Obviously, everyone wants to receive both respect and love in a relationship. Our dating woman needs to be respected. She also needs to be loved. Which one, though, if she has to choose, will create the stronger foundation upon which to build a relationship?
What role do respect and love play in mate selection? Consider Molly. One day she confides in you that she wants a divorce. You're shocked. Dan seems to love her very much. "I'm really taken aback," you say. "I'm sure that Dan loves you." Molly responds. "Yes, he does. So what? In private, he's rude and disrespectful! I'm not going to spend the rest of my life being insulted and put down."
And herein is the crux of the matter: love without respect isn't really love. How can you claim to love someone but not take care of them? Yes, sometimes we struggle with the complexities of life. Yet to diminish a person seems to be the opposite of love. So, what is meant when Molly agrees that her husband loves her?
Let's look at a different scenario. Josh loves his mother. He feels a deep sense of gratitude for all that she has done for him over so many years. Yet, Josh also knows that his mother is a narcissist. She wanted a child because that would earn her the respect of her peers. When Josh was born and was very cute, she felt particularly elated at her good fortune. Surely, this child would bring her even more positive attention. As the years progressed and Josh did well in school, his mother lapped up the praise. When it came time for Josh to settle down, he had fallen in love with a wonderful woman. She was kind and loving, very charitable. But, she didn't quite look the way Josh's mom wanted. Whose needs took precedence? Josh gave in to his mother. Now, he regrets the worst decision of his life. Does Josh's mother love him? Sure. She developed a love for him from all the years of giving to him. But she loves him to a great extent because of how Josh enables and enhances her ego.
Getting back to Molly and Dan, this is a similar relationship. Molly is very sociable and introduced him to her many friends. Dan's self-esteem rose in relation to the number of people who paid him attention. Just by associating with Molly, Dan feels more important. Plus, she actively does many things for him and Dan appreciates that. However, he doesn't respect Molly. He doesn't even respect himself. That's why he puts her down. Surely, he must be important if she allows him to be elevated above her.
Going back in time, Molly could have used some advice. Dan may have been charming. He did and said many of the right things. There were also warning signs. A loss of temper here and there when Molly tried to assert herself. A crude remark that Molly attributed to work stress. She was moved by Dan's love and decided that he would make a good husband once he just learned to calm down a little. He would take good care of her. Why did Molly think this? Despite her obvious social gifts, deep down Molly didn't think that she deserved much. She was likable to others, just not so much to herself. She thought she wanted more, but Molly accepted Dan the way he was.
Molly had, of course, noticed Bill. She observed that whenever he would interact with others he was always helpful even when she could tell he was overworked. She wondered if Bill might be worth dating. The problem for Bill was that he wasn't as dynamic as Dan. Molly felt a chemistry with Dan right away. She took that as a sign that there was more potential with him. That was too bad. What she really felt were alarm bells going off from a good looking guy.
If Molly had gotten to know Bill, she would have realized that his consistent consideration of her feelings might have helped her heal. In time, she would have found him to be even more attractive than Dan. He was actually an interesting person. If only Molly had given Bill a chance, they too might have fallen in love.
Where there is an unhealthy self-image, there is probably an associated desire to grasp on to whomever you think will like you. Should someone with nicer values show interest in you, you may feel too uncomfortable and reject them for someone who will treat you less well, reinforcing your self-impression. In such cases, maybe alarm bells are a sign that you have found someone 'appropriate' to how you perceive yourself.
When you enter a relationship with low self-esteem, you run the risk of accepting or even desiring a partner who may not be what you need and ultimately deserve. Don't forget how oxytocin affects pleaure centers in your brain and will convince you that you are in love when you share passion. To quote from the journal Psychoneuroendochrinology, "studies in monogamous mammalian species underscore the central role of oxytocin (OT) in pair-bonding. Medicalnewstoday.com cites reseach that indicates that the increase in oxytocin levels associated with physical intimacy "can further influence how we deal with others by enhancing our perception of trustworthiness, which would further increase the danger of taking unnecessary risks."
Everyone needs to grow. If you and your partner are troubled but willing to look at your situation honestly and make the changes that will improve your relationship, then you will hopefully be delighted with your decision to marry your spouse.