I’ve been attempting to sing like Aretha Franklin since I first heard Respect. I guess I was destined to belt it to the best of my abilities because I am my mother’s daughter – each time it was included as “The Best Mix of the 80’s, 90’s and Today!”, she’d turn the volume up sky high and car dance. She does the same thing with Gretchen Wilson’s Redneck Woman, but that’s another post.
During my run around the Jackie O reservoir today, Respect came up in my mix and it took every ounce of dignity in me not to dance along. Of course, I have listened to the lyrics countless times and sang along with every opportunity I’ve had – but I never taken the time to actually process what Ms. Franklin was singing.
She’s asking for respect when she comes home. And you know what – I don’t blame her but I’ve also never asked for much respect from the men I’ve dated. Including the possibility that is quite impossible at times.
Respect isn’t something that you necessarily ask for but sometimes you do have to spell it out for guys. Or really – show them that it’s something you not only expect, but will demand if it’s not given to you. It’s a funny thing in itself – you’d think the person you’re with or a guy you’d ultimately see yourself with until death parts you, would show their respects from day one.
But it’s not always that easy, is it?
Your partner should be among your best friends – you should be able to trust them, to communicate effectively and calmly, to make decisions together that serve both of you the best, and relate on levels of similarity that you share. And if you’re a good friend (which I’m assuming you are) – you know that respecting your friends is important to healthy friendships. If they don’t like to discuss personal topics with the rest of your group, you don’t. If something you like to do makes them uncomfortable, you find ways to accommodate. And if they’re unhappy, you would never deliberately or indirectly do anything to make it worse. Respecting someone is listening to them – and while we’d like to think we listen to our guys and they listen to us – that isn’t always true.
Because something changes when someone is your mate. You’re more intimate with them. You feel more vulnerable. You expect more and you get disappointed easier by their choices or actions. You depend on them and you should respect them like they respect you. But that respect is difficult when your emotions are so tightly bound to the things they say and do. You want them to hurt – as awful and immature as that sounds – as much as you do if you’re in a heated argument. You’d like to think you put their interests above your own and you care about them unconditionally -but relationships are conditional. People and things changes, but if things change people into people you don’t want to do things with, then you don’t stay. If you’re not feeling respected, you know it’s time to make some moves.
To be someone who is respected, you have to first and foremost respect yourself. You have to be strong and brave enough to say when enough is enough. You have to be sturdy to stand alone and confident to walk away if you’re not getting what you know you deserve. You have to voice your wishes and your needs to have them met.
You have to love yourself enough to know that while love and romance is ideal, respect is what makes a relationship more than a Facebook-worthy status change. Respect is what changes a comfortable relationship into a stable, healthy one and a common couple into supporting partners.
What it means to me is more than just asking for a little bit of respect. It’s asking for a lot of it and not just when I get home – but always. You can love me better than anyone else, but if you don’t respect me, I’ll never love you because I can’t respect you in return.