Dealing With Disrespect In A Relationship (21 Ways to Deal With It)

When you have been in a relationship with someone for a while, it is easy to ignore certain behavior and tag them as normal. When in reality, they are far from normal. One such action is disrespect. 

Disrespect in a relationship comes in many forms. When your partner doesn't listen to you, he flirts with others in your presence, lies to you, does not prioritize you, or care about your feelings. All these are disrespectful behavior irrespective of if he does them intentionally or not.

Agreeably, couples have different ways of dealing with each other. They throw jabs at each other and sprinkle a little disrespectful comment here, and there. To them, it is all part of their relationship package. While all these may be okay, as a partner in such a relationship, you should be able to draw the line when one person starts to feel hurt. 

Staying silent and not speaking up immediately can lead to resentment and ultimately destroy your relationship. In this article, I will provide you with 21 practical ways of dealing with disrespect in a relationship. 

21 Ways To Handle Disrespect In A Relationship

1. Recognize the signs of disrespect

Not everyone grew up with the privilege of being surrounded by respectful people, so they are clueless when it comes to the signs of disrespect. As such, they find it difficult to decipher when behavior is normal or just plain disrespectful. The truth is, respect feels and looks different to everyone, so what seems rude to you may not be disrespectful to another person. 

It is, therefore, up to you to point out the habits your partner exhibits as disrespectful or not. What have they been doing that has you in your feelings? Are these acts normal, or are you overthinking? If his actions hurt you, but you are still unable to tag it as disrespectful, you should consider talking to friends and family. 

Talking to them can help break down these signs of disrespect. If the consensus is that it is rude, then perhaps, you are truly being disrespected.

2. Do not let anyone invalidate your feelings

do not let anyone invalidate your feelings

As stated earlier, no one is in a better position to point out disrespectful behavior than you are. If you do not like a certain behavior and it hurts you, do not let anyone try to invalidate those feelings. 

Remember, your feelings are valid irrespective of what other people think. If after explaining how an act makes you feel your partner does not see it as a big deal, that in itself is a sign of disrespect, and perhaps a toxic relationship

Respect comes from acknowledging one another’s feelings. Don't belittle how you feel, instead, make sure you allow yourself to understand those feelings as that is one of the first steps to dealing with this behavior.

3. Give room for explanation

A relationship is the coming together of two souls who are willing to commit to each other. These souls come from different backgrounds with different life experiences, and as such, their views of life and behavior may greatly differ. Perhaps, you and your partner are from different walks of life where respect holds different meanings. 

So, if you feel your partner has done something disrespectful, do not be too quick to jump to a conclusion. He may come from a culture where that behavior is normal. Ask questions and give him room to explain his behavior. See it as an opportunity to learn more about each other.

4. Do not retaliate

A relationship is not a war zone, and we must stop treating it as such. Many people believe in an eye for an eye when they feel disrespected by their partners. For instance, if your boyfriend doesn't show up for an occasion, even after he promised to do so, resist the temptation to treat him the same way next time he invites you to an event. 

A vengeful heart is not the best way to go about resolving disrespect in a relationship. The reason being that, when you retaliate, you are slowly introducing a poisonous circle into your relationship and it takes away your right to complain because now, you are also a disrespectful partner.

5. Decide if it is a deal-breaker

As humans, we are all governed by our moral and value systems. These are the principles that guide and slowly nudge us into knowing when to walk away from a situation or fight harder. When you first notice signs of disregard in your relationship, you will need to question whether this behavior is a deal-breaker for you. Was he caught in a lie, or did he flirt and cheat on you with a coworker? 

Let's say he cheated, is cheating a deal-breaker for you? Will you still be able to trust him? While the lack of respect may seem like a single negative act, you must remember that it has a spiraling effect as in this case where it starts to affect trust. So, it would help if you questioned all of its negative side effects. Like in this case, is trust in a relationship important to you?

6. Give the benefit of the doubt

Not everything that is ranked as disrespectful hurts us. However, you should also remember that just because it does not hurt today doesn't mean it won't hurt tomorrow. For instance, let's say your partner constantly feels he is better off choosing your meals for you. While that may seem disrespectful, he could also be doing that because he feels you are in his city and is only trying to help out with the menu. 

