Trust is the foundation of every great relationship.
Unfortunately, it’s also something many of us struggle with.
No matter if you’ve had some painful experiences in the past, if you have an insecure attachment style, or if you struggle with self-esteem issues, at some point or another, you might find yourself testing your partner’s loyalty.
These mind games rarely end well and only put unnecessary pressure on the relationship’s dynamic, but that doesn’t stop us from playing them.
Do you know what could, though?
Once you learn to recognize when you’re playing a game, you’re better able to put a stop to it. Here are the 9 mind games couples play to test each other’s loyalty.
1) The texting game
“He’s just texted me after six hours. I’ve now got to ignore him for at least two.”
“She hasn’t texted all day. I won’t reach out until she texts me herself because I text her first 70% of the time.”
Texting games may seem quite logical while you’re right down in them – it’s partly about giving your partner space, keeping your dignity intact, and not appearing too desperate – but in reality, they’re just senseless mind games that take a toll on your well-being.
While it’s completely fine to take some space to yourself and not initiate contact, the fact that you’re sitting by your phone all day and waiting for it to beep kind of defeats the purpose.
We might not want to admit it but most texting games are just about testing our partners’ loyalty and interest.
And while it’s normal to have doubts from time to time, it’s better to sit down and talk about it rather than to play a game your partner isn’t even aware of.
2) The trick question
My friend sometimes likes to ask her boyfriend, “What do you think about this girl’s hair?” or “This woman’s so beautiful. Do you think so, too?”
And the thing is, this line of questioning isn’t always bad. Some couples enjoy discussing all the different aspects of their sexual attraction, and if there’s no jealousy involved, questions like this can lead to quite productive conversations.
However, if your self-esteem is quite low, questions along these lines are essentially mind games because you’re trying to lay a trap for your partner to fall into.
If they agree with you, you might get upset. If they disagree, you may doubt their honesty.
This is why trick questions generally either sour the atmosphere or end with arguments.
3) The jealousy test
Jealousy has usually very little to do with love and everything to do with ego, but that doesn’t stop us from using it to test just how much our partners want us for themselves.
In one of my past relationships, I felt very unappreciated. My ex completely ignored my existence half the time, and no matter what I did, I simply couldn’t get his attention.
So I presented him with a jealousy test. When another man showed an interest in me, I didn’t shut him down. I laughed at his jokes, built a friendly rapport, and grew to really like him.
My ex didn’t even notice.
It’s safe to say that he failed the jealousy test, and soon enough, the relationship was over.
Of course, I should have ended it long before I felt any need to make him jealous.
4) The compliment hunt
“Would you still love me if I was a worm?”
“What’s your favorite thing about me?”
“Do you still love me? How much?”
These questions are usually asked in an unserious and playful mood when you’re goofing around with your partner. However, it’s quite easy for fun to turn into a fight if you’re quite prickly.
Or if you’re fishing for compliments as part of a mind game.
Trying to get one compliment after another isn’t just about testing how much your partner truly loves you. It’s also about gauging how annoying you can be before they draw a line or push you away.
Which reminds me of yet another mind game…
5) The self-sabotage hack
Do you want to know how to sabotage your own relationship so that all your fears and doubts come true?
Stage a scenario you’re afraid of. Then watch it play out in real-time.
Here’s an example. About four years ago, I was dating a guy. Let’s call him Chuck.
I was in love with Chuck, which also meant that I spent a great deal of time feeling anxious and worried that he’d grow bored of me and leave me.
Thus the beauty of having an anxious attachment style.
I was worried I was too annoying and pushy. But instead of trying to change my behavior, I did the complete opposite – I became even more insufferable.
Each time I annoyed the hell out of him, I was subconsciously testing him. How much of this could he take before he pushed me away? How loyal was he to me – even at my worst?
Of course, he eventually did end up pushing me away, which only “confirmed” to me that the relationship couldn’t last and that I’d been right all along.
Then I finally realized what I’d been doing. This whole time, I’d been sabotaging myself and my relationship because of some false narratives I’d constructed about myself and my love life.
Slowly but surely, I let go of the self-sabotaging game. And my relationship improved a great deal as a result.
6) The boundaries level-up
Speaking of pushing your partner to their limit, boundaries in general make for a great test of loyalty.
Of course, it’s very toxic to try to push someone’s boundaries just to see how much they love you, but unfortunately, many people do it subconsciously, which means they often don’t even realize they’re playing a game.
Let’s say your partner hates spa weekends. Well, here you are trying to convince them to go to a spa weekend with you because it’d mean a lot to see them do something nice for you.
Even though they’ve already said they hated the idea about ten times.
This little example can apply to most areas of the relationship, from your sex life to more serious issues.
And the lesson? Don’t try to push your partner’s boundaries. They’re there for a reason. If your partner is loyal, you’ll see it in their behavior. You don’t need to play any games.
7) The quid pro quo game
When you love someone – genuinely love them – everything you do for them comes from a place of kindness and selflessness.
When you make them breakfast in bed, you don’t expect them to return the favor the following morning.
When you buy them a gift, you don’t keep wondering if they’ll get something for you, too.
Except that many people don’t love selflessly. We feel possessive; we test each other; we try to see if the relationship is truly worth our love and effort.
As a result, we might play the quid pro quo game – aka, keeping a tally of everything you’ve ever done for your partner – without even realizing it.
One of my exes once told me, “I’ve bought you a plant, taken you out, and given you lots of compliments. And what have you done for me, huh?”
We’d been dating for about a week at that point. The relationship didn’t last very long.
8) The cold shoulder
The cold shoulder can be very confusing for your significant other.
On the one hand, you’re refusing to speak to your partner and are acting grumpy and distant. On the other, you’re waiting to see if your partner will grovel to get you to talk.
The issue is that you’re sending extremely mixed signals. Your partner might think that you want space or that you’re not in the mood, and they may do the exact opposite of what you truly want – leave you be.
If you need space, say it. If you’re just using the silent treatment to test your partner’s loyalty, though… maybe try to talk about the issue instead.
9) The false break-up
Ladies and gentlemen, let me introduce you to the worst mind game of all…
The false break-up.
It sounds quite contradictory to threaten someone with a breakup just to test their loyalty, right? What if they actually break up with you?
Well, this game is definitely high-risk, that’s for sure. If your partner doesn’t beg you to stay with them, you’re pretty much toast.
And yet this is a strategy that many people resort to – especially if they’re narcissists or manipulative.
No matter which end you’re on, remember that threatening someone with a breakup just to see their reaction is rarely a good idea. It sets up an unstable dynamic that makes you both anxious, leading to a great deal of chaos.
Here’s a better alternative: talk about it. If you’re unsure of your partner’s loyalty, communicate your feelings to them. A simple conversation might be all you need.