A healthy relationship is built not just with love but on the foundation of equality, mutual respect, trust, acceptance, support, and honesty. These very elements comprise the basic rights in a relationship that partners must seek as well as accord one another. Even though these are fundamental to building a wholesome partnership, some relationships do lack these markers. Most of us end up entering the rosy gates of love without any real awareness of the importance of these concepts, and consequently, turn a blind eye to them.
Whether you’ve just arrived on the love scene or have been with your partner for years, you need to know what relationship boundaries need to be honored at all times. Not all is fair in love, and an equal footing in relationships must be maintained. Physical and emotional rights in the relationship are essential to its health. Today, we will be taking a detailed lesson on the importance of basic rights in a relationship and what they entail exactly, with the help of psychologist Shazia Saleem (Masters in Psychology), who specializes in separation and divorce counseling.
What Are Individual Rights In A Relationship?
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A relationship is indeed a beautiful union of two people. Not just time, but two people in a relationship share life lessons, advice, emotions, and other deep thoughts with one another. The degree of emotional and physical closeness in a loving relationship is usually far stronger than any other. While that can be the most liberating and comforting feeling in the world, it should still be practiced with care.
“When two people are romantically involved with one another, they become a couple. But they continue to be two different people who have chosen to mutually come together. Which guarantees them their own rights in a relationship. Rights are different from having common goals as a couple. Thus, we must understand their importance,” says Shazia.
By sharing too much with a partner and allowing them to trench too deep into your life, you may be inviting causes for experiencing abuse or control by them. Or there may even be times in relationships, where you spend such a large part of your day with each other that you don’t realize how your partner is curbing your freedoms and controlling your actions. To avoid being controlled or enmeshed in somebody else, one should constantly protect one’s individual rights in a relationship. Consider the following a sort of relationship bill of rights that will help you keep your personality and your life intact.
- Your time: We don’t mean to sound unromantic but the way you want to spend your time and your day is actually a big part of your individual right in a relationship. This does not mean that if your girlfriend wants to drag you to her sister’s house for Thanksgiving and you don’t want to go, then that is a violation. It just means that you two should have an equal say in how you spend your time with one another and how you sacrifice time for each other
- Sleep: Sleep too is a big part of basic rights in a relationship. You are not obligated to accompany your partner to parties every Friday night just because they want to. Don’t let them guilt you into going out with them
- Social circle: If your boyfriend does not like some of your friends or other guy friends, you do not have to stop hanging out with them. You can listen to your partner and understand their view but gracefully find a middle-ground to continue respecting your partner as well as your friends
- Time off: One of the major relationship rights that everyone needs to take seriously is their time off. We live in a chaotic world with busy schedules and it is only fair for one to have some personal time during the day. In healthy relationships, partners usually learn to respect each other’s ‘me-time’
- Parenting right: If you’re dating someone while you have a child of your own from your previous relationship, you have every right to put your child first or on an equal footing as your new partner. Say, you only get to spend weekends with your child from a previous relationship. In that case, it’s perfectly all right to want to spend that time with your child and not have plans with your partner
Why Is It Important To Know Your Basic Rights In A Relationship
To simplify this matter and break it down even further, let’s take this fun example. Assume that your relationship is the government and that you and your partner are the citizens. Now, just like the government provides rights to every citizen to assure just behavior and fair treatment, you and your partner also get basic rights in a relationship to ensure that you both are treated fairly by each other, without one person overstepping any boundaries.
Knowing your basic physical and emotional rights in a relationship safeguards you from experiencing abuse or being manipulated. You neither want to become the victim nor the perpetrator because you two have entered into a mutually agreed, loving relationship. Many people who are unaware of what their rights in a romantic partnership are and how to assert them, end up struggling in toxic relationships without realizing that they can put an end to the torture.
Hence, to avoid situations in which you feel trapped, stonewalled, or neglected by your partner, you should be aware of your rights and responsibilities in a relationship.
10 Basic Rights In A Relationship You Should Know Of
Similar to one’s individual rights in a relationship, basic rights in a relationship should also be understood and respected. Just because you are in a happy relationship at the moment does not mean that you know all of these. It is possible that you’ve been unaware of these factors, which could silently create trouble in paradise very soon. If you want to feel safe in a relationship and cultivate the ultimate love and support for one another, you cannot do it without respecting these 10 basic rights:
Related Reading: Dos And Don’ts For A Long-Term Relationship
1. The right to privacy
One of the most basic rights in a relationship is the right to have your privacy respected by your partner. This means that your spouse cannot look through your emails, phone, chats, or even your mail if you do not consent to it or are not comfortable with it. Ellen, a 24-year-old dancer, asserts, “It is fundamental to have privacy in a relationship. Even though you are committed, your sentiments, individuality, and your space remain separate. My partner and I make sure of that.”
