Skip to Content

23 Signs of Disrespect in a Relationship and What You Can Do

In today’s article we are going to talk about the most common signs of disrespect in a relationship and what you can do.

Relationships should feel like coming home. They should be these safe places where you feel like the truest version of yourself, not always the best version. They should include mutual respect, affection, and appreciation. These are the healthy relationships that give us relationship goals.

But some relationships start with affection and appreciation before revealing the disrespect hidden underneath.

There are so many signs that someone doesn’t respect you, and while the following ones will be centered around romantic relationships, the same signs can apply to any relationship in your life. 

23 Signs of Disrespect in a Relationship

Some signs of disrespect are obvious. It hurts your feelings and makes you feel bad about yourself.

Other signs are more subtle and might leave you feeling confused about how to interpret what happened. Make no mistake: the following red flags all indicate disrespect in a relationship.

They Invalidate Your Feelings

You’re allowed to feel exactly whatever it is you feel even if it doesn’t make sense to anyone else. A partner who invalidates your feelings doesn’t respect you.

They don’t think you’re the authority on your own thoughts and feelings. They think they know you better than you do. That’s not treating you like a full partner. That’s treating you like a child — one they also don’t respect. 

They Dismiss Your Opinion

Any opinion you express is dismissed out of hand. They don’t even consider it. I experienced this with a partner who would dismiss knowledge from my area of expertise in favor of self-proclaimed experts on YouTube who had no credentials.

This is a blatant form of disrespect for your opinion to be dismissed without care or consideration.

They Put You Down — Privately and/or in Public

Either way this happens, a partner who is putting you down is showing signs they don’t respect you. They might be disrespectful to you behind closed doors where no one else can hear, or they might do it all the time — even when other people are around.

It embarrasses you, hurts your feelings, and might even make you angry, but they continue to do it anyway.

They Gaslight You

They didn’t mean what you think they meant; you’re being crazy. At least, that’s their spin on what happened. Gaslighting is common when disrespect is present.

They would rather make you feel crazy, broken, or abnormal than own up to their behavior, take responsibility for it, and apologize. 

They’re Condescending

Someone who talks down to you isn’t being respectful. They’re just being condescending.

Over time, this attitude erodes the relationship, as it becomes clearer than ever that they think they’re somehow smarter or better than you. It could be the words they’re using or simply the tone, but either way, it’s not okay.

They Stonewall You

Another sign of disrespectful behavior in a relationship is when they stonewall you.

It sometimes shows up as the silent treatment or when they simply shut down and shut you out emotionally. The lack of communication isn’t respectful, and it harms the relationship. 

They Cheat

One of the worst and painful signs of disrespect in a relationship is infidelity.

Someone who cheats on you doesn’t respect you, your feelings, or the relationship. Otherwise, they wouldn’t betray you. Infidelity isn’t an “oops” situation, no matter what anyone says.

A partner who has chosen to take that step likely took teeny tiny ones before they actually crossed the line. The flirty conversations and messages that they might have claimed were innocent turned out to be far from it.

A cheater isn’t a person who respects you — or themselves.

They Throw You Under the Bus

Someone who makes you the scapegoat by metaphorically throwing you under the bus isn’t a person who respects you. I once had a former partner who liked to use me as the excuse to get out of things he didn’t want to do.

A family visit he wasn’t interested in attending — I wouldn’t let him go. An obligation he wasn’t excited to attend — I said no. 

In point of fact, I would only hear about these events after the fact when everyone believed I was keeping him away from friends and family.

The fact that he was willing to sacrifice my reputation to suit his purposes said a lot about the disrespect thriving within the relationship. 

They Don’t Listen When You’re Talking

A partner who tunes you out or refuses to even pay attention when you’re talking is showing a key sign of disrespect. If they aren’t even making an effort, how much do they care about you and what you have to say?

You might write this off once or twice, but when it becomes a daily occurrence, you can be sure that your partner just doesn’t have any respect for you. Otherwise, they would value what you have to contribute. 

Recommended read: Bad Listeners: 4 Annoying Habits They Have in Common

They Talk Over You

In the middle of explaining, they just cut in and talk right over you. This isn’t about an occasional interruption caused by excitement or distraction.

They’re dismissing what you’re saying and cutting you off before you can verbalize a single thought. Someone who never lets you get a word in edgewise isn’t showing respectful behavior. You also deserve space in the relationship to express yourself and be heard. 

They’re Not Honest with You

Just as with cheating, the partner who lies doesn’t respect you. Even if they have a “good” reason. Honesty is the bedrock of healthy relationships, but that honesty should be kind and respectful.

Dishonesty, on the other hand, is universally disrespectful. They don’t trust you with the truth. 

Recommended read: 25 Red Flags in Men You Should Look Out For

They Yell at You

Another sign of disrespectful behavior comes in the form of yelling. Your partner is responsible for managing their emotions, and when discussions get heated, a raised voice is a sign that they aren’t in control.

