(to treat something or someone with kindness and care)

“Mutual respect is the foundation of genuine harmony.” – Dalai Lama

I know that many people believe that respect should be a matter of course, and I couldn’t agree more. Reality often looks very different though. Respect for each other involves so many different factors that we often don’t think about. I would just like to give you a few examples…

Respect for the other’s time: I am admittedly a sucker for punctuality – probably the only German thing about me apart from my passport. But whether that is typically German or not is actually irrelevant. But what does matter is the disrespect of making someone wait who has hurried to be on time. Especially in this day and age with the technology available to us, it should not be a problem to send a short message or call if you are running late.
But that’s not the only reason for being disrespectful of other people’s time. How often do people hold us up with conversations we don’t want to have – at least not in the length they take? We also take up the time of others occasionally without even thinking about whether it fits or not. Here too, as basically always, it’s about good, open and honest communication. So you can imagine how important it is, especially in a relationship to be respectful with your partners time, but also it is just as important to demand respect for your own time from your partner.

“You demand respect and you’ll get it. First of all, you give respect.” – Mary J. Blige

Respect for the other’s freedom: We are all different in our need for freedom or space. Sometimes it may be difficult to respect that when it collides with your own needs. I always believed that when a partner need space or freedom (it doesn’t really matter what you call it) I try to give it to him. I did this for two reasons:

  1. I truly understand that sometimes you need time and space just for yourself as I need that for myself as well.
  2. Do I really want to spend time with someone who would rather be somewhere else or be alone? The answer is a definite, NO, simply because I prefer someone to be with me voluntarily and I don’t really want to handle the foul mood my partner would probably be in if I insisted.

There is one very clear exception here though. When either of you is in real need, I believe that the other should do everything they can to be there for you – also a question of mutual respect.

Respect for the other’s opinion: Even in a relationship you do not have to be on the same page all the time. That could actually be quite boring in the long run. You may have different views and opinions and it is important to be respectful. Even of you agree to disagree you should show respect. Especially in the phase of getting to know one another this may be difficult and if it is something that is a deal breaker for you, that is ok, still show that person the respect that you would like to receive as well.

“Everyone should be respected as an individual, but no one idolized.” – Albert Einstein

Respect for the other’s hobbies: It is great to share interests and hobbies but you do not have to like or do everything your partner does. I personally draw the line with golf. I simply have no interest in it at all. But I would respect that my partner wants to keep playing golf and would never expect him to give it up. When it comes to hiking I’m all in, also gladly over several days or if time permits even several weeks. On the other hand, there may be hobbies that you enjoy with certain friends and you may not want to have your partner with you everywhere – that should be respected. However, if you have nothing in common, it may be difficult to maintain the relationship in the long run. And as always, communication is the key.

Respect for the other’s faith: We all have different beliefs ans ways to see the world and what lies beyond. Personally I am not at all religious but have, to my surprise discovered that I am a very spiritual being. Nevertheless, I always respect the faith of others and that of my partner, even if I may not share it. I am actually rather curious why people have a certain faith and find it very interesting to learn more about it.

Respect for the other’s family: Coming from a rather dysfunctional family myself I sometimes find the close bonds of other families baffling – never in a bad way though. Perhaps there is some envy there from my side. I never experienced big family gatherings and must admit that I somewhat missed that. So families and the way they interact can be very different. Respecting your partners family can be, as long as the respect is mutual, an important part in the relationship. Never underestimate the influence the family can have on the relationship.

Respect for the other’s values: Now this is one of my favourites. I really believe that it is important to have values in life. Again, you don’t have to share all the values but it is essential to respect the values of your partner and not to belittle them. This often happens when you don’t understand them. Here we are again: you can only expect understanding if you understand something. And what does this boil down to? Of course, good communication.

“Respect is one of life’s greatest treasures. I mean, what does it all add up to if you don’t have that?” – Marilyn Monroe

Respect is essential to any relationship – whether professional, romantic or in a friendship. Without the necessary respect for each other, a lasting relationship is not possible in my eyes.

So respect has a lot to do with not crossing certain boundaries. We all need our own space and time. I know from experience that often women expect a man to be available 24/7 and drop everything for us when we want them to. We want them to go shopping with us, take us to romantic movies and dinners and do all the things we love with us. Well, ladies, that certainly is the best way to chase a man away quickly. I truly believe that you need to have things in common and as mentioned, I also appreciate and respect when a man has interests of his own (some I you may share others not). Just as you need a girls-night out sometimes, he needs his space to do things without you – RESPECT that. The beauty in that is that you have something to talk about, something to share afterwards.

“Respect is one of the greatest expressions of love.” – Don Miguel Ruiz

We have covered quite a bit in the course of the past weeks and there is one more post coming next week to finish this series, so…


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