Mutual respect in a relationship is as important as love and trust, and one could even argue that love without respect has no value. Though pop culture will tell you that love is all you need, the truth is that partners need to be respectful of each other if they want their relationship to last. Wondering what exactly is 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. 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 opinion but partners choose to respectfully disagree while valuing and trusting each other’s judgment. Of course, none of this can be achieved overnight. Just the way Rome was not built in a day, you too have to work toward building mutual respect with your partner every day. Before we take a look at the importance and the examples of it, let’s define mutual respect in a relationship to help you get a sense of what exactly it is that you need to be working toward.
What Does Mutual Respect Mean In A Relationship?
Simply put, mutual respect in a relationship means treating each other in a courteous and affable manner. It means being accepting of your partner, acknowledging and accepting their wants, opinions, ideas, and feelings, and not looking down on them or dismissing their views. To have mutual respect in a relationship means that you’re both capable of expressing your personalities without being ridiculed and that there’s enough space and acceptance to do so.
The signs of respect in a relationship involve love and acceptance, a courteous, pleasant, and healthy relationship, and one that allows both partners to be able to express themselves. You won’t be walking on eggshells, fearing your partner’s unfavorable reaction after you tell them something or express yourself in a certain manner.
If there truly is mutual respect in a relationship, both partners will be mindful of each other’s feelings during conversations, fights, or while making any major decisions. You won’t be making derogatory remarks and the fights won’t be aimed at putting down the other person or exercising control. It won’t be a codependent relationship, and you won’t be bashed for being the person that you are. If you’re looking for a simple way to define mutual respect in a relationship, it’s when you respect your partner as you’d want them to respect you.
On paper, it sounds like a simple concept that every relationship needs to have, and most people will claim they respect their partners. However, if that were the case, there wouldn’t be any toxic relationships. The reason behind all your fights, behind never feeling heard or understood, behind always being ridiculed for being you might just be that your relationship lacks this basic fundamental.
But, why exactly is it such a prerequisite to a healthy relationship? How do you tell if your partner respects you? Do you respect your partner? And if so, do you show it in an appropriate manner? Let’s find out.
Why Is Mutual Respect Important In A Relationship?
Mutual respect in a relationship is extremely important to build a future together because 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. Or being with someone who makes fun of you in public, makes you feel worthless, or passes hurtful and disrespectful comments during a fight or argument. Would you want to be in such a relationship?
No, right? This is exactly why mutual trust and respect in a relationship are important. In fact, if you’re with the right person, questions about the importance of mutual respect in a relationship wouldn’t even be on your mind. It’d come naturally to you and your partner. But if you find yourself wondering about the element of respect in your relationship, you probably need to have a conversation with your partner about it.
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.
How Do You Show Mutual Respect In A Relationship?
Well, it takes effort. As 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, such as:
- 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. As we said, love without respect has no value, and holding on to mistakes will only lead to resentment, which will, in turn, 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, make major decisions together, compromise on matters that 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.
What Are The Examples Of Mutual Respect In A Relationship?
Showing respect in a relationship is not that complicated 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 in your relationship, accepting changes 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 you are both 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.
Related Reading: 21 Signs Of Lack Of Respect In A Relationship
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.
To have mutual respect, 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, and what their concerns are.
Don’t make every 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 wants to share their thoughts and emotions with you because you’re important to him/her. If you’re distracted, it’ll make them feel like they’re a burden or that you don’t respect them enough. One of the biggest signs of respect in a relationship is the ability to have a conversation with your partner without cutting each other off, accepting and acknowledging their views without making it seem like you’re only listening so that you can speak again and offer your rebuttals.
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 that partners must establish for a healthy relationship. The process of enforcing and respecting those boundaries starts with you. Your partner will not respect 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.
Speaking about the importance of mutual respect in a relationship when it came to intimacy, a friend says, “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. 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.
If you think consulting a therapist can help both of you, reach out. Bonobology has a panel of licensed and experienced counselors you can reach out to if you’re looking for guidance.
6. Communication is key
How do you tell if your partner respects you? It’s when you and your partner communicate well and are willing to listen to each other as well. 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 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 spell doom for a 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 responsibility for your actions
Making a relationship work and 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. 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 get verbally abusive. 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, and is one of the things that make a good relationship. Mutual trust and respect in a relationship go hand-in-hand. Just saying that you trust each other is not enough. Your actions must reflect the trust you have established in your relationship.
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. Knowing that you trust them enough to freely address your concerns instead of creating a scene or leveling accusations will also be reassuring for your partner.
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, who they are talking to, or what they are doing. It only shows that you do not trust your partner. Love may be what brought you and your partner 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. 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 in a relationship is a basic fundamental that you need to ensure that your relationship thrives and remains healthy
- Along with having respect for your partner, it’s important for both individuals to show it as well
- If your relationship lacks respect, it runs the risk of turning toxic before you know it. Get to the root of the problem and establish a strong layer of respect to ensure a healthy dynamic
- Examples of mutual respect in a relationship include acceptance, kindness, fighting fair, taking responsibility, accepting boundaries, and not letting fear control your relationship
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.