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How to Develop Mutual Respect in a Relationship

How to Develop Mutual Respect in a Relationship

Relationships are, well, complicated to say the least. Now, don’t get me wrong, I am by no means saying they are not worth their challenges merely that there are so very many challenges that often times love feels, quite simply, overwhelming.

However, creating and fostering a relationship built on mutual respect and trust seriously helps to make love the fun adventure that it should be.

Before we even dive into the how to develop respect in a relationship, I want to make sure that we get very clear on the definition.

Respect is one of those crazy English language words that can be used as both a noun and a verb. Because English is just plain confusing. However, both definitions essentially focus on having admiration and showing regard for the abilities, thoughts, feelings, qualities, traditions and rights of others.[1] With respect to relationships, respect means honoring your partner for who they are and also receiving the same from them.

I know that sounds all hunky dory on paper and at this point, you may be thinking, “yeah definitely not that simple.” But I promise, it doesn’t have to be as challenging as it may seem at times.

Below are some easy ways to reframe how you think about respect and help it to grow within your relationship.

1. Define What Love Means to You

One of my closest friends told me a story recently of the first time she told her now husband she loved him. She was the first one to drop the L word and when she did, instead of saying it back, he asked her the BEST QUESTION EVER. He said ‘what exactly does love meant to you?’

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I know that is not the most romantic fairytale moment but in reality, if we all responded that way the first time our partner said I love you, we would be in much healthier relationships. You cannot expect to grow a relationship based on mutual respect if you don’t understand the way your partner views love and relationships in general.

I always encourage every single one of my clients to sit down with their partners and define what love means to both of them. It provides you not only with a deeper understanding of what your partner needs and desires, but also gives you both clear and defined things to work on and for in the relationship.

However, it is not just enough to define what love means to the both of you, you both must also act on what you discuss in order to continue to foster a deeper and more meaningful connection. This means asking any questions that come up and continuing to check in on your definitions of love on a regular basis as they very well may change and grow as you do.

2. Communicate About Your Actual Feelings

One of the biggest factors in a relationship created and based out of mutual respect is communication. Specifically, communicating your thoughts and feelings in a way that is both effective for your mental well being AND of your partner’s well being as well.

I am by absolutely no means saying to stuff your feelings down if you think what you are experiencing may hurt your partners feelings but, there is a way to communicate your needs and thoughts without making your partner feel alienated if they don’t necessarily agree.

When you first start truly communicating with your partner about your genuine feelings, it is important that you are not triggered when beginning the conversation. You cannot expect to have a productive conversation where both people are respected if you go in guns blazing. Instead, talk about your feelings in a way that doesn’t involve the story of how they came about.

For example, let’s say your husband keeps interrupting you in front of other people. Instead of talking to him about it by saying:

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‘Yesterday at dinner when I was talking about the day I had at work you totally talked over me and completely didn’t care what I was saying;’

Say:

‘Lately there have been a few times when you have spoken over me and it makes me feel like you don’t value what I have to say. It is important to me to feel valued.’

Do you see the difference? As opposed to getting involved with the story which will only cause your partner to want to jump to their own defense, as defending yourself is the natural human response. If you communicate with the focus on your feelings and needs, it creates a conversation based on deeper understanding not on surface level occurrences. It also provides your partner with sincere information on how to help you going forward.

3. Don’t Let Fear Dictate How You Treat Your Partner

I had to learn this one the hard way. Like many people, I had the unfortunate experience of an abusive relationship which caused an imprint of relationship trauma on me. Because of this, when I got into a healthy relationship, after doing some healing on my own for a few years, I found that all the fears my abusive ex had instilled in me came rushing back like an avalanche.

Through a lot of work, I was able to overcome them and have the healthy relationship I dreamed of. But in order to do this, I had to work through a lot of my fears around love.[2] And most importantly, I had to ensure that my fears did not determine the way I treated my new partner.

Even if you have not been in an abusive relationship, we all have past relationship trauma. Whether it is from being cheated on, a bad divorce, or even abandonment issues from childhood, we all come to love with our own set of fears about what love may entail. And, because most of us are not taught how to handle our emotions from an early age, we often let those fears come out all over our partners.

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A relationship based on mutual trust cannot be built if both partners don’t acknowledge their fears and separate them from the current situation. Not only that, but if you notice yourself wanting to react to your partner from a place of fear, it is important that you share that with them. This will help you not only keep your fear from poisoning your love, but also help to grow your understanding of each other and deepen your connection.

In order to continue to grow the respect between you and your partner, it is important that you both work on not only acknowledgement of your fears but conquering them. Whether this be done through your own methods, therapy, or a coach, don’t be afraid to learn how to not be afraid.

