How To Regain Respect For Your Partner‏. ~ Jennifer Lemky

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Couple Fighting

Recently, I happened to be in the same room as a woman talking on the phone to her partner.

The topic of the conversation was not of a significant nor sensitive nature, yet her annoyance with him was very apparent.

Just like a row of toppling dominos, the more annoyed the woman became, the more aggressive her partner became until she eventually hung up the phone because he was shouting at her.

After she abruptly ended the highly charged conversation, I said, “I can’t help noticing over the last few days that you have mentioned several times how stupid or annoying he is.”

“Yes,” she replied in an irritated tone. “He drives me crazy. I just don’t understand how someone can be that dumb!”

“It sounds to me like you have completely lost respect for him.”

“I have absolutely no respect left for him anymore,” she said with more resignation than annoyance.

As gently as I could, I suggested that when we lose respect for someone, it changes how we speak to them; our tone of voice becomes condescending, our words belittling. Likely, his escalating behavior was the result of him reacting to those cues.

She looked surprised for a moment but then quickly agreed that she often talked down to him because his stupidity was annoying and she couldn’t respect anyone that dumb. She justified her feelings by insisting that he had become increasingly more stupid as the years had passed and listed other traits that caused her to lose respect for him like his laziness and inability to hold a job.

Since she was receptive to the conversation, I first assured her that I wasn’t blaming her for the situation she now found herself in, and then I put forth the idea that he hadn’t become increasingly dumb or lazy. Rather, he had always had these traits but in the glow of new love, she either hadn’t seen them or had made allowances for them because she wanted to be with him.

This is a mistake the majority of us have made at least once. We fall into relationships quickly and let infatuation and attraction lead the way rather than objectively looking at the other person and deciding if we are willing to accept them just the way are.

Relationships are really about “terms”; each person states their terms and the other can agree to them or not. It is easy in the beginning to establish a baseline of terms that allows the relationship to move forward. Things like smoking, level of fitness and activity, desire for a family, religious views, sexual proclivities and orientation are all examples of major “terms” that have to be agreed upon.

Hidden in the mix are other less obvious terms that a person may not admit to outright. Sometimes there is an agenda to keep these terms hidden but often he or she may not even consciously realize they are bringing “terms” into the relationship that the other person might not want to agree to.

They may be things like: I want to watch sports all weekend, I don’t want to help with the housework, I want to play video games in my free time, I want to go out and socialize all the time or I want to stay home and never go anywhere. These are just a few examples of things that can make or break a relationship after the infatuation stage wears off.

If you find yourself annoyed, frustrated or losing respect for your partner, it’s likely because you can no longer tolerate some of their terms.

The real question is: can you still love someone you don’t respect?

By its very definition, love is acceptance and admiration while respect means that we admire someone and hold them in high esteem.

Therefore it would appear that love and respect are mutually inclusive; you can’t be in love with someone you don’t admire and you can’t admire someone you don’t hold in high esteem. You might care about someone but you can never really be “in love” with a person you are not proud of.

Love is not black and white; it is a rollercoaster ride of highs and lows. Couples who have stayed the course have survived the lows and found love for their partner again.

However, respect is a totally different beast. It does not generally ebb and flow through the course of a relationship and once lost, it is very hard to regain.

If you find yourself falling out of love with your partner because you’ve lost respect for him or her, here are a few suggestions:

1. Write down all of your partners “terms” as you see them and then separate them into two groups: negotiable and non-negotiable. If your partner is not willing to work on changing the non-negotiable terms, then you have to make some very hard decisions about whether or not you are willing and able to stay in the relationship.

2. Loss of respect is not a one way street. Your belittling words and actions will cause a downward spiral in your partner’s feelings toward you. If you are serious about regaining respect, you have to ask your partner what you are doing to cause him or her to lose respect for you. You can only change you, not your partner.

3. If possible, you and your partner should have a discussion about each other’s negotiable terms and see if compromises can be reached.

4. Don’t focus on the negative traits because that will only cause you to find more and more things you dislike about your partner. Instead, set your alarm and three times a day write down one to three things you like about your partner. If you really can’t think of anything you like about him or her right now, write down the things you initially fell in love with.

5. Life is like a mirror; what you put out into the world is reflected back to you. Make a commitment to yourself to compliment your partner on their appearance, personality or behavior three times a day. Leave a note on the mirror telling her how beautiful she looked, send a text message thanking him for mowing the lawn while you were grocery shopping, or tell him how much you admire him as a father. You’ll be amazed what comes back to you when you send out positivity rather than negativity.

If you have found ways to regain love and respect for your partner, I’d love to hear from you!


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Photo: Flickr / Ed Yourdon

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Jennifer Lemky

Jennifer Lemky is self-made, successful entrepreneur, working in the male dominated Oil and Gas Industry of Northern British Columbia. She is a single mother of four and lives on a 160 acre hobby farm with her children, horses and an ancient tractor that kicks her butt almost daily. Visit her at her website, on Facebook and on Twitter.

