Most relationship experts will tell you that after love, communication and attraction (a.k.a. chemistry) are the keys to establishing a healthy and long-lasting relationship. But are they really? Granted these two elements are vital components of any relationship and definitely speak to surviving the highs, lows and constant change all relationships must endure. However, there is one underlying element that fuels and facilitates effective communication and trumps chemistry and that is respect.
To understand how and why respect is so pivotal to a relationship we must first understand what respect is and what it looks like. Respect is the fundamental understanding that your partner is not you. He or she is not an extension of you, not a reflection of you, not your toy, not your pet, nor your project. Your task is not to control the other person or try to craft him or her into your version of the ideal mate.
In a relationship, your task is to understand and accept the other person as a unique individual. Respect allows you to see the other person as an equal and valuable team member. You learn to work in tandem with that person to meet the needs of the team and accomplish the team’s goals.
Any successful relationship must be rooted in love. However, love is not enough. Love brings bliss in the early stages of relationships, but it only grows and blossoms if it is tempered with respect. Respect dictates and shapes behaviors, frames communication and contextualizes how we view and interact with our mate.