If you feel that your partner doesn’t respect you, it can be hard to know what to do. All relationships have their ups and downs, and what seems like a major issue one day can be fine the next. What do you do if you really feel that your partner doesn’t respect you though? Here are some things to consider…
Is it their behaviour or your reaction?
The first thing to consider is whether they really don’t respect you – or are you perhaps being overly sensitive around a touchy subject? When we are feeling sorry for ourselves about something and in “victim mode” it’s easy for us to take any behaviour as a sign of disrespect in a relationship. For example, if you always do the washing up after a meal, but today you don’t feel like doing it – and they still expect that you will do it, that’s not them lacking respect for you so much as being used to the status quo.
Is there a lack of communication?
One really important thing to remember in relationships is that if you don’t tell them, it is unreasonable to expect that they should just know. Using the example of the washing up from above, if you have always done the washing up your partner may assume you like to do it, that you enjoy it, that you don’t trust them to do as good a job with it. Unless you say to them I really don’t like doing the washing up; could we take it in turns they have no way of knowing. Their expecting you to wash up is not a lack of respect; it’s a lack of communication.
Remember that we teach people how to treat us
That is not to say that it’s your fault if your partner doesn’t treat you with respect! We are all responsible for the way we behave, and that includes showing respect to others. But if you have always just put up with someone not showing you respect, it is unlikely they will suddenly decide to start treating you differently without input from you. This comes down to communication again, and also to the way you communicate. It can be frustrating if we feel that someone “always” does this or “never” says that, but these terms are not helpful. Instead it’s les confrontational to say “I feel like you don’t respect me when you say/do this” or “when you do this, I feel like this.” Begin teaching them how you want to be treated, and you may see their behaviour change.
If someone is rude to you, tell them you don’t appreciate their tone; don’t just ignore it and expect that they won’t be rude to you again tomorrow. It can be hard to be consistent if you feel that pulling someone up on their behaviour might trigger an argument, but again: if you don’t tell them, you can’t expect them to know or to change their behaviour. Look at ways of communicating that are non confrontational; state the facts without apportioning blame. For example, “I know you are tired but I feel it was rude to leave the table at the end of dinner with my mother so abruptly. Perhaps next time we could organise to have her over on a day you haven’t had to work”
Work on your own self worth
Often we tolerate being treated without respect because we’re not sure we’re worth any more than what we receive. If you don’t respect yourself, why would anyone else? Look at things you can do to improve your own self esteem and self worth, and as this improves your relationship may also improve. If it doesn’t, with more self esteem you will be in a better position to stand up for yourself and walk away from that which does not serve you.