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36 Signs of Disrespect in a Relationship that Reveal a Lack of Love & Respect

You need to know the signs of disrespect in a relationship so that you can stop it before it’s too late. Your happiness depends upon knowing how to do it.

disrespect and lack of respect in a relationship

For many people, their first serious relationship is full of mistakes. You learn lessons as you become more experienced in love, but you might have experienced signs of disrespect in a relationship at some point. 

We put up with things we shouldn’t when we’re young or lacking self-confidence, but it’s important to know the signs of disrespect in a relationship so you can either try to fix it or get out before things get worse. 

You might think that constant arguments are about passion, but sometimes they’re about something else. 

If someone isn’t showing you respect, you’ll feel it on some level, even if you don’t notice it directly. It’ll slowly drag you down and make you feel far less than you’re worth. 

A healthy relationship is built on mutual respect. Without mutual respect, it’s doomed to fail. [Read: How to fix a toxic relationship… or is it too far gone?]

Why is disrespect so toxic?

You might put certain behavior down to your partner just not listening or not thinking for a second, but it’s still not right. 

If your partner doesn’t respect you, they don’t actually care about you. They don’t take you seriously or listen to anything you say. How is that healthy?

A toxic relationship doesn’t have to involve physical abuse to be negative. If it does, you should get out immediately, but there are other types of toxic behaviors that can be just as harmful. [Read: How to show respect in a relationship and love each other better]

When your partner doesn’t respect you and uses manipulation to get what they want, they’re eroding your self-confidence and making you feel like a shadow of who you really are.

Signs of disrespect in a relationship 

If you’re in a relationship founded on disrespect, things aren’t going to get better. If you were in a disrespectful relationship, understand and recognize the signs so you can focus on entering a healthy and loving relationship.

It’s very easy to stay stuck in this type of relationship because you’re somehow tricked into thinking that it’s normal. It’s not. [Read: Love vs. lust and how to know what you’re feeling]

We see so much relationship drama on TV that we start to think that love should be a constant rollercoaster of emotions. 

There are always ups and downs in any relationship, but the heart of it should be full of love, trust, and respect. 

Arguments and problems should be faced together, and you should get over them without feeling the need to resort to toxic behaviors. [Read: How to deal with a disrespectful boyfriend in the best way possible]

It’s time to be honest with yourself. How many of these signs of disrespect in a relationship do you see in yours?

1. The relationship just doesn’t feel good

We know this sounds simple, but when you’re in a disrespectful relationship, you never feel truly happy. 

There are happy moments, but there’s a lot of yelling, screaming, and crying more often than not. Those small, happy moments don’t outweigh the pain that’s filling the relationship. [Read: Ways that toxic love can harm you permanently]

2. Your partner doesn’t listen to you

When you talk to your partner, you feel like you’re talking to a wall. They’re not actively listening to you. Instead, they grunt or make a minimal effort to show they’re engaged, but you know they’re not.

If your partner is showing zero interest when you talk to them, it’s a sign of disrespect.

3. You’re not a priority

When you’re in a healthy relationship, both partners commit to making each other a priority. They put each other first. This is the ultimate sign of respect. [Read: Should you make them a priority when you’re only an option to them?]

But if your partner spends more time with their friends or at work, it shows that they’re not fully invested in the relationship. If they did respect you, the lack of time they spend with you would bother them.

4. They try to hurt your feelings

If your partner is trying to hurt you purposely, not only is this very disrespectful but also highly abusive. You should never want to hurt the person you care for. 

This can also be a form of manipulation. Narcissists use it very successfully to chip away at self-confidence so that the person is reliant upon them in the end. [Read: Why something feels off in your relationship and what to do about it]

5. They don’t keep their word

Who can you trust if not your partner? When our partner tells us that they’re going to do something, we expect them to follow through on their word. 

This is only normal. But your partner routinely makes promises and never follows through. This shows you that they don’t respect you, and the relationship isn’t a priority for them. 

6. They lie to you

The lies don’t need to be big ones. They can be small, insignificant lies. But the point is, why lie to your partner about small, stupid things? [Read: 15 ways a pathological liar lies and confuses you]

If they’re lying to you about small things, it shows you they’re not concerned about whether or not you know the truth. If that happens, who knows what they’re capable of hiding from you?

7. They don’t respect your boundaries

Everyone has their own personal boundaries. With time, you’ll learn what your partner likes and doesn’t like. If you respect your partner, you won’t cross their personal boundaries. 

