Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Respect and Relationships - The Balance You Need

Hello, kittens.  I realize it’s been a very long time since I've posted anything here, and for that I sincerely apologize.  Unfortunately, sometimes life gets in the way of the things you really enjoy doing, and no matter how much you try, you simply can’t add hours to the day - -every one of them only  comes with 24.  I've been through quite a bit of turmoil lately, and maybe eventually we’ll catch up on that.  However, for today, I want to talk to you about something that’s very near and dear to me   Respect. 

I've been thinking about this quite a bit lately, and how there are so many levels of respect and different ways in which it’s provided (and received).    There’s ONE specific kind of respect that I’m going to talk about, but I wanted to cover the others in order to put things into perspective – or help you understand where my mind is right now. 

There’s the respect you have for naturally talented athletes, actors, singers, or artists (that list can go on and on).  The type of respect that makes you go ‘Wow… they make it look so easy.”  I have this respect for my daughter every time she does something artistic; because – aside from writing – that kind of talent just doesn’t exist inside of me.   With the exception of the people I personally know, it’s a kind of respect that isn’t really “earned”.  It’s hard to “earn” respect if you don’t have a personal interaction; but I still respect the fact that they can do what they do, get paid for it, and look so natural doing it.  I’ll admit, if I tried to do a back tuck on a balance beam, or even tried to jump to catch a football that’s three feet above my head and inches behind me – I’d look like a drunk harbor seal trying to find a fish in a desert.  Not a pretty picture for me; and they make it look like second nature. 

Then there is the level of personal respect you gain from having ongoing interactions with someone.  They earn your respect with their actions, their honesty, their integrity, their intelligence; or whatever criteria you determine earns your respect.  This is a very high form of respect, because it’s provided almost as a gift when someone lives above the expectations you have for the human race.  It’s also the type of respect that can be lost when you lower your standards, or act in a way that makes others no longer respect you.   I find this kind of respect in the workplace most often, as our work relationships are much different than our personal ones. 

There are other kinds of respect, but I want to get to the point before I lose you too quickly, beloved reader.  Hopefully I haven’t done that yet!   The respect that I want to really focus on today is the respect that comes with a close, personal relationship.  This relationship can be a friendship, a romantic partnership, or even a family relationship.  This level of respect is much different and presents itself in a different manner than others.  We take our closest relationships most seriously, but we also tend to take advantage of them the most. 

In our close, personal, relationships we already know there is a level of mutual respect, otherwise we wouldn't be close to the person in question.  However, for some reason, we tend to misplace respect in our actions towards our loved ones.  It’s not always super obvious, and sometimes we are “just joking” when we do it.  Here’s the thing; when a pattern of behavior is repeated enough it becomes disrespectful; “I’m just kidding” only takes you so far until the other person starts to feel like you don’t care that they've asked you a hundred times NOT to say something that’s offensive or upsetting to them. 

There’s another level of respect that we don’t always show each other.  It’s when we make our own needs, wants, and desires more important that the other person in the relationship.  Let’s take an example: 

A husband and wife are getting ready to go out for a date-night.  The husband is just getting over the flu and his stomach is still sensitive to foods; but they still decide to go out for dinner.  The husband asks “Where do you want to go for dinner.” 

The wife responds “The Mexican Hat . Their enchiladas are amazing”.    

“My stomach is still messed up, can we go somewhere else and save Mexican for another night?” the husband asks, knowing just about anything on the menu is going to cause him discomfort.

“But I REALLY love Mexican, and the last time we went out, you said I could pick the next restaurant.  Besides, they have a great chicken breast and rice dish you can order, it won’t mess up your stomach too much.” 

