Sociologically I was raised to respect men, people with college degrees, teachers, clergy, doctors and nurses--in other words, my betters. I was raised to admire members of the military (which wrongly went out the window during the war in Vietnam), police and firefighters, and other public servants--even (gasp!) politicians. Yes, sir or ma'am. No, sir or ma'am.
As an adult my respect filter became skewed by arrogance and cynicism and generally bad manners associated with alcohol consumption and not well corrected in early sobriety. To this day it's a character defect that pops up repeatedly.
My AA friend and sponsor is debilitated by cognitive and memory problems. She is progressively more vague. When she was asked to speak at a meeting, MaryBeth brought a comfortable chair and two other friends sat with her and helped with reminiscences of her start in AA (52 years before) and her sobriety stories since. MaryBeth especially asked the meeting chair (me) if this was okay to do. Without a thought I said, sure! I respect MaryBeth. No thought process required. (college, sober longer than I am by years, etc.)
When long time friend Jim moved in, I painstakingly established a budget upon which we could agree. Part of household expenses were paid through the bank; others by cash. I became so enamored of my handiwork, that I pitched a fit when Jim used his debit card instead of cash at the grocery store. I mean Pitched. A. Fit. (a man but sober only a little longer than I am, etc.) No thought at all; no respect. By evening, I was sorry I'd snarled at him. I couldn't sleep and the next morning I made amends with tears in my eyes. Since then I have done my best to be respectful in thought, word and deed. It isn't perfect, I'm sure. Honestly, it helps that he's a man. That 1940's and 50's upbringing valued men over women pretty distinctly.
In other relationships I have lacked even a superficial respect for friends and partners. I tend to believe I know what's better for them (the height of arrogance). I lorded it over people I supposedly loved. It wasn't until the last five or six years that I've realized that most of my partners had disabilities, problems that (falsely) elevated me to martyred caregiver. Needless to say, this was not a healthy relationship for them or for me.
Now I'd rather not be in a relationship than in such an unhealthy one.
What if we taught our children more about the importance of RESPECT than about love?
Let us consider what might be different if religions, especially Christianity, stressed "Respect one another, as I have respected you."
I like to smile and thank all the people whom I encounter day to day: the dog groomer, my barrista, the bank teller and assistant manager who helped me with a problem, the lady at the grocery store and the checkout clerk, and Jim. I am gradually learning to do this respectfully.
Now I realize how respect and humility are crucial in all relationships. Yeah, at the age of 70!