A successful marriage will most likely be built on signs of love and communication, and not disrespectful communication. Sometimes, as a marriage continues, one spouse says things that ultimately could lead to disrespectful interactions within that marriage. Noticing the signs of disrespectful communication is important.
"We all deserve to be with someone who treats us kindly. The echoes of a partner's harsh words in a relationship can often be heard for years to come. Respect yourself enough to know when it is time to stand up for yourself against disrespect. That may mean becoming more assertive, or it may mean moving on." - Aaron Horn LMFT
Spending time with each other is a crucial aspect of marriage. If your partner does not make time for you, whether it be for conversations or even just catching up, then it is a possibility that they may have begun to take your presence in their life for granted.
In long-term couples, it’s not uncommon for partners to get caught up in life. Work, strain in the family, and so on, may all start to take up a significant portion of your or your partner’s time.
However, this does not mean that it’s good for the relationship. While unintentional, this lack of effort may feel like disrespect in a relationship or lead to a decrease in intimacy or other concerns.
Usually, this can be solved with a conversation. The conversation can start with a statement as simple as, “our relationship means a lot to me, and I would like to spend more quality time together.” From there, you can ask to plan date nights - which are important for the health of long-term couples - put effort into starting more deep, authentic conversations with one another, and trying other new activities as a couple, like playing games built for connection.
If a partner shuts down this conversation or scoffs at the idea of an increase in quality time, that is a sign of disrespect in and of itself, and it is different from the unintentional distance that can sometimes occur. Counseling may be advantageous or even necessary if that is the case.
Keeping a spouse in the loop is a basic sign of respect and value for their time, care, and wellbeing. Again, there are times when people overlook things, and this could be one of those times. Details that seem major to one person might not seem so major to the other, and life stress that takes up a great deal of mental or emotional space could be another factor, as it can cause someone to forget things more frequently.
If your partner frequently keeps things from you, whether deliberate or not, it might be time to talk about how these actions make you feel undervalued and the consequences they have for you, for them, and the overall romantic relationship.
Sometimes, actions speak louder than words. You should also notice how your spouse behaves in front of their social circle with you on most occasions rather than one-time scenarios. If they are with their colleagues or friends and they fail to introduce you or bring you into the conversation, then it could show that they’re not as interested or value your input or involvement as they should be. This can indicate disrespect within a relationship, or it could be an oversight, depending on the scenario, the intent, and other things that are or aren’t going on within your relationship.
Regardless, your feelings are valid in all relationships, and direct communication in all relationships is a likely solution, particularly if these actions were not purposeful.
A conversation could be all it takes to determine that there's disrespect in a relationship. That said, mental health professionals who provide relationship therapy frequently help couples see each other's side and come to a solution.
A good spouse who shows respect and value for their partner will be concerned about their partner’s needs, family, and household. However, sometimes a partner may only be concerned about their wellbeing, health, or material needs. This is different from self-care or individuality, both of which are important both with someone and those who are single and aren’t disrespectful in nature. It is essential to understand and notice this difference.
If your relationship feels like it’s not equal in this way and you feel disrespected or taken for granted, it is time for things to change. If you run the household, pay the rent, clean, cook, and are emotionally available when they need it, but they do not do the same when you need it even though they can, that is not okay.
You’re different people, so it makes sense that you would each have individual needs in your relationship.
However, it should not feel like someone you’re with someone that ignores you while you care for them and are conscious of their needs.
Sometimes, the people we care about become engrossed within their own lives and what’s going on within their life outside of their relationships.
Other times, they may fail to understand or appreciate the importance of what’s going on with you for another reason. As a result, you might feel hurt or disrespected and it can be best for you to have an open and honest conversation to realize their point of view and make yours available to them, too.
There are also circumstances within unhealthy couples where a partner may actively ignore your excitement over something or put you down when you’re happy. For example, if you’re excited about a promotion, the person you’re with might scoff “it’s not that big of a deal” or “anyone could have done that.” This is not a matter of simply being aloof. It is disrespectful, and it is not okay.
