If you’ve read many of my posts, you know I am all about self-care. I think we should all do things to nourish our minds, bodies, and souls on a consistent basis, because without that, we begin to suffer. The suffering may not happen right away, but it comes with time. We all deserve more than that.

When you hear the term self-care you may think of things like exercise, meditating, and pampering yourself. You are right because all of those things matter, but when I think of caring about myself, it’s not just about these things. I also think about how I talk to myself, what I think about my accomplishments, what I think I deserve, and who I let into my life.

My husband treats me well. Sure, I think the fact that he is a great guy has a lot to do with it (plus he has an awesome mom), but I also think I set the tone for our relationship once it developed into something serious. I think it was always clear that cursing at me would never fly. I think he knew that being disrespectful was never going to be cool. And I surely know I made it clear that trying to control me would really lead to many lonely nights because I was not having it.

So many of us fail to teach people how to treat us because we really aren’t that kind to ourselves. We call ourselves names, downplaying all the things that make us awesome. We often don’t see our own strength. We often don’t respect ourselves enough to change some of our behaviors and make better life choices. So, when you are unable to show yourself the love and respect you deserve, how can you possibly show someone else how to treat you with love and respect?

If your partner doesn’t treat you the way you’d like, it doesn’t necessarily mean he is a bad person. If you both have been cursing at each other for a long time, maybe you both just need to work on how you communicate or manage anger. If you both have trouble being vulnerable and opening up, maybe there are some underlying issues that need to be addressed. Now is it possible that you are with someone who will never step up and treat you the way you deserve? That is possible, but only you know the answer to that. With the right intervention, you can determine if your relationship is worth saving.

Now before I get a comment about cheaters, let me be clear. I am not suggesting that a person who cheats was taught to cheat by you. In my opinion, deciding to cheat has to do that person’s own character flaws. However, when you know someone is cheating and you accept it, forgiving that person time and time again, I do think you are sending a message. You are teaching them that cheating is okay in your book because you are always willing to forgive—even when there has been no effort to truly change the behavior.

You see, teaching people how to treat us does not mean we control their behavior. Everyone is responsible for his or her own behavior. However, when we expect respect and we show the people who enter our lives that they have no future with us without it—well, I think that sends a clear message: you can respect me, or you can keep it moving. That’s the message I always want to send.

Whether you are male or female, one fact remains true: you deserve to be in a relationship with someone who respects, appreciates and values you. If they don’t, but you stick around, you are sending a message you really don’t need to send. Let’s teach the people that enter our lives how to treat us because if we don’t, we are adding people to our lives that break us down instead of building us up. No one has time for that. I know I don’t.