Though everyone deserves the most basic forms of respect, deeper forms of respect are earned. This truth is often a tough pill for us to swallow, but it’s essential for any healthy relationship. It’s common for women to demand respect in relationships, but that’s difficult in a culture where we don’t respect ourselves or our partners.
We Don’t Respect Ourselves
I’ll be the first to admit that learning to know your worth is a long and difficult process. The fact that we live in a culture telling us that we’re perfect just the way we are makes it harder because it leaves little to no room for self-improvement. This phenomenon has created a generation of young women who have little to no respect for themselves. Young women are experiencing low self-esteem at alarmingly high rates. According to a 2016 Australian study, "four in five women have low self-esteem."
You can’t love someone (or respect someone) until you love yourself.
The rise of hookup culture doesn’t help this trend in the dating scene. It sounds like a cliché when I say that you can’t love someone (or respect someone) until you love yourself. It’s a hard pill to swallow, but it’s true, in the same way that we accept the love we think we deserve. In short, women need to respect themselves before they can demand respect from others.
We Don’t Respect Our Partners
The phenomenon of women refusing to better themselves often leads to them disrespecting men without realizing it. A perfect example of this is when conservative commentator and Fox Nation host Tomi Lahren went viral last month after posting a video on her Instagram and Facebook claiming that "all men are trash." Lahren argues that both she and many of her friends have problems with men, suggesting that men are the problem and women are not to blame. Although I agree with Lahren that it’s hard to find a good man these days, she fails to realize that she might need to better herself to find a man who will respect her.
If you all have the same problems with men, there’s likely something about your group that repels good men.
Dating expert Suzanne Venker says it best. She writes, “That's certainly a convenient way to look at it. Here's another: If you and your friends all have the same problem with men, there’s likely something about you and them that repels the kind of men for whom you're looking. It takes a good dose of maturity to look at it this way, but the way forward is not to cast blame. The way forward is to look inward, to see what you might be doing wrong.”
We put up with men's bad behavior.
I hear so many women complain that they can't find a good man. But those same women turn around and put up with the worst behavior imaginable from the men they date. Instead of actually holding men accountable to the standards they say they have, many women will make every excuse for a guy's bad behavior as long as she finds him attractive.
Men are trash but women are raccoons.
We let them ghost us after dates, then slide into our DMs with a late night hookup request. We let them treat us like side pieces, instead of girlfriends and future wives. We don't hold them to the standards of good communication, maturity, or exclusivity. We let them come back into our lives even when they've given us a sign - or many - that they're "just not that into us."
Toxic dating habits drive away good men.
We also have to make sure that we are not giving in to the same bad behaviors we tolerate from men - cheating, ghosting, playing games. Popular magazines like Cosmopolitan paint cheating on your partner as empowering because you’re putting yourself first and your partner’s feelings don’t matter. Another personal essay about a woman cheating on her husband justifies this behavior by claiming it improves her sex life with her husband, even though he’s unaware that she’s having an affair.
If women treat men like trash, how can they expect men to treat them with respect in return?
Toxic dating habits like ghosting and playing games in relationships are encouraged by popular media. In a recent episode of her podcast, Big Demi Energy, former Bachelor contestant Demi Burnett encouraged her listeners to play games in relationships to keep things interesting. In encouraging these toxic behaviors, we fail to realize that these are selfish, immature, and unhealthy behaviors.
In short, women may think men are trash but as long as we let them treat us like trash, we really have nothing to complain about.
Respect is a two-way street. If we don’t respect ourselves, how can we expect our partners to respect us? If we don’t respect our partners, how can we expect them to respect us and our relationships?