How Do I Get My Partner To Respect Me?
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.
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
A 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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Questions Commonly Asked By People In This Situation
What are examples of disrespect in a relationship?
A 2022 article titled “20 Signs of Disrespect in a Relationship and How to Deal with it” explored the many forms of disrespectful behavior that can take place within a romantic relationship.
The article listed the most common signs of disrespect in a relationship, including:
- Not prioritizing your partner
- Routinely showing up late for important events (or even deciding to cancel plans at the last minute)
- Lack of concern for your partner’s safety (like driving at a dangerously fast speed or not paying attention to the road)
- Not respecting your partner’s personal
- Breaking promises
- Shutting down your partner’s opinions, feelings, and ideas
- Belittling behavior
- Hurtful comments about your partner’s appearance
- Making big decisions that affect the relationship without consulting your partner
- Refusing to spend time with your partner’s friends or family
- Snooping through your partner’s personal belongings
- Not contributing equally to the household
- Noticing your partner flirting with others
- Inconsiderable personal habits like chewing with one’s mouth open
- Weaponized insecurities (which may look like name calling or bringing up something from the past your partner is sensitive about)
- Continually trying to change your partner
- Giving your partner the silent treatment (also known as stonewalling)
- Repeatedly interrupting your partner
Another article emphasized the importance of respect as the foundation of a healthy relationship. Experts noted additional signs of disrespect in a relationship to be aware of, such as:
- Violating your partner’s boundaries (examples of boundary crossing include unwanted physical advances, not respecting personal space, etc.)
- Dishonesty- whether big lies or white lies, overt lying or lying by omission, dishonesty is a major sign of disrespect in relationships.
- Not allowing your partner the freedom to make their own decisions or spend time without you (to engage in self-care or hang out with other people)
Understanding the signs of a disrespectful partner can help us to recognize and address unhealthy patterns that may be occurring in our own relationship or in the lives of those we care about.
When should you quit a relationship?
As respect is imperative to maintaining healthy relationships, it can be difficult to sustain connection without it. Studies have shown that in many cases, a lack of respect results in the same outcome– the dissolution of a relationship.
If you approach your partner about their disrespectful behavior and they are receptive to your concerns, making a conscious effort to change their ways- this is a positive sign that the relationship is worth saving.
However, if your partner refuses to change and dismisses your concerns, it could be time to consider ending the relationship.
What to do when you feel disrespected by your partner?
If you start to recognize that you feel disrespected in your relationship, don’t blame yourself for becoming involved with this person. Most people tend to be on their best behavior in the beginning stages of dating- and during the initial honeymoon period, we may be more likely to ignore or dismiss our partner’s flaws. Once you start to notice signs of disrespectful behavior, here are some steps you can take to address it:
- Try to take an objective look at your relationship. How long have they displayed this behavior? Is it something you think they could change?
- Initiate a conversation with your partner about what you are noticing. They may not even be aware that what they are doing could be considered disrespectful behavior. Take the time and space to how you feel, and notice how your partner responds. If they are receptive to your concerns and make a genuine effort to do things differently, this is a good sign.
- If your partner refuses to take your feelings seriously or is unwilling to improve upon their behavior, it may be time to re-evaluate whether to remain in this relationship.
- For additional support, you and your partner may consider reaching out to a licensed professional (like a marriage and family therapist) to work through the relational challenges you are experiencing in a safe space.
Meet Our Therapists: Disrespect
Terry Brewer - LCSW
Catherine Wilson - LMHC
Heather Connors - LCSW, PPSC
Joseph Frey - MA, LMFT
Stephen Robinson - MA, LCMHCS, LCAS
Darcy Dobb - LCSW, MHPP
Cheryl Williams - MA
Shannon Caraway - LCSW
Dr. Patrick Casthely - LMHC, MCAP, PHD
Dennis Doke - M.S., LMFT-S, LPC-S
Debra Jenkins - MSW, LCSW-C
Eric Anderson - LMFT,CSAT
Carla Noto-Vencill - MA,LMFT
Cynthia Wiedemann - LMFT
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
How do you deal with a disrespectful partner?
It’s important to set boundaries on what behaviors and personal habits you are not willing to tolerate. First, give yourself the personal space you need to decide what boundaries you think are important for healthy relationships. Then, consider ways you can approach your partner in a non-threatening way about your expectations and any constructive criticism you have. It’s important that you both make a conscious effort to listen to each other and your needs during this conversation. If you think this conversation may be difficult for you and your partner and cause a fight, consider having these conversations with a licensed family therapist.
What are examples of disrespect?
There are many common signs you can look out for in your own relationship. Two major red flags are name calling and overt lying, however, there are many other inconsiderate personal habits that are also considered disrespectful behavior. For example, your partner may not respect your ability to make your own decisions, ignore you at important events, or you may even find your partner flirting with others at events you attend together. This behavior can also become abusive. This includes not only verbal abuse but also unwanted physical advances, physically harming you, or destroying your personal belongings.
What are signs of disrespect?
The signs of disrespect may be hard to see in your own relationship, as one partner changes slowly over time rather than showing clear signs at a dangerously fast speed. For example, you may see no signs during the initial honeymoon period of your relationship. However, months or years down the road you may begin to see your once respectful relationship no longer feels that way. In order to spot the signs of disrespect in your own relationship, pay close attention to what’s changed over time and see if those changes match common examples of disrespect. A family therapist can also help you spot the signs of disrespect if you are struggling to do so yourself.
When should you quit a relationship?
If your partner continues to disrespect you, says they’ll work on their behavior but you are consistently seeing the same outcome, seems only half interested in finding solutions or your partner refuses to take accountability for their actions– it may be time to call the relationship quits. If this is the case for you, reaching out for professional help may help you find the strength and logistical solutions you need to leave your relationship.
Is disrespect a reason to break up?
What causes loss of respect in a relationship?
What does disrespect mean to a woman?
Can you love someone and not respect them?
Why do I get angry when I feel disrespected?
What is toxic relationship?
What is an unsupportive relationship?
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