You know how people always say that you shouldn’t go searching for things because you will inevitably find something? This is usually used in reference to snooping on your partner, but these days, it can also be used for social media stalking, email snooping, leaning in while that person is sitting next to you texting, etc. Those same people also advise that you not ask questions you don’t really want the answer to, because it’s pretty much guaranteed you won’t like the result.
I tend to agree with both of those universal relationship tips, but something I learned from re-watching Love Jones as an adult is that you also shouldn’t test folks when you’re dating because the likelihood they do what you want them to do is slim to none.
Now the funny thing about testing is that we do it all the time, whether we realize it or not. We text some guy and in our heads, give him a certain amount of time before he texts us back before we start assigning levels of liking to him. Fifteen minutes? Okay, cool. Three hours? We immediately go into “What the heck dude?? You can just tell me you’re not interested.” mode, even though we texted him in the middle of the work day, and it’s very likely he could be in a meeting without his phone. That’s a test.
Guys test sometimes by seeing if a girl will drop her previously made plans just to see him. “Oh your friends won’t mind if you sneak out,” they’ll say. Or “you can blow that project off. I’m worth it *winky face*.” But the minute a girl doesn’t do that, she’s playing games. And if she does it too often, she’s too easy — there’s no chase there. That’s a test too.
The reality is that often we test folks for one of two reasons: a) we either already know their level of interest in us isn’t that great, but for some reason, we still need to have some kind of proof, or b) we’re insecure about where we stand in that relationship. You see this play out in Love Jones when Nina decides (after consulting her well-meaning, but completely wrong BFF) that she is going to test Darius’ affections for her by letting him know that she’s thinking of going to New York to see if there’s still a chance between her and her ex-fiance. Mind you, she does this after seeing him for maybe a few weeks.
“You’re not going to tell Darius, are you?” her friend asks.
“Well I don’t want to lie to him,” says Nina.
The friend contemplates some more.
“Tell him,” she says.
“You think so?”
“If he snaps, then you got him. And there’s no need to go, is there? But if he tries to act all cool and sh*t, well then hey, you just have to go; teach his *ss a lesson. Hello! Do your thing, girl. Do it.”
I mean, what?! There’s no possible way things could end well from that… and of course, they don’t. She tells him. He acts all cool and ish, and then she’s upset that he’s not upset and he’s upset she’s even thinking about doing it. And the crazy thing is neither of them wanted her to actually go! This is what testing does for you. It gets you on a plane to New York to live with a guy who already proved to you that he didn’t want you when the guy you want to be with is in Chicago confused. Don’t let Nina be your guide, folks.
I have done so before, even after seeing this movie and seeing the result a gazillion and one times, and I can attest — just how you find anything when you go searching, you walk away with nothing when you go testing. And yet even though I know this lesson to be true, there are times when I have to stop myself from doing it. And I don’t think I’m alone. But why is that? Why have we gotten so used to testing each other when we’re very rarely happy with the results? Wouldn’t we all just be a lot happier by being honest about what we’re concerned about with that person and giving him or her the opportunity to do the same?
Think about how their whole relationship could have been different had Nina approached Darius differently in this situation. She could’ve been honest and told him that even though they started off just kicking it, she was starting to have feelings for him and asked if he felt the same way. But that would’ve taken too much courage and vulnerability, and we all know how we try to steer very far from those two things. Sure, eventually, they end up getting back together (I guess — the movie doesn’t really say that, but I think we’re supposed to assume they do at the end), but that’s a movie and even still, so much precious time was wasted.
Had that been real life, we’d probably be counting those two among the folks that could have been a love story.
What about you all? Can you look back and think of times you’ve tested a significant other or someone you’ve dated? Did it produce the result you wanted or were you, like Nina, upset about the test and the result afterward?