The One Thing Women Give Up For Love That Pretty Much Guarantees Relationship Failure

Photo: Zadorozhna Natalia /
man and woman on a park bench, man hugging her from behind

Do you tolerate people in your life who don’t treat you with respect, hoping they will change? Do agree to do things for others wishing you’d have said, “No?”

Or maybe you have a pattern of apologizing for your behavior when really there is nothing to apologize for.

These are clear examples of behavior that stem from a lack of self-respect — and that's self-defeating.

Breaking the pattern of unhealthy, unsatisfying, or toxic relationships starts with cultivating, practicing and building self-respect.

RELATED: Why Demanding Respect Can Be A Tough But Necessary Task

What is self-respect?

A relationship without respect between partners lacks harmony, fosters anger and resentment, creates an atmosphere of distrust, and ultimately dooms the relationship. In reality, you will never have a respectful partnership if you don’t respect yourself first.

Self-respect is defined as:

  • Proper respect for oneself as a human being
  • Regard for one’s own standing or position
  • Confidence and satisfaction in oneself

Self-respect means believing in yourself and behaving with character and integrity. It is part of a triad of self-love and self-confidence.

They all blend together to give you a solid foundation to move through the world and interact with others.

In order to behave with character and integrity, you have to believe in your own abilities and your capacity. You have to believe that you are worthy of taking the uncomfortable steps to speak up for yourself.

You may not have grown up in an environment that led you to believe that you were worthy of standing up for. You may have done some things in the past that you are not proud of, or regret.

None of this means that you can’t begin right now to create self-respect and change your relationships for the better — particularly the one you have with yourself.

No one is born with self-respect. It is something you develop over time.

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How self-respect is related to love and relationships

Self-respect is the cornerstone of healthy, lasting love. Without it, your happiness will be constantly at the whims of whomever you are spending time with.

Without self-respect, you will allow other people to take advantage of you. You will find partners who don’t believe that you are worthy of being treated with kindness or respect, and do not value you.

All of your relationships are a reflection of the relationship you have with yourself. You don’t recognize this fact because the image is distorted — it’s like looking in a Fun House mirror.

If your relationship with yourself isn’t one of respect and love, then you will allow people into your inner circle who don’t treat you in a loving and respectful way.

RELATED: The Importance Of Self-Esteem For Lasting Relationships

Do you sacrifice self-respect for love?

Are you often angry and resentful that you don’t get your needs met? Have you tolerated partners that treat you badly? Are you constantly feeling guilty or walking on eggshells, worrying that you’ve done something wrong?

Lacking self-respect opens you up to being mistreated, feeling undervalued, and unsure of how to communicate when your needs are not being met.

All too often, the pattern of sacrificing self-respect for love comes from the false belief that if you had stronger boundaries then you would lose love. If you believe that you can’t do any better, or that what you have is good enough, then you will twist yourself into a pretzel from fear that if you stood up for yourself, no one would love you.

This false idea of love means that you need to get love from another person. The truth is that you share a loving relationship with another.

Therefore, it is imperative that you love and respect yourself so that you have these qualities to share with a partner — and have them reflected back to you through the relationship.

RELATED: 7 Healthy Boundaries To Set In Your Relationship Immediately

Respect has a boundary

Self-respect is one of the keys to creating and maintaining healthy boundaries in your relationships. Loving someone isn’t about merging together into one person. It doesn’t mean that you can treat each other badly.

Love comes with a boundary and that boundary is created by respect.

When you lack self-respect, you find it difficult to have boundaries in your relationships. You allow people to speak to you unkindly.

You may ignore your partner’s manipulative behavior or have the belief that you must tolerate it.

Knowing what your deal-breakers are can bring some clarity and a sense of direction through the dating process. Dating is a way for you to cultivate discernment so you can deselect those who are not a good match rather than commit to the first person you have the spark of attraction with.

A few things that happen when you lack self-respect

  • You allow others to take advantage of you.
  • You overcommit your time and energy to helping others.
  • You concern yourself too much with what others think of you.
  • You feel angry and resentful that your needs are not met by those you love.
  • You are reluctant to ask for help or to receive it from others.
  • You overindulge in food, alcohol, drugs, or sex.
  • You tolerate mental, emotional, or physical abuse.

RELATED: 21 Ways To Build Self-Esteem & Uplift Your Confidence

​Here are nine steps to help you develop self-respect for better, healthier relationships

Self-respect isn’t something you are born with. You learn and develop self-respect through your actions. It comes from how you feel about yourself and your own worth. Here are some actions you can take to develop your self-respect and transform all of your relationships.

1. Focus on the present

You can’t change the mistakes of the past. You can’t go back and fix what went wrong. You can, however, forgive yourself, and focus on doing better now, in the present moment.

Say to yourself, “I forgive myself for judging myself for (fill in the blank with past behaviors you are still judging)."

Commit to doing your best moving forward.

Your future is not determined by your past. It is determined by what you do today, right now.

It’s not only acceptable to stand up for yourself, it is required to do so in order to feel good about yourself.

Don’t fret about the past. Instead, do your best in the moment.

RELATED: 8 Ways To Stop Living In The Past So You Can Finally Move On With Your Life

2. Change your inner dialog

If you are constantly criticizing yourself, and putting yourself down, you will never believe you are worthy of being treated any better. You’ll want to change your inner dialog to a more positive and supportive one.

