Ask the Therapist: My boyfriend has a double standard

I am in a long distance relationship with my boyfriend. Recently he went out with a woman on a Friday night to a market for drinks. He told me afterwards and said he didn’t really want to tell me. He said he didn’t do anything wrong because they invited a lot of people but only the two of them could go.

I got pretty hurt and angry. Before we had talked about the fact that I want him to socialize and have fun but that going out with a woman by himself I felt uncomfortable with.

It’s not that I don’t trust him or I think something is amiss. But I’ve seen these types of things go to far with “friends”. I would never have suspected it but it happens I guess. I also have seen couples go back and forth with this argument…for years. I don’t want that for us.

Also, my boyfriend says that it is different if I go out with guys. That guys are only interested in sex. It seems to be a double standard. I’m also not allowed to go salsa dancing because there is touching involved. (I haven’t danced for years now.) I find this very frustrating.

He has asked me to explain why I am uncomfortable if I trust him. Please help.

Lisa’s thoughts…

You are in a challenging situation from the start being in a long distance relationship.  These often can work but they inherently require a higher baseline of trust to quell the potential insecurities with not seeing each other often.  Couples who do well in these situations are open, communicate well, are clear about what their needs are to remain emotionally secure and are sensitive to each other’s expectations.  

I can understand why you would be uncomfortable that your boyfriend being in a one-on-one situation with a woman out at night, particularly if it’s not an established friend.  But trust doesn’t appear to be the point in this case but rather a double standard in his expectations for you.  And this double standard has kept you from doing something that you really enjoy; salsa dancing where partnering is unavoidable.  Seems to me either you trust each other or you don’t – or it will be very difficult to make a long distance relationship work. 

He is worried that “guys are only interested in sex” but that doesn’t take into account your choices.  Let’s say that was true (which I don’t believe), what about your ability to turn down requests from men in, say, a dancing situation?  You have a say and voice too.  Does he not take that into account?  The other interesting thing about his belief is then it must apply to him too, right?  Does that mean he also would automatically want sex from a woman he was alone with, because he is a man?

Hmmm…seems you might benefit from trying to level the playing field of expectations.  

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Lisa’s responses are not to be considered “therapy” but rather educational; her thoughts are based on the limited information available. Please seek a local individual, couples or family therapist if it is therapy that you seek.

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Lisa is offering Online Therapy and Counseling services to individuals seeking help with their marriage or relationships.  California residents only to adhere to state licensing laws.