If you’re wondering if your relationship lacks respect, you’re probably spending a lot of time analyzing someone else’s behavior. Which is only half the story.
Disrespectful behavior in its essence is harmful because it causes inner conflict within you. It puts you at war with yourself.
So instead, I invite you to observe how you feel as well to get the full picture.
Here are 8 behaviors to help you identify disrespectful behavior in relationships.
1) They invalidate your emotions.
We’re all responsible for our own lives, including our emotions.
And I believe that encouraging others to be responsible for themselves is a part of respecting their ability to do so.
But invalidating someone’s experiences is different from disagreeing with them. Because when people invalidate, it’s coming from a place of defensiveness, not self-empowerment.
So rather than having a mature discussion and trying to understand your perspective, they will most likely dismiss you because that’s how they treat themselves.
This kind of projection will result in long-term shame or guilt within you for having certain needs. So you may feel compelled to hide or repress what you feel.
Or worse: lower your standards.
2) They don’t know how to disagree.
Listen, every person has the right to think you’re wrong. But it says a lot about someone how they express that.
Unless it directly involves the welfare of others, a respectful disagreement knows how to let go of the need to be right in order to preserve the relationship.
This kind of imbalance can cause you to avoid conflict for the sake of the relationship, or even your own well-being.
This is where the war with yourself part really sets in. Because now, not only are you repressing how you feel, you’re also repressing your own morals and values.
This can result in a feeling of being lost in life without an inner compass to guide you.
3) They see you as an extension of themselves.
I believe that respect is a primer for boundaries. Having both for yourself might feel like a wall to someone who views you as an extension of themselves.
Like a child that is helpless without them, or a resource that completes them.
Because your autonomy is a threat to the relationship, you may feel like you have to invest more than you can afford – materially or immaterially.
Especially if you care for the person, you might feel the need to start keeping secrets in order to maintain the peace. Or unconsciously, you may start feeling apathetic to parts of your life that make you unique.
Which explains the self-annihilation that you may feel in the relationship.
4) They have no regard for things or people that matter to you.
Just how your autonomy marks your independence, so does your individuality. So that includes the people and things you love outside of the relationship.
And it doesn’t always have to be obvious like breaking your things. It can be subtle where they try to make you question all of those things.
Sure, they may think it’s in your best interest, but someone who respects you will always encourage you to make your own judgments.
A large portion of life’s joy comes from feeling unique and celebrated for it. Without that kind of support, deviating from it will feel like you’re skydiving with no parachute.
So you may find yourself relying on their opinion more than your own.
And keep you from doing the most important thing in this situation: speaking up for yourself.
5) They are critical of you.
This can be in the form of withholding affection to manipulate, or by giving unsolicited advice. Either will make you feel like you are never good enough in the eyes of this person.
Sometimes, it’s not always intentional. People often repeat unhealthy cycles that were projected onto them, and onto others.
But it still doesn’t justify their behavior.
And the presence of intention doesn’t draw the line between respect and disrespect. Change does.
This type of mistreatment will keep you from your own personal growth living within someone else’s comfort zone.
But beyond personal development, it’s not fair because it can take a toll on your confidence over time.
6) They humiliate you in front of others.
There’s no question of intentional or unintentional with this one.
People who respect you, don’t try to embarrass you in front of others. There is literally no excuse or explanation that could justify that.
Other ways they might try to do this is by not respecting your privacy.
Trying to earn social points or the trust of others at the expense of you is a huge sign that this person struggles to form genuine bonds with people.
This will not only damage your relationship with them, but will hurt your ability to socialize in general as well. Which only makes you feel even more isolated.
7) They are inconsistent.
A typical case of hot and cold.
It keeps you on your toes but only because you don’t want your feet to fall off.
This is also a huge sign that someone lacks integrity because they don’t have a good relationship with themselves.
Because someone who respects themselves and others can keep promises and stay accountable.
They also back up their supposed values with action.
Take note of how they reciprocate your energy and efforts. Do they meet you halfway? Do you find yourself feeling relieved at the bare minimum? Are they offended when you aren’t?
Inconsistency will exhaust you and in the long run, eat away at any trust that’s in the relationship.
8) They aren’t authentic with you.
A huge element to look out for when you’re assessing a relationship’s respect-o-meter is authenticity.
Authenticity can seem a very vague term, but it’s characterized by an ability to be present and listen.
No amount of physical intimacy can achieve the depth that is feeling understood and heard by someone.
It’s also about being comfortable with radical honesty.
Maybe they’re a straight-up liar!
But disrespectful people come in all shapes and sizes. Sometimes, you can feel the lack of respect by the way they are never vulnerable.
Vulnerability is a currency of effort and it can be draining when it’s one-sided. Don’t break the piggy bank for someone that owes you money.
Discernment is described as practicing good judgement.
And I believe that means to navigate relationships that strive for full respect, not the absence of respect. Which means valuing and investing in your own emotions more than trying to understand someone else’s.
Get to know your needs and what respect means to you.
Lastly, if you’ve found yourself in an environment that doesn’t value you, just remember that the story of how they treat people began long before they met you.
And yours will continue long after you leave them.