Respect: a feeling of deep admiration for someone or something elicited by their abilities, qualities, or achievements.
Like many people, I had years of unhealthy relationships where I had no respect for my partner and they had no respect for me. All of those relationships ended badly, and they were miserable while they lasted.
What I’ve learned is that if you don’t respect your partner, the relationship will never last. And if it does, it will be one hell of a miserable relationship! Nobody wants to be stuck in an intimate relationship with someone who they don’t admire and who doesn’t admire them.
In fact, nobody wants to get stuck in ANY kind of relationship where respect is not present.
The bottom line is that respect is one of those core things that makes a relationship happy and last a long time. So, if you want that for your relationship, developing certain habits can help you develop the respect and maintain it.
Following are 5 of those things that I think are super important!
Habit 1: Allowing Your Partner To Be Who They Are
We have all tried to change our partners at one point. It’s almost human nature to want other people to be more like us. But, I’ve found that once you stop trying to change other people, and allow them to be who they are, your relationship will improve in a big way! You will respect them more for the person that they are, and they will respect you for allowing them to be who they are.
Their Past Is Already Written
One of the things that many people try to change is their partner’s past. That can’t be done! Yet, they try to deny the past happened or somehow get them to change what has happened.
I once read a question from Yahoo Answers that was crazy to me. Following is the question pretty much word for word, with a few spelling corrections.
I’ve been dating a woman for 3 months now. We’re both 30. We just click so well, we understand each other and have so much in common. I’m the kind of guy who needs to know a woman’s history to take her seriously, and really trust her. So I asked her “how many guys she’s been with”. She answered 44. As she’s been on the contraceptive pill since she was 16, half of these guys didn’t use a condom. They were short/long term boyfriends (ranging from 3 to 6 months, and one for 5 years a couple more for a year or so). She’s regularly tested, and clean. But that’s not the point.
I hate her past and can’t get over the fact that about 20 guys have been inside her with no condom, and probably came inside her too. It completely disgusts me. When I heard it, I felt genuinely sick. I’m broken up inside because I’ve never met anyone like her before. My heart aches and I can’t eat or sleep. I think I’m depressed because of it. She’s my dream girl in every way, except for this one lingering fact. I can’t even get myself to sleep with her since she told me. I don’t know what to do…
She says she’s really in love with me, and she’s never felt this way about anyone. I think she may be saying that because she’s ready for a something serious and wants to get married. Would she have said that if we met at 25 and felt the exact same way about each other? I don’t know…
It is my intrinsic belief that no woman should sleep with so many guys if she wants to be taken seriously in a relationship later in life. It’s just wrong and sick. And yes, I do believe it is different for a guy… I’m sorry, it’s just different for guys.
In fact, I feel like she has been unfair and selfish to do this in her past. She must have known that she would meet the man of her dreams someday, and it wouldn’t be fair to put him in such a difficult situation because of sexual weakness. To allow 20 men to **** inside her and then expect me to come along and just accept that angers me!
I need some advice. Is she a ****? Should I move on even though I am crazy about her? I want to hear the good the bad and the ugly, don’t hold back please. Give me your opinion and explain why, I need logic to be convinced please
First off – this guy is so sexist. But, that’s another story.
The fact is that you can’t change your partner’s past and if you focus on it, you are going to make yourself crazy like this guy. Moreover, you are going to label your partner AS their past, not as who they are in the present.
The guy in the question needs to know that she made decisions based on who she was at the time and what she needed to learn. But she isn’t the same woman she was, and she has grown because of her past.
When he calls her selfish for having the past she had, it shows how he really views her and doesn’t respect her. I guarantee that relationship wouldn’t last long.
To me, he is selfish for wanting her to have a past that is more to his liking!
Their Present And Future Are Not Up To You Either
We want people to be like us, but they aren’t. When we get stuck in that mindset that they need to believe what we believe and think what we think and speak like we speak, we judge them as being wrong and try to change them.
It’s a crazy thing to do when you really stop and think about it.
Each and every person is different from you, including your partner. And that’s a good thing. We grow and learn from the people around us who are different, especially the people we are closest to.
Moreover, just like you, your partner is who they are because of their past. Every habit, desire, and belief they have was developed from their past, and the more you try to change who they are, the more you are saying that everything they’ve done and learned is wrong. In short, you are telling them that they have lived their life wrong because it has made them someone who is not right – and not right for them.
Is that any way to tell your partner that you respect them?
What To Do?
Be supportive of the person they are (not who you want them to be). Unless they are actually hurting you, make them feel as if they are perfect for you just the way they are. You don’t have to agree with everything they have done or do, but you shouldn’t make them feel bad for it either.
A healthy relationship with respect has both support and acceptance. Offer both those things to them by supporting them in their desires and goals, and accepting where they’ve been as well as their habits and beliefs.
Habit 2: Calling Them Out For How Awesome They Are
What better way to tell someone you respect them than to tell them how amazing they are?
We are good at pointing out how great they are when they do something obviously great, but how about when they are just being themselves?
For instance, if your partner does something kind that they always do, are you quick to point out how amazing they are or do you just expect them to do that kind thing?
