The Most Important Factor in a Relationship: A Psychologists Take

“What is the most important quality in a relationship?” is one of the most commonly asked questions of this millennium.

Among other things, honesty and communication (entailing transparency) have been offered as answers by various people.

But according to John Kim, a psychologist who has counselled over a thousand couples, it is none of these things.

In an article he wrote for Psychology Today, he reveals his answer to this elusive question.

He says the quality without which no relationship can thrive, quite simply, is “respect”.

Now if you’ve ever been disrespected in a relationship, I am sure you know what we mean.

If we consider a healthy relationship, respect for the partner cannot be an option: it is the lifeblood; it has to be there. One can even say that it is respect that made the relationship healthy in the first place.

John Kim also noticed the lack of attention we used to pay to this very important quality.

But it is this same thing which builds trust, without which there is nothing really.

If we had to express ourselves quite technically, the fundamental nature of respect in a healthy relationship, it would be thus:

Respect builds trust, trust in one’s partner creates a safe space for oneself which in turn is what healthy relationships are all about.

Defining Respect 

Kim very candidly defines respect as the quality that ensures no one can have power or authority over someone else. In simpler terms, we don’t have to agree with someone to love them. Respect ensures both partners a safe space to have their own opinions and judgments.

It means a space where one is not judged, coerced or controlled.
It entails letting be and growing.

It is of utmost importance to ask oneself if there is respect in the relationship, because if there isn’t, it won’t lead to growth. Maybe respect is after all what has been missing from all your relationships leading to a vicious pattern. If that is indeed the case, then the question arises, “what has been missing?”

Don’t blame it on your partner: Au contraire, bring it home to you. Ask yourself. Maybe there was respect at the initial stages of your relationship but it soon dried away.

What Can Be Done Now To Right The Wrong?

Simply: Never compromise yourself.

If your partner doesn’t respect you or give you importance, you are doing exactly what you shouldn’t be doing: Compromising your integrity and sacrificing self-worth for an unhealthy love.

However if you come to the conclusion that it’s not about you, you need to ask yourself some bitterly honest questions about the partner you want to invest in. Because by compromising on the respect, you are retarding the growth of your own relationship.