If there are signs of disrespect in a relationship, those boundaries don’t matter. Your partner will push your limits to make you feel uncomfortable. [Read: Healthy relationship boundaries and the part they play in love]

8. They talk down to you

We all tease each other and crack jokes if something funny happens, but never with the intent to put someone down. However, does your partner routinely use language that makes you feel small? 

Calling you an idiot, stupid, or other names are all words that are used to emotionally squash someone and are one of the clearest signs of disrespect in a relationship.

9. They don’t want to spend time with your family and friends

When you’re in a relationship with someone, you’ll meet their family and friends. Of course, you may not like all the people they hang around with, but those are the people in their closest circle. [Read: How to get along with your partner’s family and create a lifelong bond]

If your partner refuses to spend time with the people in your circle of friends and family, it’s disrespectful. It’s your duty as a couple to support each other, which includes spending time with family and friends. 

10. They love to give you the silent treatment

When you argue, they give you the silent treatment instead of communicating. The silent treatment is a form of manipulation in the truest sense because it leaves the person unsure of what’s going to happen.

Through the silent treatment, they can control your emotions and manipulate you to take the blame. [Read: How to handle the silent treatment without falling apart with guilt]

11. They check your phone

Why does your partner need to check your phone or computer? This is a huge warning sign of a serious lack of trust and respect. 

Your partner should trust you, and if they’re constantly checking your personal phone or hunting to find anything that makes you look guilty, it’s extremely unhealthy. It won’t get better. It’ll only get worse.

12. They do inconsiderate things

When they do something, you often think that they never thought about how you would feel. Instead, they just do whatever feels good for them at the moment. [Read: Don’t overlook these important signs of emotional abuse]

Your feelings aren’t even considered after the fact, and that’s a huge sign that they don’t respect you as a person. You shouldn’t have to constantly remind them about your feelings. 

13. They’ve cheated on you and maybe continue to do so 

If you know that your partner has cheated on you, they’ve broken your trust. It’s that simple. If you’ve decided to stick together and work it out, that’s your decision. 

But if they continue to act shady and engage in suspicious activities, then it’s clear that they don’t respect you or the relationship. [Read: How do cheaters react when accused? What you should expect]

14. They never compromise

In a relationship, you will never get what you want all the time. There will be moments when you compromise and negotiate. But in your relationship, you don’t get to have any discussions. 

It’s either their way or the highway, and that’s a huge red flag. They’re obsessed with control, and it’s only going to get worse. [Read: How to understand the thinly veiled line between controlling and caring] 

15. They don’t stand up for you

There are moments when you get into arguments with other people, and your partner should take your side, but your partner never takes your side, especially when you need it the most. 

They say they don’t want to get involved or want to choose sides, but you’re a couple. Where’s the support?

16. They flirt with others in front of you 

If your partner is flirting with other people in front of you, it shows clear disrespect. [Read: Subtle signs he’s being too flirty with other women]

The best way to work out whether it is disrespect or not is to ask how they would react or feel if you did the same thing to them. 

The likelihood is that if you start flirting with others in front of your partner, they’d hate it and make it very clear to you.

17. They use your insecurities against you

We’ve mentioned that a form of disrespect is to make fun of you, but it can also mean that your partner identifies your weak spots or insecurities and targets them. [Read: 15 signs of a toxic relationship that’ll go from bad to worse]

It could be in the middle of an argument to deliberately hurt you and get you to back down, or just generally. 

It causes your insecurities to worsen over time, and you start to lose your self-confidence completely. It’s disrespectful because it hurts, and your partner should never try to hurt you.

18. They don’t try to change their selfish habits 

We all have habits that are seen as selfish when living with someone else. If you’re living alone, then those habits are fine because they don’t affect anyone else.

Once you’re in a relationship, some things need to change. [Read: These signs of disrespect in a relationship indicate a lack of love

For example, leaving their clothes on the floor or only washing the dishes days after cooking. Those things are small but show how inconsiderate they are of you.

19. They’re open about their attraction to others 

Just because you’re in a relationship doesn’t mean that you’re blind. Of course, there are going to be other people you see and find attractive, but that’s where it stops. 

You recognize that they’re good-looking and move on with your day. [Read: In a relationship but like someone else? Steps to decode your mind]

If your partner is openly commenting about their attraction to other people, it’s not respectful at all. They’re not concerned about your feelings and how those comments affect you. 

In that case, that’s a huge sign of disrespect in a relationship.

