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Double standards: What they are and how to cope with them
by TeenHelp September 11th 2021, 03:23 PM

Double standards: What they are and how to cope with them

By Cassie (cynefin)

Double standards sometimes have a few variations in their definition. They are frequently observed among romantic and familial relationships and friendships and coworkers. These standards occur when someone expects another to act a certain way but does not hold the themselves to the same standards. They can also be seen when someone treats two friends differently, or even in abusive relationships. Double standards are sometimes known as the "Do as I say, but not as I do" phenomenon. Regardless of the way they occur, they are a source of frustration for a lot of people.

What they may look like


There are many different displays of double standards, but here are a few examples.
Additional actions that indicate double standards are not limited to one type of relationship.
  • Within families, a grandparent can tell their grown child or young grandchild to act a certain way as not to be an embarrassment around people outside the family. However, this grandparent might not hold themselves to the same standards and can ironically be the person acting inappropriately.
  • In friendships, double standards are typically noticed when a central friend treats two friends differently. For instance, this central friend might loan an item to one friend but refuse to lend it to the other. This is often noticed by the other friends, and can cause turmoil among them.
  • In romantic relationships (or in friends and families), one partner may feel as though they put more effort and consideration into their relationship than the other does. This often leads to a lot of frustration and distance in the partner who feels this way.

Coping with suspected double standards
  • Revisit the actions when you have a calmer state of mind. This can help you to be a bit more objective when you're considering the actions or words. Consider talking to an outsider, such as a therapist or a family member, to get their perspective. You don't have to reveal the identities of these people if you feel uncomfortable doing so.
  • Put yourself in another person's shoes. Maybe there is a perfectly solid reason as to why someone is acting this way. For example, your partner could be going through a difficult time and be a bit distant as a result, or your friend might be hesitant to loan you something because you didn't return it or take proper care of it last time.
  • Talk to the person you're having a hard time with. Confronting someone can be a challenge, but it can be done in a nonjudgmental way. You can let the person know how you feel when certain things occur and ask their thoughts on it. They might not be aware of how you're feeling and bringing this to the surface can help if they decide to work on it. Try to remain open to communication, whether it's about you or the person you're struggling with.
  • Ask yourself if this relationship is worth it. If you're really struggling with double standards, consider asking yourself if that struggle outweighs the positive parts in your relationship. If yes, try to hang onto it and think about working on it. If not, don't feel obligated to stick around.
  • Take some time to be by yourself. It might be a good time to take some time on your own whether you want to revisit old hobbies or enjoy the quiet. This can give you time to think and perhaps provide you with clarity as well.
  • Remember to evaluate yourself. Could there be something you've done in this relationship, even unintentionally, to hurt the other person? Do you ever think that you have double standards - maybe not in this particular scenario, but in a general way? It is important to be able to evaluate yourself and admit your faults. Even though evaluating yourself is important, you are not at fault if you're in an abusive relationship.

At the end of the day, some people might be unaware of their double standards and willing to talk to you about it, while others might use them frequently and need to evaluate themselves more. Keeping an open mind towards others and yourself, even if you feel upset, can help you to work through them. Different relationships will come and go throughout life, so put yourself first when needed and remain true to yourself throughout the journey.
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