So if you ever find your partner snooping through your private chats, it’s a matter of concern. This is not just a boyfriend and girlfriend right, but also a husband and wife right. Just because you are married does not mean that you have to let go of your privacy in a relationship.
2. The right to boundaries
The ability to set boundaries – emotional, physical, and financial – is one of the most significant rights that you should know of. This implies that you should be able to make decisions about what you want to do and what you don’t, what you’re comfortable with and what you aren’t. You can also avoid being under any kind of obligation. These boundaries are not just limited to emotional rights in a relationship but extend to sexuality as well.
Shazia explains, “Healthy boundaries are essential in any relationship for each person’s needs to be recognized and respected. No two people are the same in this world, and thus, their needs will certainly differ. Boundaries create space for these differing needs to thrive.”
My college roommate, who recently got divorced, says that a lack of boundaries in the relationship took a toll over time. “My ex didn’t understand the concept of husband and wife rights. For him, being a married couple meant no boundaries. There was absolutely no respect for mine. It became frustrating to be with someone who continuously forced me to do things I didn’t want to do,” she adds.
3. The right to express disagreement
If you have ever been in a relationship, you are surely aware that arguments are an inevitable part of the equation and there will be times when your partner may act in ways that you don’t agree with, or they may even hurt your feelings. It’s natural to not be on the same page for many things, what matters is how you converse about it respectfully. However, you do not have to put your own feelings on the back burner just because you two are not on the same page.
This is why one of the basic rights in a relationship is the freedom to express concerns and not remain silent. You ought to be able to express your opinions when you believe you have been harmed or when you disagree with anything. It is an extremely important boyfriend and girlfriend right, especially in a long-term relationship. If you do not exercise this right and bottle up everything, sooner or later your frustration will find some other outlet that can make matters ugly for you and your partner.
4. The right to be in an equal partnership and not parent your partner
You and your partner are expected to be many things but becoming a parent to one another is not one of them. It can be a relationship deal-breaker if one person turns out to be excessively needy and wants you to parent them. You have to understand that their immaturity or childish behavior could be a part of their unresolved issues and it’s not for you to help resolve these issues for them. Rights and responsibilities in a relationship do not mean having to be a mother or a father to your partner.
Here is an example of basic rights in a relationship and how it can be violated. Jace, a college professor, talks about his last relationship. He says, “My girlfriend depended on me for every little thing. Initially, the behavior was cute and endearing and I did not mind it too much. But as the relationship progressed, I realized she was just plain immature. I would come home to find her in front of the TV with her lunch and breakfast dishes still in front of her. She would never make any decisions and I felt like I was parenting her all the time, and she would always expect me to pick up after her. I realized it is a basic boyfriend and girlfriend right to not put up with such behavior, which helped me move on from that relationship.”
5. The right to see and meet your friends
Shazia says, “Friends, family, or colleagues — every person has people in their life who their partner might not like. But your partner’s relationship with them might be different than what you share with them. This is where the trust factor comes in. It is not about just dislike or disapproval, it is actually a greater reflection of the trust that you two have in your relationship.”
If you’re in a relationship, there is no reason that you shouldn’t be able to hang out with your friends or speak to them whenever you want to. It is a basic emotional right in a relationship to have your own set of friends because you have an intimate connection with them, and you should be able to foster that. Your boyfriend has absolutely no right to stop you from spending time with your guy friends. While he can warn you about what he thinks of your friends, he does not get to decide who you should be spending time with.
If your partner doesn’t like them, that is not your problem. Both you and your partner should respect the fact that other people in your life are equally important and they do not need to come with a stamp of approval from either of you. Expressing an opinion is one thing, but if they try to walk all over decisions, that is nothing but controlling behavior.
Related Reading: Freedom In Relationships – What It Means And What It Doesn’t
6. The right to be respected and treated as an equal
And it is really not too much to ask for. If you feel like you don’t have this in your relationship, you need to consider walking out. You should have the right to respect and to be treated with equality in a relationship – and this should be non-negotiable. For instance, you must be able to make decisions together, especially when they affect both of you. This right is important, as it shows you value and trust each other’s opinions.
