21 Signs Of Lack Of Respect In A Relationship

September 14, 2023 |
signs of lack of respect in a relationship
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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 the absence of it, even the strongest connection can come undone sooner or later. So does that mean when respect is lost in a relationship there is no hope for the future? 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 take a look at how disrespect in a relationship becomes apparent, why respect in a relationship is important, how to catch the signs of lack of respect in a relationship, and how to deal with disrespect in a relationship.

What Constitutes 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. So, what does disrespect look like in a relationship? 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 can all amount to signs of lack of respect in a relationship. In short, if one partner treats the other in a way that they themselves would never stand for, it can be considered disrespect in a relationship.

Related Reading: 21 Elements Of Developing Respect In A Relationship

The Importance Of Respect In A Relationship

Before we can get into the signs of lack of respect in a relationship, we must first understand why it’s so imperative to have respect in a relationship. What are the reasons to respect someone? Can a relationship survive without respect? Plus, how does one even show respect?

Just as a rolling of the eyes is enough to show disdain, the smallest act of kindness can at times be expressions of respect and love in a relationship. Without overstating its value, we can confidently say respect in your relationship might just be the differentiating factor between a dynamic that encourages growth and one that ends up suffocating you. Let’s take a look at why respecting your partner is important, and what it’ll help you achieve.

1. Respect in a relationship begets trust

If there’s a lack of respect, there’s a good chance the relationship suffers from trust issues as well. Respecting your partner, their opinions, and decisions will never leave you doubting their commitment to you and your relationship. Plus, when you respect your partner’s abilities, you will trust them enough to be able to come out on top of pressing situations.

Respect and love in a relationship go hand in hand, as does trust. Perhaps these are the most important cornerstones of a relationship, and one cannot exist without the other.

Related Reading: 10 Important Components Of Trust In A Relationship

2. You accept your partner in their entirety

Couples who are infatuated and not in love tend to endure the less pleasant aspects of their partner’s personality, in an attempt to stay infatuated with the ones they like. 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. No, respect will not negate the unfavorable aspects of your partner and make you love everything about them.

Everyone has a few things they could work on, but when your partner respects you as a person, those unfavorable aspects won’t affect the way they think about you. When there’s respect and love in a relationship, partners won’t cherry-pick the qualities they like in someone, rather, they’ll accept them in their entirety, just as lovers should.

3. Respect will dissuade you from sabotaging the relationship

When there is little to no regard for a person’s needs and wants in a relationship, damaging scenarios like infidelity or emotional abuse are more likely to take place. On the flip side, when there’s ample respect in a relationship, you’re less likely to experience situations that can rock the very foundation of your relationship.

Without respect, you run the risk of ruining a relationship

In a dynamic where emotional/physical abuse is prevalent, there’s undoubtedly a lack of respect in each of those relationships. Respecting your partner isn’t just about doing the right thing by each other but also cultivating the relationship better than any anniversary gift could.

4. Respect stays constant where your love may change

A marriage that stands the test of time likely isn’t going to feature the exact same people it did when the marriage was first established. Meaning, over time, you two will change and so will your love. Think about it, how can the type of love you experience be the same when you two have changed so drastically?

No longer are you two the starry-eyed lovers who are head over heels for each other, dreaming about each other when you’re apart. Now, you dream of getting your own bed when you’re together. What keeps couples together during the changes is respect and lots of it. If you’re looking for reasons to respect someone, perhaps the biggest one is that “I want to grow old with you” won’t really be a possibility without respect.

5. 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. A raised voice, an inconsiderate abuse thrown your partner’s way, a deeply hurtful remark, each of these are enough to cause serious rifts between you two. When there’s inherent love and respect in a relationship, you’ll learn to be patient, not lose your cool and accept the flaws your partner brings with them, and vice-versa.

Can a relationship survive without respect? Only when everyone involved is striving to re-attain the lost respect. The importance of respect in a relationship cannot be overstated, and it’s clear to see how a relationship without respect is one without happiness. Now that you know its worth, let’s get into the various signs of lack of respect in a relationship, lest yours go down a turbulent path.