It’s not respectful or kind, and arguments are rarely resolved once the yelling begins. 

They Get in Your Personal Space During Arguments

A person who crosses the line into your personal space during disagreements isn’t just violating your boundaries. They’re showing disrespect and intimidation.

That kind of crowding is physical and emotional intimidation, and it’s not the way a healthy, respectful partner behaves.  

They Trash You to Their Friends and Family

A partner who badmouths you all the time to friends and family isn’t showing you respect. It’s one thing to occasionally vent to a close friend, but when they have nothing but negative things to say about you, that’s a real problem.

It taints everyone else’s opinion of you, and it happens without you having the opportunity to defend yourself.

It also shows that your partner isn’t actually on your side, and in healthy relationships, you should be able to feel like you’re on the same team and cheering on each other. 

They Judge Your Decisions and Make You Doubt Yourself

Does it seem like your partner is always pointing out when you mess up? Do they make you doubt every decision you make with a list of how you’ve messed up in the past?

Do you feel judged every time you go to make a choice? This could be a big red flag that you’ve partnered with someone who just doesn’t see you as an equal in the relationship.

They Break Promises

One of the most common signs of disrespect in a relationship is when your partner consistently breaks their promises.

Respectful partners keep their word. They do what they say they will.

They don’t make promises and then break them without a very good reason or extenuating circumstance.

Toxic partners, however, will break promises over and over.

They’ll show up late, forget plans they made with you, and treat you like their time matters more than yours. They won’t show up for you in the way that you need, and you can’t rely on them to do what they say they will. 

They Violate Your Privacy

Any partner who is looking at your phone or personal correspondence is not being respectful. As Sheri Stritof explained in an article on Very Well Mind, you have the right to privacy.

A person who is invading that privacy isn’t extending you a right they enjoy themselves. Not only is this distrusting behavior, it’s disrespectful, too.

They Don’t Stand Up for You

When other people are ganging up on you, your partner doesn’t say a word — or, worse, joins in to pile on. It’s a sign of disrespect when the one you’re with doesn’t stand up for you around others.

This is particularly true when it comes to their friends and family.

If someone they love is picking on you or being unkind, they should be the first to set a boundary that disrespect won’t be tolerated. If they fail to do this, they may not actually respect you.

They Use Your Insecurities Against You

Our partners get to know the best and worst of you. They see your triggers, know your history, and really understand what hurts you most. They’re not supposed to use those things against you.

A partner who takes your insecurities and uses them to manipulate you or push your buttons isn’t just being unkind; it’s disrespectful in the extreme. It could even be considered emotionally abusive. 

They Threaten to Leave When They’re Upset

Does the slightest disagreement make your partner threaten to leave? Do you feel like it’s an empty threat that gets rolled out all the time?

This kind of manipulative behavior is frustrating on many levels, but it’s also disrespectful. Constant threats of a breakup create a hostile environment, not a loving one. Don’t put up with it. 

They Walk Out on You During Arguments

Much like the constant interrupter who talks over you, the person who walks out during the middle of an argument can be infuriating. You were still talking.

Why did they think it was okay just to walk away without so much as a word?

This is disrespectful, and it’s also immature. You deserve a partner who will at least tell you if they need to take a break and some space to think. One who walks away is just being disrespectful.

They Don’t Prioritize the Relationship

You might be seeing a pattern where your partner prioritizes everything and everyone in the world — except you. Their job is a priority, and you get that. If they have kids, you absolutely shouldn’t expect to come before them.

But it might begin to seem like everything comes before you, and you get squeezed into the empty spaces of their day. This is hurtful, but it can also indicate disrespect. 

They’re Not Supportive of You or Your Goals

In a healthy partnership, you both champion each other’s goals, hopes, and dreams. You’re each other’s biggest fan!

But in unhealthy relationships rife with disrespect, your partner doesn’t support you or your goals. They might be outright disparaging or subtly dismissive, but you can feel it.

While you’re the loudest one cheering them on, they’re sleeping on your success — or making light of it. It’s disrespectful behavior that you shouldn’t have to tolerate. 

What You Can Do About It

If you’ve found yourself in a disrespectful relationship, there are things you can do. You might not have realized how bad things had gotten. You might be surprised that the situation is worse than you thought. Here are your options.

  • You can begin to set new boundaries with your partner.
  • You can hold your partner accountable for their behavior.
  • You can make sure YOU are being respectful in interactions within the relationship.
  • You can ask your partner to agree to go with you to a couples counselor to learn to communicate better. 
  • You can decide not to put up with it anymore and leave the relationship.

Of course, those aren’t your only choices, but they are a few of the possible options. If you want to change the dynamic, you have to start with yourself.

Building a self-care and self-love practice can help you remember that you are worthy of love and respect. You don’t have to settle for any of this. 

Disrespect will only go on as long as it’s tolerated. If the one you’re with can learn to respect you, it might be time to ask yourself why you’re with someone who doesn’t see you as an equal worthy of respect and consideration. 

Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash

The Truly Charming