Aretha Franklin has been singing the answer for years. That's right R-E-S-P-E-C-T. Respect is an important key to a healthy relationship. Are thinking to yourself that you have always had respect for your partners but the relationships still failed? You might not be wrong. Respect is a three lane street to a healthy relationship: you must respect yourself, you must respect your partner, and you must respect the relationship.
If you want a healthy long-term relationship, first respect yourself. I think that respect and love go hand in hand, otherwise I think the emotion you are feeling is lust, which is - not bad - just a different emotion. The adage goes something to the effect that you must love yourself before you can love someone else. The saying should be: "you must first respect yourself before you can respect and love yourself and anyone else." Why you ask, because if you truly respect yourself you will not settle for less than what you deserve or desire.
When attraction brings all the bells, whistles, and fireworks along with the red flags, dislikes, and full on alarms, respect for yourself will help you to assess your relationship requirements. If this person is Ms or Mr. Right... for now, you have already started to compromise your self-respect. Respect yourself and listen to your hesitations. Now, just to be clear, I am not say don't take the chance, I am saying don't compromise on your values. If Ms or Mr Firework's: lifestyle, demeanor, or whatever goes against your personal values, then chose your values over the gleam in their eye.
Respect Your Partner
If you want a healthy long-term relationship then you have to respect your partner in two ways. For starters, respect them as they are, as they come to you; do not try to change them. If you meet someone and the sparks are flying like mad, but you find yourself thinking things like: "Oh I will change that about them," or "Oh that_____ has to stop/change/end," then read - "Respect Yourself" again. If you cannot love this person as they are then, you do not fully respect who they are. If this is the case respect them enough to set them free, because - like you - they deserve to be loved and respected and someone will love them and respect them.
The other level of respect for your partner is how you talk about them publicly. We all use a little banter in communicating to and about our partners. But that banter should never humiliate, embarrass, or belittle your partner all of these things are actually disrespecting your partner. Again if they bother you so much that your banter has turned to "trash talk," something has gone wrong. Either change your perspective of this person or set them free.
Respect Your Relationship
If you want a healthy long-term relationship then you have to respect your relationship with this person. Most couples come to the relationship table with emotional baggage, from past relationships, and their individual set of values which should include self-respect. Therefore two obvious ways to respect your relationship is leave the emotional baggage in the past, and the second is not to demean the value of the relationship by violating the "rules of engagement."
Let's begin with emotional baggage. For many people the line "once bitten, twice shy," is very true. It is very hard to trust again after we have been hurt, especially if that hurt includes both emotional and physical abuse. But it is very important not to project past relationships on the new relationship. After all, a new relationship deserves a clean slate. Here is an example, when I first started looking for love; I had not learned to respect myself. As a result I managed to get into emotionally and physically abusive relationships. After building some self-respect I found the relationship I am in now, but at the beginning of the relationship I was timid and mistook signals that I had learned from the past relationships to mean the same thing in this relationship. This was unfair and disrespectful to both of us but especially to my current partner who would never hurt me like I had been hurt in the past. So trust me, and leave your emotional baggage in the past.
Next, both of you have come into the relationship with self-respect values that cannot be compromised without violating the other person's self-respect values. For example, if you have agreed to a monogamous relationship, then be respectful of your relationship and honor that agreement.
In the end healthy relationships depend on three layers of respect. Self respect allows us to not get involved in relationships that will only bring us unhappiness. Through respect for your partner you are enabling yourself to love them for who they are and who they will become on their own terms. By respecting your relationship you not only illustrate your love for your partner and yourself, but value the all of potential your love for each other has to offer.
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