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 disrespect from a man. In a healthy relationship, partners do their best to not 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 are among the signs of a disrespectful wife, husband or partner.

Patterns of disrespect in a relationship often include denying a person their agency to make decisions for themselves and an overwhelming need to control every aspect of a partner’s life. When there is no respect in 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 some of the signs of no respect in a marriage? If this question has been on your mind, pay attention. If, as life partners, you and your spouse 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.

Besides, finding out about what your SO has been up to from a third person can be extremely crushing and hurtful. It is quite an indication that they don’t respect you or your feelings. Being excluded from the goings-on of a partner’s life is one of the signs of disrespect in a relationship that reveal a lack of love.

4. You feel unheard

It’s one thing if your mindless banter doesn’t register with your partner. But if you’re telling them something of significance and they’re only half-present in the conversation, it is one of the most glaring signs of lack of respect in a relationship. 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 the value you hold in their eyes.

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. When you feel disrespected in a relationship, it 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.” This sentiment is one of the glaring signs of lack of respect in relationship. You may find yourself stuck with this unshakable feeling that your partner is overly critical of everything you do. From the way 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.

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 that your couple dynamics are problematic and flawed. 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.

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

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 THE priority in their life, it means that the virtue of respect is missing from your relationship.

If you’ve ever wondered, “What does disrespect look like in a relationship?”, think about whether your partner prioritizes you about most other things in life or do they make space for you when they have nothing more important going on? If it’s the latter and you’re being treated as an afterthought, you can count it as an indication of no respect in a relationship.

9. They don’t value your time

They don’t respect you enough to attach value to things that are important to you

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. But it is how two partners resolve a conflict that conveys how robust their relationship is. If resorting to silent treatment is your partner’s way of reacting to differences, it’s a hallmark of 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 of disrespect in a relationship that reveal a lack of love.

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, your passions and interests, your values and beliefs, your likes and dislikes, and so on. This is one of the signs of lack of respect in a relationship.

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.

If you’ve accomplished something on the professional front, they may discredit it by saying you definitely know how to please the right people. If you’ve done something you’re proud of on the personal front, they’d dismiss it as “not a big deal”.

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

15. They air dirty laundry in public

A partner who doesn’t respect you will not hesitate in sharing 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. Even if that leaves you feeling, “My spouse has no respect for me or my feelings”, they couldn’t care less.

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 like you’re not important or that 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 compromise 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 is a tendency to pass snide remarks about one’s spouse’s physical appearance. It could be an insensitive joke about your weight or a taunt about your looks. Such snide remarks are not only disrespectful but also deeply hurtful and convey that your spouse no longer finds you attractive.

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 actually lets them know that in no uncertain terms, even though they know full well how much such actions will embarrass and hurt 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.

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 can also begin to 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.

Putting up with no respect in a relationship can also deeply injure your self-worth and self-esteem. The consequences can truly be profound and far-reaching, with the potential to alter the dynamics of your relationship as well as your sense of self. 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 emerge from the patterns of disrespect 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: No respect in a relationship equals no respect for 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 when you feel disrespected in a relationship over and over again, it 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 on a personal level. That’s why, when you see signs of lack of respect in a relationship, don’t look the other way. It’s absolutely vital that your stand up for yourself, communicate when you feel disrespected, 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 patterns of disrespect in a relationship may become so deep-rooted that breaking and replacing them 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 patterns of disrespect 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.

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 and clearly tell them how their behavior is making you feel, chances are they may feel 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.

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

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. Now that you know the answer to “what does disrespect look like in a relationship”, it’s time to begin standing up for yourself.

The right way to respond when a man disrespects you or a woman humiliates you is to let them know that it is not acceptable. That’s all that boundaries are about. Have a conversation with your partner, let them know what behaviors are acceptable to you and what 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.”

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 your self-concept can take a massive hit when you feel 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, skilled and licensed counselors on Bonobology’s panel 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
  • These patterns of disrespect 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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