How To Deal With Friends Who Don’t Respect You?

— Researched and reviewed by Dr. Sandip Roy.

You don’t know how to manage being disrespected by a friend. Then please try these tips to deal with those people who call you your friend but don’t respect you, even after you’ve asked them repeatedly.

Friends are the best and biggest part of your happiness stack.

But dealing with friends who don’t respect you can be an emotionally draining experience.

On the one hand, you want to put them down, while on the other hand, you are afraid to give up on your long friendship.

Here’s How To Deal With Friends Who Don’t Respect You

It’s often difficult to figure out what to do when friends don’t respect you. Because, either you’ve known them too well to hurt them or you are afraid to lose them.

Moreover, it’s hard to predict how they might react when you react strongly to their entrenched behavior, even when you know each other too well. Do you know how to take control away from a narcissist before they break up?

Here are some tips on how to deal with friends who don’t respect you:

Recognize the signs of disrespect.

This is what “calling a spade a spade” means.

Some signs of disrespect include belittling you, making offensive jokes, disregarding your feelings and opinions, and shutting you down so that they can talk about themselves.

You might have ignored it a few times, but they haven’t stopped insulting you on their own.

Once you are convinced they won’t change by themselves, your next step is to recognize and note down each time they treat you with disrespect.

This will help you to understand the frequency and gravity of the issue, and suggest how best to respond to it.

Know this: Friends do not have the right to constantly belittle you, make offensive jokes, or disregard your feelings and opinions.

Their disrespectful behavior isn’t something you would allow anyone else – not your family and not your office colleagues.

The renowned poet and author Maya Angelou once said, “When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.”

How to deal with friends who don't respect you?

Build strong and resilient self-esteem.

When friends say negative things, they will hurt your feelings and make you retaliate. Those momentary reactions may be okay, but if you let those slights affect your self-esteem, it is not okay.

Your self-esteem is what you think of yourself, and what you respect yourself for. Don’t let other people’s comments lower your opinion of yourself.

When you respect yourself, you are more likely to command respect from others. Remember what Confucius, the ancient Chinese philosopher, politician, and teacher, said,

“Respect yourself and others will respect you.”

Self-respect is also linked to personal growth, honesty, confidence, sensitivity, and integrity. Self-evaluation and continuous education are great means of increasing self-respect.

If you already haven’t, please build yourself a strong self-esteem that can weather insults and negative comments.

Establish healthy boundaries.

Setting boundaries in relationships means laying out what you will let them do and what you would not.

Boundaries are crucial in each of your relationships, not just toxic friendships, to maintain your personal space and ensure that others treat you with the dignity you deserve.

Identify the behaviors that make you uncomfortable and communicate your boundaries with them clearly.

Think before you declare your boundaries for them. When you tell them what behaviors you are not going to tolerate anymore, and how will you act if they continue, they may resist or ridicule you.

So, stay prepared. Before confronting them, think about what you want to say and how you want to say it. Be clear and direct, but also respectful.

And always carry out the consequences that you said you would when they overstep your boundaries.

For me, it’s a strict no-no for someone to use mother/sister/daughter-related curse words. I can’t stand people who don’t respect women, and I’ve broken up with many friends over this point. That is my boundary.

“Daring to set boundaries is about having the courage to love ourselves even when we risk disappointing others.”

– Brené Brown

Address the issue directly.

Sometimes, friends may not realize the impact of their actions.

Talk to your friend about how their behavior or comments hurt you. Call them out on their behavior and give them instances when they have disrespected you.

Remember to approach them calmly, as you explain how their behavior affects you, and request that they treat you with respect from then on.

Relationship expert Dr. John Gottman advises, “The antidote to criticism is to make a direct complaint that is not a global attack on their personality.”

Confront them about it with honesty and directness. Let them know how their behavior makes you feel and what you expect from them.

Try not to evade the issue or ghost the friendship.

Seek support from other friends.

It can be helpful to speak to a relationship coach or a trusted friend about your situation.

Don’t be afraid to lean on other friends for support and advice when dealing with disrespectful behavior. They can provide a valuable perspective and may help you realize that you deserve better.

As the saying goes, “A real friend is one who walks in when the rest of the world walks out.”

Surround yourself with people who genuinely care for you, share your values, and treat you with respect.

Open yourself up to the prospects of new relationships. Engage in social activities, join clubs or organizations, and explore online communities.

Your new connections are more likely to respect you more and could lead to opportunities in your career or outside of it.

Remember Oprah Winfrey’s words, “Surround yourself with only people who are going to lift you higher.”

Assess your friend and your friendship.

Understand where they’re coming from.

Do you think your friend is behaving the way they are because of some family issues or money issues? Are they going through a tough time or have their own issues that they need to work through?

Ask them if they are having a tough time. Empathize with them. And still, tell them you would rather have them not behave like that with you.

If their disrespectful behavior continues, evaluate whether the friendship is worth maintaining.

