Double Standards in Your Relationship

Every time my boyfriend comes home from a softball game or hanging out with friends or whatever it might be, I ask, “How was it?” 

The typical answer I get is either, “It was fine.” OR “It was good.” That’s it. No details. Very little, if any strong emotion. As a 1) nosey person and 2) person who craves deep conversations, this almost always makes me frustrated. I want more!! I'm asking for more insight into you as a person! I could have guessed that it was fine and good since you didn’t come home outwardly angry or sad, but why was it "fine" or "good." Did you learn more about yourself? Your friends? What emotions did you have? Were you excited that you won the game or angry that you lost the game? Were you annoyed when that one friend made that one comment? Why do you think that was?

We’ve had this conversation over and over again; I say I wish he would give me a little more and he says he’ll do better. At the end of the day, I realize that he is, in general, a man of few words unless he really feels like talking. I cannot fault him for who he is and he always gives me at least a little more when I point out what he’s doing.

The other day though, I went out and got breakfast with a new friend I had met at a networking event. We had an amazing time chatting about the various things we were each working on in our lives and I was gone for a good 2-3 hours. When I got home, my boyfriend asked me how it went.

My response: “It was good.” That’s it.

He looked at me and said, “Well, did you have fun?”

My response: “Yeah, it was fun.” That’s it. Nothing more. No nuggets of emotion from me.

At the time, the conversation (if you can even call it that) ended there. It wasn’t until later the next day that it dawned on me… I did to him exactly what I hate that he does to me! I gave him the shortest, most dismissive answer when he was simply looking for a connection; he was bidding for my attention and offered an opportunity to converse and I shut it down. Talk about a double standard! The thing is, I didn’t even realize it in the moment. It felt so natural and just whatever to me. As I looked back on the situation, I wondered how many times I had done the exact same thing in the past. Is it possible that he does it to me because I do it to him and vice versa? Is it possible that it’s so unconsciously ingrained in us that it’s become a one-sided norm for the person being asked to be short, and the person asking to be slightly annoyed, if not angry/hurt? How many other bids for attention/connection are just unconsciously missing out on?

The more I sit with this realization, the more I see that much of this for me has to do with a fear of intimacy that I wasn’t even aware of. I’m afraid to get to close and then lose that person. Keeping a safe distance and not sharing all the details is a way for me to keep at least small pieces of myself safe. It’s also a way to keep one foot in and one foot out; if it ever does end, I can tell myself he didn’t really know me/understand me anyway.

Is this the relationship I want to have though? Always walking on eggshells waiting for the other shoe to drop? Keeping an excuse on lock-down so I can feel better when that possible, not even probable, breakup occurs? Am I that scared of having someone see the whole me? Every last sweet, tender, sensitive, broken, beautiful bit. 

I can tell you it's not the relationship I want for sure. As for everything else, opening myself up is a process and this awareness sheds more light on who I am and what I need to heal to evolve and better myself. It won't be magically all better tomorrow, or the next day, or maybe even the next year. It will be better though. Even if that better is microscopic and slowly grows in size over time. It's work that we need to do every single day and it's SO worth it!

I invite you to look back on your relationship and question this as well... Are there double standards that are in place currently? Why do you think they’re there? What are they trying to show you or teach you or help you grow into? What do you need to heal?

If you feel comfortable, I would love to support you in the comments! Or hop on over and join the private FB group where you can share with a whole community of ladies who are willing to create space for you.

** Reminder: The inner work is not about becoming perfect; it’s about realizing what you are doing and becoming aware of the why. Will I create a double standard situation again? Probably. Will I be more conscious of when I do? For sure! I believe that eventually that consciousness will lessen the double standard more and more until it hardly ever shows up. That’s what it’s all about – becoming better, not perfect.

Brooke MillerComment