21 Signs Of Lack Of Respect In A Relationship

Relationship Advice | | , Editor-in-Chief
Updated On: April 8, 2024
Signs Of Lack Of Respect In A Relationship

Signs of lack of respect in a relationship can be a worrying indicator for the future of any romantic partnership. That’s because a relationship cannot survive on love alone. A passionate, whirlwind romance can bring two people together. But it takes trust and mutual respect to build lasting relationships. In their absence, even the strongest connection can come undone sooner or later.

Does that mean when respect is lost in a relationship there is no hope? Well, not necessarily. If you and your partner can recognize this worrying tendency for what it is and take measures to rein it in, it is possible to turn things around. For that, you need to recognize that you’re dealing with disrespect in a relationship. Let’s look at how disrespect in a relationship becomes apparent, why respect in a relationship is important, and how to deal with disrespect in a relationship.

What Amounts to Disrespect In A Relationship?

Respect is defined as a “feeling of deep admiration for someone”. So, naturally, disrespect in a relationship would be the exact opposite of it. But when it comes to human relationships, pinpointing what is admiration and what is not isn’t easy. Does admiration, and by extension, respect in a relationship mean subjugation? Or one partner being subservient to the other? By that measure, does standing up for yourself amount to disrespect in a relationship? No, no, and no.

Disrespect in a relationship can be accurately described as operating from a place of total disregard for a partner’s feelings, emotions, needs, and aspirations, and not attaching any importance to what your partner seeks or expects from you. Dealing with disrespect in a relationship doesn’t just mean putting up with a partner who abuses you verbally or doesn’t fulfill your emotional needs.

An exasperated rolling of the eyes, making insensitive jokes or remarks, using cutting sarcasm to pull a partner down, taunts, lack of support, and patronizing behavior are all among signs of lack of respect in a relationship. In short, if one partner treats the other in a way that they would never stand for, it can be considered disrespectful behavior.

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The Importance Of Respect In A Relationship

Before we get into the signs of lack of respect in a relationship, we must first understand its importance. Without overstating its value, we can confidently say respect might just be a differentiating factor between a relationship that encourages growth and one that ends up suffocating you. For greater clarity on what that means, let’s take a look at the importance of respect in a relationship, and what it’ll help you achieve:

  • Respect begets trust: When you respect your partner’s abilities, you will trust them enough to be able to come out on top of pressing situations. Respect, love, and trust in a relationship go hand in hand. Perhaps these are the most important cornerstones of a relationship, and one cannot exist without the other
  • You accept your partner as they are: When people are in love and truly respect each other, they accept each other in their entirety, since the respect they have for each other outweighs the negatives of their personalities
  • You don’t sabotage your relationship: When there’s ample respect in a relationship, you’re less likely to indulge in behaviors like infidelity or emotional abuse that can rock the very foundation of your relationship
  • Respect keeps a couple together: The love you feel for one another inevitably changes over time. When the honeymoon phase of being lovestruck passes, it is respect that keeps a couple together
  • Respect teaches you patience: During a heated argument, you may be tempted to say the most hurtful things to your partner and vice versa. What keeps you from giving voice to those damaging thoughts is respect. When there’s inherent love and respect in a relationship, you learn to be patient and accept each other’s flaws

Related Reading: 10 Important Components Of Trust In A Relationship

21 Signs Of Lack Of Respect In A Relationship

When couples talk about their relationship problems, a lack of respect features as a common lament. Though it is not considered as detrimental to a relationship as infidelity or abuse, dealing with disrespect in a relationship can chip away at your bond slowly but surely.

Have you ever felt slighted or insulted by your partner’s actions? Have their words left you feeling crushed and hurt? These feelings are certainly a manifestation of disrespect. However, identifying such behavior for what it is can be hard. That’s why we bring you these 21 clear signs of lack of respect in a relationship so that you can identify the red flags and take corrective measures before it is too late:

1. Your partner doesn’t make time for you

As romantic partners get caught up in the rigamarole of mundane routines, a few spells where you both feel distant and out of touch are normal. However, if your partner just doesn’t make the effort to make time for you, it can be because they don’t respect and value you enough. Is your partner always busy on the phone or too busy doing their own thing to connect with you? These tendencies can be among the common signs of a disrespectful husband, wife, or partner. In a healthy relationship, partners do their best not to let gadgets pull them apart.

