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Tonight I was out for a friend’s birthday and at the end of the night, it ended up being myself and five wonderful ladies (lucky me). They began talking about and sharing different experiences they had with men approaching them and trying to build relationships (or some pathetic excuse for a relationship). I, honestly, was a little (and some a lot) disappointed in the things they said and the stories they told.

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Now, I like to give people the benefit of the doubt, and I know that not all men operate in the same manner as these “gentlemen,” because at the very least, I know a few individuals who are the exception. Nonetheless I was surprised by what the men described believed would pass for a decent approach.

The overarching problem seemed to be that the men didn’t respect the women for who they were; the men were too focused on what they could get instead of what they could give. They weren’t genuinely interested in the woman — who she was, what she wanted out of life, where she was going, what she was doing — they were focused on what was in her pants, what was in her blouse, and how they could use those things for their own pleasure.

You see, men, a woman will never respect you, if you don’t first respect her. Regardless of whether or not she treats herself with respect and dignity, you as a man, should respect her. Period. Wouldn’t you want men to respect your mother, your daughter, or your sister? She is someone’s mother, daughter, or sister. Respect her because you would want it done to yours.

You will never violate, or have a fling with, or one night stand with someone you respect. If you don’t respect them, well, you’ll do just about anything to them.

The problem lies in that we often don’t understand that we were not designed to jump from partner to partner like a game of hopscotch; we were created to partner and bond with one person for the rest of our lives (that’s where the whole “till death do us part” thing comes into play). Without a proper understanding of the type of relationships that we were made for, we’ll constantly be misplacing our efforts into relationships where there is no respect, mutual or otherwise.

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If I know that I could potentially be spending the rest of my life with you, how can I not respect you from the jump? The commitment demands I respect, not only you, but myself, and the relationship, and the potential which lies within it.

What I learned from the conversation was this: The foundation of any relationship should be friendship. And inherent with friendship, comes respect. You cannot be friends with someone and not respect them. It just doesn’t work.

[Written by Stuart McDonald for For more from Stuart, check out his personal blog, follow him on Twitter, and connect with him on Facebook.]