Consider whether the friend brings positivity and value to your life or if they consistently undermine your self-worth.

Laakasuo & Rotkirch (2017) checked how people’s personalities are related to the different characteristics of their three closest friends.

  • They found that people with high Openness were more likely to have friends who live further away, are of the opposite sex and another ethnicity, and whom they meet less often.
  • While those high on Agreeableness and Extroversion were related to more traditional friendship ties.

Motivational speaker Jim Rohn once said, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” So, ask yourself, are you becoming the average of your disrespectful friends?

Prioritize your dignity over retaliation.

Ask yourself if it’s worth responding with similar insulting language.

Sometimes, it’s not worth responding to disrespectful behavior. Consider whether it’s worth your time and energy to engage offensively with your friend.

Ultimately, you must prioritize your own well-being and dignity.

Eleanor Roosevelt wisely stated once, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”

If a friend continues to treat you poorly despite your efforts to address the issue, it may be time to end the friendship.

Never forego compassion and kindness.

Respond with kindness, to them as well as yourself.

When your friend is being disrespectful, respond with kindness and respect. This can help defuse the situation and prevent it from escalating.

Dealing with disrespectful friends can take a toll on how you behave with yourself. Even if it feels like you must treat yourself badly for tolerating their behavior, show some self-kindness.

Practice self-compassion by acknowledging your feelings and recognizing your worth (Neff, 2011).

“You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.” – Buddha

Focus on your personal growth.

Prioritize your personal growth.

If they do not respect you even after repeated requests, they are probably not worth your time.

Your time would be better served by focusing on yourself and finding new friends to be with who will treat you with respect and decency.

Use the experience of dealing with disrespectful friends as an opportunity for personal growth.

Reflect on your own behaviors and consider how you can improve your communication skills and emotional intelligence (Bradberry & Greaves, 2009).

Brian Tracy says, “Invest three percent of your income in yourself (self-development) in order to guarantee your future.”

Embrace forgiveness.

Finally, when you have decided to break off the friendship because they won’t change their behavior toward you, forgive them.

Forgiving is actually more than forgetting. When you forgive, you throw them out of your mind space and take away any agency they may have over you.

You don’t even have to tell them or anyone else that you have forgiven them.

Forgiveness is your personal decision. It is for you first of all, as you choose your own peace by forgiving your offender.

Holding onto anger and resentment can be emotionally draining and prevent you from moving forward.

Embrace forgiveness by acknowledging the hurt, understanding the situation from a broader perspective, and ultimately letting go (Luskin, 2001).

Desmond Tutu wisely said, “Forgiveness says you are given another chance to make a new beginning.”


How To Deal With Friends Who Don't Respect You
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio, Pexels

Problems When Your Friends Don’t Respect You

Your friends are the first relationships that you get to choose. So, you feel doubly worse.

First, they were insensitive and hurt you. Second, you blame yourself for choosing them.

  • Feeling hurt, angry, and betrayed. When a friend disrespects us, it can be very hurtful. We may feel angry, betrayed, and even question our self-worth.
  • Losing trust in our friends. Once a friend has disrespected us, it can be difficult to trust them again. We may worry that they will hurt us again, or that they don’t really care about us.
  • Feeling isolated and alone. When we feel like our friends don’t respect us, it can be isolating. We may feel like we don’t have anyone to turn to, and that we’re all alone.
  • Decreasing self-esteem. When our friends disrespect us, it can damage our self-esteem. We may start to believe that we’re not good enough, or that we don’t deserve to be treated with respect.
  • Increased anxiety and depression. The stress of dealing with a disrespectful friend can lead to anxiety and depression. We may start to worry about everything, and we may feel like we can’t do anything right.

Final Words

Looking at friendships from another side, here are 5 tips from Jill Suttie in Greater Good Magazine, “How to Make the Lasting Friendships You Want“:

  1. Make an effort to know people. This means being present and engaged in conversations, asking questions, and sharing about yourself.
  2. Be yourself. People are drawn to those who are authentic and genuine. Don’t try to be someone you’re not just to fit in.
  3. Be supportive. Be there for your friends when they need you, and offer them your support and encouragement.
  4. Be forgiving. Everyone makes mistakes. If your friend hurts you, be willing to forgive them and move on.
  5. Be grateful. Let your friends know how much you appreciate them. A simple “thank you” can go a long way.

Navigating friendships with those who don’t respect you can be a difficult journey.

Whatever you do, please do not ignore the issue. It creates a bad example for your future self.

Address it head-on. Analyze by yourself whether the friendship is worth keeping.

Remember what Les Brown said:

“Other people’s opinion of you does not have to become your reality.”

Their rude opinions do not decide your worth. Always prioritize your self-respect and let no one demean you repeatedly, however good a friend they may be.

Set and enforce the seven boundaries.

• • •

√ Please share it with someone if you found this helpful.

√ Also Read: 8 Signs of A Toxic Friendship & How To Handle Them

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