Self-respect is a hot topic in many different types of discussions, and I would like to share my take on what I believe self-respect is all about. It's a tricky thing though, and I hope I don't offend anyone by expressing my views.
Sex and Self-respect
This is probably the hottest ongoing debate in terms of how/when/where you can and should respect yourself. Many believe that if you have casual sex (especially as a woman), that you don't have any self-respect. That you don't value yourself and that you're merely letting other people (guys) use you and your body for their own benefit, for their own pleasure. While this might be true in some scenarios, I would still beg to differ. Has it ever occurred to you that there are plenty of women who enjoy the benefits of casual sex, especially those who are not looking for anything serious at the moment? They are not being used. They benefit from the sex just as much as the man does. How are they disrespecting themselves when this is what they want? When this is a setup that works for them? If it works for them, if it's something they consent to, if they are enjoying it, then they still have self-respect.
Now, for the scenarios where I believe you HAVE lost self-respect in terms of sex:
- When you have sex with someone in the hopes of them committing to you, even though they have already told you that it's not going to happen and that they would like to keep it casual forever.
- When you have sex with someone because you want to feel validated and because you want the attention.
- When you cheat on your partner or help someone else cheat on their partner, you are better than that.
Relationships and Self-respect
This is the part where it truly gets tricky. I would like to talk about abusive relationships and the importance of saying no. To sum it up, I do believe that if you let someone use, abuse and hurt you, on the grounds of something like "oh but he loves me, so it's ok" you have lost respect for yourself. You have lost sight of who you are and what's important. However! I'm deeply aware of the fact that it's not always that simple, there are tons of different layers to abuse and toxic relationships, and in many scenarios, the victim of abuse has zero control and it's extremely difficult, if not seriously dangerous, to leave a situation like that. I would like to stress that this does not apply to such situations.
Self-respect is about knowing your boundaries, standing your ground, saying no, not letting yourself be swayed or pressured, not making up excuses for the person who is hurting you. If you always let their happiness come before your own, if you always let them be and feel more important than you, if you always prioritize them over yourself, if you always say yes to everything they say despite not always truly agreeing, if you always sell yourself short for them, you are not respecting yourself. Like I said, this does not apply to extreme cases because I realize that they can be dangerous and out of control. But in a more controlled and not dangerous environment, it's important to stand up for yourself and to know when enough is enough, to know when someone is just using your good nature and pinning you against it. It's hard when it's someone you love who does it, but it's so important to realize that you're worth something, something better than this, and that even though you love that person, your love for yourself is more important. Therefore, letting go is the best option.
This concerns any kind of relationship. It can be a romantic relationship with a partner, a friendship, or the relationship you have with your family/relatives. Don't let others tell you what to do, who to be, how to act, who you're (not) allowed to associate yourself with, what to say, what to wear. Be your own person and respect yourself, respect what you feel is important to you and only respect those who truly deserve it. I know it can be especially hard if the person is a part of your family, because you might feel obligated to love them and see/talk to them regularly. And although your family can be important and something to cherish, remember that it can also be abusive and destructive. In the end, I think blood means nothing if it jeopardizes your physical and mental health. Don't feel forced to keep in touch with someone due to certain circumstances, if they are truly bad for you.