A spouse that makes you feel less than desired or valued may not be respecting you. However, it is important to understand the difference between when they truly mean it or when they speak out because of a moment of stress, tiredness, and so on.
Generally, our partner will likely see you when you are a little more grumpy or moody than you might be on other occasions - and vice versa. This is not an excuse, but it may be worth noting that there is a difference between a partner who is a tad irritable on a bad day - maybe, you ask how their day is, and they grumble as a response, apologizing after the fact - and a partner who does put you down, belittles your intelligence, or otherwise mistreats you.
It is crucial that whoever you’re with sees you in a fond light and acknowledges you as the intelligent, valuable person you are. If it feels like this is not true within your relationship, something needs to change.
Spouses who do not value the other often make derogatory comments either to the face or behind the back. This could include comments on your intellect, career path, hobbies, or even the kind of person you are. These comments are not only blatantly disrespectful, but a form of verbal abuse. For a healthy relationship, a partner is supportive of your self-esteem. While a person who verbally abuses may attempt to say that they are trying to “help” you or that they are “just being honest,” derogatory comments are not helpful, supportive, or motivating.
Hiding things from you, especially important things, is generally inappropriate behavior. A partner who hides things may be carrying out acts that you generally wouldn’t approve of; they violate your trust by performing these actions, but also by working hard to keep them secret. Sometimes, we don’t mention things to the people we’re dating, and it’s not at all malicious - we may not think to bring up a new cafe we tried at lunch or something a coworker did that bothered us. Additionally, we may not always open up about certain things - deeper things - right away. However, actively attempting to hide something, especially if it involves you, is different, and it can certainly hurt a relationship as well as indicate disrespect in a relationship.
Sometimes, spouses may treat you as if you do not matter or are not valued in their lives. No one should have to feel not valued by someone they love – if your spouse treats you like anything less than the partner and person you are, it’s time to take a step back. What makes you feel as though you don’t matter in this relationship? Does your partner ignore your feelings through statements such as, “other people have it worse” or “just get over it”? Does it feel like they have a lack of interest in the relationship or ignore the effort you put into the relationship?
Two possible definitions of the word respect are “a feeling of admiring someone or something that is good, valuable, important, etc.,” and “a feeling or understanding that someone or something is important, serious, etc., and should be treated in an appropriate way.” So, if you don’t feel valued or don’t feel like you matter in a partnership, it makes sense that you would also feel disrespected. No one wants to feel like they don’t matter, and it is incredibly painful to think that you don’t matter to someone you are in a relationship with.
Sometimes, people show care in varying ways and won’t know that a partner feels this way. Other times, blatant disrespect is the culprit. Regardless of intention, change is necessary in a relationship where this feeling shows up. In a healthy partnership, a partner will likely want to learn about what does or does not make you feel valued, heard, and affirmed.
Sometimes, spouses fail to stand by their partner in times of trouble, but those who often show indifference to your struggles do not offer any help cross the line between common human error and genuine disrespect. They may even say something like, “I don’t understand what the big deal is” or “you’re too sensitive.” This is another case where relationship counseling may be essential for the health of the partnership. That is behavior that needs to change. Your feelings matter, and in a strong romantic partnership, people care about each other‘s feelings and work to support one another emotionally. There are definitely times when there’s nothing a person can do, but if someone you are in a romantic partnership with is actively opposing your feelings and needs, or if they take the side of someone who is hurting you, that is not at all acceptable, and it is a sign of disrespect in a relationship.
Interacting with friends of any gender is not necessarily a problem, but when social interaction becomes flirty, racy, or otherwise more than spiritual, it’s valid to be concerned. One survey found that 7% of people who have used online dating methods have done so as a means to cheat on their partner while in a relationship. If they’re always on their phone or computer, step away from you to take phone calls, and never seem to leave their phone unattended or appear nervous about doing so, this could be a sign.