Affirmations work when you realize that everything you say to yourself about yourself is an affirmation. You’re affirming your negative qualities every time you say something like, “I’m so stupid. I can’t believe I screwed that up again.”

Start affirming and reinforcing your positive qualities. Create affirmations that affirm what you want to create and believe about yourself.

Here are a few affirmations to get you started on changing your inner dialog:

  • “I am worth loving respectfully.”
  • “I love, approve, and accept myself.”
  • “I only attract people into my life who value and respect me.”

RELATED: 8 Steps To Feel Better About Yourself When Staying Positive Is A Struggle

3. Focus on small daily actions

You’re not going to develop self-respect overnight. Attempting to change everything about yourself all at once will only set you up to fail.

Small consistent changes can have a dramatic effect in a relatively short period of time.

If you forget or make a mistake, start again. Every day is a new opportunity to respect yourself and stick to the commitments you have made to yourself.

You never have to be perfect — that is an unrealistic expectation.

Simply do your best. That is all anyone can ask of you.

4. Respect your beliefs and values

When you don’t respect your beliefs and values, you constantly end up feeling like you’ve let yourself down. This causes you to lose respect for yourself and leaves you vulnerable to people who want to manipulate you.

When you make changes in your behavior, you may get pushback from people who are accustomed to getting what they want from you. Those who truly love you will make an adjustment and appreciate your new behaviors and boundaries.

The only way to break this cycle is to take actions that are in alignment with self-respect. Be sure to walk your talk as that is the way to show others how you would like to be treated by them.

RELATED: 5 Signs You're Having An Identity Crisis (And How To Figure Out Who You Really Are)

5. Keep your heart karma clean

Integrity doesn’t come from whether or not you make mistakes; there is no way you can do everything perfectly.

Integrity comes from how you behave when you do make a mistake.

Keep your heart karma clean by having clear communication when you make a mistake, or hurt someone’s feelings, and offer amends when appropriate.

Take responsibility for your actions and apologize when appropriate. The more you take responsibility, the better you will feel about yourself.

Self-respect grows when you don’t fall into blame or shame, and instead, work to fix your missteps.

RELATED: How Someone Treats You Is How They Feel About You. Period.

6. Treat others with respect

If you want respectful love, you have to learn how to give respectful love. You can’t expect to be respected if you aren’t respectful.

Honor your word and if you are unable to honor it, communicate a new agreement. Make best efforts to honor the requests made of you, and do not take on more than you can comfortably manage.

Own your half of a disagreement and communicate with kindness and compassion. Pause before you lash out in anger.

Treating others with respect builds your own self-respect.

7. Respect your body and your choices

You won’t be loved because you’re really good at sex. You won’t be loved because you’re willing to drop everything when someone calls to hook up. Casual, meaningless sex is not the path to long-lasting love with an ideal partner. (If you do enjoy sex without strings attached, there is nothing wrong with that, as long as you’re communicating clearly with your partner/s.)

Never think you have to do things with your body to earn love or connection. You are worth the wait.

The person who wants a relationship with you will be willing to wait for you. Have clear boundaries and clear communication about sex and what it may or may not mean to you.

RELATED: How To Change The Way You Think About Body Image Issues

8. Fill your own cup first

Going into sacrifice is not a good strategy for finding and keeping love. It is emotionally draining and leaves you feeling angry and resentful. You can’t give love to get love.

Instead, schedule time for yourself to refuel and stick to those appointments like they are the most important ones in your calendar. If you don’t make yourself a priority, you can never expect someone else to make you one either.

9. Love, approve and accept all parts of you

You are worth loving, even with all of your flaws. You are worth loving because you are human and unique (and all humans are flawed). Your flaws are not less lovable. You are not broken or unfixable.

Judgment of self leaves you feeling bad about yourself, which reduces your motivation to change. Judging yourself creates resistance inside of you. This resistance leaves you feeling stuck. If you believe you are broken, then there is nothing you can do about your flaws.

Instead, love your flaws because they are part of what makes you special. Practice radical acceptance. When you stop resisting who you are, you free up your energy to make new choices.

RELATED: 3 Ways To Stop Being So Defensive & Heal The Harsh Inner Critic That Makes You Lash Out

Self-respect leads to healthy relationships

There will likely be some people in your life who will resist the changes you make on your journey to cultivating self-respect. They will try to get you to behave the way you always have. These people don’t really love you.

Someone who truly loves you will support you in your growth. They will cheer you on when you make healthy choices in your life. You will see that you get to be loved and accepted for who you really are.

You are worth loving and you are worth taking action to create the healthy loving future you desire with your beloved by your side. Start building your self-respect today by committing to simple daily actions and sticking to them no matter what.

You deserve a life partner that will value you, respect you, and stand by you, no matter what. This is what we call a Soulmate Relationship. This partnership lasts a lifetime not because you don’t have any problems or conflicts, but because you’re both committed to working through the tough times together.

RELATED: 7 Clues You've Finally Found Your Soulmate Relationship

Orna and Matthew Walters have been soulmate coaches for over a decade and helped thousands of readers create long-lasting love. Their free report, "7 Steps To Soulmating", is available from their website for anyone looking for their soulmate.

This article was originally published at Love On Purpose. Reprinted with permission from the author.