What images come to mind when you think of a disrespectful person? Teenage boys vandalizing someone’s personal property? A girl sassing her father? A grown man burping at the dinner table? A woman yelling at her husband in front of some friends?
All of these behaviors are indeed disrespectful. They all fit in with the definition of disrespect below:
“Speech or behavior which shows that you do not think someone or something is valuable, important, etc. : lack of respect.”
– Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary
We Want to Feel Important to Someone
One of the reasons we seek to be in relationships is so we can share our lives with someone else. We want one other special person on this planet to think we are more important than anyone else. Most of us are not hoping to be the center of everyone’s attention. We just want to have someone who is ours, and someone to whom we belong.
Disrespect seriously harms connection because, as the definition above states, it communicates to the victim that he or she is not valuable or important. We treat people we cherish differently than we do random strangers. It may not be my first instinct to save a stranger from drowning (though I hope it would be), but it would be second nature for me to jump in to save Eric. Why? Because, he is valuable and important to me.
Slice Me Up!
It is no secret that I love Eric, but I can harm our connection in no time flat with just a handful of disrespectful phrases or actions. For example:
Eric, that was so dumb. Use your brain, for Pete’s sake!
Thanks a lot, Sherlock! How’d you figure that one out?
No, I didn’t save you any dinner. You didn’t come home on time, so I threw it out. That’ll teach you to get home when you are supposed to.
This is not how I communicate with Eric – in case you were concerned. ~smile~ However, I have slipped up and been disrespectful in other ways like raising my voice, stomping out of rooms, and rolling my eyes. When I do, it is not pretty. All it takes is one quick roll of the eyes to communicate to Eric that I don’t think he or his ideas are valuable and important. It’s like me taking a knife and slicing him up with one disrespectful action after another.
Needless to say, it is hard to keep a connection strong when you are stabbing your sweetie!
A Few Reasons Disrespect Kills Connection
There are some who don’t want to call their behaviors disrespectful. I’m direct. I don’t let people take advantage of me. I don’t play games. But whatever new name it’s given, disrespectful words and actions kill connections. Why?
- Disrespect hits us at our core. Because I am God’s creation, please treat me with basic decency. We want to be valued.
- We don’t trust people who disrespect us, and we cannot connect with people we don’t trust. We automatically build walls around our hearts when we sense a threat.
- Disrespect slowly chips away at an already established connection. It is possible to build a relationship with someone, and then slowly break it down. Depending on the strength of the foundation, a relationship can usually withstand some disrespectful slip ups; but, if disrespect and contempt become a way of life, no previously strong connection can withstand such treatment.
If you find yourself treating your sweetheart disrespectfully, take steps to change your behavior. Even if he or she is not acknowledging it, it is hurting. If your sweetie is disrespecting you, address it gently. Maybe he or she is unaware? If the behaviors continue, they can completely sever whatever connection you have built so far; and, no relationship should be saturated with contemptuous poison.
If this is a relationship worth saving, ditch the disrespect!
Do you struggle to show respect to your sweetheart?