When I was a freshman in high school, I started a relationship that lacked the one thing I always promised myself I would demand: respect.
There was a major absence of respect in the way my very first serious boyfriend spoke to me, treated me and frankly, made me view myself. When I ended that relationship, I did not expect much from other boys because of the way this particular one treated me. I wish I could've seen what was coming.
Until I met my now-boyfriend, I had no idea certain behaviors were things that guys did in real life. I had no clue that opening a car door for a girl was still a thing. I didn't know simple things like holding my hand in public weren't a chore and an embarrassment, but actually something a guy who wants to show off his girl does. I didn't understand that yelling, name-calling and putdowns weren't supposed to be an everyday part of a relationship.
Before you, I had no idea that respect was such a simple, beautiful thing.
Thank you for teaching me that respect is something I should always expect in life. Before you, I thought it was something I had to work for, not something I deserved without thought. Thank you for STILL opening my car door for me, even after being together for almost 3 years now. Thank you for always respecting my family, even when I know my siblings are getting on your nerves. Thank you for respecting the fact that my anxiety gets in the way of my life a lot and accepting it instead of poking fun at me for it.
Before you, I didn't know how to be comfortable and be myself because I always felt like I was being judged. You showed me how to be happy with who I am and to never hide parts of me away. You have respected even the darkest parts of me, something I never thought I would find in another person.
I never thought I would find someone who would accept me and all of the parts of me I didn't like. A person who would laugh with me over stupid things. Someone who would drive me to the hospital at 11 pm when I'm sick. Someone who would drive almost 400 miles just to visit me for a weekend.
I could go on and on about the different ways in which you respect me because there are many, but I will leave it with this. You made me understand that just because someone else may not think I am worthy of respect doesn't mean I shouldn't treat myself with it. The greatest lesson I've ever learned from you is how to respect myself and my happiness.
You have never called me a name, you have never made fun of me unless we are playing around and you have never made me feel any less than worthy of every ounce of love and affection you choose to shower me with. Respect is a small word with a very large meaning and I couldn't be more grateful that you have shown me so much of it.