4. Establish and Enforce Boundaries

Boundaries, boundaries, boundaries. They are a hot topic of the relationship world and, in all honesty, they are incredibly important. If you are anything like me, you see all the pretty quotes about how important they are but can’t seem to nail down exactly how to establish them, let alone ensure that they are followed.

I could write, and probably will, another entire article on this topic but, here is a quick trick to finding where a boundary needs to be and enforcing it be followed.

It is important to note that having and enforcing boundaries starts with you. You cannot expect your partner to respect you and your boundaries if you don’t enforce them with yourself. So, before ever communicating your boundaries to your partner, look at yourself. Where are you letting yourself down? Where are you not honoring your feelings and needs? Where are you pushing your wants aside in order to please others?

Answering these questions is the first step in figuring out what your boundaries are and where they lay. After you figure out the answers, communicate the answers to your partner by asking them to help support you by honoring the boundaries you are holding for yourself.

As I mentioned before, communicating your needs and wants is based on you, NOT on accusing them. You cannot expect your partner to live up to expectations that you don’t hold yourself to.

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The next step is to actually enforce your boundaries with yourself and therefore, with your partner. Showing yourself that respect will help to show your partner how you need to be respected. And also, be sure you support and honor their boundaries as well.

And finally…

5. Don’t Be Afraid to Ask Questions

No one is perfect at relationshiping. Everyone makes mistakes and miscommunication is inevitable. So never be afraid to ask your partner what they need or how you can help support them through something. You should never be expected to automatically know how to respect and honor your partner, and vise versa; it is something that you learn together.

And remember the act of creating mutual respect is a bonding and growing experience. Ask questions to make sure that both of you are on the same page and, make sure that you communicate if for some reason that ever feels like not the case.

Final Thoughts

The beauty of relationships is that you are not doing them alone, so don’t be afraid to rely on each other to help the love move forward. And, if you need help laying the ground work of respect, don’t be afraid to reach out and get it.

Remember, you both are in a relationship because you genuinely care about the other person, honoring your love for each other is your first step in creating the respectful relationship of your dreams.

More About Healthy Relationships

Featured photo credit: Vince Fleming via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Emily Davis

Bestselling Author and Relationship Anxiety Coach

How to Develop Mutual Respect in a Relationship

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Published on May 4, 2021

How To Spot Fake People (And Ways To Deal With Them)

How To Spot Fake People (And Ways To Deal With Them)

They say we are the average of the five persons we spend the most time with. For a minute, consider the people around you. Are they truly who your “tribe” should be or who you aspire to become in the future? Are they really genuine people who want to see you succeed? Or are they fake people who don’t really want to see you happy?

In this article, I’ll review why it is important to surround yourself with genuine individuals—the ones who care, bring something to our table, and first and foremost, who leave all fakeness behind.

How to Spot Fake People?

When you’ve been working in the helping professions for a while, spotting fake people gets a bit easier. There are some very clear signs that the person you are looking at is hiding something, acting somehow, or simply wanting to get somewhere. Most often, there is a secondary gain—perhaps attention, sympathy, or even a promotion.

Whatever it is, you’re better off working their true agenda and staying the hell away. Here are some things you should look out for to help spot fake people.

1. Full of Themselves

Fake people like to show off. They love looking at themselves in the mirror. They collect photos and videos of every single achievement they had and every part of their body and claim to be the “best at what they do.”

Most of these people are actually not that good in real life. But they act like they are and ensure that they appear better than the next person. The issue for you is that you may find yourself always feeling “beneath” them and irritated at their constant need to be in the spotlight.

2. Murky in Expressing Their Emotions

Have you ever tried having a deep and meaningful conversation with a fake person? It’s almost impossible. It’s because they have limited emotional intelligence and don’t know how they truly feel deep down—and partly because they don’t want to have their true emotions exposed, no matter how normal these might be.

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It’s much harder to say “I’m the best at what I do” while simultaneously sharing “average” emotions with “equal” people.

3. Zero Self-Reflection

To grow, we must accept feedback from others. We must be open to our strengths and to our weaknesses. We must accept that we all come in different shapes and can always improve.

Self-reflection requires us to think, forgive, admit fault, and learn from our mistakes. But to do that, we have to be able to adopt a level of genuineness and depth that fake people don’t routinely have. A fake person generally never apologizes, but when they do, it is often followed with a “but” in the next breath.

4. Unrealistic Perceptions

Fake people most often have an unrealistic perception of the world—things that they want to portray to others (pseudo achievements, materialistic gains, or a made-up sense of happiness) or simply how they genuinely regard life outside themselves.

A lot of fake people hide pain, shame, and other underlying reasons in their behavior. This could explain why they can’t be authentic and/or have difficulties seeing their environment for the way it objectively is (both good and bad).

