Love vs. respect

Long-time reader Richard sent me an email posing some interesting issues about how men and women see and need love and respect differently. Here’s part of our exchange.

Richard: “Society has been focusing on “love” (which is great for women), but men have a basic need for “respect”.

“Guys know that they have to show love to successfully court a woman. Do women realize how to successfully court a man? The man needs the praises (respect) of the woman to build him up so that he can be all that he can be. Men give love to the woman, and the quid pro quo is that the woman gives respect back to the man.”

DG: “I struggled with this in my marriage. I gave my now-ex lots of acknowledgement and kudos. However, he also did lots of things I didn’t respect, but I kept my mouth shut. In our final counseling session he said I didn’t respect him. I told him there were lots of things I respected about him but a few I didn’t.

“So what does a woman do when she truthfully doesn’t respect everything her man does?”

Richard: “Love is natural to a woman [but not to a man]. Respect is not natural for the woman….

“While the woman may not respect everything her man does, she is still to treat him with respect. Just like she may not be totally lovable, but he is still to treat her with unconditional love.

“When things are working, her respect of him causes him to love her more. His love for her causes her to respect him more. Similarly, if she is disrespectful to him, he may withdraw and be unloving to her. His unloving of her causes her to be more disrespectful of him. Break the negative cycle, and the relationship can be restored. The more difficult problem is when one person is being loving/respectful, and the other is not.”

DG: “I can’t respect someone who continually acts in ways that don’t garner respect. If they are lazy, self-absorbed, unconscious or uncaring about how their behaviors negatively affect me and others, I don’t respect those acts. It doesn’t mean I will treat the person disrespectfully, but it means I won’t respect them.”

I have more questions than answers. I’m thinking that, for me, respect and love are intertwined — at least for a mate. It’s hard for me to love and want to be with someone I don’t respect.

Readers, what’s your take on love vs respect?

(P.S.: I’ve edited Richard’s comments for brevity so don’t take him to task if I’ve misrepresented his comments.)


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10 responses to “Love vs. respect”

  1. Richard Avatar

    I’m just starting to learn about love/respect, so I may not have it quite right. For more information on the love/respect difference:

    Interestingly, I came across this on e-harmony: Biggest reasons men fall out of love. #7 is He stops feeling admired.

  2. Wayne Avatar

    I have thought about Love Vs Respect but never considered the gender thing I thought it was trait of a person. Ideally everyone would have both in a relationship, but this suggests that if we had to choose most men would choose respect and most women would choose love.

    And I’m not sure if that is as true anymore, I think more and more women are becoming more dominant and would probably choose respect over love.

    If you could only choose one, which one would you choose?

  3. Mark Avatar

    Richard is likely making his comments based on reading “Love & Respect: The Love She Most Desires; The Respect He Desperately Needs” by Emerson Eggerichs. I am 75% through the book and it’s an eye-opener. For years, men have been chastised for not being sensitive to women’s needs, not having enough of a “feminine side”, not understanding women, etc. The book takes a 50/50 approach to who’s to blame for tension and problems in a relationship (marriage). While the author is a evangelical Christian pastor, the book appears to be based on sound science. I felt more comfortable about the book when I realized the author studied and was a fan of the research work of Dr. John Gottman from the University of Washington who founded the “Love Lab” there and has committed his life’s studies to marital stability and relationship analysis.

  4. seaneen Avatar


    I have said “without love and trust…” as regards intimate relationships my whole life.

    I honestly had never thought
    about the concept of respect in a relationship until the last few years-
    beyond realizing once or twice that an Ex’s behavior or changed values made me feel I had no respect for him.

    Now I recognize that my subconscious dialogue was:
    “Without respecting him you can’t have real trust; and without trust you can’t love fully.”

    My evolution into an independent woman comfortable in my own skin and life has also generated the rock-solid realization that
    If *I* was not respected by “my man” (or any man looking to date me), then it he was not worth my time.

    And, conversely, I now grasp the necessity that a man is truly worth MY respect before any chance of a relationship can grow, and that showing him respect and trust may be just as critical as thinking and feeling it.

    A man needs to know you respect and trust him, and that is part of why you love him, to fully relax enough to show love and engage in the relationship himself.

    “First comes respect as my friend,
    Building up trust, not an end,

    At last comes love, desire true,
    And a future for me and you.”

  5. sue Avatar

    For me, love grows out of respect. I don’t rely so much on just chemistry anymore, when a guy started to ridicule me more and more, I don’t think he respects me as a person, so we drifted apart and I would never regret the break up. I guess ladies know the boundaries. Simple rule of thumb, if you don’t let your friend treat you that way, then use the similar standard. Ladies could learn to bond with guys as friends, to learn the respect they give you. A lady can be social without having to flirt with a guy. You say hello to respect him, not to ask for a date.

  6. Mattress Maniac Avatar
    Mattress Maniac

    I totally believe this statement. I need to show her love and she will show me respect, but they are interchangeable. The hard part is knowing what to show first. If I show her love first and she doesn’t respect me first then we can have a problem. What is a way to handle this?

  7. Richard Avatar

    > If I show her love first and she doesn’t respect me first then we can
    > have a problem. What is a way to handle this?

    In a dating relationship, the answer is easy: You start first, and if she does not hold up her side of the relationship, then that is a sign to look for someone else.

    In a marriage relationship: The more adult person starts first.

  8. sue Avatar

    “Love is natural to a woman [but not to a man]. Respect is not natural for the woman….”

    Am a woman, and in any relationship I can always give respect first, then love, because I treasure friendship or if it’s just a mere connection. I certainly have a time window where I become fully opened up for love. But I understand in this modern age, so many (young) women have developed strong egos and high wall defense that naturally they need to get respect first before giving it. Am fron a different planet I guess 🙂

  9. Angel Avatar

    It’s true that men value respect. It has to do with the higher emphasis males tend to put on their ego. Don’t respect me, you hurt my ego.

    A little hijacking here – moving from what the status quo is for most people to what it should be (or what could be better and we should aim for). What creates a sustainable loving relationship (AKA love).

    Respect is a requirement for love. You can’t have love without respect. If someone doesn’t respect you they won’t sustainably love you (either sex). There is room for passion (that brief 3-month period of hormone craziness) without respect, but the lack of respect comes to gnaw away at it afterwards.

  10. FTF Avatar

    Thank you for this article, I’m currently in a “relationship” that the 3-month passion has passed and I can’t find the respect I need to have for the guy… this tells me all I need to know and sadly, had suspected prior to reading this.