If there is one common theme in almost every female singer’s repertoire it is a ballad or anthem about being treated with respect. We are empowered by the music and the passion of the words, we are determined to be that woman who has equality at home.
But do we actively seek and expect equality in our relationships as much as we expect it in our workplace and in politics? Universally, we all want to be respected, to be appreciated, to be told that we matter, that we are loved and desired.
We want to feel that we are also vital and important in our relationships – that we are equal partners in friendship or in love. These are all important wants. These wants have the ability to make us feel magical or unimportant. And as easy as it is to say you must love yourself before you can love someone else or you need to be your own best friend, it is a lot harder to put into practice. We have developed a need to be validated by others.
Sometimes our needs and wants cause us to set aside our desire to be equal participants in our relationships. Sometimes that need for validation, allows us to accept behavior or people that we know are not healthy for us.
Maybe we are afraid of being alone, maybe our social environment revolves around couples, maybe we have not created a life for ourselves that is immune to outside pressure. There are many possible variables but the one variable that cannot be negotiated is to be treated with respect as a partner, as an equal participant in any relationship.
I have watched so many relationships where power is in one person’s hands; where control over the relationship and the other person is more important than any other emotion. The concepts of love and respect, courtesy and consideration are nowhere to be found. The concept of partner equality was nowhere to be found.
Equality and respect in our relationships is an absolute must. We need to create the conditions for that to happen. We need to come to the relationship ready to be a partner.
How can you do this?
- Know yourself. Know what traits matter to you in another person. Traits like loyalty, respect, trust, honesty, intelligence, humor, curiosity. Know what your deal breakers are. Relationships require care and attention; it is best to start with someone who is has traits that matter.
- Don’t settle. If you get the sense or know that the relationship is not working, don’t convince yourself it is. Compatibility is very important to relationship longevity. As hard as it may seem, being alone is always better than being disrespected.
- Have self-respect and integrity. Create boundaries for yourself that you are unwilling to negotiate. Only you can decide what your boundaries are. Create your boundaries with the best thoughts of yourself and what you believe you deserve.
- A healthy relationship is based upon mutual appreciation, mutual respect. Degradation, belittling, abuse never belong in a relationship. If you find that you are on the receiving end of any kind of inappropriate behavior, seek counseling and an end to the relationship. Never ever allow yourself to believe that you are at fault for being a recipient of abuse.
- You complete yourself. You want someone who is your partner – your equal – and who adds to your healthy sense of who you are. If you are looking for some emotional need to be met by another person, you set yourself up for disappointment and an imbalance of power. Never expect someone else to complete you.
Relationships are hard work, but being treated as a vital participant is worth it. We all deserve healthy love, and uplifting and joyful experiences. We should expect to be an equal partner, deserving of respect. Respect is the foundation of all good things. Allow yourself the opportunity to discover all that a relationship can be – with your self-esteem and value leading the way.
About the author:
Carlynne McDonnell is the author of THE EVERY WOMAN’S GUIDE TO EQUALITY. She has a Master’s in Public Policy and has been working in the corporate, education and non-profit worlds for over 30 years. She is also founder of the nonprofit Change in Our Lifetime, which is dedicated to achieving equality for women.