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Respect vs Love in Relationships 

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Respect vs Love in Relationships 


Love and respect can seem similar, but they are quite different. It is possible to have one without the other. For example, you can love someone but not respect them. Or you can respect someone but not be in love with them. Sometimes enemies respect each other more than those who say they love each other. So no, just because we love someone doesn’t automatically mean we respect them. There is a difference between love and respect. When we love someone, there is emotional closeness, passion, intimacy, and affection. When you respect someone, you honor their abilities, achievements, character, qualities, and boundaries. Love is a feeling of intense liking, while respect is honoring who they are as a person, their core, and choosing to treat them with kindness and consideration.


Why is respect in a relationship so important? Respect acts like a shield that will protect the love in your relationship. If we visualize love and respect in terms of an egg. The inside of the egg is the love in your relationship, and respect is the eggshell. Every mean comment, low blow, eye roll, and broken promise puts a crack in the shell. Due to the cracked shell, the egg yolk begins seeping out because there’s nothing left to hold it. Without respect, the love in the relationship will dwindle and possibly cease to exist. Respect will hold strong when love goes through its ups and downs. 


Respect is understanding that the other person is not you, that there are differences, and not making them feel bad about those differences, but rather supportive of them. This person isn’t an extension of you, and they don’t belong to you. This person isn’t a reflection of you or something you can toy with or control when they don’t do what you want. This person has free will, and their choices, even if not aligned with yours, belong to them because they are a whole person on their own. In a relationship filled with respect, one challenge is to look at your partner as a unique person and learn how to mesh your needs with theirs to achieve balance and success for both of you. 

Love without respect is dangerous and can be toxic. The intense liking of two people who love each other will keep them in close emotional proximity. However, their lack of respect for each other will hurt both of them as long as they stay in the relationship.  


Respect shows itself strongly in behavior. In the way, we act and express ourselves regarding our partner. So let’s look at some ways that we can respect our partner. 


Learn to find the “good” in your differences


Remember, respect is appreciating your partner’s differences and accepting them as they are. One way you could learn to respect your partner is by being observant about the unique ways that your partner behaves, thinks, feels, and their individual achievements, and choose to show gratitude towards these differences rather than making them feel bad for them. So, one good exercise would be to write down the differences between you and your partner, and instead of finding resistance in them, choose to reframe and find the “good” in them. 


Communicate with respect 


  1. Practice active listening and giving your full attention to the other person while they are speaking. 

  2. Try not to interrupt another person while they are expressing themselves. 

  3. It’s good to repeat back what the other person has told you in a summary form to ensure that you heard them correctly and let them know you were listening. 

  4. Don’t play to win. Play to understand. Conversations aren’t a game that you have to win. They are a tool for learning more about the other person. There are no right or wrongs when it comes to opinions. 

  5. Have an open mind. Understand that you and the person you’re talking to are two completely different people from two completely different backgrounds. Therefore, it’s good to keep an open mind and stay in a state of curiosity. 

  6. Learn how to disagree with grace. Disagreements don’t have to be a large blowout arguments. Learn how to gracefully disagree and yet stay open. 

  7. Don’t raise your voice. The person who raises their voice shows that they feel the least in control of their emotions. You don’t have to raise your voice to be heard. 

  8. Avoid contemptuous behavior, such as eye-rolling, folding your arms, turning your back on the person you’re talking to, texting while talking, laughing, or mocking through sarcasm. 

  9. Stay away from criticism like name-calling, comments that hit below the belt, or comments specifically said to hurt your partner’s feelings. 

  10. If you say something that hurts your partner’s feelings, learn to apologize quickly. 

  11. Learn to look at both sides of a conflict and own up to your part. 

  12. Acknowledge the value of the person you are talking to and express gratitude. 

  13. Speak highly of the differences between you and another rather than making them feel bad about it. 

  14. Approach others with humility, meaning you are not better or more important than the person you are talking to.  

  15. Learn how to find common ground. Even if you disagree, you can find a place to meet in the middle, compromise, and find common ground. 


Back your respectful communication with action. 


Be reliable and accountable. If you say you’re going to do something, then do it. Your word means everything in this world, and if it isn’t backed by action, it doesn’t mean much. Showing respect through your actions will look different in every relationship. So it’s a good idea to ask your partner how to show respect to them through your actions. It’s also helpful to ask what behaviors your partner deems disrespectful and have an open conversation about the topics listed. 



  1. What are the differences between you and your partner? List them out

    • Reframe these differences and find the positives in them

  2. What does respect look like to you in an intimate relationship? 

    • What does disrespect look like for you in an intimate relationship?

  3. Do you communicate with your partner with respect? In what ways can you grow and improve? 

  4. What is the difference between love and respect? 

  5. Can an intimate relationship exist without respect? What are the dangers? 

  6. On a 1-10 scale, how would you rate the respect in your relationship? (1 being extremely disrespectful, 10 being extremely respectful) 

  7. Do you put your partner down for being different from you?

  8. Do you know how to disagree with grace? 

  9. What does finding common ground in a conflict mean to you? 

    • When is the last time you found common ground in a disagreement? 

  10. In conversations, what is your intention? Do you lean more towards learning about the other person or winning?

Don't stop now! Check out our next article!


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