6 Signs of Disrespect in a Relationship and How to Correct Them

These signs of disrespect in a relationship will help you identify if your relationship is healthy or if you need to make changes.
6 Signs of Disrespect in a Relationship and How to Correct Them
Elena Sanz

Written and verified by the psychologist Elena Sanz.

Last update: 11 June, 2022

Relationships need to be safe places for their members – safe havens where they feel loved, supported, and validated. If they don’t meet this objective, bonds become harmful and end up causing damage rather than contributing to our lives. For the same reason, it’s important that we learn to detect the signs of disrespect in a relationship and that we’re willing to act accordingly.

Disrespect is not always as visible as violence, abuse, or infidelity. Sometimes, these signs are disguised as indifference, criticism, or control in everyday situations.

This is why we tend to overlook them, minimize them, and justify them. However, there’s no place for them in a healthy connection. Their presence can cause damage to self-esteem that can take years to repair. Thus, it’s essential to put a stop to these forms if disrespect as early as possible.

Signs of disrespect in a relationship that you shoudn’t overlook

As we have said, it’s very important not to justify any form of disrespect under any premise. It doesn’t matter if we’re tired or stressed, if we have a strong temper, or even if we’re going through a rough patch as a couple.

None of these causes give us the right to put down or demean the other person. That said, please pay attention to the following signs of disrespect in a relationship because they can be red flags.

Signs of disrespect: They invalidate your feelings

All your emotions are valid, and your needs are worthy of being heard and respected. If your partner belittles your feelings, accuses you of being exaggerated or hysterical, or responds with a gesture of exasperation when you express your discontent, they’re disrespecting you.

You have the right to expose what you think, feel, and want. Whoever claims to love you should be open to listening, understanding, and looking for solutions together.

You might find this interesting: How to Identify Red Flags in a Relationship

Not listening is a lack of respect

They don’t take you into account when making decisions

Being in a couple does not imply giving up individuality and freedom. However, when you’re in a stable and long-term relationship and when you share a life project with another person, it’s essential to consult with them when making important decisions.

If your partner makes you feel dispensable and takes relevant actions for the future without considering you, don’t miss this important warning sign.

Signs of disrespect: There are communication problems

Communication is the basis for solving any conflict or disagreement in a couple. Also, it’s one of the easiest ways to detect signs of disrespect in a relationship.

Shouting, insults, contempt, or sarcasm are the most visible face of poor communication, but indifference and silence are just as violent. Neither of these two extremes can be a part of the general dynamic between people who respect each other.

They don’t make an effort to spend time with you

Despite daily obligations, both people must make an effort to spend quality time with their partners.

A person who always has excuses for not spending time with the other, who prefers alternative plans, or who is always looking at their mobile phone when you’re together is disrespecting both you and the bond you share.

They doesn’t respect your time and space

Not sharing time with your partner is just as harmful as trying to absorb them completely. Your partner should respect the time you devote to your career, your family, your friends, and yourself and not try to coerce you or make you feel guilty about it.

Individual development is extremely necessary and beneficial to the health of a relationship.

Signs of disrespect: Constant and hurtful criticism

Does your partner criticize your loved ones, minimize your achievements, or make fun of your aspirations? Even if it’s done in a joking tone, these attitudes are absolutely unacceptable and show a great lack of respect.

The same happens if you receive constant criticism for how you act, think, or feel. These can be clear and direct or disguised as sarcasm, whether in private or public. In any case, the;re one of the biggest signs of disrespect in a relationship.

Why do signs of disrespect occur in a relationship?

There’s no single reason why disrespect becomes a constant part of a relationship dynamic. In some cases, over time, feelings change, and the person’s lack of commitment or motivation leads them to act this way. They may stop making an effort to cultivate the bond and instead fall into demeaning or belittling attitudes.

However, in other cases, they may be present from the beginning. They are usually related to the values and beliefs of the people involved in the relationship.

The models of relationships that we saw in childhood, the myths of romantic love that we assume as true, and other harmful cultural elements can lead us to think that this way of relating is natural and acceptable. Certain personal shortcomings, such as lack of emotional intelligence, poor social skills, and an insecure attachment style, can also lead us to commit or endure these acts.

A lack of respect in a relationship can cause many problems
It’s very important to be aware of patterns of disrespect in a relationship so you can work to change them or considering ending the relationship. After all, you deserve the best. 

How to deal with the signs of disrespect in a relationship

If you’ve detected disrespect is present in your relationship, you probably wonder what you can do about it. First, you have to ask yourself if your partner is aware of the inappropriateness of their attitudes and recognizes and assumes responsibility.

If not, and if they’re not willing to work to change the dynamic, the best thing you can do for yourself is to protect yourself and leave the relationship. On the other hand, if you’re both willing to correct this damaging situation, there are some fundamental guidelines to follow that we would like to summarize here:

  • Both of you must commit to doing personal work (preferably with professional accompaniment) to heal unhealthy attachment styles, fears, beliefs, and limitations that may be interfering in the relationship.
  • It’s crucial that you both acquire emotional regulation techniques to be able to own your words and decisions and not act on autopilot. Learning to manage emotions prevents us from reacting in a way that we may later regret.
  • You must learn that assertiveness and healthy social skills are the big keys to ending disrespect. Both of you must learn to express your opinions, feelings, and requests respectfully, but firmly. At the same time, you must listen to each other’s needs with the true intention of understanding them.

Ultimately, respect and deep acceptance of each other are the foundations for a lasting, healthy couple. Therefore, do not justify disrespect. Also, don’t ever put up with it for fear of losing your partner. Your priority should always be to take care of yourself.

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.

  • Blázquez Alonso, M., Moreno Manso, J. M., & García-Baamonde Sánchez, M. E. (2009). Inteligencia emocional como alternativa para la prevención del maltrato psicológico en la pareja. Anales de Psicología / Annals of Psychology25(2), 250–260. Recuperado a partir de https://revistas.um.es/analesps/article/view/87541
  • Capafóns, J. I., & Sosa, C. D. (2015). Relaciones de pareja y habilidades sociales: el respeto interpersonal. Behavioral Psychology/Psicología Conductual23(1).
  • Cuervo, J. J. (2013). Parejas viables que perduran en el tiempo. Diversitas9(2), 257-270.

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