Mutual respect in a relationship is as important as love and trust, probably more. Partners need to be respectful of each other if they want their relationship to last. Mutual respect meaning?
Well, the definition differs from person to person but I think we can all agree that respect is reflected in the way partners treat each other on a daily basis. It is the foundation for a strong bond between romantic partners. Without it, the relationship might just cease to exist.
Rome was not built in a day. Similarly, you’ll have to work toward building mutual respect with your partner every day. A relationship should be a partnership of equals. In a healthy relationship, partners do not have authority over each other. There will be differences of opinions but partners choose to respectfully disagree while valuing and trusting each other’s judgment.
Why Is Mutual Respect Important In A Relationship?
Ask anyone and they’ll tell you mutual respect in a relationship is extremely important to build a future together. It gives you that sense of safety and freedom to be able to express yourself without the fear of judgment, ridicule or humiliation.
Imagine being in a relationship with someone who decides for the both of you without any discussion or asking for your opinion. Would you want to be in a relationship with someone who makes fun of you in public, makes you feel worthless or passes hurtful and disrespectful comments during a fight or argument?
No, right? This is exactly why mutual trust and respect in a relationship are important. In fact, the importance of mutual respect in a relationship shouldn’t even be on your mind if you’re dating the right person. But if it is, you probably need to have a conversation with your partner regarding the same.
If you don’t treat your partner with respect, you’re only sabotaging your relationship. It’s not true love if there’s no respect. You will only end up hurting and demeaning one another. If your partner doesn’t understand that his/her actions are humiliating or doesn’t think there’s anything wrong with the disrespectful way they’re treating you, then it’s probably time for you to reconsider your decision to stay in the relationship.
Related Reading: 15 Characteristics Of A Healthy Relationship
How Do You Show Mutual Respect In A Relationship?
Well, it takes effort. Like we said, respect is reflected in the way you and your partner treat each other every day. It’s easier said than done, of course. People often say they respect their partners but words mean nothing if your actions portray a different reality. Mutual respect is essential, if not enough, for a relationship to thrive.
There are different ways to show respect in a relationship. We’ve made you a list of five of them to help you understand what mutual respect means and ways to show it better:
- Give each other space: The relationship is a part of your lives, not your entire life. Give each other space. There are other important relationships and aspects of your life that require attention. Spend time with yourself and friends and family. Engage in your favorite hobbies. Encouraging time apart will help you grow as individuals as well as a couple
- Be reliable: Another way to show respect is by being a reliable partner. Follow through on your plans. For instance, don’t say yes to a shopping trip or dinner if you’re not sure whether you’ll be able to make it. Be aware of the effect your actions can have on your partner. Of course, there’ll be emergencies but make sure to keep them in the loop
- Support each other’s careers and interests: Encourage your partner’s choices and interests even if they’re different from yours. Maybe your partner likes to travel but you don’t. You don’t have to join but don’t deter your partner from traveling either. Both of your careers are equally important, which is why you should make sure you acknowledge and support each other when needed
- Take care of each other’s needs: Pay attention to each other’s needs and desires. It only goes on to show how much you care about your partner’s concerns and preferences. Recognizing and acting on your partner’s needs goes a long way in establishing mutual respect in a relationship
- Learn to forgive: Practicing forgiveness in a relationship is extremely important. Don’t hold on to mistakes. It’ll only lead to resentment, which will cause disrespect and eventually ruin the relationship. We all make mistakes. Don’t pull each other down or make each other feel worse about it
Partners should be able to communicate honestly and without hesitation, encourage each other, take major decisions together, compromise when matters affect both parties, and, most importantly, not cross boundaries. They should never try to belittle or one-up each other.
Respect does not mean that you sacrifice yourself or your desires and ambitions for your partner. It does not mean that you don’t discuss issues fearing it might trigger an angry response or hurt your partner. It means that you take responsibility for your actions, communicate and try to understand your partner’s needs even if it seems difficult.
Related Reading: 21 Signs Of Lack Of Respect In A Relationship
What Are The Examples Of Mutual Respect In A Relationship?
Showing respect in a relationship is not that complicated, to be honest, if there’s enough love and understanding between both partners. You’re not in it alone, which means you can rely and depend on your partner to lay the foundation for mutual respect and slowly build on it.
