There are a number of dynamics not suitable to a successful and loving long-term relationship, such as marriage. Disrespect, distrust, and disinterest (or apathy) are the three most potent relationship killers –in more ways than one. They may gradually shatter the heart and soul of this supposedly deep connection which can result to an actual breakup or an end of a marriage.
What is disrespect?
Because disrespect may be as subtle as it is harmful, it can be difficult to fully comprehend its nature and impact in a relationship. A partner, with well-hidden justifications, may be unaware of how hurtful their behavior or words are to their partner and how corrosive those are to their bond.
“I know you love what you do — I just think everyone finds data research very boring.”
“You know I was kidding when I told them that you failed the certification test again.”
As shown in the above definition, disrespect is equivalent to disdain.
Disrespect or contempt is demonstrated by someone who mocks or ignores their partner, speaks across them, embarrasses them, shows disrespect in body language such as rolling eyes, looks at the phone whenever the partner is sharing something, corrects or ignores their partner in public, and is unable to recognize, apologize for, or attempt to change their own behavior.
Psychologist John Gottman, who has studied thousands of couples in his marriage lab, claims to have been able to predict (with 90% accuracy) which couples will divorce when followed up on after five years. According to his research, Gottman recognizes four negative communication patterns that precede divorce: criticism, contempt, stonewalling, and defensiveness.
Gottman's finding of contempt (or disdain) as being the most damaging and predictive of divorce is crucial in terms of the destructive dynamics explained here: "It's impossible to build connection when your relationship is deprived of respect."
Oftentimes, we don't realize we're experiencing disrespect in an intimate relationship or that we ourselves display a lack of respect towards our partner.
What is disrespectful behavior?
Here are some of the most common and subtle expressions of disrespect in a relationship:
1. Belittling you (i.e. your partner depreciates or down plays an outstanding aspect of you or rehashes a mistake of the past)
2. Being late for commitments or events that are important to you (e.g. dinner, wedding, or company/business party)
3. No regard for emotional/mental privacy (i.e. needing/demanding to know what you do, feel, or think almost all the time that it leaves you no breathing space)
4. No real concern for your safety (i.e. driving too fast or disregarding your real fears)
5. Breaking promises
6. Devaluing your opinions & ideas (i.e. they ridicule you when you speak your mind or express your feelings)
7. Disregard for your free time
8. The silent treatment (or stonewalling as a form of punishment)
9. Teasing or mocking your appearance (i.e. they pinpoint/bring up something about your looks that you're self-conscious about)
10. They spy on you (i.e. snooping to check your mobile phone, your social media accounts, your bag, or your diary/journals)
11. They won't socialize with your family/friends (i.e. they avoid hanging out or being around your circle of friends or family)
12. Financial superiority (e.g. disrespecting the partner who is earning less or not earning)
13. They don't fight your corner, or conversely, they're overprotective and manipulative
14. They don't do their part (or do not contribute to household responsibilities and financial obligations)
15. Disrespectful personal habits (i.e. inconsiderate habits they can actually change if they tried)
16. Excessive flirting with others (i.e. brazen flirting with someone when you're present)
17. They want to change you instead of supporting/helping you (i.e. pressuring you to lose weight, to workout or eat healthy so their friends/coworkers would respect them more)
18. Weaponized insecurities (i.e. name-calling, mockery, bringing up things in the past, such as childhood fear or memory)
19. They make decisions without you (i.e. decisions on contracts or large purchases without consulting first, which encourages secret-keeping behaviors)
20. Always interrupting you (i.e. talking over you or not letting you finish your point so they can tell their own short story/their own opinion)
One can observe that disrespect manifests most commonly as a power imbalance where one partner feels undervalued or under-appreciated by the other. Disrespect in relationships come in many forms, like physical, spiritual, mental, and emotional. When left not addressed, disrespect can over time build up into resentment –if not abuse, which then creates a cycle of toxic behaviors.
The effect of disrespect on your relationship
It's like a seed of poison that can take root and grow into resentment for each other.
⁄ Being disrespected by your partner on a regular basis can result to the formation of fears and complexes that can affect you in all other aspects of your life –even years after the relationship has ended.
⁄ Disrespect within an intimate relationship can affect your friendships and family relationships, too. You may be more tensed or may unintentionally project your feelings onto others or take your feelings out on them.
⁄ It can undermine your sense of purpose: tasks around the house may remain unfinished, you may become more forgetful, or become careless about your own appearance and surroundings. Such factors can lead to even more disrespectful behavior as well as fights/misunderstandings.
⁄ Long-term disrespect can damage one’s sense of self-worth and self-confidence, and it frequently borders on emotional or mental abuse. This can lead to a person drawing away from friends and family, and can foster feelings of anxiety and depression.
The importance of respect in relationships
I'm sure you agree that respect is essential in all and any relationship: platonic, romantic, or familial. Mutual respect is a fundamental basic since giving respect to someone who doesn't recognize and respect you would only impair your mental health and self-esteem.
When there's disrespect and contempt in a relationship, the initial love you both expressed in the beginning will not last and may lead to an ongoing toxic cycle or a messy breakup.
On the other hand, when there is mutual respect you and your partner become more attuned and responsive to each other’s needs, wants, and desires. Remember that relationships should be about helping one another grow into more fulfilled individuals.
Being in a mutually respectful relationship can keep that growth going for years and even decades.
If anytime your partner disrespects you and you don’t feel safe, seek help immediately. JarvisHypnotherapy is here, as well, to help you get through an unhealthy relationship. Book our therapist today.