Tag Archives: self-respect

Five Keys to a Great Relationship:
“There’s nothing we can do to stay in love.”

"I'll Give You the Moon and the Stars" by Mimi Stuart ©
Live the Life you Desire

Sustaining a fulfilling, long-term relationship is tricky because it requires several essential qualities that may seem contradictory. Most problems in relationships occur because one of these crucial elements is missing or they are out of balance. All five of the following elements are critical in all fulfilling relationships, and particularly in long-term passionate, love relationships.

1. Respect — Show Respect

Frequent irritability, criticism, or contempt destroys the connection and love in a relationship. John Gottman’s research shows that unless respect is shown at least 80% of the time, the relationship will spiral downward toward misery and divorce.

Most of us occasionally get short with a loved one, and should quickly apologize for any rudeness. It is essential that we show that we value, respect, and appreciate our loved one on a daily basis.

2. Self-respect — Respect Yourself

Frequent self-criticism or an unwillingness to stop disrespectful behavior from others invites disrespect. The fear of speaking up and being rejected encourages further rudeness.

Demeaning self-criticism should be changed into constructive, positive self-talk. We must show that we have respect for ourselves, and therefore, stand up to rudeness, even if it is not in our nature to do so. While others aren’t perfect and may be rude occasionally, we must stop such disrespect instantly and on each occasion with a comment, such as, “Excuse me?” or “That tone does not work for me,” or “You’re pushing me away. Please say it more politely.”

3. Independence — Retain Self-Reliance

Being too dependent on another person to meet our emotional, financial, or intellectual needs oppresses the relationship and stifles the passion.

While it is not necessary to maintain absolute independence or contribute equally in every area, we should aspire to be self-reliant in most areas, as well as to think autonomously and retain our own interests. Nurturing our individual work, passions, and relationships with friends and family vitalizes the soul and prevents us from becoming overly needy and dependent on a loved one.

4. Kindness — Be Caring

Living a self-absorbed life leads to a hollow and desolate heart. Independence does not preclude kindness, generosity, or caring. In fact, it allows one to give out of a sense of fullness rather than a sense of need.

The joy of being considerate, giving, and supportive to our loved ones is one of the greatest pleasures in life. Making someone you love happy or simply making his or her life a bit easier often provides the greatest joy of being in a relationship.

5. Shared Enjoyment — Have Fun Together

A relationship based solely on daily practicalities and responsibilities loses passion over time.

Fun, romance, and adventure keep the relationship vitally alive. Daily appreciation, laughter, and interaction foster a healthy, happy, passionate relationship.

Balance — Strive for All Five

Most of us tend to emphasize two or three of the essential elements of a fulfilling relationship but lose sight of the importance of two or three others. Balancing all five elements — respect, self-respect, self-reliance, kindness, and shared enjoyment — is critical for sustaining a fulfilling, long-term passionate relationship.

Relationships are full of ups and downs and are never in perfect balance. We must continuously strive toward maintaining or reestablishing harmony and balance.

Unfortunately, it is not all up to one person. It takes two to tango, but only one to get out of step. Yet, balancing these five vital elements in all of our relationships makes our lives and relationships more fulfilling and robust.

Relationships are like a dance
It’s as much about your patience, kindness, confidence,
and sense of rhythm as it is about your partner.

by Alison Poulsen, PhD

Read “’My parents were so dysfunctional, I don’t even know what a good relationship looks like.’ Dance as a metaphor.”

Read “Positive Bonding Patterns: ‘We never fight, but we don’t talk anymore and there’s no more passion.’”

“I’m his biggest fan and he treats me like a slave.”

"Opus 76 by Haydn" by Mimi Stuart ©
Live the Life you Desire

Isn’t it curious that some people tend to become more critical, cold, and cruel with the very people who champion them the most? Why would someone treat their admirers worse than their critics?

People who devalue their biggest supporters — often their partner — resent the fact that they feel so dependent on that support. In fact, they may be addicted to their dependency, and for that reason, they simultaneously feel bitter about it.

They don’t like feeling helpless. They don’t like needing support and praise. They don’t like counting on you for their self-esteem.

