When I’m beginning to date someone new, I always ask them what draws them to a woman. Sometimes it’s when we’re texting or on the first date. The answers never vary much. The list of qualities always seems to include being attractive, funny, easy-going, drama free, and smart. They almost always list something looks related, followed up by something that makes them seem less shallow, like intelligence or a good conversationalist. But without fail, it’s always some slight variation of those four qualities.
Then, they ask me what I find attractive in a partner. Because I’ve asked the question so often, my list has been carefully cultivated. Attractive, smart, likes to read, must like kids, and has to be someone I feel like I can let my guard down with.
But surprisingly, there is a critical quality that I have never even considered putting on my list.
Every relationship needs respect to thrive. It’s often overlooked even though it is as important as physical attraction, shared interests, and the tingly feeling you get in your stomach when they kiss you. Having a partner that respects you is essential to having a great relationship. Without respect, there really can’t be loved, and if your partner is doing these things, they probably don’t respect you.
They Push Past Your Boundaries
Setting physical, mental, and emotional boundaries are a large part of a healthy relationship. Only you can know where your limits are, and putting them in place is a large part of keeping your mind, body, and soul happy and healthy.
If your partner pushes for sex or intimacy when you don’t want to or refuses to listen when telling them your mental and emotional needs, they don’t respect you. A partner that does will never put you in a position to break your boundaries. They will be understanding of your needs and put them ahead of their selfish desires.
They Don’t Consider Your Opinions
One of my boyfriends would continuously tell me that I had a terrible taste in music. Whenever we listened to music, it had to be his playlists because mine sucked, according to him. After a while, it wasn’t just my music he didn’t like, but it was my taste in clothing and food. What I wanted to do was boring, stupid, or dumb, no matter what it was.
It didn’t take long before I stopped sharing my opinions or the things I liked with him. I didn’t feel like he valued my thoughts or feelings about anything.
A respectful partner won’t make you feel bad because your opinion is different from their own. They will cherish you for your similarities and differences and be open to trying the things you like.
They Belittle Your Feelings
In any relationship, you should be able to share your feelings without worrying about being judged or made to feel like they are invalid. There shouldn’t be any fear in talking about how you feel with your partner.
I dated a guy who always told me I was crazy. No matter what we were talking about or how rational I was, I was crazy. Over and over, he would tell me this, and it caused me to pull away. Hearing that he thought I wasn’t sane every time I shared my feelings with him made me scared to share them with him.
A partner that cares about you will respect your feelings and listen to you when you need to talk about them. They won’t call you names or tell you that your feelings don’t matter, even if they don’t see things from your perspective or feel the same way.
They Don’t Value Your Time or Effort
On my birthday, I spent hours getting ready to go out with my boyfriend. I was so excited, doing my hair and makeup. But an hour later, I was pacing my kitchen waiting. He was over an hour late.
It was a hard pill to swallow for me and made me feel like he didn’t respect my time. To go to dinner, I had to get a sitter, get ready, pack diaper bags, and only had a limited time that I could be gone. It took a lot of effort and time, and when he showed up, I was disappointed. It didn’t feel like my time mattered to him.
Being late all the time and canceling plans with little notice might not seem like that big of a deal, but it is a clear sign that your partner doesn’t respect your time.
They Don’t Respect Other Women
If your partner is constantly degrading other women, it’s hard to believe that they will show you the respect you deserve. The way your partner talks about their mother or their child’s mother is a clear sign of what he thinks about the women in his life. Using words that are derogatory towards other women is also a sign that they have no respect for women.
Your partner should be respectful to you but also to the other women in his life. Calling them sluts or whores for no reason isn’t a sign that they respect any women, even you.
Relationships Need More than Love
Falling in love is one of the easiest things in the world. In the beginning, love is filled with constant highs, and it is easy to overlook potential red flags. Things that would usually be seen as disrespectful are glanced over because everything else feels so good.
But every healthy relationship needs passion and love to survive, but it also needs respect. If your partner doesn’t respect you, they can’t genuinely love you. Respect is a vital part of a relationship and should be at the top of the list when looking for a partner.
Ashley Shannon is a queer single mom of two kids, one with autism. She writes about relationships, mental health issues, being a single parent, and sexuality. She is currently looking for the perfect school bus to turn into a traveling tiny home and can be found on twitter @as_publishing.