Relationships

9 Signs Your Partner Doesn't Respect You Enough

Disrespect can take many forms, but typically has the same outcome.

Signs your partner doesn't respect you and what to do about it.
FG Trade/E+/Getty Images
Updated: 
Originally Published: 

While fun dates, a shared sense of humor, and lots of love will take you far, nothing's more important than having respect in a relationship. And knowing the signs your partner doesn't respect you can help you spot a problem before it spirals.

"Respect is an important component of every healthy relationship, yet it’s absolutely critical for the long-term success of a romantic relationship," Dr. Carla Marie Manly, a clinical psychologist, tells Bustle. "When a sense of solid respect is present, partners tend to feel more appreciated, seen, and safe in the relationship. When respect is not present, partners will tend to feel wary, angry, and deeply resentful."

Disrespect can take many forms, but it typically has the same outcome. Studies have shown that a lack of respect is one of the main predictors of a breakup. And while breaking up is often the best course of action when a partner is rude, disloyal, and uncaring, it may be possible to inspire positive improvements.

As Manly says, "This dynamic can be changed with conscious effort. Respect — like most key principles in relationships — is an attribute and a skill that can be honed with mindful attention." It might mean pointing out areas that need to change, going to couples therapy together, and — if you're willing — giving a partner a chance to change.

It's up to you what happens next. But experts say if you spot any of these signs, it's a sign your partner doesn't respect you, and that means the relationship needs work.

1

They Ignore Your Boundaries

Healthy relationships are all about establishing and respecting one another's boundaries. So if a partner repeatedly ignores or tramples all over yours, it's clear a "lack of respect is at work," Manly says.

What's more, boundary crossing can take many forms, and often gets worse over time. "Whether a partner borrows money and doesn’t return the funds, invades personal space, or engages in unwanted physical advances," Manly says, none of it should be taken lightly.

2

They Keep Lying To You

There's a reason why lying is a leading cause of breakups. As Manly says, "Dishonesty is one of the most disrespectful and destructive behaviors in any relationship." It shows your partner doesn't care about the impact their actions have on your life, and that they're only thinking about themselves.

Lying has no place in a respectful relationship, and yet it's something that's so easy to brush under the proverbial rug. "People tend to rationalize overt lying or errors of omission," Manly says, but "dishonest behaviors are indefensible — and always a sign of disrespect."

3

They Give You The Silent Treatment

While everyone's entitled to a breather when they're upset, take note if your partner consistently gives you the silent treatment whenever trouble arises in your relationship. Think shutting down, sulking in another room, or sending your calls to voicemail.

"The silent treatment functions to keep you in suspense of what will happen, and unsure of what you did wrong and how bad it is," Dr. Fran Walfish, a psychotherapist and author, tells Bustle. It also makes it impossible for you to share your side of the story, which is why it's considered a form of control.

In fact, this manipulation technique has a name — stonewalling — and according to research from Dr. John Gottman, often means end of a relationship is near because it's just so toxic.

4

They Use Your Insecurities Against You

In a relationship, you're supposed to feel safe enough to open up, share deep thoughts, and lean on your partner for comfort and support. So if yours ever takes the things you share and throws them back in your face — whether it's to hurt you, win an argument, etc. — consider it a major red flag.

"When a partner speaks down about you, or uses your insecurities and limitations to their advantage, [...[ these all are indications that your partner does not have enough respect for you," Josh Klapow, PhD, a clinical psychologist, tells Bustle.

If you spot this habit, it may be something you can work on overcoming as a couple. "Transgressions should be apologized for and corrected," Klapow says. But if your partner continues to disrespect you in this way, it may be best to end the relationship and move on.

5

They Call You Names

Speaking of arguments, take note of how your partner acts during them. "From screaming, name-calling, and [...] threats, verbal abuse is a significant sign of disrespect in a relationship," Manly says. "When we don’t pause to carefully consider and choose our words — and when we purposefully engage in damaging verbal attacks — disrespect is evident in the weaponization of words."

It might also show up in the form of "light-hearted" jokes that actually feel mean. "Mockery, misplaced humor, and sarcasm are subtle signs your partner disrespects you," QuaVaundra Perry, PhD, ABPP, a board-certified psychologist, tells Bustle. "While humor should be part of any healthy relationship, it should not be used to make light of your concerns."

6

They Always Interrupt When You're Talking

Does your partner consistently talk over you, interrupt your stories, speak for you, or finish your sentences? "When we cut off a person midstream, we are sending a message that says, 'What I have to say is more important than your thoughts. I don’t respect what you have to offer,'" Manly says.

It's not only rude, but it often points to deeper held beliefs, including thinking they're "superior" — which is obviously a problem. "As a general rule, respect means that our partner treats us in all situations as an equal," Klapow says. "That means being courteous, communicating clearly, and asking questions about our wishes and preferences, and treating us as they would themselves."

7

They Don't Value Your Time

If you're always the one changing your plans to accommodate your partner's, if your dreams are constantly put on hold in favor of theirs, or if your partner never seems interested in what or who is important to you, Perry says it's all a sign of disrespect. "This type of disregard is inappropriate," she says, "and signals your partner does not equally appreciate your values."

8

They Have Personal Habits That Are Inconsiderate

In a long-term relationship, it's totally normal to occasionally feel irritated by some of your partner's qualities or quirks — like the fact they chew with their mouth open. What's not normal is if their habits are purposefully inconsiderate, or if your partner refuses to communicate or compromise with you.

"Personal habits can become big issues between partners, particularly when one partner feels disrespected by the other's actions," Manly says. "Basic cleanliness and lifestyle habits, such as washing dishes, cleaning countertops, etc., can become highly problematic when one partner feels disrespected by the other person's lack of attentiveness."

So let's say you approach your partner about wanting to have a more fair and balanced relationship, maybe by divvying up these chores. If they repeatedly don't make an attempt to change, or actively do things to go against what you talked about, it's a sure sign of disrespect.

9

They Don't Allow You Privacy Or Independence

In a respectful, equal, and balanced relationship, both partners remain individuals who are free to make their own decisions, pursue their dreams, and go about their day. But if your partner doesn't respect you, it'll start to feel like none of that is an option.

"A partner can demonstrate disrespect if they do not allow you to have time to yourself and require you to explain any activities done without them," Perry says. "It can also show up in their snooping through your personal belongings, such as your mail or journal."

If you ever feel like your partner doesn't respect your privacy or independence — or if any of these other signs feel familiar — take an objective look at your relationship. Your partner may be able to make a change. But this might also be the push you need to move on.

Sources & Experts:

Dr. Fran Walfish, psychotherapist and author

Dr. Carla Marie Manly, clinical psychologist

Josh Klapow, PhD, clinical psychologist

QuaVaundra Perry, PhD, ABPP, board-certified psychologist