At the end of the day, respect is all about being mindful of boundaries, accepting of change and differences, listening to your partner, caring about their needs, communicating honestly, honoring each other’s choices and opinions, and helping each other grow.
Here’s a list of 9 mutual respect examples to help you understand and establish the same in your relationship:
1. Accept and appreciate your differences
One of the examples of building mutual respect in a relationship is to be accepting and appreciative of the fact that both of you are different people and have personalities or identities of your own. Learn to accept each other’s differences, ideas, and flaws instead of being critical of them. It will make you more patient and help you see and understand things from your partner’s perspective.
Differences and disagreements are signs of a healthy relationship only as long as there’s no disrespect involved. You can differ in your opinions and decisions and still value and respect them. Appreciating each other’s strengths and being tolerant of differences is what makes your bond strong and establishes mutual respect in a relationship.
Being accepting of divergent views will not only build trust and respect in a relationship but also make you a better human being.
2. Make sure you respect and take care of yourself
Another extremely important factor if you’re trying to build mutual respect with your partner is to, first, be able to respect yourself in the relationship. Your self-worth and self-respect are of utmost importance not just in a relationship but in life, in general. Make sure you never compromise on that.
Accept who you are. No one is perfect. We’re all flawed and a work in progress. Make sure you take care of yourself. In doing so, you are not just building a strong and confident relationship with yourself but also strengthening your bond with your partner. Hold on to your ideas and interests, take care of your health, get enough sleep, and invest in your emotional and mental well-being.
Honor and respect yourself first. Know that you matter. Your feelings, emotions and thoughts are as important as your partner’s. If you feel like your relationship has reached a dead end and you want to get out of it, know that it is a way of respecting yourself.
3. Listen to each other
Listening to what your partner has to say goes a long way in establishing mutual trust and respect in a relationship. Pay attention to your partner’s needs and desires. Listen to what they have to say, how they feel, what their concerns are.
Don’t make the conversation about yourself. Let them have the floor when they need it the most. It only goes on to show that you’re concerned about your partner’s emotions and consider their views as important. It will give them a sense of safety that there’s someone who’ll always have their back if anything goes wrong.
Your partner is sharing it with you because you’re important to him/her. If you’re distracted, it’ll make your partner feel like they’re a burden or that you don’t respect them enough.
4. Make sure to not cross enforced boundaries
Another non-negotiable example of showing respect in a relationship is to make sure both partners do not cross the set boundaries, including physical or sexual limits. There are different types of boundaries partners must establish for a healthy relationship. The process of enforcing and respecting those boundaries starts with you. Your partner will not show respect for your boundaries if you don’t.
Make sure you figure out what your limitations are and then properly communicate your boundaries to your partner. He/she should know what you’re comfortable with as well as what you’re not willing to compromise on. Ask them to support you in maintaining or honoring those boundaries.
Respecting your sexual boundaries in a relationship should be a top priority. Right from indulging in PDA to having sex, understanding each other’s comfort zone is crucial in order to establish mutual respect in a relationship. If you’re not comfortable kissing in public, communicate the same to your partner. Not in the mood for sex today? Say it. Consent matters. We can’t stress it enough.
Says a friend about the importance of mutual respect in a relationship when it came to intimacy, “My ex-boyfriend always respected my physical and sexual boundaries. We may have had our own reasons to part ways but when we were together, he never did anything that made me uncomfortable. He would always seek permission and care about my comfort before making any move.”
You’re not obligated to do something you’re not comfortable with just because you’re in a relationship. Also, remember, consent works both ways. It is your responsibility to respect the boundaries set by your partner even if you don’t exactly relate to them.
Related Reading: 17 Signs Of Sexual Tension You Cannot Ignore
5. Don’t let fear control your relationship
Mutual respect is something you learn and establish during the course of a relationship. It’s something you learn to do together every day. So, don’t be scared to talk to your partner about your concerns. Never let fear dictate or dominate your equation with your partner.
We all come with our own set of fears and anxieties – be it past relationship trauma, abuse, childhood abandonment issues, cheating or violence. Both partners must acknowledge and discuss their fears. If you think consulting a therapist can help both of you, reach out.
We don’t always know how to handle our fears and emotions, which is why it is important that partners talk about and deal with them together.
6. Communication is key
This should be a top priority if you want to build mutual respect in a relationship. For a relationship to thrive, it is imperative that both partners are on the same page and, for that to happen, honest communication is a must.