If this or any other signs of disrespect lead to divorce, it is possible to move forward. You deserve to have healthy, respectful, authentic connections. Finding a counselor or therapist to work with one-on-one can help you get where you want to be, identify what you want to look for, if you are ready to do so, and work through any potential effects of infidelity that may occur.
There are a number of other ways that social media could negatively affect a relationship or make a person feel disrespected that have nothing to do with infidelity or cheating. For example, if a partner shares details about you on the internet that you do not want shared, it makes sense that you would feel disrespected, and it’s vital to draw firm boundaries in this area.
Does your spouse make fun of your clothing choices or something else related to the way that you look? This pairs with any other derogatory or negative comment made as a sign of disrespect, but it is a sensitive topic that deserves to be discussed on it’s own.
No matter your relation to a person, this is not acceptable. Whether comments about your appearance show up with a family, a friend, or romantically, it is disrespectful and can be harmful.
A healthy partnership should not cause insecurity or make you question your value; instead, it should be a bond that uplifts and supports you as well as your self-esteem.
If you face struggles and your spouse is not willing to help you, that can cause concern in your partnership. If the partner is not offering to help independently, you could also try asking for help. However, if help is unavailable despite avoidable reasons, you may need to rethink your situation.
While it is true that not everyone will get along with everyone else, if your spouse cannot be bothered to be polite to your friends and family and respect these relations as something that is a meaningful part of your life, it could be a sign that they do not respect you and value you as much as they should. Maybe, they make unkind jokes about your friends or family behind their back, even when you set a boundary and ask them to stop. Or, they say something rude to a friend or family member directly. This is a big deal, and although it can sometimes be done out of insecurity or other factors, it is not at all excusable. Your family relations matter, as do the connections you have with your friends. This is behavior that requires modification if it arises in your partnerships, and it is highly disrespectful.
Partners may share their joys, happiness, and even material goods with each other. Individuals involved in romantically may have differences in what they can give within those partnerships, and this can definitely work. For example, one person in a partnership may take on more household labor, where another takes on more financial labor. You both contribute and put effort in based on what you can do as unique people in this partnership. That said, if there is a sense of inequality, it may feel like the other person is walking on you, and it could be a sign of disrespect in a relationship.
Say that you have kids together, and you provide your time to watch the kids on your own when your partner wants to do something fun, like go on a trip or head out for the night and spend time with friends. But, time and time again, when you ask for the same, no matter how soon in advance, your partner says “no,” or they put their outings above yours - even if you rarely get to go out and they are able to do so much more because of the time and energy you share. Relationship counseling may be effective in helping you and your partner make a better plan for the future of the relationship when it comes to areas like sharing and fairness. This is going to look different for every couple; what often matters most is how it feels.
In some cases, this sign of disrespect in relationships may be referred to as stonewalling. The Cambridge dictionary defines stonewalling as “to stop a discussion from developing by refusing to answer questions or by talking in such a way that you prevent other people from giving their opinions.” If your partner stops talking and ignores you when you are talking to them, this may be what’s going on. Sometimes, this happens because a partner doesn’t know how to communicate the need to ask for space and discuss something later. In this case, the intent may not be one that is disrespectful in nature, meaning that your partner would likely want to change things. After all, the people you’re in a partnership with won’t want you to feel disrespected.
What might be needed in your partnership is a conversation about how to say “I need to cool off before we continue this discussion.” In relationships of any kind, you only know what the other person tells you. A lack of communication can mean that you’re left guessing, feeling unheard, or feeling disrespected. It’s vital that you and your partner are able to discuss needs like this so that you both have a sense of mutual respect and resolution both during and outside of disagreements. Counseling for conflict resolution and general communication may be beneficial or even needed where this becomes a concern, as it provides a secure and objective environment for both of you to open up about your feelings and needs.
If a partner ignores you entirely or treats you as though either you or the relationship are an inconvenience, that is not at all okay, and it is blatantly disrespectful.