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anonymous Mar 24, 2016 6:30pm

Thanks I actually found that helpful. She has no drive I have had to push her for weeks to make one dinner. We both work. She gets off at 3 I get off at 11. We have kids I can’t work 12 hours clean for 4 make lunch before work and dinner after. I sleep about 4 hours a day and my health is suffering. If this keeps up I will hate her I can feel it already. She also has about 34 guys on Facebook chasing her tail and more by the day. I have told her and she does try for a few days. I start to feel proud of her and then she gives up. I know why to her grandpa would fist fight her mom until she cleaned her room while the girl sat and ate cheetos. I knew better but everything else about her is so amazing.

anonymous Dec 1, 2015 10:16am

23/M. 6 months into relationship with a girl. All good till 4 months. But now fights. Mostly because I sometimes feel neglected, like when sometimes she is very busy and doesn't talk to me

Fights are mostly because I sometimes feel neglected, like when she sometimes is very busy. I understand sometimes a person may be busy, but i assume it as she doesn't care. Not her problem but mine. Then I pour my anger over her. After that I feel needy like asking her to talk to me, which makes me feel worse. Happened many times. She is a very nice girl, respect me and I dont want to lose her.
Also I dont want to let her know that I am serious for her and not wanna lose her, because I think then she ll take me for granted and control me. Am I wrong ? Will I lose respect ?
In a nutshell I want to appear as a very robust (strong) type of man to her but actually I am very sensitive guy.

anonymous Oct 17, 2015 9:47am

My girlfriend left me cause I lied about myself and she lost respect for me maybe even feelings. I did really love her and I cared about her. But I should’ve been more responsible with my actions. Is there any way to get her back or to prove to her that I’ll change? She’s a strong girl and very hard headed.

anonymous Aug 1, 2015 5:01am

I’m going through a though situation. We both lost our jobs and have totally lost respect towards each other. We have a baby and want to stay together, but when we argue we are ugly with each other. He says he still loves me and I still love him, but we don’t respect each other. I will try to follow this and pray all well. He was recently hired, so maybe this will help as well. Thank u

anonymous Mar 6, 2015 11:50am

Wow I needed this. I just tried on a very basic conversation to change the tone in my voice and he actually called my babe at the end… "thanks babe!"… I realize that in my loosing my respect, I've been treating him like crap and in tern he's done that to me and that has made me loose my own respect. I think you're on to something here and I'm going to really put the effort into being nice. Thanks!

anonymous Aug 22, 2014 10:37pm

Excellent article. Among other things , of course , most sustained relationships are underpinned by sex and money. The former becomes less important over time , the latter never. What you do with the available funds, what risks you take like buying a house, what sacrifices you make to save , are all critical.

    anonymous Aug 26, 2014 2:31pm

    I agree Tony, sex and money are generally the two main things couples fight over. It takes respect to get through those disagreements.

    My best advice on fighting is:

    Keep the sex dirty and the fights clean

anonymous Aug 22, 2014 3:45pm

I don't know how to be with someone I've lost trust and respect for. Even when I'm still head over heels with that person, if the respect is gone because he's lied too many times or kept things from me or treated my feelings with total inconsideration am I really supposed to work on regaining that?!

    anonymous Aug 26, 2014 2:27pm

    I suffered through an abusive relationship for three and half years before I realized that not every relationship should be saved.

    Like I said in the article a relationship is about terms. It sounds like his terms are that you accept his lying and disrespect. Are you willing to accept those terms? I hope not. If you are, then I think you need to spend some time getting to know yourself and loving all the wonderful things that make you, you. When you do that, you will find your worth. YOU HAVE VALUE.

    Find a man who recognizes your value and cherishes everything about you that your current partner doesn't like.

    Please feel free to contact me on my blog or Facebook page. I'd love to hear how you are doing in your journey to discover your worth.

    All the best,


anonymous Aug 20, 2014 11:47pm

Thank you. This couldn't have come to me at a better time. I needed this exact page. These exact words. I'm going to try and find the love and respect I once had for my partner. I love him and I want to be in love with him fully. Here's wishing us the best…

    anonymous Aug 26, 2014 2:08pm

    Chevonne, I am sending you lots and lots of positive energy and all the best wishes I can muster! I believe love is a roller coaster of highs and lows – just because it's gone today doesn't mean it can't come back. The people who survive a lifetime are those who have been able to ride out the lows and climb back up.

    Please let me know how you do and if you discover any other methods that I didn't think of. You can find me on Facebook and my blog.

    All the best!


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Theresa Mayerhofer Sep 6, 2017 9:34pm

Lost respect for boyfriend because I feel he isn't manly enough.. like he is very soft spoken, passive, not as assertive as I and it really it's killing me but honestly I want to see past that. Can I? I mean he isn't less of a man because he is gentle but my brain says he is

Marry Jane Nov 2, 2016 12:49pm

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