Mutual respect is the foundation that good friendships are built on. Shared experiences help to build respect between two people and that tells us that we can trust somebody. Without respect, any kind of relationship soon becomes dysfunctional.
But respect can be a difficult thing to define and many people don’t realize that they are involved in a one-sided friendship in which the other person does not respect them. If you want to be able to navigate the social world and form good friendships, you need to know how to recognize when somebody does not respect you. These are some of the most common signs to watch out for.
They Constantly Put You Down
When you respect a person, you support them and encourage them during difficult times. If they achieve something, you congratulate them and tell them that you’re proud of them. But if somebody doesn’t respect you, they will often act in the opposite way.
Instead of building you up, they will do anything they can to put you down, especially in public when other friends are around. This shows a distinct lack of respect because their main concern is making themselves look good, without worrying about how it affects your feelings.
When somebody puts you down in front of others, it is a way of asserting their dominance over you and the situation in general. The underlying reasons for this behavior have nothing to do with you and everything to do with them. In many cases, it comes down to low self-esteem and by putting others down, they hope to build themselves up and make themselves feel better.
People that act in this way will not be upfront with you because if they were honest about their lack of respect, the friendship would be ended and they would no longer be able to use you as a way to boost their own ego. Instead, they will keep you around and use subtle put-downs, often played off as jokes, to make themselves feel superior.
In this situation, they put their own need to boost their self-esteem before your feelings, which demonstrates selfishness and lack of mutual respect in the friendship.
They Talk Behind Your Back
People talk badly about you behind your back for the same reason that they put you down in public; they want to make themselves feel superior. They might be nice to you in person but as soon as you aren’t there, they start talking about you and trying to make you look bad in front of others.
What this tells you is that they are using you for their own personal gain and they don’t have any respect for you. They’ll be nice to you when it suits them but as soon as you aren’t there anymore, they drop the act and show their true feelings towards you. If you ever find out that a friend is talking about you behind your back, they’re not really a friend.
They Lie To You
Lying to somebody shows a basic lack of respect because it means that they have no problem deceiving you. There are a number of reasons people lie, and sometimes it is for an understandable reason, like preserving privacy or avoiding a dangerous situation. However, it’s more common for people to lie to avoid embarrassment, win the admiration of others, avoid punishment, or exercise power over others. In all of these cases, your friend doesn’t care if you are kept in the dark and lied to as long as they achieve their own selfish aims.
If a true friend does something wrong, they will respect you enough to own up to their mistake, even though it makes them look bad. But somebody that doesn’t respect you would rather lie to you because they consider themselves more important.
When somebody constantly lies to you, they erode trust and without trust, you cannot sustain a relationship of any kind. If your friend is lying to you, they don’t respect you and you should end the friendship.
They Break Promises
A good friend follows through with promises that they make to you. Sometimes, these are small promises, like arranging to meet up and socialize. Other times, they are big promises, like agreeing to keep a secret. If your friend is constantly canceling plans at the last minute or simply not turning up, or they promise to keep things secret and then immediately talk about them with others, that is a strong sign that they have no respect for you.
Repeatedly canceling plans indicates that they don’t care about the value of your time and they are not bothered if you are hurt by their actions. Spreading secret information that you have shared with them is especially disrespectful because they are fully aware that telling others could embarrass and hurt you but they do it anyway. In many cases, they deliberately tell others secrets to put you down and make others think badly of you, which is, as we discussed earlier, a result of their self-esteem issues.
Friends should be people that we can rely on, especially in difficult times when we need them the most. But if somebody doesn’t respect you enough to meet you when they said they would, how can you trust them to be there for you when it counts?
You’re Always The One That Calls Them
This is a common sign of a one-sided friendship that people often miss. If you are concerned that your friend doesn’t respect you, think about the last few times you met up with them. Did you call them or did they call you? Are you always the one that calls them to arrange things? Would they bother if you didn’t contact them first? When you start thinking about this, you might realize that you are always the one that puts the work into the relationship.
In friendships that lack mutual respect, there is usually one big exception to this; they will call you when they need something. If your friend is happy to call you up when they need to borrow money or they need a ride somewhere, but they never call just to hang out or chat, they don’t respect you. They see you as a resource that they can use, rather than a friend that they respect and enjoy spending time with.
If you stop calling your friend and you notice that they gradually start to pull away, this is a strong sign that they are only interested in what they can get from you. When you stop reaching out to them, they will soon find somebody else to use.
They’re Jealous Of You
Jealousy is an ugly emotion that has no place in respectful friendships. When a friend gets a promotion at work or starts a new romantic relationship, you should be happy for them. You respect them and you want them to do well in life, so their achievements are a positive thing for you as well as them.
Friends that don’t respect you will have the opposite reaction. They don’t care about your success and they are not invested in your happiness. In fact, they see your successes as an attack on them because their worldview is so self-centered. So, instead of congratulating you on the good things happening in your life, they will find ways to pick them apart. If you get a promotion, they might tell you that they still earn more than you. If you meet a new romantic partner, they will say they’re wrong for you and they don’t think it will last.
Jealousy about romantic relationships often stems from a fear of losing the friendship. The person worries that you will dedicate less time to them because you are focused on your new romantic partner. Again, this shows a lack of respect because, even though they know that your romantic partner makes you happy, they care more about the impact that it will have on them.
They Gaslight You When They Hurt Your Feelings
Gaslighting in romantic relationships has gained a lot of attention in the last few years, but we don’t talk about its role in friendships as much. Gaslighting means manipulating somebody into doubting their own feelings and eventually, their own sanity. Friends that don’t respect you will often use this behavior when they hurt your feelings.
For example, if they have been putting you down and you tell them that you didn’t like the way they spoke about you, they will say it was just a joke. You’re the one that has the problem because you are being too sensitive. Instead of cutting them out of your life, you begin to wonder whether they’re right. Maybe they are a good friend and you just need to lighten up and learn to take a joke.
This is the method that they use to maintain relationships with people even though they show a clear lack of respect. This allows them to continue taking what they need from you without contributing anything to the friendship.
What Should You Do If Your Friend Doesn’t Respect You?
If you notice any of these signs, you shouldn’t necessarily cut them out right away. There is room for growth in all people, so you should sit down with them and express your feelings. In some cases, once you have explained the issues that you have with the relationship, they may change their behavior and you can start to build a friendship based on mutual trust.
If this does not happen and the behavior continues, it is important to recognize that your own mental health is damaged by this friendship and you are ultimately better off without that person in your life.
There are plenty of people out there that will be good friends to you, so don’t settle for people that don’t respect you.