InStyle On: Dating Defined: Temperature Checking | Instyle Editors On | Instyle

Temperature-checking is, albeit problematic, a way to alleviate those feelings of anxiety that happen when you're unsure where you stand with a current fling, or find yourself approaching the last exit before you jump into a new relationship.

Video Transcript

JESSICA JANUARY BEHR: So here's the scenario. You're dating someone new, and it's starting to get serious, and you're feeling some anxiety about taking next steps to commitment. Why do we feel so inclined to test those feelings by texting an ex or going out with someone new?

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JESSICA JANUARY BEHR: So, when we get to know someone but are unsure of how we feel about them or really how they feel about us, it can create a sense of uneasiness or anxiety, understandably. Temperature-checking can be a way of working with or managing that anxiety. This can occur in many different ways and doesn't necessarily always have the same psychological reasoning.

For some, returning to the apps or communicating with an old romantic interest may help to rebuild a sense of personal desirability that maybe was lost or reduced in the current relationship. It could also help to reaffirm one's attractiveness, confidence, or worth, when feeling insecure or uncertain about your position in the budding relationship. So for these individuals, temperature-checking is more about a self-assessment than assessment of the partner.

ERIN GLOVER: If you're getting cold feet or feeling a little bit lukewarm about your current partner is a temperature-check going to help out your situation? Is there ever a case where this works?

JESSICA JANUARY BEHR: So, for this other group that you're mentioning, these are people who maybe have doubts about the person they're seeing or have issues with the pairing of the relationship itself. So these individuals might temperature-check as a way more so to assess the value that their partner has to them, versus their own value to the partner.

So by dipping your toe back into this dating pool, you can yourself assess and compare who and what else is out there. So for these people, they may be trying to determine if there's someone else better, more interesting, better suited for them out there in the dating world. So in these cases, people might engage more comparatively, seeking out less personal reassurance, but more markers of strong compatibility in prospective partners.

ERIN GLOVER: So, realizing you have more chemistry on a first date with a stranger than with the person you've been seeing, it could help you realize that it's time to break things off with someone who isn't your ideal match. But first, before you're running a temperature-check, you might want to take some of these steps.

JESSICA JANUARY BEHR: So firstly, before temperature m consider the terms and conditions of your relationship. Are you exclusive, official, casual? Have you had these discussions? Have you discussed the boundaries and limits of the couple together? If this is a partner that you are invested in, it may be useful to first share your thoughts and feelings, your hesitations, doubts, and uncertainties with your partner directly. Instead of testing the temperature outside of the relationship, you make get a more accurate read from within the relationship.

ERIN GLOVER: So Dr. Behr, is there anything that you can do to maybe talk to your partner about any issues that you're having or anxiety that you're feeling around commitment, instead of running a temperature-check or maybe doing something that might make you feel guilty or feel like you're cheating?

JESSICA JANUARY BEHR: If this is a very new relationship or one that doesn't yet support intimate, emotional, deep conversations, it may be worth trying to start those conversations. If not, and you do feel the need to perform a litmus test without disclosure to your partner, it is to your benefit to do so as consciously and deliberately as possible. Having intentions, having clear boundaries and limits for yourself, and to be clear on your personal motivation to temperature-check. This way, it doesn't become a knee jerk response to commitment fears, but is a useful tool for reaffirming your confidence or engaging in a comparative exercise.

ERIN GLOVER: You can save yourself the trouble and the guilt of going on a date with someone else by simply taking inventory of your needs, your fears, and your concerns, and then having an honest and open talk with your partner to get back on track. Building trust is a way more productive way to quell anxiety or second thoughts about having the commitment talk. [MUSIC PLAYING]