The 5 Keys to Mutual Respect in Relationships

Though it might sound clichéd, you should treat your partner with the respect you would like to receive in return. And while it might seem obvious, expressing your gratitude in words can be really comforting for both of you.
The 5 Keys to Mutual Respect in Relationships
Valeria Sabater

Written and verified by psychologist Valeria Sabater.

Last update: 11 June, 2022

For any couple, respect should be a fundamental pillar of their relationship. However, we don’t always respect are partners as much as they would like.

The problem with respect is that we all want it, but we often forget that we first need to show it to the people around us.

What’s strange is that, when we talk about respect and its main principles, everyone knows how to define it. However, very few people actually know how to apply these principles to their own day-to-day lives.

Somehow, it’s as if we’re all thinking, “Respect me first and then I’ll respect you.” Now, if we apply this to romantic relationships, the subject gets even trickier. Often, we take respect for granted, simply assuming that the people who love us respect us.

Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case. Respect in relationships doesn’t just mean not hurting each other. This is a psychological and emotional issue where the ultimate goal goes much further than that. We look for a respect that cares for us, allows us to grow and turns two partners into allies.

Today, we’d like to invite you to dig deeper into this subject and discover the keys to mutual respect in relationships.

1. Respect in relationships requires purpose

Girl crying in a relationship

We live in a world where words sell and where people share the amazingness of their perfect relationships on social networks. However, in real, everyday life, they don’t actually live like that.

So, if you want to show your partner respect, it has to be done with real purpose. Otherwise, it isn’t worth anything.

Love, by itself, isn’t enough for a relationship to thrive or even survive. There are many more dimensions which give a relationship its full meaning.

Therefore, showing respect on a daily basis is about caring and being cared for. It’s about showing interest in and actively listening to one another. It’s about reciprocity, and being able to anticipate each others’ needs. In short, it’s all about emotional nourishment.

2. Empathy: a fundamental pillar

Two people feeling empathy

No one can show true respect if they don’t have real, intuitive, and sincere empathy.

Above all else, the human brain has evolved through socialization, interactions, and that unbreakable bond that has allowed us to survive as a species, living in tight-knit social groups.

Empathy, and the mirror neurons that create it, allow us to see our partners as a part of ourselves. We understand what our partner is feeling without them having to tell us in words.

This empathy is fundamental for showing respect, and applying that respect in all that we do, say and don’t say in order to care for those that are important to us.

3. The importance of knowing your partner

Some people say they know their partner as well as themselves. However, what they’re actually doing is projecting their own preferences and needs onto their partner. As such, it’s important to understand that:

  • Building a happy, healthy relationship, doesn’t mean you have to have agree on everything.
  • Respecting your partner’s passions, preferences, and beliefs is essential. You have to know who they are, what they don’t like, what makes them uncomfortable, and all those little details that make up their personality and identity.

Without this knowledge, there can be no respect. Otherwise, and almost without realizing it, we end up sabotaging our loved one, under the mistaken belief that certain things aren’t important.

Having subconsciously labelled them as unimportant, we inadvertently violate the other person’s needs, thus disappointing our partner.

4. Gratitude

A couple talking sitting on a wall

When was the last time you thanked your partner for something?

A simple “thank you for being you”, “thank you for always being by my side” or “thank you for making me happy” is all you need to show your partner a respect based on acknowledgement and appreciation. In addition to that, you’re showing them just how important they are to you.

Thankfulness shown with humility strengthens any kind of bond, especially when it comes to romantic relationships.

5. The importance of the little details

We can’t show respect with isolated grand gestures. The happiest and longest-lasting relationships are those that know how to pay attention to the little things . It’s the little things that demonstrate that respect is wise and intuitive, and can shed light on what’s most important.

At the same time, we can’t forget that we share these details via good communication. With this in mind, we should always remember to:

  • Express gratitude.
  • Communicate without yelling and be mindful of our tone.
  • Use relational communication, with expressions such as: “I know how you feel and I respect you for that”, “tell me how I can help you”, or “tell me what I can do to make you happier”.

Following these simple tips could drastically improve your relationship. Respect is the fundamental basis for any relationship, so if you know how to show it, it won’t take long to for things between you and your partner to start to go more smoothly.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

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  • Iglesias-García, M.; Urbano-Contreras, A. y Amaya Martínez, R. (2019). Escala de Comunicación autopercibida en la relación de pareja (CARP). Revista de investigación en Psicología. Vol. 35 Núm. 2.

  • Leal García, A. (2017). Dibujando el respeto en la pareja: un estudio sobre simbolizaciones gráficas. Quaderns de psicologia. International journal of psychology. Vol. 19, n.º 2, pp. 125-36.

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This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.