Relationship Rights: What Our Culture is Not Teaching You but Should Be

what-you-need-to-knowTelevision, magazines, the Internet and our culture at large all send dangerous relationship messages to men, women and children. Our culture normalizes violence, encourages promiscuity, blames rape victims for their rape and creates a breeding ground for affairs and sex addiction. Unless we realize that these messages are CRAZY messages, we are at risk for colluding with them, encouraging them and even buying into them. Buying into these messages will harm our world on a grand scale.

So here is me going counter-culture .

Your Basic Relationship Rights: Know them, respect them, follow them. And…demand that those around you do the same.

1.    You have the right to be treated well by all people, at all times. Period. This is true even in anger or upset. No one has the right to yell at you, call you names or be physically or emotionally intimidating, threatening or bullying under any circumstances—and neither do you have the right to behave in any of these ways towards others.
2.    You have the right to ask for what you need and want. This is not being “needy,” “bitchy” or “demanding.” This is being a healthy human being.
3.    You have the right to expect those closest to you to be accountable for their actions. The idea that “love is never having to say you’re sorry” is a ridiculous idea that harms relationships. If someone’s actions are hurtful to you, you have the right to inform them, expect that they will apologize AND repair the damage they caused.
4.    You have the right to expect that those closest to you will be honest with you—even if that means having a difficult conversation. They in turn have the right to expect that you will be respectful in the way you hear their message.
5.    You have the right to have your words, opinions, thoughts, upsets, fears, etc. listened to and respected rather than dismissed or minimized.
6.    You have the right to choose who, how and under what conditions you will be sexual with someone—as long as no others are hurt by your actions. You do not have the right to engage in an affair with a married person, nor does a married person have a right to have an affair with you.
7.    You have the right to say no to sex at anytime, with anyone, under any circumstances, without that person getting angry, pushing past your no or punishing you in any way. This is true with strangers, acquaintances, lovers AND spouses.
8.    You have the right to expect that those in your inner circle (close friends, spouses, close family members, etc.) will treat you best and be the safest people in your life.
9.    You have the right to have your thoughts, opinions and dreams listened to and respected by your significant other—even if they disagree with them. (Disagreeing with your opinions is NOT disrespectful; putting them down, dismissing or making fun of them is).
10.    You have the right to walk in this world as an equal and to be treated as such by all people regardless of fame, position, money or status. Do not allow someone else’s arrogance to result in your shrinking. Own your place in this world.

All human beings deserve to be treated well by all people. This is especially true for those closest in. When it comes to relationships, the bottom line rule is: DO NO HARM. Do no harm to others and allow others to do no harm to you. Every person in your life has the same rights you do, which means you are equally responsible for honoring each of the ten rights above toward them as they are with you.

Our culture gives us permission to blow up when we’re hurt; the Internet invites married people to join cheating sites for the sole purpose of having affairs; television shows normalize one-night stands and on and on. Just because our culture sends these messages does not mean these messages are healthy ones. DO NO HARM—to yourself or to others. Know these rights and be sure you and those around you are honoring them.

Challenge: Be careful of the dangerous messages you buy into. You deserve to be treated well—as do others. Be sure to hold yourself and others to that same entitlement.


  1. Hans says

    I totally respect the right of a spouse to say NO to sex with their spouse. What happens if one spouse exercises that right all the time to the point where the rejecting spouse enforces a sexless marriage (is there such a thing as a sexless marriage?) on the other spouse?

    • says

      Great question…and yes there are “sexless marriages”. If one spouse no longer wants to have sex in a marriage, the other spouse has to decide if that is what they want. Many spouses have had to say, “After giving it a lot of thought, I’m clear that I do not want to live in a sexless marriage. I’m willing to work on our sex life, however I’m not willing to not have one. If you decide that you do not want to work on it then I will be looking into separation. I’ll give you some time to decide what you want to do and then we will need to have a bigger discussion about our future with or without each other.” Living in a sexless marriage–without choosing it, is not a healthy place to be. Have the hard conversations and decide what you can and cannot live with.
      Hang in there!

  2. Susan says

    Thank you Lisa, I really took this message to heart. I realized that not all people close to me are the safest people in my life, and often with disastrous consequences. It was normal to me though.

    Now I am learning another way, a new way of thinking and being. Your messages always hit home and are always appreciated.

    • says

      Susan, You’re very welcome. I’m so glad to hear you’re learning a new way of thinking and being that has your back. Enjoy your journey to finding a newer, healthier “normal”:-).
      Warm Regards,

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