What is respect in a relationship? (18 signs you may not be respecting your partner)

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Relationships are never easy, and it’s easy for disrespect to creep in. 

Believe it or not, often those we love the most become those we take for granted and begin to treat poorly…

…Often without even realizing we’re mistreating and disrespecting them!

Here are the signs to look out for that you may be giving your partner less respect than he or she deserves. 

1) You don’t listen to them

When we respect someone, we listen to them. 

That’s why a top sign you’re disrespecting your partner is that you simply don’t listen to them, or at least rarely listen to them. 

You go on your cellphone while they’re talking to you and nod and say yes while they’re talking…

…But you’re not listening. 

Not even a little bit. 

Then they get mad and you have to explain that you were listening you must have just been thinking of work at the time. 

It’s a vicious cycle. 

2) You’re impatient with them

Impatience is the next sign of disrespect in a relationship. 

There are so many situations where you may find it hard to be patient with a partner and vice versa. 

But snapping at them and speaking disrespectfully or saying things like “let’s go, c’mon…” repeatedly is hard to see as anything but disrespectful. 

Impatience is something we all do from time to time, whether single or in a relationship. 

But it’s definitely a character flaw which can be improved with more self-awareness and restraint. 

3) You judge them harshly

Another sign of disrespect in a relationship is never giving your partner the benefit of the doubt. 

Many times we judge those close to us a bit too harshly. 

We interact with them so often and start to take them for granted, assuming that they will always do what we ask or want. 

When that doesn’t happen or there’s any interruption in the plans we say disrespectful things or expect them to have done better.

If this is you, put it in the “to be improved” column of your relationship.  

4) You disrespect their values 

Each of us has core values that guide how we live our life and treat others. 

One of the signs you’re lacking respect in a relationship is that you disrespect your partner’s values. 

This may happen because you aren’t sure where you stand yourself, or feel they are wrong or harmful in their values. 

If you’re having a clash of values, I recommend doing the free values exercise from Life Journal. 

This course from Jeanette Brown is extremely valuable in opening your eyes to how you live your life and why. 

What’s driving you and what’s holding you back? What can make your relationship much better? 

Check it out here.

5) You don’t think of their feelings

Do your partner’s feelings factor into your decisions?

I’m not saying they should control what you do and decide, but they should at least be something you think about and consider. 

When you no longer think about or care how your partner will feel about actions or decisions you make, it’s a clear sign that you’ve crossed the line into disrespect. 

6) You rarely buy them gifts or think of them

Gift buying isn’t necessarily a staple of many relationships and every connection is different. 

But now and then buying something thoughtful for a loved one can’t hurt. 

And thinking of them while far away or on a trip is also a classic romantic touch. 

The problem is that sometimes we begin to take a partner for granted, as I’ve mentioned. 

If you rarely buy any small gifts for your partner or think of them at all, then this has to be considered as a form of disrespect and dismissal. 

Then again, maybe you’re just not really in love with them. But if so…break up!

7) You financially take advantage of them 

Financial exploitation is a very real problem in many relationships. 

It can go both ways:

You may be freeloading off your partner or using your money to more or less control them

If they’re paying for everything, that’s simply not fair, especially if they haven’t agreed to such an arrangement.

If you’re using your money to control what your partner does or get them to treat you the way you wish, this is you weaponizing your money for love, power and sex and it’s not good at all. 

8) You sexually ignore them 

If you’re no longer sexually attracted to your partner, it’s a big red flag. 

It may point to underlying emotional or sexual issues on your part, or it could just mean that the fire has died. 

It’s sad, but sometimes relationships really do end only because the physical spark has gone cold. 

It’s sad but it also makes sense in a way. 

Physical attraction is important, even in the most cerebral of relationships. 

If you find that you’ve totally lost interest in touching or kissing your partner, much less anything more, you owe it to them to let them know and be honest about it…

9) You sexually use them 

Sexual attraction and your sex life as a couple is a two-way street. 

Far too often couples fall into a pattern of one just doing what the other likes or pleasing them because it’s easier than causing tension. 

One of the worst signs of disrespect in a relationship can occur if you’re more or less always the one who decides when and where intimacy occurs. 

In other words, if you’re always the one who’s deciding when you make love then you may be overly controlling. 

At the same time if you’re never wanting intimacy with your partner as I discussed in the point above, this can also be a sign of disrespect.

Intimacy and the physical aspect of relationships often has some tension flare up, but just remember to communicate. 

It should be a two-way conversation.

10) You provoke them with jealousy

When somebody cares about you, that gives you a fair bit of power. 

There are many ways to use that power for good or to choose to misuse it. 

One of the lowest ways you can misuse the power of somebody’s love for you is to manipulate them through jealousy. 

This could involve flirting with others, talking about exes or doing many other things that you know will make your partner jealous. 

Of course, if your partner is overly possessive or jealous that’s their issue. 

But if you intentionally provoke that jealousy or use it to wield power, that’s on you.

Which brings us to the next point… 

11) You disrespect them on social media 

Social media has become a whole entire sphere of its own in relationships. 