Yet, they don’t have the fortitude to stop relying on you for services, accolades, and admiration. They belittle you so as not to appear needy. They despise their own weakness and you become the physical manifestation of that weakness.

By devaluing the sources of said supply (his spouse, his employer, his colleague, his friend) he ameliorates the dissonance.

~Sam Vaknin, PhD

Understanding why someone might treat you like a slave does not mean you should continue to act like one, or to accept the treatment. So the real question is why would you continue to be a fan of his if he treats you or anyone like a slave?

Anaïs Nin wisely pointed out that “We don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are.” It may be time for you to step back from your role as an admiring slave and to view people as they are in their entirety, to admire those who are more worthy of admiration, and to create your own life-opus.

by Alison Poulsen, PhD

Read Guest Author Sam Vaknin, PhD “’Should I Stay Or Should I Leave?’ The Tremendous Costs of Staying with an Abusive Person with Narcissistic Personality Disorder.”

Read “Overfunctioning and underfunctioning:’If I don’t take care of things, nothing will ever get done.’”

Read “Respect each other: ‘He’s always talking down to me.’”

“I’m tired of being treated as a sex object.”

"Gloria with R.E.S.P.E.C.T." Gloria Reuben
by Mimi Stuart ©

Live the Life you Desire

If this is the general way people seem to treat you and not a specific situation of sexual harassment, then it’s worthwhile to consider how you may be unconsciously inviting others to view you in this limited way.

Early upbringing and cultural attitudes toward women affect the way individual women view themselves. They then unwittingly convey their self-perception through their demeanor and body language, sending subtle cues as to how they expect to be treated. Some may dress or carry themselves provocatively, but others may dress normally or even in a frumpy manner to hide their sexuality. Usually body language communicates even more powerful messages than exterior clothing.

What these women seem to have in common is that they don’t view themselves as deserving of respect as being valuable, whole individuals.

A woman who views herself as a worthwhile, whole human being is less likely to pull in purely sexual responses. Even if someone were to make a sexual comment, she would not feel excessively flattered or defensive about it. If an inappropriate comment were made, she would view it as a reflection of the person making the comment rather than of herself.

Women who are more vulnerable to being treated as sex objects are often sensitive to such treatment as they seem to expect it on a deeper level. Some may even seek out that kind of attention, as it may be the only way they’ve learned to get attention and validation.

This seemingly unfair cycle can be broken, (1) by becoming aware of how you may unconsciously invite others to view you in that specific way, (2) by neutralizing your reactivity to it, and (3) by gravitating toward people and situations that don’t objectify you specifically or women in general. In addition, you could learn to develop and value other aspects of your personality—for example, your intelligence, your talents, your inner strength, or your search for greater meaning.

by Alison Poulsen PhD

Read “People are always criticizing me.”

The Harsh Inner Critic:
“I told her I love her on the first date. I am such an idiot.”

"Faces" by Mimi Stuart
Live the Life you Desire

We all have an inner critic, which is necessary to stop us from engaging in illegal or unethical behavior and saying outrageous things. However, a tyrannical inner critic can be debilitating and lead to feelings of inadequacy and depression, preventing full participation in life.

Most people have an inner critic that can be abrasive in just a couple of select areas, interfering with their ability to enjoy life in those areas by insisting that they are not good enough, attractive enough, or smart enough. When the inner critic becomes abusive in any area of life, we need to tone it down, put it into perspective, and transform it into an encouraging supporter. Self-criticism is most useful when we considers our mistakes and use them as lessons to help guide us in the future.

So every time you say, “I’m an idiot,” “I totally blew it again,” or any other self-demeaning phrase, follow it with a positive phrase, such as, “No one’s perfect,” “Everyone who tries makes mistakes” or use a helpful and constructive thought, such as “Next time I won’t say I love someone on the first date. At least I’m romantic.”

Regarding your declaration of love on a first date, there is a happy medium in healthy relationships between being emotionally withdrawn and sharing every fleeting feeling. Next time, just enjoy the feeling of infatuation at least until the third date. Keep in mind, there are a lot worse things than announcing you’re in love on the first date.

by Alison Poulsen

Watch “Quieting a Harsh Inner Critic.”