How Do I Get My Partner To Respect Me?

Updated April 8, 2024by Regain Editorial Team

Respect is essential in a healthy relationship. Mutual respect between partners is a foundational component of a loving, healthy relationship. Respect, as does disrespect, comes in many forms and is not restricted to one class of thought or behavior. While certain behaviors are associated with respect, genuine respect is present in everything a person does for their partner.

Showing respect in a relationship is a conscious effort. It requires both partners to communicate healthily, establish trust, and empathize with one another. Respect between partners results from a willingness to be present and attentive to the other partner's boundaries and needs. While no two relationships will demonstrate respectful behavior in quite the same way, there are some common themes that are likely to appear in happy, healthy relationships.

Are you disrespected by your partner?

What is respect?

The term "respect" can mean many different things depending on context. One might talk about how an authority figure like a parent, teacher, or boss deserves respect, but that type of respect is very different from respect in a loving romantic relationship. Similarly, most people have respect for the fundamental rights and dignity of others, which is distinct from respect between romantic partners.

Respect in the context of dating usually means that the partners view each other as equals, with neither having authority over the other. Each partner is free to be themselves and live their life as they see fit, sharing their life with their partner in a mutually agreeable way. Respect also implies trust, whether trusting a partner to be honest or trusting them to know themselves.

Respect is also heavily associated with one partner appreciating the value of the other. When partners feel valued in a relationship, they are more likely to feel respected. Conversely, taking a partner for granted is almost universally seen as a sign of disrespect.

While respect can have various definitions, in a healthy relationship, respect is often more of a "gut feeling" than a set of discrete, rigidly-defined traits or actions. If you feel like you can trust your partner and feel safe around them, you probably feel respected as well. Although sometimes relationships can experience disruptions that impact trust, love, and kindness, a chronic feeling of being disrespected is not normal.

The relationship spectrum

healthy relationship is a respectful relationship, but the healthiness of a relationship is not as cut and dry as it may appear. Respect, and everything associated with it, is not black and white. Respect and healthy relationships exist along a spectrum from healthy, to unhealthy, to abusive, and even the healthiest relationships have some issues to address. Let's look at the relationship spectrum in the context of respect:

Abusive relationships

In an abusive relationship, one or both partners communicate hurtfully or threateningly. Trust is largely absent, and one partner may try to control what the other thinks or does. They may also try to isolate the other partner from their support network. Physical violence may be present, but physical violence is not required for a relationship to be considered abusive.

In an abusive relationship, respect is entirely absent. One or both partners do not respect each other, and the relationship is harmful to at least one partner. An abusive relationship is not a relationship problem, and abusers are unlikely to modify their behavior in the relationship. Experts suggest avoiding couples counseling and other proactive measures to fix a damaged relationship. If you believe you are in an abusive relationship, making a plan to leave is the best way forward.

If you or someone you know is experiencing dangerous or abusive behavior at the hands of their partner, the National Domestic Violence Hotline can help. Call 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or text "START" to 88788. You can also seek assistance through the hotline's online chat.

Ilona Titova/EyeEm

Unhealthy relationships

Unhealthy relationships also lack respect, but not to the same degree as abusive relationships, though there are often patterns of disrespectful behavior that threaten to become abusive. A relationship is unhealthy if conflict is tumultuous and resolved disrespectfully, partners struggle to be intimate, or there are significant problems with the power dynamics between partners.

Ultimately, an unhealthy relationship is anyone where you do not feel safe, happy, and respected. Gut judgment, or what your heart tells you, is just as important as logical conclusions. If you are in a chronically unhealthy relationship or unsure if the relationship is abusive, consider taking a break from the relationship to analyze your thoughts and feelings away from your partner.

Healthy relationship

Respect is a constant in healthy relationships. If one partner disrespects the other, that disrespect is unintentional and is addressed with calm, kind, empathetic communication. Mutual respect in a healthy relationship is driven by strong communication, an ability to spend personal time away from your partner, and equality in decisions and stature.

The relationship spectrum is still a spectrum when discussing healthy relationships; no relationship avoids conflict entirely. A healthy relationship differs from an unhealthy relationship chiefly because partners in a healthy relationship can resolve conflict and address threats to mutual respect. Without an ability to manage conflict and communicate openly, mutual respect between partners cannot easily form.

Improving respect in a relationship

You should only try to improve your relationship's level of respect if you feel there is significant room to grow. Abusive relationships likely cannot grow at all, and while salvageable, unhealthy relationships will require time and effort. Abusive relationships should be considered unsalvageable, and unhealthy relationships negatively impact your mental and physical health. You should take the time to consider if you want to try to repair an unhealthy relationship.

If you feel that your relationship can be improved, and you want to introduce more respect into your relationship, you should strive to increase behaviors that demonstrate respect.  

You and your partner are unique, and you will each have your own preferences for how you like to give and receive respect. Still, there are several respectful behaviors and habits that are common to healthy relationships:

  • Dedication to communication. Communication is foundational to healthy, respectful relationships. If your communication is not trusting, kind, and empathetic, consider taking steps to improve it. If communication is poor, respect will not develop.
  • Respect your partner's space. Your partner needs time away from you, and you from them. If your partner can't take time to themselves, they are not respecting your boundary for personal space. Feeling drained by a clingy partner can significantly reduce the quality of the relationship.
  • Make decisions together. One of the best ways for partners to demonstrate respect is to include each other in decisions, both mutual decisions that impact both partners equally and decisions that may impact only one partner.
  • Understand consent. In a romantic context, consent usually refers to sexual activity; both partners must consent to have sex. However, consent runs much deeper than sex; it can apply to any situation. If you or your partner feel guilted or forced into doing something, consent is not being respected in the relationship.
  • Invest in trust. Trust is foundational to respect and healthy relationships, but it can take work. Trusting your partner requires a conscious effort, and putting in the work to build trust not only increases respect but makes it easier to increase respect in the future.
  • Believe in your partner. Respect comes easier when we feel that our partner supports our goals and ambitions. If your partner doesn't seem to believe you are capable or is indifferent to your success, you will not feel respected or uplifted, which can harm a healthy relationship.

The list above barely scratches the surface of how to increase respect in a relationship. Ultimately, communicating with your partner and understanding their wants and needs is the most important part of developing respect.

Are you disrespected by your partner?

How can online therapy help?

Visiting with a therapist online can help you and your partner introduce more respectful behaviors into your relationship. Couples counseling under the guise of a licensed therapist offers the best chance of improving your relationship. Attending therapy remotely also removes many barriers to attending traditional therapy, such as traveling to a physical office or being restricted to therapists who practice nearby. Online therapists use the same evidence-based techniques as in-person therapists. Those techniques are the same as if they were applied in an office setting and are just as effective.  

Therapist reviews

“Cori is very insightful, thoughtful, and fair. It seems like she gets both sides of our couples therapy. I would highly recommend her to anyone, especially couples. She has helped my wife and I improve communication, mutual respect, and get through some hard times.”
“Dr. Diai is insightful, professional, and very compassionate. She can turn arguments and conflicts around and bring light to the conversation, always respecting the different points of view. My husband and I are so grateful to be assigned to her to help us through this challenging period in our lives.”


Respect is essential in a loving, healthy relationship. You deserve respect, and if you don't feel respected in your relationship, it's time to evaluate whether the relationship is right for you. Some relationships are abusive, meaning they are too unhealthy and too harmful to be remedied. Other relationships may have some unhealthy habits that can be changed with time and effort. Respect can be improved between partners, but it is a conscious process that requires the investment of both people in the relationship.

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