The Problem With ‘Testing’ Your Partner

You’re feeling a bit neglected by your man. He’s wrapped up with his iPad and — since you don’t want to be a nagging girlfriend — you don’t say anything. You don’t tell him you want his undivided attention; you don’t tell him if he plays on it for another hour you can see yourself grabbing it from his hands (if that’s even possible) to whip it off the balcony. And it isn’t until you’ve let the resentment build up in you that you finally pose the question: “Do you want me to leave the room and go on with my day so you can play on your iPad?” He — oblivious to your hours worth of self-talk and resentment — looks up, confused, and says, “Sure babe,” with a smile on his face.

“Sure babe,” as you and I both know, is the wrong answer. In fact any answer other than the one you want to hear is the wrong answer. That question, therefore, is what I like to call a “test question” — one of the many ways we often “test” our partner.

We ask him or her a question expecting a certain answer (and or outcome); we pull away from him/her and (at times) go so far as to threaten the relationship, all in the hopes of getting “reassurance” he/she really wants to be with us (as if them spending all their time with us wasn’t enough).

When we ask questions that — to us — seem rhetorical, we end up putting our partner in a lose-lose situation. If you’ve ever argued with your partner and he/she’s said, “I don’t know what you want me to say,” it shows you they know you’re seeking a specific answer — and they’re likely trying to tell you what you want to hear, to avoid — what may inevitably be — a fight.

We ask questions because we need reassurance. Because we’ve finally found someone we want to stand still with. And we want to know, verbatim, if they want to stand still with us, too. Women, by nature, need words. We need to hear just how happy we make our partner and just how much they care about having us around and not wanting to ever let us go.

Men, however, feel otherwise. They show us just how much they care through their actions. Through spending all his time with you. Through inviting you out with his friends and to functions, with you proudly on his arm. Through bringing you home to his parents. Through asking you your opinion on his life issues and including you in his major decisions.

So, yes, how perfect would it be if — not only did he do all the above — he’d also send you texts midday to tell you he’s so happy he snagged you. And how perfect would it be if he put away (and shut down) all devices in your presence to drown you with his undivided attention. But life’s realities aren’t always in tune with the expansive expectations we create in our head. Savour his presence. Savour his time and be more mindful to all the ways he shows you just how much you mean to him (even if it’s not in a verbal way).

Instead of testing him, tell him what you want and need from him and the relationship. And try, as hard as you can, to resist asking him to tell you how he feels. Read into his actions, instead.

Meet Jen Kirsch: A pint-sized, blonde, bronzed, twentysomething from Toronto. She’s a relationship columnist, blogger and freelance writer who focuses on the ups and downs of dating, relationships and sex. Often being referred to as the Canadian Carrie Bradshaw, Jen has become the go-to source for both women and men who are curious on how to deal with relationship woes. You can find her work at or follow her on Twitter.

Quick Review of the Editor:

Except! There are men who will take the time to pay attention to you…and low and behold! text you during the day sometimes! Thank goodness!

Why does it not surprise me that “Jen“ is a Toronto girl? Toronto men are quite the specimens, If you like to be treated like dirt. I think women get treated this way over and over and then it starts to get absorbed as ‘normal’, when in fact they deserve to be treated with the utmost respect- as they should treat their man. Would you continue to spend social time with your female friends if they regularly pulled out their Ipad/iphone/mobile while out with you? I’m sure you wouldn’t bother after a while.

Yet, we should just be happy because they showed us off like arm candy and ask us for advice.? There is NO excuse to treat someone poorly- men and women are more alike then they are different. If you give a women cart blanche she too will have the tendency to walk all over you.