How To Regain Respect For Your Partner

Recently, I happened to be in the same room as a woman talking on the phone to her partner. The topic of the conversation held no real significance nor was it of a sensitive nature, yet her annoyance with him was very apparent. Just as like a row of toppling dominos, the more annoyed the woman became, the more aggressive her partner became until she eventually hung up the phone because he was shouting at her.

After she abruptly ended the highly charged conversation, I said to her, “I can’t help noticing over the last few days that you have mentioned several times how stupid or annoying he is.”

“Yes,” she replied in an irritated tone. “He drives me crazy. I just don’t understand how someone can be that dumb!”

“It sounds to me like you have completely lost respect for him.”

“Yes! I have absolutely no respect left for him anymore,” she said with more resignation than annoyance.

As gently as I could, I suggested that when we lose respect for someone, it changes how we speak to them; our tone of voice becomes condescending, our words belittling. Likely, his escalating behavior was the result of him reacting to those cues.

She looked surprised for a moment but then quickly agreed that she often talked down to him because his stupidity was annoying and she couldn’t respect anyone that dumb. She justified her feelings by insisting that he had become increasingly more stupid as the years had passed and listed other traits that caused her to lose respect for him like his laziness and inability to hold a job.

Since she was receptive to the conversation, I first assured her that I wasn’t blaming her for the situation she now found herself in, and then I put forth the idea that he hadn’t become increasingly dumb or lazy. Rather, he had always had these traits but in the glow of new love, she either hadn’t seen them or had made allowances for them because she wanted to be with him.

This is a mistake the majority of us have made at least once. We fall into relationships quickly and let infatuation and attraction lead the way rather than objectively looking at the other person and deciding if we are willing to accept them just the way are.

Relationships are really about “terms”; each person states their terms and the other can agree to them or not. It is easy in the beginning to establish a baseline of terms that allows the relationship to move forward. Things like smoking, level of fitness and activity, desire for a family, religious views, sexual proclivities and orientation are all examples of major “terms” that have to be agreed upon. Hidden in the mix are other less obvious terms that a person may not admit to outright. Sometimes there is an agenda to keep these terms hidden but often he or she may not even consciously realize they are bringing “terms” into the relationship that the other person may not want to agree to. They may be things like: I want to watch sports all weekend, I don’t want to help with the housework, I want to play video games in my free time, I need large amounts of alone time, I want to go out and socialize all the time or I want to stay home and never go anywhere. These are just a few examples of things that can make or break a relationship after the infatuation stage wears off.

If you find yourself annoyed, frustrated or losing respect for your partner, it’s likely because you can no longer tolerate some of their terms. The real question is: can you still love someone you don’t respect?

By its very definition, love is acceptance and admiration while respect means that we admire someone and hold them in high esteem. Therefore it would appear that love and respect are mutually exclusive; you can’t be in love with someone you don’t admire and you can’t admire someone you don’t hold in high esteem. You can never really be “in love” with someone you are not proud of.

Love is not black and white; it is a rollercoaster ride of highs and lows. Couples who have stayed the course have survived the lows and found love for their partner again.

However, respect is a totally different beast. It does not generally ebb and flow through the course of a relationship and once lost, it is very hard to regain.

If you find yourself falling out of love with your partner because you’ve lost respect for him or her, here are a few suggestions:

  1. Write down all of your partners “terms” as you see them and then separate them into two groups: negotiable and non-negotiable. If your partner is not willing to work on changing the non-negotiable terms, then you have to make some very hard decisions about whether or not you are willing and able to stay in the relationship.
  2. Loss of respect is not a one way street. Your belittling words and actions will cause a downward spiral in your partner’s feelings toward you.  If you are serious about regaining respect, you have to ask your partner what you are doing to cause him or her to lose respect for you.  You can only change YOU, not your partner.
  3. If possible, you and your partner should have a discussion about each other’s negotiable terms and see if compromises can be reached. 
  4. Don’t focus on the negative traits because that will only cause you to find more and more things you dislike about your partner. Instead, set your alarm and three times a day write down 1-3 things you like about your partner. If you really can’t think of anything you like about him or her right now, write down the things you initially fell in love with.
  5. Life is like a mirror; what you put out into the world is reflected back to you. Make a commitment to yourself to compliment your partner on their appearance, personality or behavior three times a day. Leave a note on the mirror telling her how beautiful she looked, send a text message thanking him for mowing the lawn while you were grocery shopping, or tell him how much you admire him as a father. You’ll be amazed what comes back to you when you send out positivity rather than negativity.

If you have found ways to regain love and respect for your partner, I’d love to hear from you!

