How To Put Disrespectful People In Their Place (Forever)

Photo: Gorodenkoff / shutterstock 
lovely older brunette smiles in a mirror

The concepts of respect and personal boundaries are tied to what we are or are not willing to tolerate or accept. 

In other words, you get to decide for yourself how people are allowed to treat you.

There is nothing wrong with following our own moral compasses and having these expectations of others in return, to set limits as to what makes us feel safe and comfortable in any environment. 

Establishing boundaries and insisting on respect from others demonstrates that we have values and expectations that align with our inner beliefs.

It sets the standard for choosing to value our own self-worth. 

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Cultivate a built-in 'disrespect detector'

Healthy boundaries in our relationships are defined as what we consider "appropriate" behavior. This is crucial not only for self-care but for maintaining positive relationships in all aspects of life.   

Merriam-Webster defines respect like this: "to consider worthy of high regard."

When someone respects us, they show it by demonstrating their regard, honoring our boundaries, and showing that they care about our feelings.

When some or none of those things are true, there's a very real chance that we are being disrespected.

The person committing the act of disrespect is not worth our time.

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"Tell me he is not really going to cross that line..."

Yvonne (not her real name) enjoyed building and interacting with her community on social media. In fact, she had a decent number of friends in one such arena. 

She didn't care about the number of friends. She cared about the quality of friendships she enjoyed.

Recently, Yvonne received a friend request from Lenny (not his real name), whom she had not seen for over 40 years. 

At first, she was a little bit leery because we all know how spammers come along so she did her due diligence and checked out this guy’s page. 

They had several mutual friends and his posts seemed pretty tame. They had never known each other very well but years ago they had a mutual acquaintance. 

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The next day, Yvonne receives a private message from Lenny. It started out with the usual polite conversation that you might expect from two people who are basically strangers trying to exchange pleasantries. 

They asked one another how they were doing and talked about their gratitude for still being among the living. He then inquired as to where she was residing these days. 

She told him the name of her town only. He went on to explain that he was retired and thinking about potentially moving and getting a home on a lake. 

Yvonne knew that Lenny was married and asked where he would like to live. 

She also asked if his wife would want to live in the area which he described and he explained they were open to anything. Yvonne assured Lenny that she was sure the right thing would come along. 

He then went on to tell her that he lived in a small town about twenty minutes from her.

Still a pleasant conversation up to this point. Here comes the shift.

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A gradual shift to disrespect

There were quite a few idle moments between their PMs. Yvonne was busy working from home and not paying close attention. Occasionally she would see that Lenny had sent her another message. 

About 45 minutes into the conversation, Lenny asked, "Do you like naughty pics?" 

 Yvonne asked, "How naughty? LOL (I don't want to see your personals)." 

Tell me he is not going to cross that line, she thought. 

To which Lenny replied: "Wine bottle comparison picture?"

The next thing she knew, Lenny sent an extremely inappropriate graphic image and then added measurements alluding to the length times width of his side-by-side comparison. Without her consent. 

Yvonne was not a prude by any means and could only imagine where this was leading, but she was sincerely hoping she was wrong. She responded, "?"  

An hour passes and Lenny responds, "Yes."

Another 45 minutes passed and Lenny sends another message: "TMI?""

Yvonne responded with, "Inappropriate."

A minute later, Lenny says, "Sorry." Five minutes later, he adds, "Must be the carpenter in me, I measure everything."  

Yvonne thought to herself, "No. You are an ignorant man, who has no self-worth and absolutely no respect for women."

Yvonne had one last thing to say before she blocked him once and for all: "We are done. I wish you the best."

Lenny responded with a "thumbs up" emoji.

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Here are five red flags that the person you're communicating with doesn't respect you

1. They are flirting with you even though you know they're married

Lenny was married. Whether happily or otherwise doesn't change that fact. In the beginning, his conversation seemed harmless, however as it progressed it did cross the line to harassment

2. They initiated contact

Yvonne did not initiate a dirty conversation nor did she in any way lead Lenny on. She also did not insinuate at any point that she was open to such a graphic and inappropriate image. 

Additionally, she clearly stated right up front that she did not want to see his personals. And we know he knew what she meant.  

Granted, she assumed he was going to send a cartoon image or something other than an explicit photo. Unfortunately with all things, we should never assume.  

3. Their behavior is too familiar or immature

Lenny shows his level of immaturity by choosing to be so disrespectful and he also shows that he clearly has no respect for his wife and/or other women (in this case, Yvonne). 

