By: Allison Petro, LMHC 

In our culture today, we are surrounded by mixed messages about respect in relationships.  Simply listen closely to the lyrics of songs on your playlist; take notice of what you see on the big screen; and keenly observe what you read and see on social media.  It makes sense that so many people in our society are confused by these mixed messages.

Respect is essential in a healthy relationship; however, many relationships today struggle in this department. As a psychotherapist, one of the chief complaints I receive from men is that their significant other doesn’t treat them with respect, and they feel defeated in how to get it.  

If you feel disrespected as a man, it can be tempting to try and demand respect by raising your voice regularly, trying to control your girlfriend’s every move or even retreat and shut down.  These actions will not get you the results you want for the long haul. At times, you may feel like you can’t get it right or that you are always walking on eggshells.

Relationships are a two-way street and both parties need to treat the other with respect no matter what.  Maybe your girlfriend needs a lesson on how to act respectfully or it could be time for you to self-reflect on your own actions to determine what you could do differently to gain the respect you desire.

Here are 6 tips on how to treat your girlfriend so that she respects you more: 

Tip #1 Respond to Her 

Attention is the oxygen of a relationship.  If you find yourself in an argument with your significant other, and she is saddened or angry about something you said or did, validate her feelings to help her feel understood by you. 

Do this by saying something like, “It makes sense to me that you feel hurt and disappointed about me cancelling our date for Saturday night.”  This is easier said than done (trust me!), but validation is key to helping your girlfriend feel understood.  You may not agree with your girlfriend, but you can validate her feelings, which is her truth.

Tip #2 Celebrate and Defend Her

Never cut down your girlfriend publicly or privately.  Women feel respected and loved when her boyfriend defends her especially in front of others.  Show her that you are proud of her by telling others about her accomplishments, what she does well and most importantly, who she is as a person.  Build her up by encouraging her and communicating to her and to others what you enjoy and celebrate in her.

Tip #3 Communicate Honestly

Use an “I statement” to express how you feel.  Yes, I know; I used the “f” word! This simply means that if she says or does something to make you angry or hurt you, state how her words or actions impact your feelings.  

For example, you can say, “I feel disrespected and hurt when you raise your voice and call me names.” Don’t be afraid to talk about what is true and real. Also, state your opinions openly and honestly.  Don’t agree with her just to agree. Women respect a man who has opinions about whatever the topic might be from current events to favorite toppings on his pizza.

Tip #4 Be Reliable

Be reliable by being punctual, which shows her that you respect her time.  Women respect a man who is where he says he is going to be and on time. If you are habitually late, you don’t respect her or her time.  Also, to show her that you respect her, respond promptly to her calls and text messages. If you can’t talk when she calls, let her know when you are available to chat and don’t leave her hanging for long periods of time.  

Tip #5 Be Decisive

Women respect men who make firm decisions and stick to them.  For example, be decisive about where you are going and what you are doing on dates.  Many women dis-like when a man asks her what she wants to do on a Friday night. Do a little research, come up with a clear and fun plan, and follow through on it.

I can recall one of my former roommates coming home from a first date, and she was ecstatic to tell all about it.  She explained that the guy had planned this simple but creative date, and she was blown away by his thought to detail and confidence.  

Tip #6 Don’t Be Controlling

A controlling man can be a huge turn off for women.  It’s ok to state your preferences; however, if you try to control what she does, where she goes, and what she wears, you will push her away, and she will not respect you for it. I once dated a guy who tried to tell me how to wear my hair, and we would get into arguments over it on a regular basis.  Quite shockingly (insert sarcasm), the relationship didn’t last.

Our emotions are a compass, and they communicate what matters, who we are and what we need. If you are following these tips on how to treat your girlfriend but still find it difficult to receive respect then it might be time to seek assistance from a professional. An outside source can be incredibly helpful to be there to guide both of you in establishing clear boundaries and better communication skills with one another.  

If you find it hard to gain the respect from the women in your life or want more help in this area than call Life Counseling Solutions at 407-622-1770. Or, you can schedule an appointment here online.  


Allison Petro is Licensed Mental Health Counselor specializing in couples, women’s issues, depression, and children. For more information about the author visit her full bio here.