A friend recently disclosed to me a feeling of disgruntlement within her friendship group at a perceived double standard. It’s not something that I had really pondered before, but thought it was an interesting topic to explore, as there can be many ways a double standard may exist in a friendship. It may be a double standard that exists between 2 people, or more commonly a double standard that exists when one friendship is compared with another.
Double standards that exist between 2 friends usually indicate some inequality in the friendship. Let’s look at some examples of double standards that could exist between 2 people alone. These can include situations where perhaps one friend can dish it but can’t take it. She may tease, correct or belittle you but refuses to tolerate reciprocation in any way accusing you of being disrespectful, rude or a bad friend if you dare speak to her the way she speaks to you. Alternatively, it could be that you seem to value your friend and your friendship more than she does. For example you would never consider making other plans if the 2 of you already had plans to spend time together but she consistently blows you off if she gets a better offer or just can’t be bothered. In these situations, you can’t make someone value you more or prove your worth. Align yourself more with friends who do value you. It really is that simple.
The other type of double standard that often crops up in friendships exists when you make comparisons between your friendship with a person, and their friendships with other people. There are countless ways I have experienced this myself, directly or indirectly, such as;
One friend became upset with me and felt an injustice when I would not babysit her children, but often babysat for some other friends children. Another time I felt slighted when a friend told me that they were too busy to spend time with me, and then I learned that they had been spending time with other friends. In one situation someone became upset that her dogs were not allowed in the home of a friend, however on a subsequent visit found another friend with her dog not only in her friend’s home, but also on the furniture! Or how about when someone refuses to loan you money, or clothes for example, and then you learn that they willingly loan these things to other people?
At face value, all of these things do seem unjust, don’t they? It would be easy, and feel almost logical to jump to the conclusion that your friend doesn’t value you as much as you value them, as your brain rattles off a comprehensive list of all the things you have done for them that they have not reciprocated in any way. It is enough to trigger your inner 3 year old to stomp her foot and wail “It’s not fair?!” I guess, in part, the truth of the matter is, that life isn’t fair! However, to give your friend the benefit of the doubt, there could be many reasons why she has clearer boundaries with you on one issue that are different with another friend.
For starters, it is possible that you friend feels comfortable enough with you that she can say no to you. Although nobody likes to hear the word no, this could actually be the best compliment. Saying no is hard to do and in most of us triggers fears of rejection, so if your friend feels safe to say no to you, at least you can take comfort in the knowledge that she is not secretly resenting you for her own inability to say no. If however, you are certain she would have no problem saying no to other people but chooses not to, there are a whole host of other things to consider.
Take some of the examples listed above…. Maybe her other friend only has one kid and you have 5, or maybe they are older, or play better with her own kids. Or maybe you have a puppy and she has an old placid dog, or someone suffers allergies to long haired pets but not short haired ones. Maybe she loaned someone money for an important operation but didn’t feel the need to oblige your request to loan you money to get your hair done. Maybe she once loaned you a top and never got it back, even if it was a simple oversight on your part. There could be lots of reasons that don’t immediately make sense to you that could influence someone to treat you one way and someone else another way.
The truth is, comparing almost never works out well and we need to realise and respect that someone else’s friendship with our friend is their own business and has nothing to do with us. Even if it does boil down to this – they actually do like someone else more than they like us. That’s life. Think about it. I’m sure you have friends you prefer over others, and as a result would be more willing to flex your boundaries with them for that reason. Or a million other reasons you can justify to yourself.
At the end of the day, it’s up to you if you address the problem head on or not. If you do, a casual remark to let your friend know you’ve noticed might be enough for some people – for example “I see Cindi’s dog is allowed inside.” And for others they may feel compelled to ask for a clarification eg: “You told me you didn’t allow dogs in the house?” However you run the risk of seeming confrontational and may soon find it’s not only your dogs who are unwelcome. Essentially your friend doesn’t owe you an explanation and if you truly feel your level of effort or investment is higher than hers, lower yours. As a natural result of any double standards noticed, resentment and distance soon follow in one form or another.
Instead of allowing your inner child to focus heavily on the ways your friends have been unfair to you, perhaps have a closer look in your own friendships and address the double standards and inequalities that you yourself may impose on others? Before you say anything, ask yourself how you would feel if one friend tried to dictate the boundaries in your other friendships to you? Probably not great.
Go where the love is ladies.
Your Best Friend ForNever