, make concessions, never even try to put them down verbally, can put yourself in their shoes, say the words of gratitude, and provide emotional support – you respect your loved one. And if your partner does the same in return, this is called mutual respect. Respect doesn’t emerge by itself. You need to put some effort in order to gain respect. The best way to do so is to be respectful. It is that simple.

Ways you can show respect in relationships:

If the essence of respect is not quite clear to you, here are some manifestations of it that you can easily practice.

  • Be a good listener. The ability to listen to your partner and be really concerned about what they say is one of the best ways to show that you respect your partner.
  • Respond to your partner’s requests immediately. Always be there when you’re needed.
  • Live up to your promises. People who make a promise and then neglect it quickly lose respect of other people, including their dearest ones. Keep your word once you’ve given it in order not to disappoint your partner.
  • Say words of admiration and appreciation. Your partner wants to feel significant, so you should prove your attitude by saying “thank you” not only for some services but for the fact that this person is present in your life.
  • Compliment your significant other. Compliments prove that you are always attentive to your partner and notice their virtues.
  • Never compare your partner with other people. Respect is about accepting a person with all their “baggage” and being okay with all that. Reference to other people is possible if the comparison is to your partner’s advantage.
  • Keep your head when arguing. Remember that you’re arguing with your loved one, not an enemy. Restrain yourself from verbal attacks and accusations, harsh criticism. Build a constructive dialog instead. This is how relationship respect works.
  • Choose in favor of gentle wording. By getting things straight you take a risk of hurting your partner. If you want to express your concern or point out some negative behavior or habit, forget criticism. Be better than any diplomat.
  • Be understanding and patient. When your partner makes a mistake, don’t scold or deride them. They need your support, not a wave of humiliation.
  • Give freedom. Not violating each other’s boundaries is what trust in relationships breeds. It is the best respect sign.
  • Be proud of your partner. Be happy for their accomplishments, encourage, and inspire.

Self respect and relationships

There is another important matter to be covered in this article. You already know how important it is to respect your partner and be respected in return. Mutual respect is a two-way street, and if one partner shows all signs of respect while the other partner doesn’t give as good as one gets, the giving partner should think about self-respect. You should know your own worth in order not to find yourself in a toxic relationship where you’re taken for granted and belittled.

trust in relationshipsSigns your partner doesn’t respect you:

  • It’s impossible to be happy in the relationship where one partner doesn’t respect the other. Watch for the following signs of lack of respect in relationships:
  • You communicate poorly. In a relationship, respect can be clearly demonstrated during a fight. Respectful partners negotiate and make compromises. If there is no respect, arguments resemble real fights.
  • Your partner doesn’t listen to you. Well, they may listen to you, but they don’t hear you. They are concentrated on themselves and deaf to your concerns.
  • You’re being constantly criticized. If your partner respects you, they are afraid of hurting you in any way. Lack of respect is manifested in their pointing out your flaws. You should tell your partner how their words make you feel.
  • Your partner doesn’t consult you. Your partner doesn’t see you as an equal. That’s why they want to control you and your relationship. It means they don’t respect your needs and views.

Signs that your relationship is bad for your self-esteem:

  • you sacrifice your interests;
  • you give up your hobby;
  • you don’t confront aggression;
  • you begin to test your partner to find out they still love you;
  • you think your partner is the leader and you’re their subordinate;
  • you think your partner is right, and you’re wrong.

How to restore respect in a relationship

The best way is to respect each other and never forget to do so throughout your relationship. However, if you feel the lack of respect in your couple, then you should mend it as soon as possible. Get into a habit of RESPECTING EACH OTHER’S:

  • needs and desires;
  • peculiarities and oddities;
  • feelings and worries;
  • tastes and passions;
  • values;
  • worldviews, opinions;
  • plans and aspirations;
  • social circle;
  • choice;
  • time.

In terms of relationships, respect is a direct way to love and harmony. It doesn’t consist in doing your best not to hurt your partner. It is about care, kindness, compromise, empathy, gratitude, giving space, and encouragement. Respect your partner, respect yourself, and never tolerate lack of respect towards you.

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