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By Donavan West & Sophia Avery

Just about everyone is familiar with the song, “Respect” recorded by Aretha Franklin in 1966.  However, few realize that the song was actually written by Otis Redding, who originally recorded it as a blues song in 1965.  If you think about the lyrics from a man’s perspective, the meaning is quite different.   Consider the original lyrics  of  “RESPECT” as written by Otis Redding:

What you want? Honey you’ve got it.

And what you need? Baby you’ve got it.

All I’m asking is for a little respect when I come home

Do me wrong–Honey if you wanna.

You can do me wrong Honey while I am gone.

But all I’m asking for is for a little respect when I come home

Hey little girl, you’re so sweeter than honey.

And I am about to just give you all my money.

All I’m asking for is a little respect when I come home.

When we consider the original lyrics, the writer is clearly stating that getting “a little respect” when he comes home means everything to him.  It seems that for men, respect is the ultimate sign of a woman’s love. When a woman fails to recognize “what it means” to a man in terms of significance, it may cause the man to feel disrespected.

Women—Are you guilty of not respecting your man?

Men—What types of behavior/actions do you consider to be disrespectful?

Let’s take a look at disrespect.

Disrespect is defined as a lack of respect or courtesy for another person, and it can take many forms.  Whether intentional or unintentional, communicated through words or gestures, or done in secret or openly, disrespect can take various forms.  However, regardless of how it happens, disrespect from a loved one, is particularly hurtful, and will likely damage the relationship or cause it to end.

There are various types of disrespect, some obvious, but many not so obvious. Following are several areas where disrespect may be occurring and having a negative effect on your relationships.

Verbal Disrespect

Speaking in a loud, harsh manner to another adult is always disrespectful, without exception.  It creates a parent-child type interaction that is counterproductive and ineffective as a method of communication in a relationship. For many couples yelling at each is their only way of communicating emotions and feelings, but they fail to realize their partner can’t  listen effectively when they’re feeling disrespected.  Following are some common and uncommon types of verbal disrespect.

  1. Raising your voice (especially in public)
  2. Talking over your mate while they’re speaking
  3. Cutting your mate off while speaking—preventing them from completing their thought
  4. Name calling and Cursing
  5. Lying and manipulating
  6. Contemptuous laughter and mocking

Technological Disrespect

As technology makes communication easier, the opportunities for disrespect have multiplied.  Not long ago, the home telephone was the only way for people to contact each other. Our conversations took place at home and mostly in the open.  Now, we have cell phones, pagers, texting,   e-mail, MySpace, Facebook, and many other ways to reach out and touch others, all of which are currently being used in ways that are disrespectful.  Talking on the cell phone, texting, tweeting, or checking e-mail, Facebook, Myspace, etc. while spending one-on-one time with a loved one says these other people are more important to me than you are.  Sending or receiving calls, texts, voicemails, or tweets at inappropriate hours (after midnite), can be considered disrespectful in a relationship. Posing as a single person on the internet when you’re in relationship is disrespectful.  Finally, anything done in secret—aliases, secret e-mail addresses, memberships to dating sites while in a relationship, maintaining inappropriate internet friendships and relationships with ex-lovers (or new friends), storing phone numbers under other names, sexting, sending inappropriate pictures, etc. are all acts of blatant disrespect.

Physical Disrespect

We all are familiar with the disrespect that allows physical abuse to occur within relationships, but are you aware of the more subtle types of physical disrespect? During a conversation with your mate, do your allow yourself to become distracted–watching tv, playing a video game, checking Facebook or just thinking about other things, and you miss what he was saying? Not only is this annoying, but it’s disrespectful, because your actions say, “What I’m doing is more important to me than what you’re saying.” If it happens every now and then, it may not be much of a problem. However, allowing yourself to be distracted by other things when your partner is speaking to you can be very disrespectful, particularly if done repeatedly.

Other types of Physical Disrespect:

  1. Inappropriate or unwanted touch
  2. Paying attention to someone else when with your partner
  3. Attempting to prevent a person from where they are trying to go by blocking their path
  4. Pushing or poking a person’s head

Cultural Disrespect

Cultural disrespect can occur in any couple where the partners are from different

backgrounds.  This type of disrespect takes place when a person has no respect, appreciation, knowledge, or understanding of the things their partner values. Instead of loving the differences between the two of you, your partner may devalue the things you find important such as family, religion, tradition, language, history, food, or music.  For many people, their sense of identity comes from their culture, so by not appreciating, or worse, making fun of your partners culture, you’re, essentially, disrespecting who they are as a person.

There are many reasons why we disrespect each other, but not one that helps to make the relationship stronger, show love, encourage or support to another person. Disrespect is destructive to any and all relationships.  Even the smallest disrespectful act, if done repeatedly, can cause kill a person’s self-esteem, lead to cheating, and break up relationships and families.

If you want to make sure disrespect doesn’t creep into your relationship, take these points into consideration:

  1. Value your partner, know why they’re important to you and your life and treat them accordingly.
  2. Never take your partner for granted, assuming he/she will be there no matter what you do.  Everyone has a limit as to how much disrespect they will take.
  3. Don’t use disrespect as a weapon to rattle, retaliate, or disrupt your partner while he/she is speaking.  Communication depends on each partner respecting what the other has to say, even if you don’t agree.
  4. Most people don’t respond well to disrespect.  Therefore, if you want your mate will to help or do something you ask, don’t belittle him, talk down to him, insult his manhood, or challenge his authority.  See your partner as a partner.  You’re not his mother, his boss or his God.  As Paula White once said, “If you speak to your man like a fool, you’ll get a fool. But if you speak to him like a king, you’ll get a KING!

Sophia Avery, MA and Donavan Sterling West are a dynamic Relationship Counseling team!  If you’d like further information, discussion or a Relationship Counseling session, please call us at visit our website at or look for us  on and search for Avery-West Counseling Team.