Double Standards in Relationships

Double Standards in Relationships

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In this day and age, we’re more aware of gender inequality than ever before. Despite this fact, double standards, often associated with gender stereotypes, continue to affect the ways in which we interact with one another. When it comes to dating and long-term relationships, these forms of inequality and hypocrisy can quickly lead to feelings of frustration and resentment.


Do you feel as though your love interest can “get away” with things that you can’t? Do you ever feel as though you and your partner expect different things from one another? If so, discussing these biases just might improve the health of your relationship!  


Raising Issues, Complaining, or Expressing One’s Opinion


Many double standards regarding communication plague not just romantic relationships, but our society as a whole. When it comes to expressing one’s opinion or discussing problems, men are often taken far more seriously than their female counterparts. If a man complains about something, it is generally assumed that something is seriously wrong, as men are thought to be tough and stoic, discussing problems only when necessary. When a man expresses his opinions regarding issues such as politics, he’s often seen as honest and confident, too. Women, unfortunately, are often written off as being dramatic or even bitchy when they try to discuss their problems. Legitimate complaints may be dismissed as whining, and expressing strong opinions may be perceived as being obnoxious or overbearing. Women, however, can also be guilty of ignoring the complaints and opinions of the men in their lives, believing that they should simply “suck things up” or “tough things out.”


As with many relationship problems, this double standard can be corrected by improving the ways in which we communicate with one another. Both men and women should strive to listen to their partners. When your partner is discussing a problem or expressing a strong opinion on a subject, look them in the eye and focus on what they’re saying. Even if you don’t fully agree with them, acknowledge their response and validate their feelings. Responding constructively and respectfully is guaranteed to benefit your relationship.


Making the First Move and Putting in Extra Effort


Though women tend to bear the burden of many double standards, men are also held to certain unreasonable expectations. Even in our modern society, men are still expected to be chivalrous. In the world of dating, most women anticipate men making the “first move” by opening lines of communication or asking them out on dates. Men are also expected to put in the “extra effort” of paying women compliments, buying them drinks, and holding doors open for them. Though the standard has weakened with time, many women are still quietly put off by a date who would prefer splitting the bill after a date rather than paying for both parties.


Breaking these age-old double standards has proven to be a difficult task. Though chivalry isn’t necessarily a bad thing, women can strive to reciprocate in similar ways. Paying men compliments and surprising them in small, thoughtful ways is sure to be appreciated. If a woman is interested in someone, she shouldn’t feel shy about making the first move, too. Refusing to accept these seemingly-nice double standards is the key to healthier and more balanced relationships.


Expressing One’s Sexual Side


Sexual double standards have existed since the dawn of time. Unfortunately, this sexual hypocrisy continues to affect not only our culture, but our most intimate relationships as well. Men are not just allowed to be sexual creatures, but are expected to be. A man who turns down sex is often perceived as less of a man, despite it being a myth that men have persistently high libidos. A woman, on the other hand, may be seen as promiscuous if she openly acknowledges her sexual appetite. Having casual sex makes a woman “easy” and a man “macho.”


Sexual double standards affect most cultures around the globe. Though correcting these biases on a societal level remains a difficult task, we can all strive to be open-minded regarding sex drives and the ways in which we express our sexualities. Individuals of both genders have varying levels of sexual desire and different turn-ons. Men and women should be free to be as sexual or non-sexual as they feel.


Other Common Double Standards


Double standards and gender-related biases can affect many other aspects of our relationships, too. Men, for instance, may be praised for finally “opening up” about their feelings, breaking the mold of male stoicism. Women, on the other hand, may be viewed as clingy, desperate, or overly-emotional if they express their feelings too freely. A gender bias surrounds the issue of having dating standards, too; men are generally free to maintain high standards for the women they date, whereas women are often dismissed as being picky or unrealistic for seeking out certain qualities in their potential partners.


Women, however, are sometimes guilty of getting away with bad behavior, too. If a woman criticizes her partner’s clothing choices or appearance, he may be expected to simply “suck it up,” even if it hurts him. Some women may yell at their partners or even physically assault them. Though abuse is never acceptable in relationships, men are often trained to tolerate such treatment, as abuse from women is often dismissed or even laughed off. Men, on the other hand, are generally more severely punished when they act in abusive ways.


Not all double standards follow a clear gender divide. In many relationships, one partner may get away with jealous, controlling, or manipulative behavior that they themselves wouldn’t tolerate. One partner might complain about the other’s family while refusing to hear such criticism of their own relatives.


These double standards or others may be affecting your relationships, too. By becoming aware of instances of unequal treatment in your relationship and by expressing your concerns to your partner, you can work on correcting these biases.


In Conclusion:


Relationships should involve equal and balanced power dynamics. When in doubt, remember the “Golden Rule” and ask yourself whether or not you would want your partner to behave as you do. If not, work to modify the ways in which you speak and act. If you feel that your partner has been treating you unfairly, communicate your concerns with them. If something makes you feel uncomfortable, belittled, or insecure, discuss the issue.


By striving to see things from each other’s points of view, we can all work to gradually correct the double standards that affect both our relationships and our world as a whole.


Photo: © lucky1984 /

Editor, 07/26/2018