What is the secret to a successful, long-term romantic relationship?
Some people may say it’s fun, attraction, compatibility, a shared sense of humor, or plenty of love.
However, those factors can only take you so far.
The real secret ingredient?
Respect — and plenty of it.
Solid, mutual respect is the key to building a healthy relationship.
With respect, partners would feel safe, seen, and appreciated, rather than angry, scared, or resentful.
Having respect for your partner doesn’t mean you automatically agree with what the other says.
Instead, respectful treatment is active communication with one another.
Successful partners honor each other’s feelings, needs, desires, and goals into consideration for all decisions, big or small.
What Is Disrespect?
On the opposite end of the spectrum is total disrespect, which may appear in different forms but inevitably achieves the same outcome.
Relationships without respect are doomed to fail. In fact, contempt — a concentrated form of disrespect — is thought to be the top predictor of divorce.
Partners who are rude, disloyal, or uncaring would enter a pattern of short-lived relationships.
However, disrespect is sometimes unintentional. Trauma, self-esteem issues, or even a lack of romantic experience are factors that influence unintended disrespectful behaviors.
Fortunately, this negative dynamic can be changed with conscious effort.
If a disrespectful partner puts in the work to be mindful of respect, they can still change if you give them a chance.
So what are the signs of disrespect from a partner?
Here are 17 signs of disrespect in a relationship that you should never ignore:
1) The silent treatment
When two people are arguing, both parties are entitled to a breather period if they’re upset.
They can take time to calm down and think first before settling into a more productive conversation.
However, if arguments lead more often to the “silent treatment” instead of communication, it is actually a form of manipulation.
Silent treatment (or “stonewalling”) is a technique utilized by narcissists and is a clear sign of disrespect.
Stonewalling tactics are designed to make you feel cut off and desperate because of suspense.
You run while trying to know what you did wrong, how bad it is, and what is going to happen next.
In this way, a disrespectful partner is using silence so your mind tortures you on their behalf.
From there, they can control your emotions and goad you into taking the blame.
Aside from emotional abuse, consistently using the silent treatment means your partner doesn’t respect you enough to share why they’re being so resentful.
You aren’t even given the chance to clear up the misunderstanding or explain your side of the story.
Signs of stonewalling include shutting down, leaving you on voicemail, or sulking in a different room.
And without a proper conversation, there is no way to fix the root of the problem when it happens.
Often, the silent treatment signals the end of a relationship for most people because they can no longer handle the toxicity.
2) Failure to listen
“If one partner has something to say, the other should be willing to listen.”
This is a fundamental rule for all relationships because there is an expectation of equal exchange.
However, what if your partner never wants to listen to anything you have to say? Or they flat-out refuse to let you speak?
Not only is it a sign of serious disrespect, but it also borders on emotional abuse and should not be tolerated.
Failure to listen comes in many forms, such as:
Distracted: A distracted listener is only half-interested in what you have to say. They’re looking through their phone while talking to you, or they have a far-away look in their eyes that tell you their head is elsewhere.
Ignoring: Partners who completely ignore you are the type who hope you will stop speaking if they don’t show interest. They don’t care about what you have to offer and talking to them feels like you’re talking to a wall. If ever they do reply, it’s in the form of a grunt or a non-committal shrug.
Interrupting: Whenever you open your mouth, it seems like your partner is talking over you, speaking for you, interrupting your stories, or finishing your sentences. Cutting off someone from speaking boils down to one mentality: “What I have to say is much more important than your thoughts.”
Apart from disrespect, partners who don’t want to listen may have negative, deeply-held beliefs.
It’s possible they think they are your superior, rather than your equal. If this is the case, your partner is unlikely to treat you as they would treat themselves.
3) Disregard for personal space, freedom, or choice
In respectful, balanced, and equal relationships, both partners are characterized by their individuality.
They are free to pursue their goals, make their own decisions, and go about their day.
The only difference is that instead of staying alone, they choose to share their life with another person.
One sign that a partner isn’t respectful is if they make you feel like you can’t be an individual.
You don’t have the time, space, freedom, or independence to be yourself.
Maybe they get angry when you’re doing something without them or they require lengthy explanations about your plans.
They may even snoop through your personal belongings, such as your phone, computer, mail, or journal.
In extreme cases, disrespectful partners may even turn to stalking or violence.
Do you feel like your partner doesn’t trust you?
Do they continually question your choices? Or are they trespassing your privacy?
If so, you may want to take an objective look at the relationship. Either your significant other has to change or you have to move on.
4) No consideration for boundaries
Every person has boundaries, or things they like and dislike.
Generally, people agree that boundaries are invisible lines that others shouldn’t cross without permission.
Disrespectful partners, however, would think boundaries didn’t matter.
Without respect, partners may push you to your limits and make you feel uncomfortable, which is a major red flag.
