Double Standards In Relationships – Signs, Examples, And How To Avoid

August 29, 2022 |
Updated On: August 29, 2022
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Do you remember the 2007 movie Devil Wears Prada? Anne Hathaway’s character Andrea is an ambitious girl, who does whatever her ghastly boss asks to get to the top. When she starts progressing in her career, double standards in her relationship begin to take hold. Her boyfriend Nate, who himself is an ambitious chef, is displeased with Andrea’s priorities. In fact, the actor who played Nate – Adrian Grenier – in a 2021 interview with Glamour magazine said that his character was indeed the villain of the film as he was selfish. His conversation indicated that it had a lot to do with double standards in relationships.

Double standards in relationships may start small but can go on to assume large proportions. Examples of double standards in relationships can extend to financial issues and even sex. For instance, an offending partner may splurge liberally but monitor the partner’s expenditures. Similarly, when it comes to sex, a partner may enjoy certain acts but will refuse to do them for their partner.

What Are Double Standards In Relationships?

A relationship is all about sharing. It involves mutual trust and unbridled loyalty, among many things. One could say that double standard love lacks these essential ingredients. Double standards in relationships can form due to disrespect, a struggle for control, and even severe detachment. In fact, if you see these signs of a controlling woman or a man, you should try and mitigate it soon because these components, if present in large doses, can be the death of a relationship.

Some instances of double standards in a relationship include jealousy, silent treatment, neediness, withholding or bartering sex, and much more. The latter is counted among double standards in abusive relationships. How you may ask? The answer is quite simple, natural – intimacy is a shared trait. To use it to gain power in a relationship, that is, by only availing of sexual pleasures and refusing to reciprocate can result in terrible discord. It is among the most damaging double standards in a relationship.

What Are Some Examples Of Double Standards In Relationships?

Let me tell you the story of Julian and Cassie – an instance in their regular life that could help explain the double standards meaning. Julian is a night owl and Cassie is an early riser. According to Julian, she wakes up, turns on all the lights, loudly sifts through dresser drawers, and bursts through doors in a focused rush to get to work. But she gets extremely irritated if Julian makes a small sound during the night.

This is a classic case of double standards where a partner is not willing to live up to expectations in relationships they impose on the other. Some other examples of double standards include:

  • Hanging out with friends but not letting the partner do so
  • Asking about finances but not revealing yours
  • Putting the entire burden of household work on the partner
  • Expect them to treat your parents nicely but not treat theirs properly
  • Having friends of the gender you’re oriented toward but not allowing your partner the same freedom

9 Signs Of Double Standards In Relationships

By now, you must have realized that double standards don’t work in a relationship. That is why perhaps you have read on till this point. Maybe, you are experiencing something unequal in your relationship, but have been unable to put a finger on it. You are feeling burdened when your partner seems relatively free of responsibilities – the realistic expectations in the relationship appear to be floundering. If that is the case, let us help you in identifying some signs of double standards in relationships.

1. One-sided limitation on who you can be friends with

Lisa, a Zumba trainer, told me how jealousy manifested in her relationship with James when it came to hanging out with friends. Lisa has male friends, who she goes out with to grab a bite or some beers. James does not like this and often creates a scene about it. However, James often goes out with his female colleagues and thinks it’s perfectly okay for him to do so.

“My boyfriend has double standards. He thinks that hanging out with female colleagues is okay since the setting is formal but me meeting my guy friends is a problem because he often implies that there is scope for something to happen. This is an attack on my character. Our bond reeks of double standards in toxic relationships,” she said in frustration.

Related Reading: How Spending Time With Friends Helps Improve Your Relationship

2. Talking about a partner’s secrets, but you expect yours to be guarded

When a partner shares a secret with the other in a moment of vulnerability, it is expected that they are kept that way. Suddenly talking about these secrets in front of a bunch of friends is uncool. It is shocking for the person who opened up to you. Moreover, telling them to get over it is one of the worst examples of double standards in a relationship. Would you want your secrets exposed without warning or at all? Such expose could lead to emotional outbursts – a classic sign of relationships without trust.

3. You want your partner to do things you like but not vice versa

Your partner is always ready to explore your suggestions about anything – be it hobbies or watching films. But you are not interested in theirs and are often critical of their choices. This is a display of double standards in relationships. However small this may seem, it can irritate an individual. This annoyance can fester into deep resentment.

4. You expect them to pamper your parents, but you won’t do the same

A couple that is getting serious has to deal with each other’s families. Double standards may arise when one partner expects their parents to be treated with the utmost respect but does not do the same for another partner’s parents. It shows that the person is not willing to accept differences or practice fair fighting rules for couples to resolve disputes. The discord stemming from such an unbalanced equation is characteristic of double standards in toxic relationships.

5. Getting protective about finances

Discussing and sharing financial details is often expected in long-term, serious relationships. But if only one partner is expected to be open about theirs while the other says that it is violative of their privacy is characteristic of double standards in abusive relationships. Hiding such crucial information could be deemed cunning. Moreover, if one partner spends and the other is expected to be frugal, then this too accounts for double standards in relationships. Make a note when I say money issues can ruin your relationship.

6. You are allowed me-time but they aren’t

How much space in a relationship is normal? The answer lies in balance. Partners need to be independent and have their own interest and their lives apart from the ones they share. They are also allowed to have time to reset. In a relationship, when you take this time to rejuvenate but do not allow your partner to do so due to some kind of suspicion (like they will cheat), then this is a double standard in a relationship.

