Why Men And Women Test Each Other In Relationships (And How To Stop)

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Man looking over woman’s shoulder at her phone

Do you find yourself setting up "tests" for your partner in order to measure their love for you? It is not uncommon for partners to test each other. Many people test their significant others to see if the relationship will last. People test their partners in all sorts of ways. As a couples counselor, I see it a lot in both men and women, whether it's a wife giving her husband the silent treatment while hoping that he proves his love for her or a husband who purposely withholds information to test his wife's interest in his life.

Why do men and women test each other in relationships? Testing is a roundabout (read: passive-aggressive) way of asking for what we need without really being in touch with what we need. People test others when they feel insecure or unsure. If I doubt my partner's love for me and I conduct a test, I do it because it feels better than making myself vulnerable by sharing honestly with my partner about my doubt. Testing is also a way to avoid taking responsibility for our part in the demise of a relationship. Sometimes, people test their partners knowing that they will fail. In these cases, failing the test is used as an excuse to end the relationship instead of the real, deep-rooted reason.

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Here are 6 signs he or she is testing you:

1. They pull you close and then act disinterested



2. They show you texts or DMs from people who are flirting with them

3. They flirt with people in front of you and then ask you if you are jealous

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4. They say something they know you will find offensive or disagreeable, then get quiet and watch for your reaction

5. They start fights out of nowhere and seemingly about nothing



6. They ignore your texts and calls for days at a time and then ask what's wrong with you when you ask them what's going on

Stop testing, start asking! Sometimes, being healthy means being uncomfortable — but only temporarily. The effort you expend setting up tests for your partner actually does more damage than if you just did the thing you were afraid to do in the first place! Brené Brown, an expert on vulnerability, describes it like this: "Vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage." It takes courage to look into why we do what we do.

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How do you stop testing your partner? The next time you feel the urge to "test" your partner, stop and ask yourself, "What is it I truly need to know here?" In other words, what do you hope your test proves or disproves? The strength of your partner's love? Their commitment to you? Your incompatibility as a couple? Next, notice what you're feeling. And that last piece right there? That is what I suggest you share with your partner instead of testing them: what you are feeling.

We all have moments of insecurity in relationships and sometimes a little reassurance is needed from our partners to make all feel right with the world again. Chances are, they would much rather prefer to be approached directly than be secretly tested. Wouldn't you? Sometimes, our fears are more deeply rooted and require more than reassurance. If you have tried sharing honestly with your significant other and you still don't feel satisfied, it may be appropriate to spend time doing further personal reflection.

Seeking the help of a therapist is another great way to explore the origin of your feelings and learn new ways of coping. If you're testing your partner, you're not being honest with them, and you're not being honest with yourself. Be courageous and look into the feelings behind your actions. I bet you will come out on the other side feeling more whole, truer to yourself, and closer to your partner!

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Jamie Simkins Rogers is a Licensed Professional Counselor who focuses on relationship issues, addiction, blended family issues, anxiety, trauma, and women's issues.