Always give room for the benefit of the doubt until you listen to your partner's reasons for acting a certain way. This will go a long way to ward off unnecessary resentment in your relationship. 

7. Take a break

Just as the saying goes that you do not know what you have until you lose it, you also sometimes do not know how much of a mess you are in until you take a step back. If you feel like a pattern of behavior does not sit right with your spirit, perhaps it is time to step away from your relationship for a while. 

Try mingling with other couples and study how they treat one another. Does it look familiar, or is it different from what you are used to? This will give you a better understanding of the type of behavior you are dealing with and how you will like to be treated.

8. Pay attention to how he treats others

pay attention to how he treats others

When I first started dating, I remember my mother advising me to choose men wisely. She would say, do not date a man who is only kind to you and those he loves but is rude to everyone else; because what happens when he is unhappy with you? 

In essence, her point is that how a man treats the people he stands to gain nothing from speaks a great deal of his character. Before concluding that you are with a disrespectful partner, pay attention to how he treats other people like service providers. Is he disrespectful? If yes, then you should see this as a red flag.

9. Pay attention to how you treat him

Whether you choose to admit it or not, the people around us influence our behavior to a certain degree. And just as they rub off on us, we also rub off on them – negatively or positively. So, before you brand your partner as disrespectful, look inwards and question yourself. 

Do you respect him? He may be only acting a certain way because you do the same, and he believes it is fine by you. The solution here is to change the way you act and treat him. 

10. Re-evaluate your relationship

Now and then, we must learn to take a step back and re-access our relationships. Is it how you had hoped it would be? Is the relationship serving you? Does it bring out the best in you? Are you good partners? Is disrespectful behavior his only flaw and is it something you are willing to tackle? 

These are questions that should have answers when evaluating a relationship. Your ability to conduct a thorough evaluation of your relationship will help you appreciate all the good parts a bit more and devote time to tackling the lack of respect with a little more compassion.

11. Examine what makes you feel disrespected

We cannot resolve anything we do not understand; it is like fighting an unseen enemy. In essence, if you want to deal with disrespect, you first need to know what behavior makes you feel disrespected. 

Furthermore, beyond identifying this disrespectful behavior, you will also need to understand why it makes you feel that way. For instance, do you feel disrespected when your partner talks to other people at a party? 

If yes, the next question should be, do you feel disrespected because you are insecure? What is the root of this insecurity? Answering these questions will let you see that while you may feel disrespected, a lack of respect is not the real issue here. It is your insecurity that should be dealt with.

12. Reflect on how you see yourself

Self-esteem is an evaluation of your self-worth. What do you think you deserve and how do you see yourself? 

The world's view and perception of who you are is one thing, but your perception of yourself is another, and when all is said and done, it is the latter that truly matters. The behavior you choose to tolerate is a reflection of how you feel about yourself. 

So, if you decide to tolerate a lack of respect, it means that you do not respect yourself. Take a moment, sit with your feelings, and remind yourself of what you deserve and desire from a relationship.

13. Communicate

Your partner may be ignorant of how he makes you feel. Choose the right time when things are not tense to communicate how you truly feel. When speaking, do not make the mistake of generalizing your feelings, but be specific with your points. 

For instance, do not say “You always disrespect me”, instead say things like, “when you show up late for a date without informing me, I feel disrespected”. This allows him to know the exact behavior that affects you, and for one, he will be less defensive.

14. Build your confidence

build your confidence

Often, it is a lack of confidence that makes us tolerate things we know are wrong and upsetting. Some relationships chip away at our confidence and leave us as timid women who are unable to speak for themselves. 

With this in mind, you need to seek ways to be more confident. If it means, switching up your appearance, taking a class, or learning a new skill, do it. Seeing yourself accomplish things can help improve confidence in yourself and trust your decisions better.