7. Loyalty and open options

If you expect your partner to be extremely loyal to you while you keep your options open, then you are being unreasonable. Such double standards don’t work in relationships for the sole reason that you are being covertly mean. Your intentions alone may betray the trust which is the foundation of a relationship.

Skya, a yoga instructor, said she understood her partner, Harris’ “open intentions” when she saw a dating app on his phone. “My first thought was – my boyfriend has double standards. I did not know when or why this happened but he was looking out or maybe was looking for something better. I would never know because I broke up with him and never gave him a reason.”

Related Reading: 7 Ways To Build Loyalty In A Relationship

8. The responsibility of household work

In a relationship, if one partner does the bare minimum but expects the other to take on the entire load of household work, it may soon lead to irreversible discord. One can’t just lounge around while the other cooks and cleans. These are not the makings of a balanced relationship. Two people get together to share a life together. Thus, one person cannot just relax while the other scurries to keep it all together.

9. You expect respect from your partner but you deny it to them

Signs of lack of respect in a relationship are often evident – using it as a barter tool in couples is one of the signs. If a person demands respect but their behavior toward others, including their partner, is often unkind and abusive, it can be counted as one of the telling manifestations of double standards. A partner who is unwilling to treat you with the same respect that he/she demands is nothing but a bully. Their unsolicited advice and insults can cause cracks in a relationship and leave you with battered self-esteem.

Ryan, a graphic artist, shares that he has often felt uneasy around his girlfriend and the way she treats him. “I like to think that I am chivalrous. I am very soft-spoken, especially around her. I realized that I had to be more cautious around her because she would get offended at small things. But she insults and gives people an attitude very easily – it is a personality thing. However, come to think of it – maybe my girlfriend has double standards. It is not a pleasing thought,” he said.

5 Tips To Avoid Double Standards In Relationships

Your search for double standards meaning has got you to this point. Now that you know what all could comprise double standards, you may also want to know how to steer clear of them. Weed these out and you may have a chance of a healthy relationship. Keep them in and they may poison your bond slowly but surely.

1. Discuss the issue with your partner

There is nothing a healthy conversation cannot solve. If you feel that you are at the receiving end of double standards in a relationship, you may want to take a step back. De-bias yourself and focus on the issue, not the person. Because, if you keep on saying things like “my girlfriend has double standards” or “my boyfriend does things that I cannot”, it can quickly turn into a blame game. Always remember that blame-shifting in a relationship harms it. Thus, avoid it.

While broaching the issue, inform them and be assertive. Use “I” instead of “you” to make them feel like it is a conversation and not an attack. Talk about what is happening with you and not what their behavior is doing to you. There is a possibility that they may see the error of their ways.

2. Agree to maintain balance and make compromises

Double standards in abusive relationships could be rested by drawing agreements. In case you think you are being stopped from doing something that your partner does freely, initiate a talk and do not stop until you have agreed to have equal rights. However, this won’t be easy. You may have to compromise the right way. Depending on your situation, different compromises can be made to establish expectations of fairness in your relationship.

For instance, let’s take a couple in which one partner is a working professional whereas the other stays at home. Just because a partner stays at home does not mean they are not occupied. Household duties are round-the-clock. So, the working partner can be assigned some light chores – as long as it feels fair. This may not be the perfect solution but it could be a good start toward building a more balanced dynamic.

3. Transparency when it comes to finances

If your partner does not reveal his/her finances but you are being made accountable for yours, establish the transparency rule. You could do this by voluntarily being transparent. Be open about your salary, debts, and spending habits – show that this is nothing to be ashamed of. It can help your inhibited partner to do the same, seeing that you are comfortable discussing the most private things.

Related Reading: 5 Ways To Overcome Financial Stress In Relationships

However, if your partner still does not want to reveal their expenditures, you are not accountable to them either – however much pressure they put. But, if your relationship is getting serious, it is obvious that your wallets will become shared entities. This is a topic that you will need to tackle gently. It doesn’t bode well for a couple’s future together if finances are the cause of double standards in relationships.

double standards in relationships

4. Agree to make decisions together

You can avoid double standards in relationships by making decisions together. Decision-making is imperative to a relationship. Thus, if you keep on fighting over small decisions, like watching movies or picking a place for a date (as one partner overpowers the other), how will you make bigger decisions in life?

In such a scenario, a partner who makes the other watch movies of his/her choice or only insists that they go to a certain restaurant must stop being stubborn. They have to learn to try new things with their partner or at least agree to a middle route. These are the characteristics of a healthy relationship.

5. Meeting each other’s needs

Your partner expects you to meet all their needs while he/she is not attentive to yours. He/she gets upset when you do not meet their needs and even gets upset. If this is happening, you must let your partner know that you put his/her needs first always. All you have been asking is that they do the same for you.

While not everything can be balanced all the time, it must never feel like you are putting more effort into a relationship than your partner. It is possible that they may not be able to meet all your needs, but they could at least try. Explain to your partner that you also need to be looked after in some capacity.

Key Pointers

  • Not taking part in each other’s interests can lead to double standards in relationships
  • A relationship can be strained if you do not allow your partner to do some things that you do openly
  • To avoid double standards, try meeting each other’s needs by meeting halfway
  • Agree to make decisions together
  • If there is conflict, there is nothing that a heart-to-heart conversation cannot solve

In conclusion, one could say that conversations are a decent way to avoid double standards in relationships. Humility and compassion can help a person overcome the dilemmas in a relationship. It can also help one deal with an unreasonable partner. If the relationship has any future, it is better to untangle the hurtful double standards and be on an equal plane.

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