Is The Relationship 'Green Line Test' Legit? Here's What To Know

Viral relationship tests aren't new to social media, but one relationship strength meter has been sparking considerable conversation online, with millions of TikTokers clamoring to get in on the trend. Naturally, we're talking about the green line test, a metric said to assess power dynamics in relationships. Starting on Twitter and since making its way to TikTok, the green line test is seen with skepticism by many users but embraced by others.

The premise of the green line test is that a relationship's health and strength can be discerned from the way two people pose in a photograph. By examining the curvature of green lines drawn onto photographs, with one line drawn down the length of each person, the test's results supposedly indicate a couple's power distribution. If one partner's green line is straight and vertical, then they're said to be the dominant partner in the relationship, while the person whose line is even the slightest bit angled toward their significant other would be more submissive.

Besides the simplicity of the measure, utilizing line drawings to measure power distribution in a relationship has some questioning the method. The answer to the green line test's legitimacy is as simple as its methodology, with experts denying that it can determine relationship health. Long story short, the green line test is not legit.

Simple factors quickly negate legitimacy of the test

Experts say the green line test isn't legitimate for very simple reasons. The claims of the relationship metric involving nothing more than lines drawn onto photographs have been debunked by psychologists and body language analysts, who have explained that there's more to be considered when discerning a relationship's health than how a couple is situated in a photograph.

"It's a mistake if you're judging the health of your relationship based on your partner 'leaning in' towards you in a photo," body language expert Blanca Cobb tells Newsweek. "The simplest thing about relationships is that they're complicated. There are many reasons why your partner might lean in that has nothing to with weakness or dependency."

What's more, the pros say that it's more aligned with an online fad than research-backed outcomes. The legitimacy of the green line test is also called into question in how partners of different heights naturally pose next to each other, with the taller partner typically leaning inward. Additionally, the appearance of two people in a photo can be an illusion of the angle from which the picture was snapped, destabilizing the entire methodology of the green line test. When simple explanations like photographic angle and height can easily disprove a metric, we should be wary.

The viral relationship test is problematic

Among the plethora of users on social media who have applied the green light tests to their own relationship photos or those of celebrity couples — or given an explanation of how the test should be conducted — there are many users calling out the relationship test for being problematic in a variety of ways. 

YourTango reports that the test has misogynistic roots, with the implication that men shouldn't be shown as leaning upon their female partners. Several videos and social media posts about the green line test have analyzed Prince Harry and Meghan Markle with resulting criticism about how Harry appears to be leaning toward Meghan despite his position as a prince born into royalty. In this regard, the green line test also has underlying tones of classism because of the idea that a person born into an aristocratic or royal family should be the dominant one in a romantic relationship.

Expanding on the problematic messages perpetuated by the green line test, the relationship meter has also been criticized for insinuating that one person should be dominant over the other, as opposed to having partners of equal status. Not to mention, the test is meant primarily for heterosexual couples, which naturally gives us pause.

Similar methods have previously been debunked

The green line test is not the first relationship metric of its kind. The "lean test" is a similarly debunked viral relationship metric that analyzes photographs of heterosexual couples to see if the woman is leaning toward the man or vice versa.

Therapist Dr. Rana Tayara responds to claims of the green line test's predecessor, stating in a TikTok video, "The only lean test that actually exists is one used by NASA researchers to test for orthostatic intolerance." Dr. Tayara effectively disproves the validity of the relationship lean test and similar assessments like the green line test by sharing that no such test exists in psychology or related social science fields. 

Responding to assertions about the green line test being a qualified diagnostic tool for relationships, experts are ardently disproving the digital metric's substantiation. Psychologist Nancy Sokarno tells the New York Post that the test isn't a valid method for determining if your relationship will go the distance, nor is body language a definitive factor even if one partner is more physically closed off. "Ultimately it comes down to how you treat each other," Dr. Sokarno explains. "Factors like how you support each other emotionally, how you converse, how you resolve disagreements etc., are way more important than a person's body language." Mutual respect and healthy, open communication go much farther than a green line. 

There are many reasons partners lean in

Ultimately, the way someone poses in a photograph is neither an expert-backed nor scientifically proven factor for determining relationship health. When internet users apply the green line test to heteronormative couples, men who lean toward women are labeled weak. Realistically, the opposite can be true, as they may be extremely self-assured in the bond shared with their partner. 

"Leaning into the other person usually means that they are into that person — that they like the other person and are connecting with them," body language expert Dr. Lillian Glass tells Newsweek. "It's not about power and control. It's about affection and emotional feelings. When you really like a person your body tends to gravitate towards that person. You want to be close to them."

Though the green line test speaks negatively about men leaning into female partners, tilting toward one's partner while interacting often embodies positive body language indicative of trust, interest, and affection regardless of gender. What's more, body language expert Mike Carter told the Daily Mail that leaning into one's partner is frequently instinctive, stating, "We tend to lean physically towards things that we want, like, and feel strongly about." Instead of insinuating negative implications of power disparities if a couple leans toward one another in photographs or other settings, physical closeness between partners can be symbolic of healthy relationships.