Telling them that they are amazing boosts their confidence and makes them feel great. It makes them feel worthy of your respect, too.
This is not about constantly trying to tell them that they are great, because after a while the compliments get useless. But getting into the habit of reminding them of how awesome they are will do a lot for the respect in your relationship.
While it’s fine to tell them how funny they are once in a while, telling them that they make you laugh when you are feeling down is much more rewarding for them to hear. It has to do with more than just them – it has to do with you and the relationship, and that makes them feel like they are contributing to you and your relationship positively.
The more specific you get, the more meaning it will have.
Habit 3: Treating Your Partner The Way You Want To Be Treated (With Respect!)
It’s easy NOT to treat people in a way that we wouldn’t want to be treated. It happens. But, with our partner, I know that making it a habit to treat them well is important for respect in the relationship.
Think about this: We often treat strangers on the street better than we do our partner.
- We are polite.
- We smile.
- We have patience with them.
- We talk politely.
These are all things that we do naturally in public, but with our partner, we do the opposite.
- We are rude.
- We frown.
- We are impatient.
- We talk with anger or frustration in our voice.
How crazy is that? No wonder we get more respect from someone we meet one time in our lives than our partners.
Our most intimate relationship is with our partner, so it should be treated with the most respect. Our partner is one of the most important relationships we will have, and they deserve to be treated kindly.
What To Do?
Starting today, make a habit of treating your partner as if they mean a lot to you. Don’t let yourself treat them any less amazing that you would someone you just met. Trust me, this will go a long way for respect in the relationship!
Habit 4: Looking Back At Your Week Together
Getting into the habit of evaluating your week together is one of the best things you can do for respect in your relationship. I first heard about this concept in Jack Canfield’s – The Success Principles. He talks about asking his wife to rate him from 1-10 weekly and then tell him why she gave the rating she did. He also gave her a rating and talked about why he gave her that rating.
I’ve done this. It’s something that has increased the respect in my relationship by a lot and I know it will work for you too.
Doing this will:
- Help you understand how you are treating your partner
- Help you understand how your words and actions affect your partner
- Help you communicate better with your partner
- Help you continuously grow your relationship into one where you have a deeper understand of who your partner is and what they want.
This is a hard habit to build. No doubt. It’s hard to open yourself up to criticism from your partner. But, it’s worth it. If you don’t know how your partner feels, you can never treat them in a way where they feel truly respected. And if they don’t know how you truly feel, then they can never treat you with the respect you deserve.
How To Do This?
Pick one day a week to sit down and discuss how you felt towards your partner in the past week. This includes how they treated you, what they did to annoy you or uplift you, and where you felt lack in the relationship. Give each other a rating from 1-10 and take turns explaining why you gave this rating. Even if you felt bad about something that could be considered trivial, share it. You need to be honest when you feel bad so that they can understand what you need in the relationship.
Acknowledge their concerns with respect and require the same from them.
Then, come together to find solutions to help move forward without those problems next week.
Again, this will be hard, but it will be worth it. Your partner will become the one person who you can be completely honest with, and because of that, you will both know how to treat each other with the respect you require.
Habit 5: Allowing Yourself To Be Open Towards Different Ways Of Doing Things
You can’t be closed off if you want to give your partner the respect they deserve and get the respect you deserve. This is an important concept to understand.
What’s Your Ego?
It is the label of importance you put on to yourself. It’s a good thing sometimes. When you feel important enough to achieve goals, you are more willing to move towards those goals. But in a relationship, it can keep you from admitting when you are wrong and when your partner is right. And it can keep you from giving them the respect that they deserve.
Our ego often dictates how we think. For instance, if our ego is really big, we’ll think ‘only I know how to do it/think/believe in the right way’. And when we think things like that, we do and say stupid things in our relationship because we close ourselves off to our partner’s way of doing things, thinking, and believing.
It’s important to build a habit of removing that ego-focused talk, or at the very least, not letting it affect how you interact and treat your partner.
This is a day by day thing. You won’t just open up to your partner and drop the importance you put on your way of doing things quickly. This habit may be harder to form that the rest of the habits, but when you experience the benefits it has for your relationship, you will be grateful you did it.
The benefits include:
- Not attacking your partner for doing stuff in the wrong way and, thus, showing them respect for the way they do stuff.
- You won’t feel so strict with life. You will have a strong sense of freedom when you are able to let go and live.
- You will feel less stressed out and more focused on the moment.
All of these things will contribute to more respect in the relationship.
What To Do?
Just become aware of your ego. As you become more aware of it, the power it has over your actions, thoughts, and words will lessen. You will quickly start to see that your way is not the only way, and you will start to let go of the need to be right.
Something important to remember is that nothing has meaning unless you give it meaning. That simply means that the way your partner goes through life is not right or wrong unless you label it as such. Therefore, the way you perceive what your partner does is what causes the labels you put on him or her.
When you understand that your viewpoint is only one perception/label/meaning, then you will have a much easier time allowing yourself to be open to your partner’s way of doing things. In fact, you will probably start to appreciate how they approach life and even respect it.