If you do a quick Google search of “keys to a happy relationship,” respect is often one of the top results. Respect in a relationship is incredibly important — so we talked to Angela Caruk, a Victoria-based registered clinical counsellor about the signs of lack of respect in a relationship and what to do if you’re not feeling the respect.
They belittle your feelings
“If you are partnered with someone who doesn’t respect you, you feel like you are wrong for having your feelings,” says Caruk. “This is because your feelings will feel to them like an inconvenience or a threat, so they will try to manage their difficult feelings by controlling your way of being.”
People with narcissistic tendencies are obsessed with beauty or ideal love.
They give you the silent treatment
While “we’ve probably all been guilty of giving the silent treatment from time to time,” says Caruk — this can also be a sign your partner doesn’t respect you. “But your partner may default to this pattern of avoidance [on an ongoing basis], which leads to the issue remaining unaddressed and you stuck without an avenue to confront it.”
They ignore your boundaries
“Many people… have not learned how to honour their boundaries,” says Caruk. “If your partner can’t take ‘no’ for an answer then they don’t respect you and these trespasses over your boundaries will be long remembered, later often requiring self-forgiveness.”
They don’t listen to you or constantly talk over you
“Many of us could learn to listen more deeply,” says Caruk. “But I often have [clients] who are constantly holding space for their partners and digesting their emotions, trying to give them whatever they want and need, but when they try to share themselves, they are talked over or feel shut out.”
They give sexual/romantic attention to others
“People with narcissistic tendencies are obsessed with beauty or ideal love,” says Caruk. “This means that at the beginning of the relationship you may be idealized; however, as your perfectly imperfect self is seen, someone who doesn’t respect you will continue to focus on your areas for growth as though they are flaws and they will continue to look for someone new that they can compare you to and project their ideals onto.”
They purposefully hurt your feelings
“While most people in relationship will have disagreements and even criticize each other’s behaviour at times, one of the most harmful patterns in a relationship is contempt or disdain — or when someone purposely tries to make another feel small,” says Caruk. “It shows that someone is trying to make you feel unworthy and that points to a person who may associate the feeling of power with ‘power over.’”
They lie to you
“If your partner is lying or telling you half-truths, then this is a very clear sign that therapy is needed as there are likely deeper issues from their past involved,” says Caruk. “And you need to know whether you are dealing with something that can change through work on the communication pattern or if this is an indication of a personality disorder or lack of empathy.”
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They boost themselves up and make you feel small
“Do you ever feel like you don’t measure up?,” asks Caruk. “If you ever feel with your partner like you are a bad person, then you could be in an abusive relationship as no one should be experiencing an attack on their sense of self-confidence from someone they love.”
What should someone do if they think their partner doesn’t respect them?
It boils down to one thing: therapy. According to Caruk, therapy is a process that helps with boundaries, grief and self-respect. With regards to boundaries: “The first place to start is learning how to say ‘no’ by learning to trust your gut that something doesn’t feel right… and practicing saying ‘no’ as a full sentence without any need to explain yourself.” And grief? “Whenever we were disrespected, we will often need time to turn inward and unravel those heart tangles.” And self-respect? “As cheesy as it may sound, we will find a deeper love through developing a deeper relationship with the one person we will be in relationship with the rest of our lives — ourselves.”
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