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9 thoughts on “How To Regain Respect For Your Partner

  1. Vicki says:

    Thanks Jennifer. I’d be really grateful for some of your advice on a slightly different situation.
    My ex-partner and I have been apart for four months. I’m unsure if the disrespect is fixable because how it arose can’t be changed.
    We’re not proud of this – we started an affair 15 months ago. At the beginning there was no sex (by choice) but it was more than just emotional. My marriage was in terrible trouble and had been for at least two years (probably more) – so I left my husband quickly, within a month.
    He told his wife within six weeks (as she was away for the last three weeks) but he didn’t leave her until after he had a solid amount of counselling – about five months later. Unfortunately he remained living under the same roof in different rooms. We started our relationship again as soon as he left her.
    I’ve never felt so comfortable with anyone in my life. We challenge one another, we make one another better individuals when we’re together. I make him believe in himself and he trusts himself more, his confidence was in bloom when we were together. The happiness and safety I felt with him was amazing. He knows more about me than any other human does (including my mother).
    We’re similar so we live well together (food habits, what we consider quality time, money etc) but different so we bring attributes the other doesn’t have. For example, I can achieve anything; I’m strong but I’m often abrupt or rude as a result. People can feel intimated by me. He calms my bad behaviour; I don’t want to be like that around him or for him to think of me that way. I’m more respectful in the way I speak with people with him in my life.
    My confidence has taken him out of his comfort zone. We attended a work dinner (8 people) and he was by far the star of the dinner. He knew how to keep the conversation interesting and he made everyone comfortable.
    We fell apart in September. He can’t cope with how we started. We had an affair – he treated his best friend so poorly. He can’t understand how he felt he had the right to be with another mans wife. He can’t respect me for how we started and for our behaviour in those early days. We put our feelings ahead of other people’s hurt.
    It’s clear we still love one another. We saw one another last month and agreed to have lunch. Lunch turned into 10 hours.
    BUT it always comes back to the same thing – he can’t forgive himself for what we did. He loves me, sees amazing qualities in me (I received a lovely compliment from him last week for something I’d done at work) but when he’s alone he thinks of how it started and he can’t respect me for that.
    I would be very grateful for your advice or thoughts.

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    • Passwords

      Word press: Chelisa@2003

      Hi Vicki,

      I am so sorry that I never saw this post until now. I am sure your situation was resolved itself by now in whatever manner it was intended to.

      However, I would still like to answer your question to the best of my ability.

      The fact that he can’t respect you for how the relationship started is BS in my opinion since he was right there in it with you. What he’s going is shifting the focus from himself to you. It’s a typical defense mechanism called deflection. Basically it turns you into his scapegoat.

      My gut instinct is that he is making excuses. I’m sure he does/did feel incredible guilt over his actions, hurting his wife and disrespecting you. If there were children caught in the middle, the guilt over breaking up the family unit would intensify exponentially.

      While I don’t want to diminish his feelings guilt, I get the impression that there is a healthy amount of fear mixed in there too. We often use defense mechanisms to avoid facing what we are afraid of.

      He may love you like a soul mate but deep fear has to power to keep him from what he wants most. Unfortunately, there’s nothing you can do. He has to resolve those issues on his own.

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  2. Aundrea says:

    Reading your article about respect, i was searching for an article like yours. My spouse has decided it is time after 6 years that they are ready to call quits because of the lose of feelings and emotions for me. I realized it was the over time of lack of respect and all you have described is true….we are doing counseling and i know respect is the main issue. How do i regain it back? Is they put up a wall already, how do i know its not too late?

    Like

    • Hi Aundrea,
      V
      I am sorry but there is no magic path that will get someone to regain respect for you.

      The only thing you have control over is YOU; your feeelings and your emotions.

      My suggestion is that you work on becoming the best version of you so that you can have a wonderful and amazing life. This is you working on you, for the sole benefit of you.

      Did you catch that? You have to to it for you, and not for your partner.

      If he or she likes the effort you are putting in, they may want to continue in the relationship; or they may still end it. You have no control over theie choice.

      If he or she stays, you win (you may find as you make changes and begin to grow that the relationship no longer meets your needs), if they go, you still win because someone else will love the new you the way you deserve to be loved.

      All the best,

      Jennifer

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  3. lisa says:

    Tell me how can you regain respect if he keeps on whatching porn over and over again im sick and tired can’t go on like this anymore.The porn doesnt really bother me but including animals in the porn he whatches i dont have words.

    Like

    • In my opinion, there’s no way to regain respect for someone watching animal porn.

      I would encourage you to ask yourself if you have respect for you? Are you in a relationship that is giving you what you need? Do you deserve more?

      Like

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