The way we relate to other people is unconscious. This means we are not aware of how we judge and treat others.

People do not relate in the same way to all other people. Nor do people even act and think the same way toward themselves when they are with different people. People act differently to others and also act differently to themselves when they are with different people.

In any encounter people can unconsciously relate to others as if they are different from or the same as themselves. When they relate differently, to the extent they judge the other and themselves unconsciously by a yardstick in their mind, they are said to be having a double standard.

For example, a woman employee meeting a man, her boss at work, may believe that she is inferior in her capabilities to her boss’s abilities. She will relate to herself with a different standard than she uses for her boss. She may expect from herself a great deal of hard work, dedication to her job, and long hours at work to compensate for her self-perception of inferiority. She may expect less of her boss because her perception is that he has already accomplished so much and is so knowledgeable and stellar in his job performance. She winds up treating herself with one standard and her boss with another. Hence, she has a double standard.

When people harbor double standards chaos ensues in both personal and professional relationships. Most people have double standards in their marriages. This creates situations in which one partner perhaps has high expectations of himself or herself and low expectations of his partner. Or, the reverse occurs. One partner has a low expectation of himself and a high expectation of his or her mate. Most often this leads to marital conflict because one person does all the work in the relationship and the other person goofs off and rides freely on the efforts of his hard working mate.

Children pick up on double standards in their parents when parents treat siblings differently from one another. They recognize favorites even when parents do not see it and believe they treat all their children the same.

In what relationships do you use a double standard?

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