When partners tend to not address issues, it results in resentment that eventually strains the relationship. Make sure to not let that happen because it then affects the love, trust and respect that both of you have for each other. Avoid such a situation by freely talking to your partner about your feelings and concerns.
Again, don’t go all guns blazing. Make sure you don’t make each other feel isolated or start a blame game. Sit and have a conversation without losing your cool. A lot of times, bad communication or misinterpretation of words or actions spells doom for the relationship. Avoid that if you want to build mutual respect with your partner.
Communicating with each other will allow you to understand your partner better, share personal stories about your life, bring both of you closer and strengthen the relationship.
7. Accept and take responsibility for your actions
Making a relationship work, building mutual respect requires effort. A part of that effort includes being able to accept your mistakes, apologize and take responsibility for your actions. Also, accept the fact that you are bound to hurt your partner or unintentionally cross boundaries at some point in the relationship.
You will probably end up being disrespectful even if that wasn’t your intention. What counts in such situations is your willingness to own up to your mistake, take responsibility and apologize for it. If you or your partner don’t, then it’s a sign of an unhealthy relationship.
My friend, who has been at the receiving end of this disrespect, elaborates, “My ex-boyfriend would always deny his mistakes. For example, if I spoke to a male friend of mine, he would lose his temper and abuse me. But he never apologized. Instead, he would blame his actions on his ex-girlfriend who cheated on him and then accuse me of not understanding his pain.”
We all deal with stress and difficult scenarios day in and day out and tend to take it out on our partners. But being honest and accountable for your behavior goes a long way in establishing mutual respect in a relationship. Also, when the shoe is on the other foot, make sure you practice forgiveness instead of holding on to the fight or argument.
8. Show that you trust them
Demonstrating trust in a relationship is one of the most important mutual respect examples. Trust forms the foundation of a relationship. Mutual trust and respect in a relationship are key to making it work. Just saying that you trust each other is not enough. Your actions must reflect the same.
You shouldn’t have to go through your partner’s phone or personal messages to find out if he/she is hiding something from you. If their actions make you feel that way, just ask them and have a conversation about it. Your partner will also feel that you trust them enough to freely address your concerns instead of creating a scene or engaging in a heated argument or making accusations.
Another way to establish trust and respect in a relationship is to not control your partner or police their every move. Don’t constantly call them to know about their whereabouts or who they are talking to, what they are doing. It only shows that you do not trust your partner.
Trust and respect go hand in hand. Love may be the reason you and your partner are together. But mutual trust and respect are what will make the relationship last.
Related Reading: 10 Ways To Rebuild Trust In A Relationship
9. Always fight fair; no hurtful jibes
This is, without a doubt, one of the most important mutual respect examples. You cannot hurl hurtful jibes or use demeaning or humiliating language during fights. No name-calling, abuse or violence of any kind either. It’s a strict no.
It’s normal for couples to get into fights or arguments. It’s a sign of a healthy relationship. But it’s not normal to disrespect or insult your partner. You have to be able to respect each other even during a fight. No sarcastic remarks, hurtful comments or abusive language, please. It’s unacceptable.
My friend further elaborates, “Being respectful during a fight was never part of my ex-boyfriend’s vocabulary. He would always slut-shame me for being friends with guys, accuse me of being an attention-seeker, and taunt me for having a large friend circle. No matter what the fight was about, it would always come down to character assassination.”
If your partner constantly tries to control you, accuses you of cheating, blames you for everything or gets violent, you’re in an abusive relationship. We suggest you walk out immediately. Don’t mistake a few kind words here and there for respect. Abusive partners will never respect you. They will only look for ways to control you.
Mutual respect means to honor and appreciate yourselves as well as each other. When you get into a relationship, you don’t just get to know and understand your partner, but also yourself. You’ve come together because you love and care about each other. But, remember, all that love and care will hold no value if you don’t respect each other.
It requires a lifelong commitment from both partners to honor and respect each other. We cannot stress enough the importance of mutual respect in a relationship. As they say, you can respect someone you don’t love but it’s hard to love someone you don’t respect.
If you think your relationship lacks mutual respect, talk to your partner about it and seek professional help. Bonobology has a panel of licensed and experienced counselors you can reach out to if you’re looking for guidance.