He's acted like a salacious person who believes everyone wants to see pictures of his junk. 

A man who isn't trying to lure a woman in for sexual favors would never dream of such a preposterous idea. 

4. They don't respect your boundaries or take 'no' for an answer

Not only was his behavior out of line, but he also gave no consideration or respect for Yvonne in any way shape, or form. He just pushed right through with arrogance and clearly no sense of remorse.  

5. They demonstrate no moral compass

Lenny has no moral compass. He also lacks self-worth because a man who has any sense of self-respect or pride would have never stooped to this level. 

Did he actually think he would impress her?

Lenny's behavior was inexcusable. His behavior was not a joke.

In fact, it bordered on sexual exploitation. He has made it very apparent that he has little regard or respect for women. 

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The right way to respond to disrespect

No matter how the line is crossed, it is not appropriate or acceptable behavior.

Yvonne established that she is not interested in this inappropriate behavior or conversation. 

She didn't need to offer any additional explanation as to why she abruptly dismissed Lenny and his shenanigans. She certainly had no interest in being taken advantage of or being misconstrued. 

This is how one shows their expectations to others. She politely, yet firmly, stood up for herself allowing Lenny (if he chose) to sit with the repercussions of his actions.

A mature woman wants to be treated with dignity. She does not wish to be treated like she is a piece of meat.

She wants to be treated with love and tenderness. She wants to be treated with respect.  

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When something rude or inappropriate is meant as a 'compliment'

In another scenario, Dana met Roy when she and her boyfriend had first started dating. 

One day, Roy stopped by to see what Dana's boyfriend was up to. He was busy when Roy first arrived. 

Dana stood outside and talked to Roy for a few minutes. About 10 minutes into the conversation, Roy asks Dana if she remembers who Eddie is. 

Dana said, "Yes. I know who he is.  I don't know him very well and I haven't seen him for years." 

Roy then mentioned that he ran into Eddie the other day and her name came up. He goes on to say, "Eddie asked me if you were still as fine now as you were back in high school. I told him I was sure that you are." 

Roy then added, "Ya. So, Eddie asked me if I thought you would still be a good (sex partner). I told him, oh ya. She looks good!"  

Wait! What? Totally inappropriate conversation.  

Then Roy said to Dana, "Ya! So, isn't that the best compliment in the world? What a great compliment!"

Dude, are you out of your flipping mind? That's not a compliment. 

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Separate yourself from the conversation right away

Dana politely excused herself from the conversation. She was not willing to participate in something that clearly made her feel uncomfortable and nonetheless was extremely inappropriate and disrespectful.  

As Dana indicates that she is not willing to participate in this conversation by walking away, she is setting a boundary with Roy. Whether Roy picks up on her dismissal is on him. 

As a grown man, he should have never had this conversation with Dana or anyone else for that matter. His genuine lack of respect or boundaries with Dana was inappropriately displayed through his conversation with her. 

An intelligent, mature man with even an ounce of self-worth would never dream of treating a woman with so little disregard. In fact, a gesture like this would have never crossed his mind.

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It can happen to anyone

These situations could happen to anyone. Women as well as men have shown their ability to behave inappropriately.  

Pay attention to red flags. Politely stand your ground. Don't give extra attention when it is clearly not deserved or warranted.   

The moment someone crosses the line of inappropriate behavior we need to make our boundaries very clear. We can remain polite.

However, beyond this, we don't owe them anything. 

Setting healthy boundaries and expecting to be treated with dignity and respect means:

  • We can say no without offering an explanation or feeling guilty. 
  • We have every right to speak up if someone does cross the line or behaves poorly.  
  • We prioritize our safety and well-being.
  • We affirm our right to set a standard of what we will or will not tolerate in any situation or circumstance.
  • We value our own morals and beliefs with respectful expectations from others.
  • We place our own happiness on the top shelf of our priorities list.

If we want to impress someone, we should do so with dignity and respect. Act like a mature adult. And unless you are in an intimate relationship with someone and they have clearly consented to receive explicit material from you, do not share inappropriate images with anyone.

We should never feel bad for taking care of ourselves or placing value on who we are as a person. Setting healthy boundaries means we know and accept our worth, that we refuse to lower our standards for someone who clearly has no desire to treat us with dignity or respect.

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Kathy Thielen is an energy healer and life coach who focuses on happiness, self-care, psychic healing, and relationships.