Healthy Relationship Practices: the Phone Test

Written by: Jorinde Berben
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Today’s post has to be a quicky, because there are tons of students’ papers waiting for me to be corrected (oh the joys of teaching!) But quick does not mean unimportant, at least not in this case.

When it comes to relationships, trust is as essential as the air we breathe. Without trust there is no safety. And the easiest way to undermine trust, is infidelity, in any form whatsoever.
Throughout my relationships, I’ve experienced different kinds of infidelity or betrayal, mostly as the perpetrator (often as a way to escape the relationship due to fear of attachment issues), but also, at times, as the victim. Whether it’s flirting with someone or keeping a secret from your partner, complaining about your partner or making fun of them; anything we would rather hide than be up front about can be a threat to the connection between two people in a safe couple bubble.

There’s an easy trick to guarding that boundary as far as your own behavior goes, or the behavior of others towards you. I’ve called it ‘the phone trick’ because I first heard it related to smarphones. The trick is to swap phones with your partner for a day, or imagine you would. If there’s a part of you that feels uncomfortable about anything your partner might see on there, you either don’t trust your partner to accept everything about you, or you’re giving your partner reason not to trust you (of course this excludes the planning of secret surprises). The key is to only send messages through your phone, visit websites, take pictures, etc. that you wouldn’t mind your partner seeing.

The same goes for other behavior as well, of course. When talking to someone at a party, would you be alright with your partner standing right next to you and listening in on the conversation? When sending an e-mail to a friend, would you put your partner in CC?

And no, this doesn’t mean you have to tell your partner absolutely every single detail of every single day. That’s not the point. But if you feel like you would be uncomfortable sharing some of those details, it begs the question: ‘Why?

This topic has popped up in my dreams several times over the past few months, and twice again this week. I haven’t always been 100% trustworthy as a partner in my previous relationships, and I deeply regret the hurt I’ve caused because of it. Through it, I’ve learned that secrets take a toll on both partners, and that the only way to true connection is through – sometimes uncomfortable and scary – honesty.

However difficult that path my be though, it is always worth it!

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