Respect is defined as “a feeling of deep admiration for someone or something elicited by their abilities, qualities, or achievements.” It’s fairly easy to tell whether we are respected or not, or whether we respect someone or not. It’s also absolutely essential to a healthy romantic relationship.
Here are 5 ways to determine whether or not you’re in a respectful relationship:
1. Honour each other’s passions and dreams
One thing that happens when you become romantically involved with another person is that you start dreams together: ideas of things you want to do or accomplish as a couple. It’s just as important, though, to keep your own dreams and passions alive and thriving, as well as your partner’s; those dreams and passions you had before the relationship and are still part of who you are. Separate dreams are essential in maintaining the individual within the relationship, nurturing the people involved as individuals, and driving the focus on what you fell in love with about this person in the first place.
2. Keep activities separate but together
Being in a relationship means doing a lot of activities together, but like honouring each other’s passions and dreams, it’s important to honour separate activities as well. If you’re doing literally everything together, the relationship quickly loses a lot of its excitement. Cultivating separate activities gives you the opportunity to strengthen your relationship in two ways:
- It gives you time to do what you want to be doing, as well as giving your partner time to do what they want to be doing, and
- It creates an excitement about your partner’s activities that constantly feeds new information and experiences to discuss, share and enjoy with each other.
My partner and I deliberately keep some of our activities separate while combining others. He’s a musician and a composer and that world is nearly inaccessible to me (except that I love to listen to his music and have the honour of hearing compositions as they progress). I’m an avid cyclist and rock climber, and cycling is my meditation. I don’t want anyone else involved in my rides, no matter how much I adore the person, so he isn’t involved. Rock climbing is something we’d probably enjoy doing together; we plan to start climbing together this spring.
3. Communicate immediately
If something is bothering you about your partner or your relationship, the best way to deal with it is to do so immediately. Alternately, you can just let it go (but really, you need to be okay with letting it go). Building up a laundry list of resentments isn’t fair to your partner or your relationship; it shows that you care more for the opportunity to hold something over their head than you do about successfully communicating your concerns in a timely and effective manner.
But how do you communicate effectively in a relationship? Here’s one helpful guide.
4. Compromise on things that aren’t your biggest priority
As much as separation is important in a relationship, so is compromise. If your partner isn’t genuinely happy, you probably aren’t either. Being able to meet each other in the middle on certain issues and situations creates the opportunity to develop further as a couple. Compromises can lead to incredible surprises, too. You may find out that you in fact enjoy your partner’s ideas more than you initially think you do. Here are a few rules of creating fair compromises.
5. Forgive, forgive, forgive
Forgiveness is an essential component to any relationship, but it’s especially important in a romantic relationship. The levels of emotional intimacy and vulnerability reached in romantic relationships feel great when things are good, and terrible when things are bad. Suddenly you’re in a situation where this person knows you way too well, and is in a position to hurt you.
HOW DO YOU DEAL WITH THAT?
You let go of the past, even if there are things in your partner’s past that upset you, and resolve to move forward into the future in your partnership. You let go of resentments and you don’t allow them to colour your future with your partner.
Romantic relationships can be difficult at times, and as an until-recently single person who only became involved with her partner in the past few months, I find some solace in noticing ways we incorporate respect for each other. We’re not perfect by any means -nobody is- but we care for each other in ways that are mutually respectful and beneficial to ourselves together and ourselves apart.
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Author: Dondi Leigh
Dondi is a freelance writer based in Northern Colorado. When she’s not writing you can find her rock climbing, cycling, and working at her community’s bike shop, the Fort Collins Bike Co-op. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in History from the University of Colorado.