Examples of boundary-crossing are:
- Telling other people intimate details about your life without your consent
- Borrowing money from shared funds without returning it
- Attempting to engage in unwanted physical advances
- Invading your personal space after telling them not to
- Insisting on telling them what you were thinking
Partners who constantly disrespect boundaries can be exhausting to deal with. Ideally, couples should begin the relationship by examining and communicating their boundaries.
What the other can and cannot do should be established early on in the relationship.
Whether it’s physical, emotional, sexual, or spiritual, all boundaries should be respected.
5) Lack of attentiveness
A lack of attentiveness may seem like a minor thing.
It could be something simple like not helping you carry a heavy load or driving at a dangerously fast speed, even if it makes you comfortable.
Or maybe you were feeling sick but they didn’t notice or do anything at all to help. In the long run, a lack of attentiveness can build up resentments on your end, while your partner continues to act selfishly.
It’s disrespectful because they constantly do things without thinking about how you would feel. They opt to do only what feels good for them at the moment.
It may just be small things now but it could escalate. Imagine what they would be like when making a huge decision or parenting your children.
If your feelings aren’t considered even after the fact or you’re constantly reminding them that you have feelings, it’s time to put your foot down.
6) Flirtation with others
Whether you’re in a monogamous or open relationship, it’s a hard blow to see your partner flirting with someone else — even as a joke.
It doesn’t even need to be an outright flirtation to call the behavior disrespectful. They might mention being attracted to someone else or compare you to others; it’s impolite and hurtful.
If your significant other acts this way, it indicates that they don’t care about how you feel.
And if that’s how they act when you’re around, it might be so much worse when you’re not present.
Physical or emotional cheating is broken trust; it’s that simple. If they continue to flirt even after being told not to, then they definitely don’t deserve you.
7) Lies or gaslighting
Ask any marriage counselor or therapist around: lying is one of the leading causes of breakups.
Dishonesty is a disrespectful and destructive behavior that has no place in any relationship.
Someone who constantly lies to their partner doesn’t care about the impact of their actions on the other person’s life. They are only thinking about how it affects them.
Some people think it’s the big lies — like cheating — which matter more.
In reality, it’s the smaller, seemingly insignificant lies that serve as the breaking point because these little lies chip away at trust.
If your partner can’t be honest with you over minor things, why should you trust them with more important concerns? Who knows what they are capable of hiding from you?
Lies of omission are another breakup culprit.
When you frequently find out about your partner from someone else, it shows that they don’t even respect you enough to let you know what’s going on with them.
And if your partner doesn’t share anything with you, it’s unlikely to be anything good and helpful for you.
The problem is that most people tend to sweep dishonesty under the rug, indefensible as it is. They rationalize errors of omission and even overt lying.
In worse cases, these people may also be victims of gaslighting.
Gaslighting is a form of psychological manipulation where someone purposely sows seeds of doubt in the other, in order to make them question their perception, memories, or judgment. Victims of gaslighting end up anxious, confused, and unable to trust themselves.
In a truly healthy and respectful relationship, both parties must remain completely honest with one another.
8) Inconsiderate personal habits
It’s totally normal to feel irritated by your significant other’s qualities or quirks, especially after the initial honeymoon period has worn off.
Even in long-term relationships, you might hate their habits like chewing with their mouth open.
There is a difference between habits they can help and those that feel purposefully inconsiderate.
Some personal habits can feel disrespectful, especially if you’ve already talked about it. In most couples, it’s usually a habit concerning cleanliness and lifestyle.
Maybe you’re asthmatic and they’re a smoker, but they still insist on smoking indoors. I
f your partner doesn’t attempt to change or actively does things against what you’ve already established, then it’s a clear sign of disrespect.
9) Lack of support
Lack of support comes in many forms but it all boils down to a lack of respect.
When your significant other doesn’t offer you support and they are never there when you need them, then is this person really a partner to you?
It is a partner’s duty to share in all things with you, whether good or bad. Here are some ways lack of support is shown:
Your job is a little weird or maybe your dreams are a tad absurd. Does your partner make fun of you?
If so, they are being disrespectful. Your partner should support your pursuits, especially if your career is something you’re passionate about.
Sometimes, you get into arguments with other people.
Does your partner take your side? It’s okay if sometimes they don’t because they also think you’re in the wrong.
But if they say they don’t want to get involved or pick sides, then it’s a red flag. You’re a couple; your problems are their problems too. If they never, ever take your side, then they don’t respect you.
You accomplished something and feel proud. Does your partner acknowledge your accomplishments?
Whether it’s related to your household, career, or hobby, your partner should celebrate both big and small things with you.
If they make you doubt your potential instead, it’s time to rethink the relationship.
You’re having a tough time struggling with something.
Does your partner stick around for you? It’s a bad sign if you reached out to your partner and they don’t offer the support you need.