20. They never go out of their way for you 

When you’re in a relationship, your partner relies on you for different things. Sometimes, you go out of your way to help your partner out. This is what being in a relationship is all about. [Read: What to do when there’s lying in a relationship – can it survive?]

But your partner won’t do anything for you if it takes a little extra effort on their part, and that doesn’t show love or respect.

21. Sex is more of a transaction 

You almost feel that you owe your partner sex. It’s not something romantic and intimate anymore. Instead, it feels like a transaction and just something that you should do. 

Sex is a big part of a relationship, but you don’t owe your partner anything. If they’re making you feel this way, get out of the relationship. [Read: 15 healthy boundaries all couples need to set early on]

22. They’re never on time 

This one sounds like it may be a little much, but time management is based on respect. It’s normal to be late from time to time. Things happen, after all. 

But if your partner is always late, they don’t respect their time or your time. If they did, they would make more of an effort to show up when they say they’re going to.

23. Verbal abuse 

Most romantic relationships involve a certain degree of teasing and friendly banter, especially if a couple is close or has a long-established relationship. [Read: 16 clear signs it’s time for you to leave the relationship]

But if left unchecked, innocent jabs can evolve into verbal abuse. Verbal abuse is not only hurtful but also disrespectful.

Teasing becomes verbal abuse when one partner resorts to personal attacks and uses their partner’s insecurities against them. 

If this happens frequently enough, respect will totally fly out of the window. [Read: The 15 signs of a verbally abusive relationship and how to set yourself free]

24. They invade your privacy 

Even if two people are in a romantic relationship, respect your partner’s right to privacy. Privacy is a human right that’s protected by laws in many countries.

Being romantically involved with a person doesn’t give anyone the right to check their phones, emails, social media accounts, or written correspondence without asking for their partner’s consent.

Exercising your right to privacy shouldn’t be taken as a sign that you’re hiding something. If it’s none of their business, then they should respect those boundaries. [Read: These signs of disrespect in a relationship indicate a lack of love]

25. They embarrass you in public 

What’s worse than subjecting your partner to verbal abuse? Doing it in public, where they are most vulnerable. Most people have a cringe-worthy experience of witnessing someone screaming at their partner. 

If you felt discomfort or shame for the person receiving the abuse, imagine how bad that person must have felt in that situation.

As the saying goes, don’t air your dirty laundry/ If you argue, do it in the privacy of your own space for both of your sakes. [Read: How to compromise in a relationship and not feel like you lost out]

Public shaming can be considered a form of emotional abuse and one of the clear signs of disrespect in a relationship.

26. They invade your personal time 

Surprising your partner with flowers or a home-cooked meal at work is considered sweet when done occasionally, but invading their personal time with friends, family, or at work when they’re busy is downright disrespectful.

Just like privacy, each individual is entitled to personal time to enjoy activities alone. Disturbing this shows a clear disregard for their needs. [Read: 18 bad habits that’ll make your partner want to leave you]

27. They talk over you when you’re trying to say something 

Talking over your partner when they’re trying to say something shows that you’re not keen on listening. When you don’t listen enough, it shows that you don’t care for what they think, feel, or whatever they want to convey to you.

Remember, proper communication is one of the key foundations of a lasting relationship. 

When one partner fails to listen, it damages the relationship. There’s a reason you allow a person to finish speaking before you say your piece. [Read: How to fix a toxic relationship… or is it too far gone?]

Whether it’s your boss, parents, friends, or partner, not interrupting their speech is a form of respect.

28. They regularly flake on your dates

Frequently flaking on your dates is another grave form of disrespect that shouldn’t be ignored. 

A person who suddenly and frequently cancels an agreed-upon appointment shows that they don’t value the time that they allot for you. [Read: 16 characteristics of a narcissist that give them away instantly]

Time is a precious commodity. If a person blocks off a part of their busy schedule to spend time with you, it’s a sign that they care. 

Sudden cancellations, unless it’s an emergency, are a big slap in the face, and it only shows that they don’t value your company at all.

29. They only meet you when it’s convenient for them 

A relationship follows a form of a social contract in order for it to work. To a certain degree, both partners must participate in the activities of the other, and mutual effort should be exerted by both partners. [Read: Selfish people – 20 ways to spot and stop them from hurting you]

Once you disrupt this balance and one person does not extend the same effort as the other, it shows disrespect towards the other.

A healthy, respectful relationship has both partners extending balanced effort and patience to spend time together. 

