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How to Demand Respect in a Relationship

by Jill Avery-Stoss, studioD

Respectful behavior is often obvious and mutually agreed-upon. For example, most people would agree that stealing is not behavior that is mutually agreed-upon. In many other cases, however, what is considered respectful behavior may be subjective. What one persons deems respectful may differ greatly from another's opinions on the same issue. To ensure that you are treated respectfully, you must require respectful behavior from others, otherwise, there is no guarantee that another will treat you respectfully.

Identify Your Boundaries

Boundaries are personal limits based on the actions and behaviors with which you are and are not comfortable. Setting boundaries is a skill, according for an article published by PsychCentral entitled, "10 Ways to Build and Preserve Better Boundaries." It is a skill that often requires a lot of practice, but also offers great rewards. By communicating your boundaries to others, you are indicating what you are willing to tolerate. Once others are aware of your boundaries, they can practice respect toward you by following your rules and refraining from doing or saying certain things that might affect you, or that might upset or offend you.

Respond to Violations

When others are aware of your personal boundaries and choose to ignore them, they are being disrespectful and inconsiderate. To demand respect, you must respond to any violations of your boundaries. You can do this by stating the specific issue that offended you and explaining how you were affected by it. Inform the offender of the consequences of any future neglect of your limits. For instance, you might say, "It is unacceptable to take money from my wallet without asking. I feel betrayed by it. If you take money from me again, you will not be welcome in my home any longer."

Follow Through

When setting boundaries, you need to follow through. "In order for boundary setting to work for you, you must develop a commitment to uphold what is right and true for you. You must act consistently in upholding your boundaries," according to a resource compiled by Johnson State College's Counseling Services. When you set boundaries and establish potential ramifications for violations of them, plan to follow through. If money is taken from your wallet again, close your home to the offender -- just as you said you would. If you do not follow through with these consequences, others may receive the message that you are not serious and that respecting your limits need not be a priority.

Don't Demand Control

You have the right to demand that others treat you fairly, with honesty and consideration. However, this does not mean that others should sacrifice things they care about, lest they upset you. There are times when you may be required to compromise. For instance, it is unreasonable to expect your best friend to turn down an opportunity to attend a concert of a performer whose music you find offensive. In the same way you should not be pressured into attending a concert with which you are uncomfortable, others should not be expected to conform to your interests either.

About the Author

Jill Avery-Stoss is a graduate of Penn State University and a writer and editor based in northeast Pennsylvania. Having spent more than a decade working with victims of sexual and domestic violence, she specializes in writing about women's issues, with emphasis on families and relationships.

Photo Credits

  • Polka Dot Images/Polka Dot/Getty Images