Your partner should care about what you care about and prioritize your needs. They should be around when you need them.
Much like the expectations we have for close friends, the same standards of no-apathy should definitely apply to your significant other.
10) Refusal to negotiate or compromise
The truth in every relationship is that you will never always get what you want. In order to make everything work, sacrifices, compromises, and negotiations are necessary.
But what if you don’t even get a discussion in the relationship? And there’s zero conflict, because your significant other always gets what they want.
When our partner puts their desires, wishes, and needs first, it clearly shows you that they are the center of their universe.
They are obsessed with control and will do everything they can to ensure their needs and wants are fulfilled first.
If your partner refuses to negotiate or compromise, they probably consider you inferior to them.
Don’t expect him or her to bother with your wants or needs.
11) Weaponized insecurities
Getting hurt in any relationship is a normal relationship. A bell should ring in your head, however, if you repeatedly get hurt on purpose.
Being in a relationship with someone means feeling safe enough to open up to them.
It’s a no-no if they’re taking the things you share with them and throwing it back to your face.
Even if something was said in the heat of an argument, a respectful person would never weaponize the insecurities of someone they supposedly care about against them. Red flags include:
- Throwing accusations
- Bringing up things from the past
- Calling names
- Screaming or verbal attacks
- Mockery, sarcasm, or misplaced humor
- Derogatory comments (upfront or behind their back)
A partner who acts this way must apologize for and correct their transgressions.
They shouldn’t make you feel like you’re embarrassing them, that they don’t need you, or that they don’t want you.
If your partner is quick to make you feel less than you should be, you should talk about it.
12) Broken promises
A broken promise is broken trust because we expect the other person to follow through on their word.
When your significant other constantly makes promises but never follows through, it shows you they don’t respect you or consider the relationship to be a priority.
Partners who care will make the effort in order to avoid disappointing you.
They won’t forget any appointments and recognize the things that are important to you.
Whether or not you will continue to depend on a disrespectful person is up to you.
13) Inability to prioritize you or your time
You’ll know your partner doesn’t prioritize you if:
- They’re always late to your important events.
- You end up changing your plans to accommodate theirs.
- They cancel plans with you at the last minute for no good reason.
- You’re always putting your dreams on hold for them.
- They’re unbothered when you spend more time apart than together.
This inability to prioritize your or your time indicates they don’t appreciate the same values as you do. It’s inappropriate and always a sign of disrespect.
The ultimate sign of respect is making the other your priority in life. After all, a relationship can only be balanced if each consistently puts the other first.
14) Refusal to spend time with your friends and family
Accepting someone as your significant other means accepting their friends and family as well. Even though you may not like them, you’re expected to get along with them.
They should not be overlooked; rather, they should be treated with civility and politeness.
When your partner refuses to spend time with the people you care about, it means they have no respect for your people.
And therefore, they have no respect for you either. Some signs of this behavior may include:
- Showing up late to appointments
- Relaying passive-aggressive comments
- Acting inconvenienced during meetings
15) Indifference to your financial security
Truly respectful partners are wholly devoted to meeting their partner’s needs, especially if it comes to finances.
In relationships like this, you’re sharing a family and a household.
A partner who cares solely for their own needs without any regard for you is both disrespectful and selfish. Remember, relationships are 50/50 in everything.
16) The need to be right all the time
Significant others who cannot apologize and admit they were wrong are difficult to deal with.
You will never be allowed to win an argument, nor would they ever accept constructive criticism from you.
And don’t expect them to say sorry for their mistakes either; they would end up making some excuse about how it’s your fault, actually.
They know they’re in the wrong. Their ego, pride, and self-esteems simply won’t let them bend.
17) Pressure to transform yourself
When someone loves and respects who you are, they would never ask you to become anyone else.
They won’t pressure you to change your hobbies or interests, how you dress, how you act, and who your friends are.
They will love and accept you unconditionally.
Of course, small changes should be done to ensure compatibility.
Maybe your significant other wants you to develop better habits or try new things, but all of it is done gradually and gently.
It’s very different from transforming yourself completely and forgetting who you are to please your partner.
Personal change should not be a condition for the relationship to continue.
And in the long run, you may end up hating your partner for turning you into something you’re not.
Letting the other person be who they are is a sign of love and respect.
Talk To Your Partner
For a successful relationship, healthy doses of love, respect, and communication are necessary.
Do you respect your partner? And are you respected in return?
If there are issues you have as a couple, maybe a lack of respect is the underlying cause.
If so, discuss your concerns with your partner. A defensive partner who disregards how you feel or isn’t willing to change doesn’t deserve you.
On the other hand, a partner who listens and tries to change still has a shot of improving the relationship.
No one is perfect, of course. Still, you can only build a happy future with someone who respects who you are, encourages you to grow into a better person, and works hard to deserve you every day.
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