People have a lot of different ideas about what the word “respect” means. Sometimes, it is used to mean admiration for someone important or inspirational to us. Other times, respect refers to deference towards a figure of authority, like a parent, relative, teacher, boss or even a police officer. In this context, it is presumed that respect should be given to those who have certain types of knowledge and power. And then other times, respect means upholding the basic right that every person has to make their own choices and feel safe in their own daily lives.
In this post, we’re talking about respect in the context of dating. In a healthy relationship, partners are equals, which means that neither partner has “authority” over the other. Each partner is free to live their own life, which can include deciding to share some aspects of their life with their partner. Respect also means that, while we may not always agree with our partner/s, we choose to trust them and put faith in their judgment. This trust can be built over time as your relationship progresses and you learn more about each other.
How Do You Show Respect in a Healthy Relationship?
Respect in a relationship is reflected in how you treat each other on a daily basis. Even if you disagree or have an argument (and arguments do happen, even in healthy relationships!), you are able to respect and value each other’s opinions and feelings by “fighting” fair. Respect isn’t about controlling someone or making them do what you want them to do. Respect is actually about the freedom to be yourself and to be loved for who you are.
In a healthy relationship, respect looks like:
- Talking openly and honestly with each other
- Listening to each other
- Valuing each other’s feelings and needs
- Speaking kindly to and about each other
- Giving each other space
- Supporting each other’s interests, hobbies, careers, etc.
- Building each other up
- Honoring each other’s boundaries, no matter what
While it’s important to respect your partner in a relationship, it’s also really important to have respect for yourself, whether single or dating. Self-respect is the key to building confidence and maintaining healthy relationships with other people throughout your life.
So, what is self-respect? Self-respect is acceptance of yourself as a whole person. It doesn’t mean you think you’re perfect; in fact, we all deserve respect even though we are NOT perfect. You have worth and value just because you’re you. Self-respect means you hold yourself to your own standards, and you try not to worry too much about what other people think of you. You take care of your body and mind (or you’re learning how!), whether that’s through eating healthy foods, moving your body in ways that feel good to you, reading and learning, going to therapy, practicing your faith or any number of things that honor who you are.
Our theme for Teen DV Month is Love is…Respect, so check back throughout the month of February for more on what respect means (and what it doesn’t) in relationships!
Do you have questions about what’s healthy/not healthy in a relationship? Are you concerned that your partner doesn’t respect you? Call, chat or text with a loveisrespect advocate today and let’s talk it out.