Everyone desires respect and we all believe on some level that we give the necessary respect in our relationships. Unfortunately, we have probably all experienced what it feels like to be disrespected. But respect, like love, can be difficult to pin down and define. Merriam-Webster’s on-line dictionary defines act of respect as follows:
“1. A feeling of admiring someone or something that is good, valuable, important, etc.
2. A feeling or understanding that someone or something is important, serious, etc., and should be treated in an appropriate way.”
Just as love can be defined by its compositional elements (friendship, respect, passion, connection, etc.), so too can respect be defined in many ways.
But what does respect look like? How does it feel? Is it different for everyone? How is it experienced whether given or received? What actions can you take to show respect? Do you command respect or is it earned? When damaged or absent, can it be repaired or rebuilt? The answers to these questions are as varied at the people in each relationship.
Many consider respect as something earned through deeds or accomplishments. People we know well or even strangers can earn our respect through their attitudes, actions, beliefs and skills. In most cases though, what seems like enough to earn respect to one person may not be exactly the same to another.
So what is respect within a relationship and why is it so important? In other articles we talk about love as having a core of foundational elements (respect, friendship and passion)–without these, relationships will deteriorate or fail. The deepest level of respect within a relationship comes form an authentic and sincere appreciation for the person as a whole. Getting beyond our own views and desires and needs to really understand their beliefs, needs, hopes and dreams and accepting and appreciating them as a whole. You may not share every aspect of your beloved’s views but you take the time to understand them and everything that makes them tick.
Respect within a relationship supports the love, friendship and passion of the bond. When we respect one another is becomes easier to accommodate the needs of each other and put each others’ s needs first within healthy limits out of love, understanding and respect.
Without respect in our relationships, we tend to focus on our own needs, wants, and desires without consideration of our partner. A lack of respect during conflict amplifies misunderstandings and creates a need to be right instead of a need for understanding and resolution. When respect wanes or is absent we begin to operate without consideration for the other. Without respect we lose trust and faith. The loss of respect breaks relationship bonds. Interestingly the same can be said of love and friendship.
Respect is necessary in all relationships. Having respect for another does not eliminate our own needs, hopes, dreams and desires, it simply means that you value each other enough to take full consideration and appreciation of theirs as well before taking action within the relationship. Respect does not guarantee a relationship will flourish or continue, but the lack of respect will virtually ensure a relationship will not survive. Respect is an active part of our daily relationships and valued far more than we usually realize.
Share your thoughts on respect and what it means in your relationships in our comments section below.