What is Respect in a Healthy Relationship?

What is Respect in a Healthy Relationship?

People have a lot of different ideas about what the word “respect” means. Sometimes, it is used to mean admiration for someone important or inspirational to us. Other times, respect refers to deference towards a figure of authority, like a parent, relative, teacher, boss or even a police officer. In this context, it is presumed that respect should be given to those who have certain types of knowledge and power. And then other times, respect means upholding the basic right that every person has to make their own choices and feel safe in their own daily lives.

In this post, we’re talking about respect in the context of dating. In a healthy relationship, partners are equals, which means that neither partner has “authority” over the other. Each partner is free to live their own life, which can include deciding to share some aspects of their life with their partner. Respect also means that, while we may not always agree with our partner/s, we choose to trust them and put faith in their judgment. This trust can be built over time as your relationship progresses and you learn more about each other.

How Do You Show Respect in a Healthy Relationship?

Respect in a relationship is reflected in how you treat each other on a daily basis. Even if you disagree or have an argument (and arguments do happen, even in healthy relationships!), you are able to respect and value each other’s opinions and feelings by “fighting” fair. Respect isn’t about controlling someone or making them do what you want them to do. Respect is actually about the freedom to be yourself and to be loved for who you are.

In a healthy relationship, respect looks like:


While it’s important to respect your partner in a relationship, it’s also really important to have respect for yourself, whether single or dating. Self-respect is the key to building confidence and maintaining healthy relationships with other people throughout your life.

So, what is self-respect? Self-respect is acceptance of yourself as a whole person. It doesn’t mean you think you’re perfect; in fact, we all deserve respect even though we are NOT perfect. You have worth and value just because you’re you. Self-respect means you hold yourself to your own standards, and you try not to worry too much about what other people think of you. You take care of your body and mind (or you’re learning how!), whether that’s through eating healthy foods, moving your body in ways that feel good to you, reading and learning, going to therapy, practicing your faith or any number of things that honor who you are.

Our theme for Teen DV Month is Love is…Respect, so check back throughout the month of February for more on what respect means (and what it doesn’t) in relationships!

Do you have questions about what’s healthy/not healthy in a relationship? Are you concerned that your partner doesn’t respect you? Call, chat or text with a loveisrespect advocate today and let’s talk it out.

Comment section

6 replies
  1. I’m having difficulty with my partner. My mother doesn’t like him. I’m starting to see why? My partner listens to gossip and uses other people’s rumours to lately not see me anymore. I did say briefly to a friend I was dating this guy but she went crazy with details no other of my friends know about me seeing this guy. He’s upset cause his circle of friends all now know we are seeing each other. I’m really feeling quite let down by both I thought was a friend and now this guy. He used the term self-respect…By saying he has self-respect and doesn’t want to see me anymore. I just feel betrayed by both these people now.

    1. Hi Sarah,

      Thanks for your comment. It sounds like you’re struggling to figure out if this relationship is right for you. Sometimes it’s helpful to listen to the people we trust – like our parents or our friends – because they can see certain behaviors or interactions with our partners that we might not see. We’d be happy to talk through this more with you! If you’d like to speak confidentially with one of our advocates, just call 1-866-331-9474, chat here on our website or text “loveis” to 22522.

  2. [Admin note: This comment has been edited for safety per our community guidelines]

    Hi, I was just reading this and I have a surtain situation that I dont know how to handle.
    Me and my boyfriend are in a difficult situation because he likes to control things.
    He started telling me that he feel uncomfortable when I am around men that he hasn’t met yet which I understand but at the same time I have a syster that is very excited to introduce me to her friends which are guys, then he makes problems about if I want to go somwhere and if someone tags a log in this case my syster friends he makes a big deal.

    He is telling me that I am not respecting him and that if he says that he feels uncomfortable with something that I shouldn’t do it if I really love him ?

    Do you call that respect, trying to controle or do you call that jealousy on a very hight level ?

    1. Hi Natasa,

      Thanks so much for your comment. The first clue that there might be something unhealthy going on in your relationship is your use of the word “control.” Controlling behaviors are not healthy and can become abusive. It also sounds like your boyfriend’s discomfort when you’re around other men stems from jealousy and possessiveness. Some jealousy is normal in a relationship, but it’s not okay to use jealous feelings to try and control what a partner does or who they hang out with. You might check out our post about “disrespectful” behavior: Click here to read it – we hope it’s helpful to you! And if you’d like to talk through your situation with one of our advocates, you can reach us by phone, chat or text.

    1. Hi Arinzechukwu celestine,

      Thanks for reaching out! We know that abusive people often are not abusive at the very beginning of a relationship, but the abusive behavior typically escalates as time goes by; that’s how an abusive person gains and maintains control over their partner. It’s never okay for your partner to be abusive to you in any way. If you’d like to talk through this situation with one of our advocates, please call 1-866-331-9474, chat here on the website or text “loveis” to 22522!

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