2. No regard for personal space

On the other end of the spectrum of disrespect is a tendency to overwhelm one’s partner so much that their personal space and freedom become non-existent. Picking up a fight or getting into an argument if a partner wants to spend an evening with friends or is too busy to make it home for dinner can leave you feeling, “My partner/wife/husband disrespects me.” And you’re not wrong in thinking so.

Denying a person the agency to make decisions for themselves and an overwhelming need to control every aspect of a partner’s life amount to belittling in a relationship. When there are signs of lack of respect in a marriage or a relationship, partners don’t trust each other to make the right decisions, this can trigger a tendency to smother and suffocate one another.

Related Reading: How To Get Out Of A Controlling Relationship – 8 Ways To Break Free

3. Not consulting each other

What are the signs your wife doesn’t respect you or your husband or partner is disrespectful? If this question has been on your mind, pay attention. If you and your partner don’t feel the need to consult each other before making decisions big or small, it’s a manifestation of the fact that you don’t value each other’s opinions very much. In a steady, long-term relationship or marriage, this can be a damaging effect of lack of respect.

4. You feel unheard

belittling in a relationship
Not being heard amounts to belittling in a relationship

It’s one thing if your mindless banter doesn’t register with your partner. But if you’re telling them something significant and they’re only half-present in the conversation, it is one of the most glaring signs of a disrespectful husband/wife/partner. Being a good listener is an important element of being a better partner for a better relationship. If your partner cannot give you their undivided attention in the moments you most need it, it speaks volumes about how valuable you are to them.

5. Poor communication

When respect is lost in a relationship, communication problems automatically begin to take hold. In such a scenario, when one person says something, the other doesn’t listen. Or any and every difference of opinion leads to raging arguments where the sole objective is one-upmanship and pulling each other down.

Apart from being one of the tell-tale signs of lack of respect in a relationship, it is also a telling example of how disrespect can become a harbinger of myriad other problems between a couple. Feeling disrespected in a relationship leads to contempt and resentment, which can drive you and your partner further and further apart.

6. Your partner is critical of you

“My spouse has no respect for me or my feelings.” “My husband disrespects me.” “My wife is dismissive of me.” “My partner says unkind things to me.” These thoughts are among the glaring signs of lack of respect in a relationship. You may find yourself stuck with this unshakable feeling that your partner is overly critical of everything you do. From how you dress to how you speak and conduct yourself, from how you perform at work to the way you manage your home, nothing you do is ever good enough for them. If it feels like finding faults with you is your spouse’s favorite pastime, there is no doubt that they disrespect you.

Related Reading: It Took 7 Years For Me To Find Acceptance, Love And Respect In My Marriage

7. Your relationship is riddled with lies

Honesty is the hallmark of a healthy relationship. By extension, lies and dishonesty in a relationship are indicators of trouble. If you have caught your partner out on a lie more often than not or are guilty of not being truthful to them, count it as one of the signs of no respect in a marriage or relationship. Whether these are ‘harmless’ white lies or something more serious, the fact that either of you feels that your partner doesn’t deserve the truth reflects a fundamental lack of mutual respect.

8. You’re not their priority

Prioritizing your partner is not just a sign of love but also of the respect you have for them. It is also a key element of building a balanced relationship. By putting them first, you are letting the other person know that you value them. If your partner doesn’t treat you as a priority in their life, it means that the virtue of respect is missing from your relationship.

9. They don’t value your time

disrespected in a relationship
If they don’t value your time, you’re being disrespected in a relationship

Let’s say you and your partner agree to meet for a dinner date at 7 but they don’t show up for another hour. Or you ask them to accompany you to an event that’s important to you and they end up delaying your arrival there. Or you’re getting late for work but they hog the shower before you and take their own sweet time to finish up.

