Aretha FranklinOtis Redding wrote it.

Aretha Franklin belted it.

The song says all the writer/singer wants is respect from his/her partner. Just a little respect.

Have you ever felt someone you were dating for a while didn’t respect you? Maybe he chastised you, second guessed you or told you your actions or decisions were wrong?

Or have you noticed your own lack of respect in the man? He acted in ways you thought were juvenile, or made decisions you felt weren’t thought through? You may have kept these observations to yourself or you may have said something. Even if you thought you were keeping it to yourself, I can guarantee the disrespect seeped out.

You may be saying, “Respect is a deal breaker. Why bother even mentioning it?”

Because some of us were raised in environments with little respect. Disrespect was the norm. So if we give or receive disrespect, we think that is how relationships are supposed to be.

I’ve been on both sides. I’m not proud to admit I haven’t always hidden it if someone I’ve been dating for a while does something I think is immature. Of course, the outcome is predictably bad. It can — and usually does — cause a chasm in the relationship.

Respect is critical for a healthy relationship to work. Not that we don’t all periodically do things that are not fully thought through, or naive or even, in retrospect, foolish. But to have this pointed out by the person we’re wanting most to impress is not a good thing. Not at all. When we discover our folly, there is usually enough self-flagellation that no one else needs to remind us of our stupidity.

And if we don’t think what we said/did/decided is dumb, we really don’t want to hear that the other thought it was. We feel disrespected. Which no one wants to feel.

If you can talk about this feeling of disrespect calmly and rationally with your guy, great. It is hard to do without one or both of you getting defensive. The person showing disrespect feels justified, and the person who said/did what caused the reaction feels justified.

dinner bellBut it is important to note when you have feelings of being disrespected by the man you’re seeing, as well as when you feel he’s made a dumb decision. The more frequently either of these occur, the more the bells should be going off in your head — and not the sweet chime of a dainty dinner bell. These are fire station alarms clanging warning you to wake up and get out of the building (AKA relationship)!

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16 responses to “R-E-S-P-E-C-T”

  1. Cupertino Avatar

    Amen, DG. John Gottman, author of “The Relationship Cure” and other books, has done extensive research into factors that cause marriages to break up (no doubt would apply to all relationships). He has observed four toxic behaviors: defensiveness, stonewalling, criticism, and contempt. Contempt — an open sign of disrespect — is the most destructive of all. When we roll our eyes when our partner says something, or cut them down with “humor,” we’re showing our lack of respect. Gottman can observe the conversation between partners and predict with remarkable accuracy whether they will stay together. His research was discussed in Malcolm Gladwell’s bestseller, “Blink.”

  2. bookyone Avatar

    Hi DG,

    I agree with this, as I’ve been disrespected by every guy I’ve ever dated at one time or another but I stayed with them anyhow because I felt I didn’t deserve to be treated better. I still don’t feel like I deserve a good guy, not because I’m not a good person, I like to think I am, but because I’m physically ugly, which, as everyone knows, is the kiss of death for a woman, as, no matter how smart, kind and loving you are, if the face you present to the world is a gargoyle’s, then you’re going to get what you deserve from others, which is pity at best, and disrespect at worst. It’s a good thing I’m single, as I don’t need any man to call me names and tell me how ugly and worthless I am, I can look in the mirror and see that for myself.

    Best wishes from bokyone 🙂

  3. Lulu Avatar

    Bookyone, I can’t let you get away with that. I don’t know you, or what your face is like, but I know that how you look is an irrelevance. I’m not talking about just in relation to finding a man, I’m talking about in the grand scheme of things. How you look does not make you worthless, and I wonder if you consider other people ugly – children who have badly burned faces, or patients with facial cancers, for instance? They are deforemd, but are they ugly? What is the definition you are going by? You like reading, read about these things! Why would you let a man define your worth? read Alix Kates Shulman on this, and on living alone, in Drinking the Rain. And respect yourself.

  4. bookyone Avatar

    Hi Lulu,

    No, I don’t think other people are ugly. The standards I apply to myself I don’t ever apply to others. Strange, perhaps, but it’s the way I am. After being told something often enough, you internalize it and then you believe it. Will check out the books you mentioned, though, as I’m a big reader.

    As regards men, maybe it’s just been my bad luck or misfortune to encounter the ass clowns of the world or whatever, but every guy I’ve ever met has told me point blank that he’d trade me in in a heartbeat for a pretty woman (eventually they all did). What does that say about men and physical appearance? IMHO they put a much greater priority on it than either I or my female freinds do. Even my guy friends (and they’re the nice guys I know, not the self centered jerks) have admitted to me that if they had to choose between an attractive woman and a homely one, they’d choose the beauty hands down.

    If i had the time and the money I’d change every single part of myself, head to toe, and maybe then I’d look good enough to land a nice guy. I HATE being alone with a passion!!!

    Best wishes from bookyone 🙂

  5. bookyone Avatar

    It’s sad, because I recently met a guy I really like online, but I refuse to meet in person, as I don’t want to disappoint anyone I like ever again.

  6. Terry Avatar

    I agree, DG. Respect is critical for a relationship to work, and self-respect is critical, too. (Loved your comment about men who cheat on manslations, too, by the way.)