Couple pictures, couple posts, who liked what, who sent what private message. And so on… 

Some couples more or less should be hiring their own social media PR manager with the amount they post. 

Others break up online and you can basically follow the trail of their digital disaster as they post photos with other friends, like the wrong people’s posts and write sarcastic or strange things. 

Practicing basic respect for your partner on social media is a must. 

12) You criticize their appearance 

Another sign of respect in a relationship is trying your best to boost your partner’s self-esteem and self-image. 

I’m not saying to straight-up lie about whether they look good, but at least tone down the harsh words. 

It’s disrespectful to be overly critical of your partner’s experience. 

We all have down days and days when we look pretty lousy. 

That’s a part of life, and being in a close intimate relationship with someone you’re definitely going to see them looking at their worst from time to time. 

If you have suggestions for how they might look better or the weird appearance of their current hair color, by all means let them know…

Just be nice about it!

13) You are slovenly around them 

If you live with your partner or spend a lot of time in the same space as them, then basic cleanup is a reasonable expectation. 

That’s why one of the signs of disrespect is being very slovenly around them. 

I’m talking about things like: 

  • Leaving clothes and towels lying around
  • Never or rarely cleaning dishes and the cleaning area
  • Chucking dirty items, bags and equipment on the floor
  • Rarely sweeping or mopping and letting your living space become a pig sty

These are all signs of disrespect in a relationship. 

Somebody who respects their loved one does their best to keep space they share up to a certain standard of cleanliness and organization. 

14) You joke at their expense

There are two basic types of jokes:

Jokes that laugh with people and jokes that laugh at people. 

If you tell the second type about your partner or around your partner then it’s an obvious sign of disrespect. 

Now obviously a little good old-fashioned ribbing can be harmless sometimes. 

But when it goes too far into mocking or offending them then it can become a form of aggression in the relationship. 

15) You play the victim to guilt them 

Playing the victim is a really nasty habit that can stick around and resurface long after you think you’ve left it behind. 

It tends to pop up in close relationships, where you may feel the urge to highlight how you’ve been poorly treated by life and others. 

Even if your partner isn’t to blame for something that’s going wrong, you bring up past injustices and suffering as a get out of jail free card. 

Translation: you’re playing the victim to guilt them and get your way or get out of trouble for things you’ve done badly. 

16) You blame them for your problems 

Another of the top signs of disrespect in a relationship is blaming your partner for your problems. 

This is incredibly common, but that doesn’t make it OK. 

When we’re very close to somebody, sometimes we forget where we end and they begin. 

You’re still responsible for your life! Your problems are still yours to deal with!

Forgetting this leads to a lot of confusion, codependency and conflict. 

17) You act irresponsibly around them 

We all act irresponsible at times, from drinking too much to making jokes that may be in poor taste. 

But one of the top signs that you’re disrespecting your partner is that you act irresponsible around them. 

You run your mouth, drive too fast, offend their friends or even say random and hurtful things to them just to test their reaction (or just for fun). 

This isn’t mature behavior and it’s not responsible. 

Many relationships have ended over less… 

18) You side with others against them 

Many situations will come up in relationships where you’re presented with a stark choice:

Side with your partner or someone else. 

Sometimes the choice might not be totally clear or you may even believe that the criticisms of others are correct. 

Maybe your partner was rude at a party and gossip is starting that he is a rude and ignorant guy. 

You agree he sometimes can be, but you also know his good side and don’t want to see your boyfriend’s reputation get sabotaged as he gets kicked out of his friend circle. 

Nonetheless, you take the side of your peers, agreeing that he can really be a d*ck and should know better…

But unless this is a really clear moral line of something your partner has done wrong, it’s generally pretty disrespectful not to side with them. 

A lack of respect 

Lack of respect in a relationship is a big problem. 

We all do it from time to time, but it can become an ongoing habit. 

This becomes especially hard to escape when our partner also behaves in ways we find disrespectful or dismissive. 

But there is a cure: 

When we find out for sure the core values that are driving us, it helps to build respect in relationships as well. 

At the end of the day, none of us is perfect. 

But that doesn’t mean we can’t do a whole lot better! 

Can a relationship coach help you too?

If you want specific advice on your situation, it can be very helpful to speak to a relationship coach.

I know this from personal experience…

A few months ago, I reached out to Relationship Hero when I was going through a tough patch in my relationship. After being lost in my thoughts for so long, they gave me a unique insight into the dynamics of my relationship and how to get it back on track.

If you haven’t heard of Relationship Hero before, it’s a site where highly trained relationship coaches help people through complicated and difficult love situations.

In just a few minutes you can connect with a certified relationship coach and get tailor-made advice for your situation.

I was blown away by how kind, empathetic, and genuinely helpful my coach was.

Click here to get $50 off your first session (exclusive offer for Hack Spirit readers).

Paul Brian

I’m a multimedia journalist with experience in print, photography, video, and online. My passion is reporting on individuals, faiths, nations, and situations that impact us all on the journey of life.

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