These may seem like small things and your partner may not be consciously doing it to disrespect you but these are signs of a lack of respect in a relationship. On a subconscious level, they don’t respect you enough to attach value to things that are important to you.

10. You’re subjected to the silent treatment

All couples fight, argue, and disagree. However, how two partners resolve a conflict reflects the robustness of their relationship. If resorting to silent treatment is your partner’s way of reacting to differences, you’re dealing with disrespect in a relationship. They are using this twisted manipulation tactic to control your mind. Perhaps even, conveying to you that the onus of resolving a fight is on you because they have an upper hand in the relationship.

Related Reading: Is Indifference Or Disrespect Equivalent To Cheating On Spouse?

11. There are trust issues in the relationship

Trust and respect in a relationship often go hand-in-hand. When you trust someone, you naturally respect them. When you respect someone, you cannot possibly not place your trust in them. However, if you or your spouse struggle to trust each other, it’s one of the most common signs of no respect in a marriage or relationship.

This lack of trust may be stemming from certain past actions that left either of you feeling betrayed. But the fact that you cannot take your partner’s word at face value or feel the need to cross-check their actions, indicates that you don’t respect their sense of integrity and honesty.

12. Giving attention to other people

Say you and your partner are at a party, and instead of being by your side, you find them flirting with your friends or fawning over their coworkers. Such a public display of valuing someone else over one’s romantic partner can be among the crushing signs your wife doesn’t respect you or your husband/partner is disrespectful.

13. Making derogatory remarks

Partners in a healthy relationship lift each other up. When respect is lost in a relationship, this sense of being a team also goes with it. Instead of being your biggest supporter and cheerleader, your partner may start acting like your biggest self-appointed critic. And the criticism they have to offer is far from healthy. They make derogatory remarks about your looks, passions and interests, values and beliefs, likes and dislikes, and so on. This is one of the signs of a disrespectful husband, wife, or partner.

14. Your accomplishments go unnoticed

You may have won the ‘Employee of the Year’ award at work. Or got a hard-earned promotion. Maybe, you’ve finally overcome your fears and done something you’ve always dreaded. But none of it is good enough for your partner. Since they don’t respect you, they don’t find your accomplishments admirable. This constant invalidation of your accomplishments may leave you lamenting, “My partner/wife/husband disrespects me.”

Infographic on signs of lack of respect in a relationship
What lack of respect in a relationship look like

15. They air dirty laundry in public

A partner who doesn’t respect you will not hesitate to share intimate details about your life with others. From bedroom secrets to relationship problems, they take a no-holds-barred approach to spilling your secrets in the public domain and criticizing you in front of others. As a result, you may end up having relationship arguments that spell doom for your bond both in your private space as well as in front of others.

16. You feel dispensable

Have you found yourself wondering if your spouse would be even a little bit distraught if you left them? Is the answer to that question a loud and clear no? If your partner makes you feel so unimportant that it seems their life would go on the same way with or without you, you’re dealing with disrespect in a relationship.

17. No room for compromise

Another one of the glaring signs of lack of respect in a relationship is a “my way or the highway” approach. Every relationship demands some amount of adjustments and compromises from both partners. But if your partner lives by the “I’ll do what I want” paradigm, without sparing a thought to how it affects you, you are neither cherished nor respected in your relationship.

18. They are never on your side

Having your partner stand by you is a baseline expectation in a relationship. Whether it is a silly tiff with your mom or serious career trouble, you want your partner to be on your team when others are pitted against you. But a partner who disrespects you won’t find it in their heart to do so. From their perspective, the fault inevitably lies with you.

19. Snide remarks about appearances

One of the common signs of no respect in a marriage or relationship is a tendency to pass snide remarks about one’s partner’s physical appearance. It could be an insensitive joke about your weight or a taunt about your looks. Such remarks are not only disrespectful but also deeply hurtful.