    In the case of bookyone, I’d suggest she get counseling or at least look into the very powerful method, EFT, which she can use alone or with a practitioner to free herself of her limited beliefs about herself, men, and relationships (there’s a free EFT manual offered online from the founder, Gary Craig. Key his name into a search engine, and it’ll come right up).

    You can be the most physically unattractive person in the room, yet attract love, lust, and admiration if you feel good about yourself, bookyone. Yes! Are you up for it?

    Write a list of the things you have going for you (sense of humor, kindness, singing, gardening, whatever). Make a list of the compliments you’ve gotten over the years. Stop telling yourself you’re ugly. Look at your body objectively: What does it have going for it? Coltish ankles, maybe? Long fingers?

    Start treating yourself as you want a lover to treat you. Take yourself out for something nice (not necessarily expensive but nice). Stop telling yourself you can’t have things you want. Buy yourself a bouquet of flowers and put them in a vase where you’ll see them often. Take special care with your hands, feet, hair, and face.

    Remember the actress from “Throw Momma From the Train?” She was one of the most unpretty women in Hollywood, yet her career thrived and she had a husband who loved her. When she was asked her secret, she said something to the effect of, “I may not be pretty on the outside, but I’m beautiful on the inside.”

    Start feeling beautiful on the inside. People will notice.

    Also make an effort to like being alone. People who can’t be by themselves get into all sorts of bad situations. Begin to love your own company.

    I do love mine.

  7. Mitsy Avatar

    Finding someone special involves RISK, so Bookyone needs to realize that everyone sets themselves up for hurt if they meet ANYONE. It’s a fact of life. I also find “beauty” to be quite subjective. What is pretty or ugly to one person would not be the same for someone else. Looking back at all of the men I’ve dated or been involved in, NONE of them looked alike. So, there are many different body types and features that one person might find attractive and someone else might find unattractive. I spent a number of years feeling kind of unattractive myself, but I see my competition and try to reassure myself.

    However, what one other poster said about loving yourself is true. If you need counseling in order to get to that point, then just do it. It may not guarantee you a man in your life, but it will make you feel like you are worth something as a human being. How can you find someone to love you if you don’t even like yourself?

    And, quite frankly, I actually love the freedom I have by living alone with my 2 kitties. I would think always needing someone around would be a dismal existence. I think solace is good for the soul, even if it means a TV running in the background sometimes. :0

  8. Gatti Avatar

    “Contempt”, as Cupertino describes it, perfectly describes how my ex treated me. Oh am I ever so happy not to be in that place anymore!!!

  9. hunter Avatar

    I remember a woman asked me about respecting her. And I said, “in what way?” She said, she didn’t know.

  10. hunter Avatar

    I think most men love women and we really, try to understand and live with them. Defining some of these words and actions, like respect, honesty, openness, can be mind boggling and sometimes stressful to the average man. I have had them defined and I get what seems like a dissertation from my college english class…..

  11. Lulu Avatar

    DG, men profess to respect and love women in general, but what does that actually mean? How do they feel, for instance, about feminism? What is their opinion of pornography and sexual harassment? Do they really feel that women are their equals, or do they prefer to keep the status quo…i.e. men and women are equal, as long as women recognise that the men are inately superior and in charge!
    These are important questions for thinking, aware women to ask thinking, aware men. It’s no good pretending most men respect women, because we know that isn’t true. Society in general is constructed on the basis that men and women are not equal, and women as a rule have been educated to accept that or be treated with ridicule and contempt (lesbians, feminists etc). Hunter’s request for a woman to define respect is, I’m afraid, rather typical and aggressive – does he understand the concept of respect or not? And perhaps asking himself what he understands about the issues women face in a male dominated society would be a good, intelligent beginning.
    For those of you thinking ‘hey lighten up’ I’d say let’s take a look sometimes at what we’re not addressing, at the truths which lie beneath the surface, and not be afraid to try to express them.

  12. Dating Goddess Avatar


    I didn’t read Hunter’s request as aggressive, but in fact reasonable. I find people have such differences in their definitions of what you’d think are commonly understood words, it doesn’t hurt to understand each other’s definition. I think his point was that she couldn’t even explain what she meant.

  13. hunter Avatar

    thank you,,,DG

  14. Lulu Avatar


  15. nysharon Avatar

    –I have been reading your posts for some time now and I am concerned for you. You have been hurt badly and you have built a wall around yourself. Little positive changes can help. Have you ever seen “What not to wear” on TLC channel? Playing up what are your best qualities works wonders. You can make changes on the outside and eventually you will find confidence. You have to reach out and ask for help.You have the ability to take charge of your life–be open to it and DO IT. I am sure you have wonderful qualities so let them shine because they have shown through in your posts and I feel as if I know you by just reading them.

    I think what Hunter is saying is that a woman shouldn’t hide behind a general term like RESPECT. They need to be specific about what they don’t like. She was just ditching you Hunter, and blaming you at the same time. (you are better off)

  16. nysharon Avatar

    Bookyone, that above post was for you. If I knew you I would take you by the hand kiddo.