Respecting yourself and others in your intimate relationships means that while you strive to express your feelings and opinions, you won’t clobber your partner (or loved ones) with them. Honesty is the truth with respect. Being willing to admit when you’ve made a mistake, when you’re in the wrong, and to admit what you don’t know stretches you past the comfort zone of your ego. These are three vulnerability habits to live by.

Be willing to see your part, no matter how small. At the same time, don’t turn your partner into a saint by carrying on as if they don’t have a part.

Before you make something about you, remember to consider your partner and look beyond personalisation. If you don’t, you run the risk of not ‘seeing’ him/her/them and cutting yourself off from intimacy.

Be willing to apologise, not because you’re being a doormat but because relationships focused on one partner winning cause both partners to lose. In mutual relationships, apologising doesn’t feel like a threat. Instead, it’s a sign of respecting the bigger picture.

Avoid generalisations (‘I/you always/never’), acknowledge your respective contributions to the relationship, and never be willing to compromise your or their wellbeing by letting any unhealthy/unproductive habits continue for too long. Protect each other, even if that involves therapy. Use compassion and empathy to guide you to (or back to) your values

For more on authentic, loving relationships, check out my book Love, Care, Trust and Respect.

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