R.E.S.P.E.C.T: what it means in relationships

You might hear someone say, or may say yourself, that “my partner doesn’t respect me”. What does this actually mean? What can we do to get the respect we feel we deserve?

The Oxford dictionary defines respect as:

  • “a feeling of deep admiration for someone or something elicited by their abilities, qualities or achievements” (noun);
  • “admire (someone, something) deeply, as a result of their abilities, qualities, or achievements”; and
  • “having due regard for (someone’s feelings, wishes or rights)”.

If we apply the dictionary definition, the onus for having respect is on the other person. If you are complaining that your partner does not respect you, you really have no control over what he or she thinks and feels. All you can control is your own actions and attitudes.

You cannot demand respect. It is something that is earned in response to your abilities, qualities or achievements and – I would also add – your character and how you treat and behave toward your partner specifically and people more generally.

There are two recognised types of respect: recognition and appraisal. ‘Recognition respect’ is related to positions and roles. As an example, we should respect the police force and the law in its intended role to protect people. We should respect the right of all persons to thoughts and opinions that may be different from our own. The role of being a mother, father, wife, husband, teacher or partner commands this type of respect. Recognition respect is about giving appropriate consideration that is due as a result of a person’s position or role.

‘Appraisal respect’ is related to the individual: their feelings, wishes, rights, character, their good qualities and, more often than not, their behaviour and what they are pursuing (musician, artist etc). Appraisal respect is more concerned with the way we present our “self” in the various interactions we have with others and even how we present ourselves to ourselves in private. It is in this type of respect that others may or may not respond to you as you would like them to. Situations where appraisal respect is not offered lead to the majority of the complaints that “you don’t respect me”.

If you are a person who accuses people of not respecting you, what you are really saying is “it is for you to change your opinion as I deserve respect”. This is backward thinking and will only cause you grief. You cannot demand respect: it is earned by who you are and how you behave. It is you as a whole that people will either respect or not.

So how do you command respect? By being someone people can admire.

Ask yourself:

  • do you have integrity?
  • are you polite and kind?
  • do you respect others for their differences?
  • do you enhance those around you?
  • do you value others’ points of view?
  • are you open to being wrong?
  • do you accept people as they are?

Dumping on someone because you are having a bad day, being rude to someone because they are different, gossiping or spreading lies or arguing for the sake of it are all ways in which we show lack of respect for others. Someone who wants to be respected must show respect, and if our choices show a lack of respect it is unsurprising when that comes back around. What we do matters and it will be noticed.

Finally, can you respect and admire yourself? Can you be quietly, justifiably proud of who you are and what you do, regardless of what others think?

Think of a person you admire and respect. What is it about them that you like? How do they act or behave? If you take on the same characteristics you are likely to gain the same kind of respect.

Demonstrating kindness, courage, thoughtfulness and respect for others earns respect.

Metanao can work with you individually, or with your partner, to find out where the breakdown in expectations or understandings is that is leaving you feelings as though you're not respected. Call 0439 294 532 now for your free 15 minute consultation.

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