All healthy relationships are built on a stable foundation of respect.
And while respect should be an inherent part of your romantic dynamic – you ought to respect each other’s boundaries, for instance – there are certain behaviors that can contribute to its lack.
In other words, your partner might not hold you in high regard and may even grow resentful or bitter if you act in a way that pushes them away.
Take it from someone who used to check quite a lot of the boxes below:
1) Stop holding on too tight
When my ex and I broke up, he said, “The only bad thing you did was that you held on too tight.”
It was difficult to hear, but I knew he was right – throughout the relationship, I’d been much clingier and needier than necessary, ultimately driving him away.
While it’s completely normal to express your love for your partner and want to spend time with them, there comes a point when you’ve got to loosen up a little bit.
You’re a team of two whole individuals. The fact that you’re together doesn’t mean your partner should become your whole world.
On the contrary, it’s incredibly important that people in relationships keep some parts of themselves separate, be it a hobby, a few friends, or their work life.
Should your partner never be allowed to get a glimpse of these independent parts of you? Not at all.
However, it is good to acknowledge that those parts belong to you, and your partner is simply a visitor. That way, you’re both building a healthy sense of individuality while your relationship grows stronger.
2) Wave moral flexibility goodbye
It isn’t that uncommon for two people in love to slowly shift their views as they discuss various issues and evolve over time.
If you date a vegetarian, you may eventually stop eating meat, too. If you have certain political opinions, your significant other’s perspective might influence yours.
However, even the most open of minds should strive to keep their integrity intact.
I speak from experience.
I’m incredibly open and accepting, and this trait is both a blessing and a curse.
While I’m able to discuss almost everything in a balanced light, listening to other people’s opinions with curiosity, I can also let my partner’s perspective override mine if I’m not careful.
Your principles and values define who you are.
It’s normal to slowly grow in new directions, but if you change your opinions in a snap of a finger just to please your partner or to avoid confrontation… well, let’s just say it doesn’t exactly evoke respect.
3) Chuck people-pleasing in the bin
Speak of the devil…
People-pleasing is essentially the antidote to respect.
Look, I know you want to make your significant other happy. I know you hate conflict. I’m the same. Just the thought of having a disagreement makes me shudder.
But the truth of the matter is, you’ve got to stand your ground when it matters.
A partner who’s happy that you agree with them isn’t automatically going to respect you, and that lack of respect may wreak a great deal of havoc in the long run.
If you disagree, say so. If you feel uncomfortable with something, voice your feelings. If your partner needs space, stop fussing over them.
People-pleasing isn’t the way to go.
Being your authentic and loving self is.
4) Say “no more” to learned helplessness
Ever heard the term “learned helplessness”?
According to Medical News Today, it’s “a state that occurs after a person has experienced a stressful situation repeatedly. They believe that they are unable to control or change the situation, so they do not try, even when opportunities for change are available.”
Let’s say your computer keeps breaking, driving you insane. Finally, you ask your partner for help. They fix it for you and show you how to do it yourself in the future.
But the next time your computer shuts off, you don’t use the information your partner taught you. Instead, you ask them to fix it again. And again. And once more.
By refusing to evolve and relying on your partner too much, you’re essentially learning to be helpless. This complete lack of independence and self-sufficiency doesn’t exactly scream “respect”.
Trust me, I should know. I was drowning in learned helplessness for ages before I finally got myself together, improving my relationship for the better.
5) Throw obsessive jealousy out the window
Look, we all like it when our partners are a tiny bit jealous from time to time. It gives our egos a nice little confidence boost. It shows us that they care.
But obsessive jealousy is another story entirely.
Snooping through your partner’s stuff, checking their messages behind their back, asking them strange questions…
That’s like writing “insecure” on your forehead.
If your significant other’s given you no reason whatsoever to suspect they may be cheating, your jealousy is on you. And in order to be respected by your partner, you’ve got to get rid of it.
Relationships are based on trust.
If you can’t trust your partner to remain faithful, it signals a lack of respect on your part. What’s more, it might lead to behavior that will ultimately push your partner away from you.
6) Don’t run off at the first sign of trouble
Do you know what’s a huge turn-off?
Unreliability. Yeah. When there’s an issue in the relationship, the last thing your significant other wants you to do is to run off and wait for the storm to blow over.
So, here’s what you do: You stay.
You weather the storm alongside your partner, hand in hand. You try to work it out in a calm, respectful manner.
Problems won’t just disappear if you ignore them for long enough. No. They’ll pester and grow, poisoning the relationship until it eventually dies.
Address issues when and as they come up, show up for your partner, and become their rock to lean on when times get tough.
That’s how you build respect.
7) Stop giving your assumptions so much power over you
We’ve all been there.
Your partner pulls a face or says something strange, and your brain automatically starts coming up with one assumption after another.
“Maybe he doesn’t love me anymore.”
“Maybe she’s still mad about yesterday.”
“What if they’re silently judging me?”
Hey, it’s okay. We all have assumptions. There’s nothing wrong with trying to figure out what’s going on with the person you love.
However, acting on your assumptions is where it all goes south.
If you think your boyfriend is annoyed with you, you might give him space when that’s actually the last thing he needs.
If you feel like your wife’s still upset about the past, you could get all worked up yourself and ultimately start a fight, only to realize she’s just stressed about work.
Assumptions are just unfounded thoughts. If you want to be respected by your partner, stop giving them so much power over you.
Instead, ask your partner to talk to you about it.
8) Say goodbye to compliment-fishing
A compliment from someone I love can make my day. If my partner looks at me and tells me I’m beautiful, my mood improves in a snap.
But the thing with compliments is that they should always be offered freely, otherwise they don’t really count.
“Do you think I’m beautiful? Do you love me? How much? Do I look nice? Do you like my outfit?”
I’m not going to sit here and tell you I’ve never asked these questions. I have. But the frequency with which you fish for compliments is crucial.
It’s okay to ask for reassurance from time to time, of course.
However, fishing for compliments on a daily basis can get very old very quickly. It signals to your partner that you’re deeply insecure, and what’s more, it makes them feel like no matter how much praise they offer you, it will never be enough.
Unfortunately, this can easily decrease your standing in their eyes, shifting the dynamic in an unhealthy direction.
9) Leave the past in the past
Every couple encounters the occasional hurdle. However, a hurdle can easily turn into an insurmountable mountain if you refuse to move past it.
If something has happened between the two of you and you struggle to let it go, talk about it for sure.
But there comes a point when you’ve got to decide whether this is something that will plague the relationship forever (in which case you may want to reconsider what you’ve got going on here) or whether you can leave it in the past.
Holding grudges isn’t conducive to a healthy long-term relationship. Plus, bringing up the past during every disagreement is a bullet-proof way to decrease a sense of respect between the two of you.
And if there’s one thing a relationship needs for it to work… you guessed it.