What does a respectful relationship look like?

For a relationship to be respectful both partners need to be equal, feel safe, valued and accepted for who they are. Arguing can be normal and healthy in relationships as long as it’s done respectfully. It gives you a chance to get to know each other, discuss your values and learn about yourself, your partner and relationships.  The trick is all about how you argue with each other; how you compromise and negotiate.  It’s important that you can openly talk about what’s on your mind without stressing that your partner will make you feel silly, or worrying that they might hurt you.

Some important questions to ask about your relationship include:

IS THERE MUTUAL RESPECT? Respect in a relationship means that each person values who the other is and understands and would never break the other person’s boundaries.

DO YOU TRUST EACH OTHER? It’s OK to get a little jealous sometimes — jealousy is a natural emotion. But how a person reacts when feeling jealous is what matters. It’s really important to feel that you are trusted and also that you can trust your partner.

ARE YOU HONEST WITH EACH OTHER? This one goes hand-in-hand with trust because it’s tough to trust someone when one of you isn’t being honest. While you don’t have to share every little detail of your life being open and honest about the things that relate to the relationship helps to build trust.

DO YOU FEEL SUPPORTED, IN GOOD TIMES AND BAD? In a respectful relationship, your partner is emphatic and supportive when things aren’t going so well and happy for you when things are going great.

DO YOU STILL HAVE YOUR OWN SEPARATE IDENTITIES? In a respectful relationship, you should feel free to keep developing new talents or interests, making new friends, and moving forward with your life. Everyone needs to make compromises, but that doesn’t mean you should feel like you’re losing out on being yourself. You should both still feel you can have your own hobbies, interests or hang out with your friends or family with or without your partner.

DO YOU BOTH SPEAK HONESTLY AND OPENLY? It’s important that you feel you can be honest with your partner without being made to feel silly, embarrassed or ridiculed. And it’s important to always be respectful when you are talking with them (yes – even during an argument).  If you need some time to think something through before you’re ready to talk about it, the right person will give you some space to do that if you ask for it.

Relationships come in many different shapes and sizes, with the most important factor being that it is a respectful relationship. As long as everyone in the relationship knows what’s going on and consents to what’s going on, a respectful relationship can be anything you want it to be.