If You Don't Feel Respected Enough By Your Partner, Here’s How To Tell Them

There lots that goes into a healthy relationship, like communication, empathy, and, of course, mutual respect. If you've ever been in a relationship where you don’t feel respected enough by your partner, then you probably know that without respect, every other part of your relationship feels pretty moot. But what does being respected by your partner really mean? According to Dr. Gary Brown, a prominent couples' therapist in Los Angeles, respect is evident in how your partner treats you. "If your partner truly respects you, they are proud to be in a relationship with you," Brown tells Elite Daily. "They speak well of you when with others, whether you are in the room or not. Your partner likes to brag about your accomplishments."

For Michelle Henderson, a licensed mental health counselor, respect is all about following the golden rule. "Respect means treating someone the way you would like to be treated," Henderson tells Elite Daily. "It means honoring your partner's thoughts or opinions (even if you disagree)." Henderson adds that it's totally appropriate to expect respect from your partner, and to be treated accordingly. "A healthy, respectful relationship is filled with both people showing each other love through touch, words, and actions regularly. Doing this indicates respect, caring, and concern for the other person," she says. Both experts agree that if this isn't the current dynamic in your relationship, you should consider addressing it with your partner. But talking about something like this can be challenging, so here's what they recommend when bringing it up.

What To Do If You Don’t Feel Your SO Respects You.

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If you’re not sure where the relationship is heading and whether or not this situation is resolvable, Henderson says that simply having the conversation can help clarify things. “Making the choice to talk about it with your partner is important because it will give you a lot of information about if this relationship can be salvaged,” Henderson explains. “If you talk with your partner and the conversation goes well, you may start to see positive change and your relationship improve. If you talk about it with them and the conversation goes poorly, then this can be a clear sign that the relationship may not last.”

“One of the more painful experiences in any relationship occurs when we realize that our partner is not respecting us in even the most basic ways,” says Dr. Brown. “If that is the case, you should definitely talk to them about it,” he advises. Brown adds that it can be helpful to know if your partner is intentionally being disrespectful, or if it's an oversight on their part. However, Dr. Brown cautions that, either way, you should never feel as though you have to put up with a partner who doesn’t respect you.

How To Approach The Conversation.

If you’ve decided you want to talk to your partner about how you're feeling, Dr. Brown cautions that this can be a delicate subject, and to proceed thoughtfully. “Respect is such a key determinant in terms of relationship satisfaction. I recommend setting some quiet time aside, preferably at home and not in a public space," he says. "This allows both of you to have the conversation without others hearing it, and also provides an environment where you can talk and experience any emotions that may arise."

Henderson adds that it can be helpful to spend some time organizing your thoughts before you broach the subject. “Name specific examples of things they have said or done that have felt disrespectful to you," she suggests. "Model respectful behavior to them by staying calm yourself and listening to their concerns if they have any. Be prepared to end the conversation if your partner is unable to remain calm as you try to talk about this."

Dr. Brown says to make sure to always use “I” statements, such as: "I felt minimized and humiliated when you criticized me," rather than a more accusatory tone that will put them on the defensive.

What If Nothing Changes?

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Ideally, your partner will hear you out and begin making changes to their behavior. However, that’s not always the case, and Dr. Brown says it may not happen overnight. “Gaining respect may take some time to build, but honestly, it shouldn't take much time to be treated with kindness, courtesy, and gratitude,” he says. “If you have brought the subject up, likely multiple times, and your partner isn't changing, then you need to decide if it is healthy for you to be with someone who doesn't respect you.”

There is another risk of being in a relationship with a partner who doesn't show you respect, Henderson warns, and that is escalating behavior. “Disrespect can easily cross the line into abusive behavior,” she cautions. “While we all have times of feeling frustrated or angry with our partners, you can still make a decision to treat them respectfully, even if you're bothered by them. If you talk to your partner and nothing changes, start taking steps to end the relationship and get prepared for what your next steps will be after this relationship ends. There are many people out there who will treat you with respect and you don't want to risk your partner's behavior escalating."

Being in a relationship with a partner who doesn’t show you the respect that you need can be really difficult. But as the experts say, it's totally appropriate to expect respect from your partner and to not feel as though you have to settle for anything less than that.