PQ 9.12 — Am I asked to “respect” my partner or her other partners, but feel that this respect is not reciprocated?

a brown sign cardboard sign that reads "respect existence or expect resistance"
Image by Tyler Merbler / CC BY

PQ 9.12 — Am I asked to “respect” my partner or her other partners, but feel that this respect is not reciprocated?

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There’s a great quote that has been flying around the Internet the past couple of years about respect:

Sometimes people use “respect” to mean “treating someone like a person” and sometimes they use “respect” to mean “treating someone like an authority.”

And sometimes people who are used to being treated like an authority say “if you won’t respect me, I won’t respect you” and they mean “if you won’t treat me like an authority, I won’t treat you like a person.”

And they think they’re being fair, but they aren’t, and it’s not okay.

I originally saw this in conjunction with online groups expressing concerns regarding police brutality. But as time has worn on, I’ve seen this pattern play out in a myriad of other ways.

And one of those? Has definitely been in polyamorous relationship hierarchies.

I see it all the time in poly forums. “I don’t know what her problem is, his new girlfriend. She needs to respect what me and my husband have.”

While meanwhile, she’s constantly interrupting her husband’s dates with this new person via texts:

I miss you, baby.

How are things going?

Or even worse: Pleas to come home because of a manfactured “emergency.”

“If this woman could just respect me, I’d respect her,” she says. And on a surface level, it seems fair enough.

But in practice it really means, “If she doesn’t respect that our relationship always comes first, then I won’t respect their relationship at all.”

And that’s not exactly fair, is it?

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This post is part of a series in which I answer each of the chapter-end questions in More than Two with an essay. For the entire list of questions & answers, please see this indexed list.

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