Relationships, when they are satisfying, are uplifting and rewarding and give us a sense of partnership and happiness. Everyone deserves a respectful relationship in which they are valued, appreciated and cherished. Healthy relationships are not fairy tales or false illusions; there is no magic wand that can be waved to give us the relationship we deserve. But we can have the relationship we want – one that is respectful, intelligent and engaging – by finding the right person and committing to the steps that will get us there.

Here are four steps that will give us the relationship respect we deserve:

  1. Know Yourself

Get to know yourself, your likes and dislikes. Understand what you need versus what you want. Make sure that your need for a relationship is not just because you do not want to be alone. Believe that you are deserving of respect, of a partnership where there is shared responsibility and equal emotional value to both parties. We must learn to expect love and kindness, respect and equality.

  1. Never Settle – Ever!

You deserve a healthy relationship where you feel valued and loved; never settle for anything less. Deciding that you are willing to tolerate something disrespectful is the first step in the wrong direction. Your lack of action when you are treated poorly says that the behaviour is acceptable to you. Once you allow yourself to be belittled, it is very difficult to reverse the behaviour. So don’t settle in the first place!

  1. Always Expect To Be Respected

There is never an opportunity to be treated with a lack of respect and there is never a reason to treat another that way. Make it a simple rule for yourself that you will never tolerate disrespect from loved ones, co-workers, employers or vendors. Your behaviour should always be considerate and courteous and it is not too much to expect others to treat you the same way. It’s very simple: Go where you are welcome and respected.

  1. Don’t Ignore Reality

Don’t pretend that your relationship is something that it is not. Be realistic. If the relationship is good, it’s good. If it’s not working out, understand why. Pretending that you are loved and respected doesn’t work if the reality is completely the opposite. Pretending that abuse doesn’t exist is dangerous. Staying in a relationship that hurts your self-esteem or self-worth or hurts you verbally or physically is a huge NO! (If you are in a domestic violence situation, leave right away and contact your local shelter.)

You are the most essential component in having a healthy, respectful relationship. You decide what your boundaries are. You decide what you are willing to accept. You decide what is most important to you. You make your relationship choices out of respect for yourself. You are an amazing gift that you give someone else – make sure they are as amazing to you.

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.