After all, true love is motivated. No matter how far, how tight the schedule, or how bad the weather is, a healthy relationship will have both partners find a way. [Read: Selfish boyfriend – signs he’s self-centered and how to deal with it]

30. They belittle your achievements 

It can be common for one partner to be more successful than the other. After all, people are not equal in abilities or their drive for success. Healthy relationships are made of partners supporting each other, even if their achievements don’t necessarily match.

If this inequality becomes fraught with envy or arrogance with one partner belittling the other, then the resulting interaction might become hostile and disrespectful.

31. They break their promises 

A promise to your significant other, no matter how simple, carries great weight and responsibility. [Read: The rules to be a good partner in a relationship]

Breaking a promise damages trust and respect within the relationship. Breaking your promises devalues your work and reliability. It might even put your ability to commit into question.

32. They disregard your dreams and plans out of selfishness

As relationships grow, partners make big plans as a couple for their future. Often, they compromise on a plan that considers both their individual plans and goals. 

However, if one dominates the conversation and plans without considering what their partner has to say or how this plan may impact the life of their partner, they clearly show that they don’t respect the needs and dreams of their partner. [Read: Selfishness in relationships – 15 tips to do the right thing]

Aggressively pushing a plan built on one’s own selfish interest will lead to a strained relationship and a bleak future as a couple.

33. They badmouth you 

If your partner has a grievance towards you, the mature thing to do is to talk to you. They should tell you about the problem in person.

After all, relationship problems should be communicated to the person directly involved. [Read: Relationship doubts – toxic and normal signs to read what you feel]

Letting other people know is a grave sign of disrespect. Nobody wants to be talked about behind their back, especially if it’s their own significant other doing the talking.

34. They badmouth your family 

Badmouthing a partner is one thing, but badmouthing their family falls into a worse form of disrespect. Some people might not get along well with their partner’s family, but it’s no reason to badmouth them in front of other people. 

Communicate displeasure in a civil way and through proper channels to not disrespect others. [Read: How to leave a toxic relationship – 24 steps to end it and find happiness]

35. They’re overly judgmental or critical of decisions and actions 

A relationship should be a source of support and encouragement. Partners count on this type of reassurance in their difficult times. 

Of course, people make mistakes and bad decisions along the way, but criticism is never the answer to making things better.

It hurts the most when the person we count on for comfort and support is the first to judge and criticize our shortcomings. [Read: The real signs of true love in a relationship]

Being overly critical and judgmental in a relationship doesn’t only harm self-esteem but also shows utter disrespect towards them.

36. Always taking and never giving back 

Romantic relationships are two-way streets. The ones that last the longest are a balance of give-and-take, love, time, affection, support, and effort. 

Once this balance is disrupted, it becomes parasitic. The relationship becomes mentally and emotionally draining for the partner who does all the giving. [Read: 19 Signs of a taker in a relationship – are you a taker or a giver?]

Taking from a relationship without a thought of giving back is pure selfishness. People who do such things will sooner or later be left alone. They will find it difficult to establish meaningful relationships later on.

If you notice signs of disrespect in a relationship, what should you do?

There’s no solid answer to give you in terms of what to do if you notice disrespect in your relationship. That’s because the choice has to be yours and yours alone. 

However, you have to realize that a person who continually disrespects you does not have your best interests at heart. In that case, why would you want to give them your heart? [Read: Questions to ask before leaving someone you love]

There is a chance that they simply don’t realize what they’re doing. For instance, if they’re inexperienced in love or they’ve been hurt before, it could be a defense mechanism they’re using without realizing it. That doesn’t mean it’s okay. Everyone knows how to treat someone decently, whether they’ve been hurt or they’re just inexperienced.

In that case, perhaps a deep conversation could change things for the better. [Read: How to break up with a narcissist and fly out of their gilded cage]

What you need to do, however, is set boundaries and make sure you stick to them. If you tell your partner how you feel and you see no lasting change, you have to walk away. 

The situation will only improve if they choose to change. If they don’t do that, your only option is to call it and find someone who gives you the love and respect you truly deserve. 

[Read: The 18 traits of selfless love that sets it apart from selfish love]

After knowing the signs of disrespect in a relationship, are you in a relationship filled with disrespect? If so, make the choice to leave because things aren’t going to get better. 

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Carol Morgan LP
Dr. Carol Morgan
Dr. Carol Morgan has a Ph.D. in communication and is a professor at Wright State University where she loves corrupting young minds. As a relationship and succes...