5. Love Attention

As I mentioned earlier, the biggest sign that something isn’t quite right with someone’s behavior can be established by how much they love attention. Are you being interrupted every time you speak by someone who wants to make sure that the spotlight gets reverted back to them? Is the focus always on them, no matter the topic? If yes, you’re probably dealing with a fake person.

6. People Pleaser

Appreciation feels nice but having everyone like you is even better. While it is completely unrealistic for most people to please everyone all the time, fake people seem to always say yes in pursuit of constant approval.

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Now, this is a problem for two reasons. Firstly, these people are simply saying yes to things for their own satisfaction. Secondly, they often end up changing their minds or retracting their offer for one reason or another (“I would have loved to, but my grandmother suddenly fell ill.”), leaving you in the lurch for the 100th time this year.

7. Sarcasm and Cynicism

Behind the chronic pasted smile, fake people are well known for brewing resentment, jealousy, or anger. This is because, behind the postcard life, they are often unhappy. Sarcasm and cynicism are well known to act as a defense mechanism, sometimes even a diversion—anything so they can remain feeling on top of the world, whether it is through boosting themselves or bringing people down.

8. Crappy friend

Fake people are bad friends. They don’t listen to you, your feelings, and whatever news you might have to share. In fact, you might find yourself migrating away from them when you have exciting or bad news to share, knowing that it will always end up one way—their way. In addition, you might find that they’re not available when you truly need them or worse, cancel plans at the last minute.

It’s not unusual to hear that a fake person talks constantly behind people’s backs. Let’s be honest, if they do it to others, they’re doing it to you too. If your “friend” makes you feel bad constantly, trust me, they’re not achieving their purpose, and they’re simply not a good person to have around.

The sooner you learn to spot these fake people, the sooner you can meet meaningful individuals again.

How to Cope With Fake People Moving Forward?

It is important to remind yourself that you deserve more than what you’re getting. You are worthy, valuable, precious, and just as important as the next person.

There are many ways to manage fake people. Here are some tips on how to deal with them.

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1. Boundaries

Keep your boundaries very clear. As explained in the book Unlock Your Resilience, boundaries are what keep you sane when the world tries to suffocate you. When fake people become emotional vampires, make sure to keep your distances, limit contact, and simply replace them with more valuable interactions.

2. Don’t Take Their Behavior Personally

Sadly, they most likely have behaved this way before they knew you and will continue much longer after you have moved on. It isn’t about you. It is about their inner need to meet a void that you are not responsible for. And in all honesty, unless you are a trained professional, you are unlikely to improve it anyway.

3. Be Upfront and Honest About How You Feel

If your “friend” has been hurtful or engaged in behaviors you struggle with, let them know—nicely, firmly, however you want, but let them know that they are affecting you. If it works, great. If it doesn’t, you’ll feel better and when you’re ready to move on, you’ll know you tried to reach out. Your conscience is clear.

4. Ask for Advice

If you’re unsure about what you’re seeing or feeling, ask for advice. Perhaps a relative, a good friend, or a colleague might have some input as to whether you are overreacting or seeing some genuine concerns.

Now, don’t confuse asking for advice with gossiping behind the fake person’s back because, in the end, you don’t want to stoop down to their level. However, a little reminder as to how to stay on your own wellness track can never hurt.

5. Dig Deeper

Now, this one, I offer with caution. If you are emotionally strong, up to it, guaranteed you won’t get sucked into it, and have the skills to manage, perhaps you could dig into the reasons a fake person is acting the way they do.

Have they suffered recent trauma? Have they been rejected all their lives? Is their self-esteem so low that they must resort to making themselves feel good in any way they can? Sometimes, having an understanding of a person’s behavior can help in processing it.

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6. Practice Self-Care!

Clearly, putting some distance between the fake person and yourself is probably the way to go. However, sometimes, it takes time to get there. In the meantime, make sure to practice self-care, be gentle with yourself, and compensate with lots of positives!

Self-care can be as simple as taking a hot shower after talking to them or declining an invitation when you’re not feeling up to the challenge.

Spotting fake people isn’t too hard. They generally glow with wanna-be vibes. However, most often, there are reasons as to why they are like this. Calling their behavior might be the first step. Providing them with support might be the second. But if these don’t work, it’s time to stay away and surround yourself with the positivity that you deserve.

Final Thoughts

Remember that life is a rollercoaster. It has good moments, tough moments, and moments you wouldn’t change for the world. So, look around and make sure that you take the time to choose the right people to share it all with.

We are the average of the five people we spend the most time with, so take a good look around and choose wisely!

More Tips on Dealing With Fake People

Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

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