Couples have been putting their relationships to the test in Love Island – by ‘exploring connections’ outside it.
From Tom and Casey to Ron and Will, several of the contestants on the ITV2 show have suggested that flirting or kissing people other than their partner is a suitable way to test whether their relationship is strong.
And it isn’t just the men. Tanya has now rekindled her relationship with Shaq – after “pursuing a connection” with Martin, who she met in Casa Amor.
So, why do we do it? And is it healthy to test your relationship in this way?
“Committing to someone long term is a big step, and many people want to be 100% certain that they are doing ‘the right thing’,” explains says Mairead Molloy, relationship psychologist and global director at Berkeley International (berkeley-international.com).
“They want reassurance that the relationship is ‘the best they can get’, which might prompt them to compare their partners to other potential matches.”
Can it do your relationship good?
“Relationship tests can make or break a relationship,” says Molloy.
“It is possible for couples to go on to have a happy relationship after infidelity, provided they’re willing to put in the work – when both spouses are committed to real healing, most relationships survive and many become stronger with deeper levels of intimacy, depending on the level of trust.”
What about cheating?
It may depend how serious the relationship is (and how long you’ve been together) but anything considered cheating by either party could have a serious impact.
“Few relationship problems cause as much heartache and devastation as infidelity, which undermines the foundation of the relationship itself,” Molloy suggests.
“People who are unfaithful to their partners regret causing their loved ones so much pain and heartache. Even if the couple decides to stay together, it’s very hard for them to have a trust-based, happy relationship.”
Does a test spell the end?
Shaq was tempted to call it quits after Tanya returned from Casa Amor with another man, saying: “It’s the end for me”.
Molley says: “‘Tests’ and ‘red flags’ are often talked about during the initial stages of dating and relationships, although they can appear within more established relationships too.”
“With regards to ‘looking elsewhere’, it is absolutely possible that your partner does love you, did love you before, and will continue to love you in the future. Infidelity does not mean that the love is gone or never existed. The reality is that you can love someone and still cheat on them.”
It could make the person looking elsewhere care more.
“Spending time with another person romantically can make you realise that you prefer your partner, and can stir up feelings of guilt and regret, which can bring reassurance that you are ‘with the right person’.
“It is important to note there can be disastrous consequences to ‘straying’, and it is not the best start to any blossoming love story,” she says.
What is the alternative to improve the relationship?
There are healthy ways to test the strength of a relationship.
“Enjoying your lives outside of the relationship, spending time apart, or going on a holiday without your partner can be positive ways to test the strength of your relationship,” says Molloy.
“Trust is required, which is vital in a healthy relationship.”
While Islanders might not have the chance to do all that in the villa, we can certainly try in the real world.