15. Learn to say no

‘No' is such a short word, but it will surprise you how many people shy away from using it. As women, society expects us to be agreeable and likable. This is one expectation that makes us hesitate to say no when something does not sit right. If you want your partner to stop disrespecting you, you need to start saying ‘no' to the things you do not like. Remember, we teach people how to treat us.

16. Stand up for yourself

Quit acting like a victim and learn to stand up for yourself. Basking in your victim mentality will only make your situation worse, and soon, you will forget what it feels like to be respected in a relationship. 

If you have talked to your partner about his disrespectful behavior, next time he acts in a non-respectful way, do not ignore it. Nip the issue in the bud immediately and tell him that you will no longer tolerate his insults.

17. Try being empathetic

It may seem counterintuitive to ask you to be empathetic to someone who disrespects you. However, we are all products of our upbringing and childhood. Perhaps, he is disrespectful because he grew up watching his father disrespect his mother. 

It is probably all that he knows. Remember that your partner is someone you love and care about, and as such, he deserves your empathy. Try seeing things from his perspective and think of what would get through to you. 

18. Talk to his family and friends

Sometimes, people are more likely to listen to their family and friends than a partner. As a partner, your complaints of his disrespectful behavior will most likely end up as an argument; he is defensive and refuses to see how his actions make you feel. 

Think of the people who have his ears and ask them to step in. Perhaps, hearing the implications of his actions from someone else will give him a better understanding of his behavior.

19. Set boundaries

Many times, disrespect in a relationship starts with a few ‘harmless' jokes, and then it turns into careless insults that mean ‘nothing'. You both laugh it off and go ahead with your day, but in the dead of night, you find yourself awake, wondering if that supposed ‘harmless' joke is really how he feels. 

While it is okay for couples to be able to make jest of each other playfully, you must also learn to set boundaries. If something crosses the line, say so immediately and do not tolerate it even once.

20. See a therapist

Counselors and therapists are trained specialists for conflict resolution in relationships. If you care about your relationship and believe it is worth fighting for, you should consider seeing a third party. The good thing about therapists is that they are not on anyone's side, and as a third eye in your relationship, they can view things from a different angle and provide professional help.

21. Walk away

walk away

If all else fails, after communicating, practicing empathy, setting boundaries, and seeing a therapist, it is perhaps time to say goodbye. I understand that this may seem like a difficult decision to take right now, but in no time, you will be grateful that you left. You are deserving of love and respect, and no man should make you feel less or think otherwise.


What are signs of disrespect in a relationship?

You can tell a person is disrespectful from the way they talk down at you. They never listen because they believe they know better. Other forms of disrespect in a relationship include; flirting, cheating, lying, ignoring the other person's feelings, and withholding important information from your partner.

How do you treat someone who disrespects you?

Sometimes, disrespectful people act from a place of ignorance and low self-worth. They believe that if they make you feel less of yourself, it means they are better than you. You should treat such a person with empathy and let them know that their behavior is ruining your relationship. If they are unwilling to change, then you should avoid them.

How do you react when your partner disrespects you?

If it is your first time noticing disrespectful behavior, you should question it immediately. They may have acted that way because of external pressure and out of ignorance. Let them know that you do not like it and will not tolerate such behavior. In the end, what you should not do is try to reciprocate as that will only trigger a toxic circle in your relationship.

What causes disrespect in a relationship?

Disrespect in relationships often starts from the little things—the ‘harmless' jokes, subtle jabs, and behavior that you choose to ignore. You must communicate with your partner about the things you will not tolerate in your relationship, and listen to him as well. Setting boundaries ensures everyone is respected.

What are the red flags in a relationship?

If you are in a relationship with a person who is disrespectful to service providers like waiters or the mailman, that is a red flag. It means he is also capable of disrespecting you the minute you do something that does not please him. Other red flags include a partner who does not acknowledge your feelings or is unwilling to change and believes he is always right.

To Conclude

Sometimes, disrespect in relationships is not an overnight experience; it starts from the little things until it becomes a full-blown issue. That is why you must talk about it the minute you notice it. I hope you enjoyed reading this list and found it helpful. I look forward to hearing from you in the comment section and don't forget to share.

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