The act of respect is related to having regard for yourself or someone else. In order to respect someone, you must consider their right to have ownership and expression of what they are responsible for. A person has a right to both have and be responsible for the following things:
and their thoughts.
They also have the right to make choices and to experience the consequences of those choices, positive and negative. In order to have respect for a person, it’s important to understand that you are not responsible for any of these things that are on the other person’s list, nor are you responsible for the consequences of their choices. You are only responsible for them when they are within your boundary. We don’t have to agree with another person’s feelings, thoughts, beliefs, or interpretations. But we do have an obligation to listen and try to understand where they are coming from out of respect for that person.
Respect is also related to being able to hear another person tell you “No.” True respect means accepting that “no” without trying to manipulate the answer into a “yes” or a “maybe.” Conversely, if you tell another person “No,” they must accept your answer in order to show respect. Unfortunately, this is easier said than done. All too often, we wind up showing disrespect-or our partners wind up showing disrespect toward us-in many different ways:
sarcasm, demeaning tones
dirty looks or gestures, insinuations
or yelling or screaming at someone (just to name a few)
All of these things are ways of showing disrespect and forms of manipulation. When someone acts in any of the ways listed above, essentially they’re saying, “I can’t hear and accept the boundary you have set up, so I will work on you until you give in and give me what I want.” Here’s the really tricky thing: often, when you’re in a new relationship, you try to be nice. You want to
avoid conflict. The problem is when you do that, you are not being authentic and you are missing the opportunity to see if the new love interest respects you. In a new relationship, it is important to test your partner’s ability to be respectful by speaking your truth. This may mean saying, “No, I don’t want to go to that movie.” It may mean saying, “I would prefer to eat at a different restaurant.” It could even mean saying, “No, I am not ready to have sex with you. I need more time to get to know you.”
We’ve all heard the saying, “A relationship is only as strong as its weakest link.” If a relationship lacks respect, then that is definitely a weak link. It’s better to find out early and either correct the problem or leave the relationship so as not to waste time with a disrespectful person. What if you discover that you’re the person with respect issues? Congratulations! Now that you’re aware
of the problem, you can take important, life-changing steps to becoming a respectful partner in a relationship. Oftentimes, simply being aware of your responses and your motivations may be enough to help you shift your behavior. Other times, you may benefit from coaching or one-on-one counseling to help discover the root of the issue. It’s easy enough to fix, with the proper help and motivation.