Related Reading: 13 Signs He Disrespects You And Does Not Deserve You

20. Being rude to your people

Romantic partnerships are often a package deal. When you choose to love someone, you by default choose their inner circle of people — family and friends. When respect is lost in a relationship, partners may no longer feel the need to keep up with these courtesies.

That’s why they won’t hold back from being rude or disrespectful to the people who matter to the other person. Perhaps your partner resents your family and doesn’t make any attempt to hide it. Or they can’t bear your friends and convey it in no uncertain terms, even though they know full well how much such actions will embarrass and hurt you. This is among the clear signs your wife doesn’t respect you or your husband is disrespectful or your partner has little respect for you.

21. They embarrass you in public

Among the most obvious signs of lack of respect in a relationship is a partner’s tendency to embarrass you in public. Whether you’re with your friends or theirs, they will feel no hesitation in voicing their opinion of you. More often than not, this opinion is derogatory, disrespectful, hurtful, and embarrassing.

Toxic relationship

What Happens When There Is A Lack Of Respect In A Relationship?

Lack of respect in a relationship can cause your bond with your partner to deteriorate over time and its ill-effects spill over to other aspects of your life. A romantic equation without respect can quickly turn into a toxic relationship, where boundaries are disrespected, unhealthy power dynamics are unleashed, and manipulation for the sake of control becomes the norm.

Feeling disrespected in a relationship can also deeply injure your self-worth and self-esteem. The consequences can truly be profound and far-reaching. Let’s take a close look at what happens when there is a lack of respect in a relationship to understand the full extent of the damage it can cause:

Related Reading: 11 Examples Of Self-Sabotaging Behaviors That Ruin Relationships

  • Judgment and criticism: Constant judgment and criticism amount to belittling in a relationship. When respect is removed from the equation, you go from affirming each other’s life choices, values, and goals to dismissing them as worthless and futile
  • Contempt: When you feel disrespected in a relationship, you can sense a hint of contempt and derision in your partner’s voice whenever they speak to you. Because they don’t respect you, they feel they’re superior to you and use their contempt to belittle and dismiss you
  • Resentment: Lack of respect also paves the way for resentment in a relationship. Your partner resents you because they feel that you’re not good enough, and you begin to resent a disrespectful partner for always being critical and dismissive of you
  • Boundaries are not respected: Signs of lack of respect in a marriage or relationship include not honoring a partner’s boundaries. The disrespectful partner willfully ignores and oversteps boundaries in the relationship that may be important to the other. This can make the person at the receiving end feel invalidated, violated, unseen, and unheard
  • Lack of respect makes you insecure: When you’re constantly mocked, ridiculed, criticized, and told you’re not good enough, this negativity will take a toll on you at some point or the other. That’s why being disrespected in a relationship can leave you riddled with self-doubt and trigger different types of insecurities and complexes, which not only impact your current relationship but also other aspects of your life
  • Affects your professional and personal relationships: The effects of lack of respect in a relationship aren’t just limited to that relationship alone. Getting no respect in a relationship can alter the way you interact with others and navigate through different aspects of life. From not speaking up for yourself to releasing your relationship frustrations by lashing out at others, being disrespected can bring out several behavioral changes
  • Anxiety and depression: Prolonged disrespect in a relationship amounts to emotional abuse and can have an impact on your mental health. It can cause you to become socially withdrawn and isolated, putting you at a greater risk of conditions like anxiety and depression.

How To Deal With Disrespect In A Relationship?

As you can see, a lack of respect can have far-reaching consequences not just for your relationship but also for your emotional well-being. That’s why, when you see signs of lack of respect in a relationship, don’t look the other way. Stand up for yourself and let your partner know that their behavior is not acceptable. If you let one little slight slide, you enable problematic behavior. Before you know it, the pattern of disrespect may become so deep-rooted that breaking and replacing it can become near impossible. That’s why disrespect should be dealt with firmly and swiftly. Here are some ways you can deal with disrespect in a relationship:

1. Be aware of disrespectful behavior

This may sound like a no-brainer but is important to state because disrespectful behavior is so often normalized and minimized that we feel uncomfortable calling it out. Heck, we may even struggle to accept that a particular joke or sarcastic comment was disrespectful. That’s why being aware of belittling in a relationship — be it as glaring as verbal abuse or as subtle as insensitive comments — is the first crucial step in dealing with it.

