If you’re looking to build and maintain a happy, healthy relationship, you should be aware that it takes more than just ~love~ to make things last: partners also need to share a mutual foundation of respect, too.
In order to have a true partnership, it’s crucial that both people feel like they’re equals in every sense of the word — which isn’t possible if one partner feels disrespected by the other. So how can you tell if your partner respects you? Respect looks and feels different to everyone, so just listen to your gut and watch out for any signs that your partner doesn’t respect you.
“There’s a common misconception that respect between romantic partners means control, meeting demands or subjugation,” life coach Jined Lamata tells Bustle. “Respect is synonymous with admiration for one another and the ability to understand that they see life differently than you. Seeing them for who they are and what their beliefs are rather than trying to mould them into what we think they should be.
Respect is celebrating each other’s differences and each other’s potential for growth without imposing our own beliefs. I always say, when you choose a partner, you’re gaining a new set of eyes to see the world. Having respect in a relationship is the ability to understand that perspective!”
If two people have mutual respect for one another, overcoming relationship obstacles will be so much easier, because they’ll approach any conflict with the ability and desire to see things from the other’s perspective. But if there’s a lack of respect on behalf of one or both partners, the relationship runs a serious risk of falling apart when times get tough.
Here are nine signs that your partner doesn’t respect you enough to be on the lookout for.
1. They Don’t Listen To You
We all need someone to hear us vent and express our feelings from time to time, so naturally, being an active and attentive listener is incredibly important in a relationship. If you often feel like your partner is only kinda-sorta listening to you, that’s a sign that they don’t respect you enough to give you their undivided attention, even when you really need it.
“Listening to your partner when [they’re] speaking is one of the most essential show of respect within a relationship,” Justin Lavelle, dating expert and Chief Communications Officer of online background check platform BeenVerified.com, tells Bustle. “If you notice that your significant other is showing little interest when you’re talking, it may be a sign of [a] lack of respect.”
2. You’ve Caught Them In A Lie
Being open and honest with your partner is one of the building blocks of any healthy relationship, so dishonesty — even if it’s about the little things — shows a fundamental lack of respect for your partner.
“Whether it’s a simply white lie or something more serious like cheating, lying to a significant other says that [they don’t] feel that you have the right to know the truth,” Lavelle says.
3. They Don’t Prioritize You
When you truly respect your partner, that means you also respect their time, and always try to make them a priority when you’re making your day-to-day (and future) plans. If your partner seems not to care about making or keeping plans with you, that’s a major show of disrespect.
“If you are finding that your special someone is spending more time with their friends, this may be a sign that you are no longer a priority,” Lavelle says. “Another sign of disrespect is showing up late for dates. This is showing no respect for your time.”
4. They Give You The Silent Treatment
Inevitably, all couples are going to disagree occasionally… but what’s really important is how couples communicate during an argument — and the silent treatment is a seriously disrespectful manipulation tactic.
“The silent treatment functions to keep the receiver in suspense of what will happen, and unsure of what they did wrong and how bad it is,” Dr. Fran Walfish, Psychotherapist, Author, and Relationship Expert, tells Bustle. “It is a way of controlling the other person as a precursor to abuse.”
5. They Give Sexual Or Romantic Attention To Others
It should go without saying, but if your partner is open about being attracted to or interested in someone else — even if they try to play it off as a “joke” — that’s massively disrespectful of you and your relationship.
“When your significant other starts talking about other [people] or you notice them staring at [someone] right in front of you, it is a sign that [they’re] showing little respect for you and your feelings,” Lavelle says.
6. They Purposely Hurt Your Feelings
No one is perfect, and accidentally hurting your partner’s feelings is bound to happen many times throughout the course of your relationship. What’s truly disrespectful, though, is if your partner purposely hurts your feelings — even in the heat of an argument, that’s never OK behavior.
“A true sign of disrespect occurs when your partner purposely hurts your feelings,” Lavelle says. “…There’s really no excuse for hurting someone you supposedly care about.”
7. They Refuse To Spend Time With Your Family
Spending time with your partner’s family may not always be the most fun activity, but in a healthy partnership, both people should be happy to support each other by attending family functions as a team. It may not seem like a direct sign of disrespect, but if your partner leaves you to attend family gatherings by yourself (without good reason), that shows that they don’t care about you enough to “inconvenience” themselves for a short while.
“This [red flag] is especially noticeable during the holiday season,” Lavelle says. “Regardless of how your partner feels about your relatives, it is [their] responsibility to support you at family functions.”
8. They Ignore Your Boundaries
Healthy relationships are all about establishing and respecting one another’s boundaries, and a partner who repeatedly ignores or tramples all over your boundaries — whether it’s in the bedroom or outside it — clearly doesn’t respect you enough.
“Behaviors that reflect a lack of boundaries, such as invading personal space, are inherently disrespectful,” Dr. Carla Marie Manly, Psychotherapist and Relationship Expert, tells Bustle. For example, if you have to repeatedly remind your partner that you hate tickling, and they continue to do it, that’s a sign that they have zero respect for your boundaries — which is a serious red flag.
9. They Have Personal Habits That Are Inconsiderate
In a long-term relationship, it’s totally normal if you eventually start to get irritated by some of your partner’s qualities or habits. What’s not normal is if those habits are directly inconsiderate and disrespectful to you, and your partner refuses to communicate or compromise with you.
“Personal habits can become big issues between partners, particularly when one partner feels disrespected by the other’s actions,” Manly says. “Basic cleanliness and lifestyle habits such as washing dishes, cleaning countertops, etc., can become highly problematic when one partner feels disrespected by the other person’s lack of attentiveness.”
What Should You Do If You Feel Disrespected By Your Partner?
Even in the healthiest, happiest relationships, there will be moments when one or both partners feels disrespected, and that in itself doesn’t have to be a dealbreaker. What really matters is, when those moments arise, whether or not you feel comfortable having an open, honest discussion with your partner about how you feel.
“When you feel like your partner may not have enough respect for you, it’s important to stay calm and not make any rash decisions,” Lamata says. “Communication is key! Find a good time to sit down with your partner and express your concern. I suggest that you don’t have this conversation during or after an argument to avoid saying something you don’t mean. Let your loved one know that you feel there is lack of respect in the relationship. It’s important that you listen to your significant other and find a way to worth through this problem together.”
How your partner responds when you bring up feeling disrespected will tell you everything you need to know about the fate of your relationship: if they’re willing to listen and make an active effort to show you more respect, then things are worth salvaging. But if they dismiss your feelings or act even more disrespectful when confronted? That’s when it’s time to find someone who will show you the respect you deserve.