Respect for a partner is a specific prerequisite for living a good relationship. Usually, at the beginning of a romance, partners rarely think about it: everything runs like clockwork, a partner seems to be the perfect person, and their eyes can’t see all the things that will come to poison their relationship in the future.
Why it is important to respect a person you love?
Disrespect for a partner destroys their sense of self-worth and with it, the love that once connected you.
Disrespect for a partner destroys their sense of self-worth and with it, the love that once connected you. Relationships in which one or both partners do not feel seen as personalities are full of pain and suffering. Of course, at the same time, they can persist for years, but that is probably not what you expect from a relationship.
There are plenty of examples of how disrespect for a partner is manifested in our lives. One woman allows herself to interrupt her husband every time he wants to say something. Or time after time, in public, for example, in a company of friends, her husband makes rude comments about his wife. Everyone is capable of offending a person they love; it’s not bound to a gender.
What unites these examples?
It is the obvious message: "You are no match for me. And I can afford to do whatever I want with you and our relationship." The basis of this is the lack of recognition of equal rights with a partner, the lack of tactful, respectful distance to each other. The origins of this disrespect for each other can be different. It can come from a person’s childhood, or certain traumas may affect the way they perceive a certain gender. It can be due to cultural or religious belief or personal experiences.
But let's go back to our partners. What does the person feel when they are being shouted at and offended? Whose feelings, thoughts, decisions, suggestions, needs, and life impulses are being depreciated decisively and without hesitation time after time? They are wounded. Doubts arise in their mind (“Am I really worthy of love, if the one whom I love treats me like this?”), and they also begin to defend themselves. Offended, ignored, becoming aggressive. And this is a natural reaction to any manifestation of disrespect. Some people may never be the same after a relationship in which they’ve been disrespected and emotionally destroyed. The price of disrespect is high.
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What does genuine respect look like?
Erich Fromm wrote this about it: "Respect is not fear or worshiping; it means the ability to see a person as they are, in their individuality and originality." Which, in my opinion, is true.
To respect means to recognize the autonomy of the Other: the partner is not your property, tool, or a thing. Respect contains a rejection of the desire to remake a partner and recognition of their right not to always do what you need and in a way that suits you, not them.
To respect means to treat the other carefully and attentively.
Such a way of looking at things requires a certain distance in relations: only at some distance can you really look at a person that you love, really see who is in front of you, and through this, carefully and patiently deal with them, with their values, thoughts, feelings, dreams, and ... personal traits.
For this reason, sometimes, in close relationships, it is difficult to respect a partner: there is no distance (or it is extremely small). On whom would you rather raise your voice: on your wife (husband) or your girl (boyfriend) you are just starting a relationship with? New relationships are filled with passion; you both see only the pros of each other, and you don’t see all the negative aspects of your characters. It is different when it comes to serious relationships. A spouse usually suffers more: they are already here, they are not going anywhere, and they are not going to change or bring anything new into your life. Thus, you are angry. At the same time, in relationships where people have learned to respect each other, daily closeness is unlikely to be a trigger for disrespectful actions or words. People who have learned to accept each other won’t have a problem with being close at all time.