It’s pretty obvious in this situation that the wife is clearly only focusing on herself and her desire for Mexican food; which is why I used this example first.  The husband might cave and go to the Mexican restaurant to make his wife happy; but he likely won’t be very happy about it.   I won’t go into the compromises they could settle on, or the rest of what may or may not happen.  The fact of the matter is, she didn't take into consideration his needs and only focused on what she wanted.  If this was a one-time event, it’s likely not an issue.  However, if she does this on a regular basis, it starts to show that she doesn't respect what he wants or needs.

Example Number 2:  A pair of friends (Sue and Patty) have discussed at length, and more than once, how much Sue doesn't like to have her feet touched.  It’s a combination of being ticklish, and just a general dislike of feet.  Occasionally, as they are hanging out, Patty will try to tickle Sue’s feet, and Sue has to remind her (yet again) that she doesn't want her feet touched.   For her Sue’s birthday, Patty scheduled them BOTH for a salon pedicure.  “You’re going to LOVE IT  ... pedicures are my absolutely favorite thing in the whole world, and it took me months to get into this salon.”   It becomes obvious over a period of time that Patty doesn't respect Sue’s desires and just does her own thing without thought to her friend’s feelings.   

Continually poking fun or, or constantly reminding someone of their requests and/or quirks can be very tiresome and, eventually, can be seen as a lack of respect.  Eventually, no matter how much someone cares for someone else they may back away from a friendship (or other relationship) due to it.  Nobody wants to be continually reminded of their shortcomings. 

OK, kittens, because I love you and trust you I’m going to go out on a limb here and use a VERY personal example (not something I do often), but I think it will help me get my point across. 

I have a SERIOUS personal space issue.  Most of my friends and relatives know this about me... it’s nothing new and not anything I outright hide from anyone.  It’s also something that I've been consciously working on for years.   I don’t like to be hugged, don’t like people in my personal space (standing/sitting right next to me) and I downright hate casual touching (someone putting their hand on my arm, shoulder, leg., etc. when they are talking to me).   Like everything else, there are some exceptions – my family and anyone I have sincere, deep, romantic feelings for.   This isn't to say that I won’t hug people; I know it’s a widely accepted social action and it shouldn't be that big of a deal.  So I hug people; people I care about and people that I haven’t seen in a while.  I’d rather not… but I do it because it’s good for me to face the things that I’m not comfortable with. 

Here’s where the “respect” thing comes in for me.  Those closest to me know all about this personal space issue.  Like I said before, it’s not something that I hide (though it’s also not something that I openly confess to strangers).  To me, respecting my personal boundaries is part of respecting me as a person.  Forcing me to hug, sit close, put up with casual touching or kissing, etc, because YOU think it’s funny or helpful makes me wonder if you ever have my best interests in mind. 

I see this “personal space” issue as a shortcoming…as something that holds me back from being the person that I really want to be.  That’s why I’m working on it; I hug people when I see them, and I try not to make it a big deal if someone is sitting or standing too close to me.  With that, I don’t like to be reminded of my shortcomings; I can’t image many people that do.  If I had a physical deformity, I wouldn't want to be reminded of it every day or every time I show a sign of weakness.   Therefore, I find it very difficult to read texts or IMs from people who insist on “virtually hugging me” or “virtually kissing me” because I don’t like to do it in person.  It’s simply calling me out on my weakness and, once it’s done enough, shows me that the person doesn't respect me, my desires, or the issues I’m dealing with. 

So there you have it, kittens.   Being mindful of your actions, words, and texts when you’re dealing with your loved ones will go a long way in ensuring they know you not only love them, but respect their desires and wishes.   Keep in mind, if someone disrespects you enough, what do you do?   If you continue to disrespect the people in your life, regardless of whether or not you ‘mean it’, don’t be surprised if you find yourself no longer as close as you used to be. 

In the end, it’s all about being kind.  Compassionate.  Thoughtful.  Insightful.  If you do that, the respect comes automatically.

I adore you, and I miss writing for you.  Thank you for reading my ramblings and I hope to  be back to writing on a regular basis very soon.   

1 comment:

Shari said...

i love you, sweetie.