We all love to sing the words to that song as sang by the timeless music icon and legend known as Aretha Franklin, “R-E-S-P-E-C-T…” That song has been a personal anthem for women who have declared that they will be everything that you need, but you have to honor your responsibilities in the terms of your relationship, whatever those might be. And while everyone likes to sing that song, before you go demanding respect you should stop and discern if those words are actually applicable to you. While I have always favored salvaging those relationships that can be mended and leaving the garbage behind, sometimes mistakes we make in who we’ve associated with only have a place in the past. But they like to follow us.
Ideally, we all are deserving of respect for some particular reason or another. If you’re a spouse, a parent or whatever role you’ve filled and have stayed true in honoring your role you should be regarded with respect. Yet, there are some who have grandiose, narcissistic delusions about who they are. Speaking from my personal experience, I have encountered throughout the course of my life many people who want “respect” just because of who they think they are. One person in particular would always seem to imply whenever in my presence that she wants some respect. Yet, the only thing she seemed to do was behave in a way that seems common among people who lack respect for others. She went so far as to comment, “Let me show you who I am.” How could she expect to ever receive more respect than she was willing to give?
It took a minute before I was mature enough to step back and take a look at the situation objectively. What I realized has become an eye-opening revelation. At first I couldn’t understand why she was implying that I don’t respect her. I spoke to her in the same respectful manner that had garnered my mother many compliments on my manners. I was polite. So what the crap was that woman talking about? Then I realized that her definition of “respect” is skewed. She wasn’t implying that she wants “respect.” What she wanted was submission and control.
If you have questions about whether or not you are or have been in a similar predicament, there are a few things you can do to help decide if your situation can be helped.
Trust your judgment.
Most times you probably have had an unsettling “feeling” about someone, but no real reason why. Learn to trust yourself. From the start there was an uneasiness I had about this person. As mentioned earlier, she made the statement, “I’ll show you who I am.” After having taken time to reflect on her actions, one day it was as if the skies opened up and I was able to discern just who that is. I remember thinking to myself, “I knew I was right about you.”
Talk with someone about it.
The one thing that helped me realize exactly who I was dealing with was a conversation with someone who could provide an objective opinion of the situation. That person simply pointed out the age difference between the two of us and asked why someone her age is so focused on dominating someone so much younger than her. That was incredibly helpful. Find someone whose judgment you trust and confide in him or her. That person could offer a perspective you haven’t considered to empower you to make the changes needed.
Realize it isn’t really you.
The worst thing you can do interacting with a person like this is to take things personally. Realize that the behavior isn’t really about you at all. You just happen to be the person that the other believes to be an easy target. People with control issues and difficulties respecting boundaries often have a need to feel needed. Some could also have a history of relationship issues and experiences that were personally traumatic and have never been resolved. Rather than getting counseling, there is a tendency to feel as though they are “owed” something, and it somehow becomes your responsibility to fulfill the void.
Distancing yourself from this situation won’t be easy because the other person won’t want to let go. Who else would be the object of that attention? However, if at all possible begin to remove yourself from the situation. How? Start by minimizing conversations to what’s absolutely necessary. Take each opportunity you can to establish healthy boundaries. If you are privy to a little creativity you can convince him or her that it’s actually in his or her best interest if the two of you associate less. That way you can lessen your struggle and speed up the process simultaneously.
Words that are synonymous with respect include reverence, admiration, value and esteem. Nothing of these words implies subservience. Neither is respect something that can be demanded. If you’ve been convinced that the only way to satisfy someone’s need to feel respected is to take a backseat in your own life, take a second look. If the two of you can reach an understanding, then good. Otherwise, R-E-S-P-E-C-T yourself and move on to healthier relationships.