Related Reading: How To Fix Lack Of Communication In A Relationship – 15 Expert Tips

2. Communicate when you feel disrespected

Disrespectful behavior could also be a result of communication issues in a relationship. Just the way you have trouble identifying and calling out disrespectful behavior, your partner too may not realize how their words and actions make you feel. That’s why it is imperative to communicate when you feel disrespected.

If you calmly tell them how their behavior is making you feel, chances are they’d be mortified about treating you in such a manner and make a conscious effort to change their behavior toward you. If that doesn’t happen, then you know they’re willfully disrespecting you and can reevaluate your future with them.

3. Redefine and enforce boundaries

Setting healthy relationship boundaries can be the antidote to so many problems couples grapple with, lack of respect is definitely one of them. So, have a conversation with your partner, let them know which behaviors are acceptable to you and which are not, and if they cross that line again, take a step back and refuse to engage.

For example, if your partner disrespects you by resorting to name-calling in the relationship, respond by saying, “I’ve told you that I’m not okay with being called names. I refuse to engage in the conversation any further. Why don’t we take some time off and talk again once you’ve calmed down?”

Related Reading: The 7 Types Of Boundaries In Relationships For A Stronger Bond

4. Seek professional help

Disrespect in a relationship is often a symptom of underlying problems. To resolve it, you need to delve deeper and assess what is impacting your relationship dynamics in a way that you’re losing — or have lost — mutual respect. Besides, your mental health and sense of self can take a massive hit when you’re disrespected in a relationship. Seeking professional counseling can be immensely helpful in identifying and working through such issues. If that’s something you’d like to consider, Bonobology’s counseling services are here for you.

5. Know when to move on

You have no reason to put up with no respect in a relationship. If despite efforts from your end, your partner refuses to mend their ways and continues to belittle and humiliate you, prioritize yourself over your relationship. While we’re all for second chances and extending an olive branch in a relationship, when second chances turn into third and tenth and hundredth, it’s a clear sign that your issues may be beyond repair. In such a situation, choose self-preservation over trying to save a relationship. Call it quits, move on. You deserve to be with someone who’d love and respect you for who you are.

Key Pointers

  • Respect is a key component of the foundation of a strong relationship
  • Feeling unheard, unseen, dismissed, criticized, and belittled are all signs of lack of respect in a relationship
  • Belittling in a relationship can cause your bond to deteriorate and also take a toll on other aspects of your life, including your mental health
  • You can deal with a lack of respect in a relationship with clear communication and boundary setting
  • However, if your partner refuses to change, don’t hesitate in prioritizing yourself and moving on

Once you see the signs of lack of respect in a relationship, it can be hard to ignore them or take them in your stride. And neither should you. Respect is one of the most basic expectations in a relationship that should be met at all costs. If your partner fails to bring even this bare minimum to the table, it’s time to ask yourself if being in such a relationship is even worth your while.


1. What happens when there is no respect in a relationship?

When there is no respect in a relationship, resentment and contempt begin to creep in. Eventually, partners may find it hard to stand each other. In such a situation, when hit by a rough patch, staying together can become a challenge.

2. Is disrespect a red flag in a relationship?

Yes, disrespect in a relationship is a definite red flag. It is a result of underlying relationship issues that have not been addressed or resolved correctly and promptly.

3. Should you end a disrespectful relationship?

No, ending a disrespectful relationship doesn’t have to be the first course of action. If you and your partner value what you share, you must try to resolve the underlying cause of disrespect and foster mutual respect once again. But if all your efforts to do so fail to yield results, moving on is advisable.

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