The secret to a healthy relationship is showing respect for your partner’s point of view even though it might differ from yours. Constantly feeling belittled and insulted for your own feelings is a red flag in a relationship. A person who does not respect you or treats you as an equal is not right for you.
Sharing her experience of being in a toxic relationship, a colleague said, “I went into a zone of complete self-doubt because my boyfriend constantly reminded me how pathetic my choices and tastes were. From my dressing style to my opinions about movies, he respected nothing. It was only after I talked to a close friend that I realized how my rights were being violated. It helped me to stand up for myself.”
7. The right to refuse physical touch
Apart from emotional rights in a relationship, both partners have physical rights that should be respected. While you might trust your partner completely, refusing physical intimacy or physical touch in a relationship is normal and acceptable. You can find ways to say no in bed without hurting their feelings.
It does not mean that you are not attracted to them or find them boring in bed. Simply said, it means that there’s a chance you wouldn’t want to be touched on particular days or while you’re focused on something else, or are just not in the mood. To ensure that your partner understands exactly what you expect from them, take the time to talk about this with each other. Your sexual and physical boundaries are sacred, regardless of your gender or how close you two are. You must feel safe in a relationship, and that extends to when you get physical with them too.
8. The right to go on dates
One of the underrated yet oh-so-important rights and responsibilities in a relationship is planning frequent date nights. With your own partner, obviously! Romantic date nights are so important, and if you feel that you and your relationship require it, you mustn’t hesitate in asking for it. This does not mean your partner has to treat you to expensive dinners or take you out to a movie once a week. There are no rules here.
A romantic date can be something as simple as dressing up and enjoying a romantic night at home, or going out for a walk and ice cream. It can also just mean snuggling up in bed together while scrolling through Instagram reels. As long as you’re spending fun, quality time together — you can call it a date, making it one of the super fun relationship rights!
9. The right to be wrong
One of the basic rights in a relationship is the right to be wrong sometimes. You might make a mistake and say or do the wrong thing occasionally and it should be considered normal, and nothing to criticize or shame each other about. Being wrong more than once in a relationship is perfectly all right and if your partner keeps berating you for it, it’s a red flag that you mustn’t ignore.
Likewise, you shouldn’t insult your partner when they go wrong. Tell them, explain to them how they can be better, and then let things go. Holding grudges against your partner and acting upon them will only harm your relationship, and is frankly petty and immature. Humans are not perfect and hence both of you have the right to mess up sometimes, and still be able to love each other after it.
Related Reading: What Is An Enmeshed Relationship? Signs And How To Set Boundaries
10. The right to leave the relationship
When starting to go over the basic rights in relationships, you probably did not see this one coming. But, it is just as sacred as the rest. Shazia says, “Breakups need to be normalized, there is no doubt about it. People can have different temperaments, likes, and dislikes. And sometimes when the attraction fades away, the incompatibilities start creeping in. Maybe you two just have different plans in life and you realize that moving forward is just not practical as a couple. Which is why ending a relationship is a normal thing to do.”
A relationship is not etched in stone. One of the basic rights in a relationship is the freedom to leave when things get overwhelming, emotionally depleting, or plain toxic. You are in no way required to put up with demeaning behavior that you did not choose to subscribe to. For instance, when your partner is unfaithful, you have the right to leave without any obligation. It is important to remember that your self-respect is above any relationship. Even if your partner has done nothing wrong, but you realize you have fallen out of love, you have the right to leave the relationship because you will be doing both of you a favor by taking the smarter and better decision for your lives.
- One of the foremost basic rights in a relationship is the right to having boundaries and practicing personal space
- Respect for the relationship and for yourself is essential in love and should not be compromised
- One always has the right to refuse physical touch if they are not in the mood
- Expressing disagreement with your partner is one of the basic relationship rights that should not be violated
Having a partner comes with challenges and compromises. Setting ground rules and being aware of your basic rights in a relationship can help you establish a healthy and happy foundation with your partner in which both parties are happy. Remember, it is never wrong to practice your relationship rights, and only makes love stronger and better.
This article was updated in April 2023.
People that are immature seem to care only about themselves. They detest compromise and reject the idea of considering other people’s viewpoints. They constantly seek to be in control.
With time and help, most emotionally immature people do change. Once they know how to deal with their emotions instead of projecting, they slowly begin to grow out of their immaturity.