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Love should not make you feel like you are walking on eggshells, second guess yourself all the time, or dim your spirit. It certainly should not make you feel humiliated or unworthy.
A few months ago, my 7-year-old had asked me what having a ‘healthy argument’ means. The question was actually in response to me telling her that having healthy arguments in a relationship is usual and okay.
“It is when you respectfully put forth your thoughts without indulging in mockery, or without getting high-handed or aggressive or mean. You could very well express your displeasure or even anger without demeaning the other person or making them feel lesser than you.”
A simplified version of this is how I explained the point to her back then. This was something that always came to my mind instantly whenever anyone asked me my thoughts about the most important aspect of any relationship. For me, respect is the root and everything else stems out of it.
When I recently came across a viral clip of ace Bollywood actor Shefali Shah while talking about her latest movie Darlings, it made me pin back my ears. She proved yet again why she is a force to reckon with not just onscreen but off the camera as well.
She was asked what she thinks is the biggest red flag in a relationship and her instinctive reply was ‘disrespect’. She hit the nail on the head as she further explained how this begins subtly under the garb of humour.
Quoting her verbatim – “You know disrespect can start on a very light level of humour. You don’t realise it. It starts as ‘Arey wo toh aisa hi karta hai…arey wo toh aise hi karti hai…arey isko thodi na samajh aayega’. (He is like that only, she is like that only, oh, she doesn’t really understand anything!) It’s not funny after a point of time. You want to say something and if you have to hold it back, then there is a serious problem. If you are worried about being yourself in front of somebody – good, bad, ugly, then there is a problem. In a relationship, you’re supposed to feel safe and secure, and accepted. You should not be worrying (about what you want to say)”
We do not even need to do a survey to concur with her. This is the reality of many relationships and the fact that sometimes, we do not even realise we are being disrespected is disturbing.
‘Respect’ doesn’t mean we have to put someone on a pedestal. Just treat them as another human being with feelings, wishes, boundaries… and worthy of your regard.
How many times have we been blamed of being stuck up when we react to a so-called humorous jibe?
How many times have we been told to let go because the partner is not otherwise evil (like not literally killing you)?
How many times have we been told to adjust and keep shut because so many others have it worse?
How many times do we have to diffuse volatile situations by choosing to not share what’s in our heart and mind?
How many times do we let fear thrive in a relationship because of some moments of love and passion?
How many times do we suppress our true selves to avoid conflicts or confrontations?
Every time we do any of the above, we are turning a blind eye to a glaring red flag because of how such dynamics have been normalized over the generations. When there is genuine respect, there is a certain sensitivity to the other person’s emotions and views, even in situations of distress.
But as Shefali rightly pointed out, ignoring lack of respect in its not so overt form can lead to it snowballing into a far bigger problem before one could even realise it. The trauma and emotional abuse can break the confidence and self-esteem of the victim, and bit by bit impact their day-to-day functioning.
Love should not make you feel like you are walking on eggshells. Love should not make you feel too cautious all the time about what you say or do. Love should not dim your spirit. And for sure, love should not be making you feel humiliated or unworthy.
It is high time more and more people talk openly about these relationship red flags. It is high time we take a strong stand and not settle for anything less than what we deserve.
Image source: a still from short film Juice
Multiple award winning blogger, influencer, author, multi-faceted entrepreneur, creative writing mentor, choreographer, social activist and a wanderer at heart read more...
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