Every relationship must have boundaries to differentiate between what is comfortable or acceptable and what is not. This needs to be respected and valued by both partners. In any partnership, romantic or otherwise, boundaries are vital, and crossing them is a show of disrespect.
Say that you have a boundary around certain topics of conversation. Or, as another example, let’s say that your partner has a tendency to make jokes, and you have asked them not to make a particular joke about you. Though they see it as playful or “not a big deal,” these jokes hurt your feelings, and it is a big deal to you.
Sometimes, a sit-down conversation is enough when this comes up. Other times, it may be necessary to see a counselor or therapist who can act as an objective third party and help you and your partner with setting and respecting boundaries.
It can be tough to set boundaries at times, especially if you’re not used to doing so. This could even be the root of why a person feels disrespected; if you don’t tell your partner what makes you feel disrespected or what you won’t allow, they may have no idea that something is bothering you. Similarly, a partner who violates boundaries may not have learned to set boundaries themselves.
Marriage is often based on compromising for the happiness of the other or for the relationship to succeed. However, both partners must be equally compromising to ensure that there is a balance within the relationship.
Let’s use a common example: You want to see your family for the holidays, but your partner demands that, for the 8th year in a row, both of you visit their family instead. They shut down your ideas for a compromise, like spending time with both of your families as a couple, going to see your families independently, or alternating the years that you see each person’s family for specific holidays or events. As a result, you feel disrespected. Your partner may even guilt you into doing what they want you to do.
Now for the ultimate question: When do you draw the line, and if you determine that it is time to draw the line in your relationship, how do you do it?
The same is true if anything else within your partnership feels uncomfortable, seems to draw a wedge between the two of you, or otherwise negatively impacts you or the bond at large Ultimately, feeling disrespected isn’t good for partnerships on either side, and it can lead to other problems long-term. If you keep how you feel inside, you may start to notice emotional suppression, resentment, irritability, passive-aggressive behavior, and so on - all with, potentially, no resolve to the underlying concern. In partnerships, everyone involved should feel respected and valued. If you don’t, it’s essential to speak up, work together, and reestablish a sense of respect and appreciation.
Your next step will depend somewhat on your unique circumstances. Some of the things mentioned in this article can very well be due to a lack of communication or understanding in interpersonal partnerships where individuals do not intend to be disrespectful toward their partner and do not want a partner to feel ignored. However, others could indicate a disrespectful or abusive relationship, which may need to be handled differently. In any case, your safety is the #1 priority. Abuse is not something that anyone deserves, and help is available.
Consider that abuse does not necessarily mean physical violence. If you or someone you know could be in domestic violence or abusive situation, the National Domestic Violence Hotline is 1.800.799.SAFE (7233).
In situations absent of abuse, you must take note of the things that make you feel disrespected and speak to your partner openly and honestly. You could also opt for relationship counseling and therapy to discuss your relationship and work on it.
With the emergence and popularity of online therapy options, it’s easier now more than ever to get the support that you need. ReGain is an excellent tool to use to gain access to counselors that focus on relationship issues.
When you join the ReGain platform, you can work with a counselor one-on-one, or you can see a relationship expert with a partner for couples therapy. The plans are affordable, and it’s both quick and convenient to sign up. Just answer a series of questions, and you’ll match with a licensed provider in as soon as a few hours or a few days. You can also stop services or switch counselors easily if you need to at any point in time.
Regardless of if you opt to get support in person or online through a platform like ReGain, you deserve to get the care that you need and experience harmonious partnerships.
What if you aren’t sure about online counseling yet? Here are reviews of ReGain counselors to read from people going through similar concerns.
There is no reason to put up with disrespect or feeling that your partner does not value you. You deserve to feel valued within any relationship. Once you notice the signs of not feeling valued, you should get help from a professional counselor. With the right tools, you can start to repair your marriage, and begin to feel valued by each other again, regain respect, and you can learn how to move forward together.
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. People tend to allow this behavior to slide when they fear a relationship’s end or don’t have financial security to leave their partner. 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.