Why You Should Log Into Your Partner’s Period App, Too
One night during that transitional “what are we” phase of my relationship, I lashed out at my now-boyfriend James after feeling a bit rejected (and one too many drinks). At some point, while clearing things up with him during a long walk across Brooklyn’s Williamsburg Bridge, I stopped walking, turned to face him and said point-blank, “I’m about to cry.”
I wasn’t feeling like myself and within minutes of this unexpected, imminent notification of tears, I added, “I’m overwhelmed by my feelings for you.” I got my period three hours later.
I (and I’m sure my mom, select girlfriends and a few exes) know I can be a bit of a nightmare in the days approaching my period. My mood swings constantly fluctuate from bad to worse, month after month, and much like many other women, my cycle had been irregular with the sudden change in life as we know it due to the ongoing pandemic. So I decided to download a period tracking app in an effort to be a little more self-aware about what was going on with my body. There’s a variety of them, such as Eve, Ovia, Dot and others, that prioritize details like what physical activity is best during your cycle or are tailor-made for teens new to periods.
To my surprise, James asked if he could log onto my account from his phone and read about my cycles along with me. I deeply value the comfort we have communicating our way through stereotypically challenging topics and knowing that the end goal is always to understand each other better and find a solution when one is necessary.
So, I said sure.
During the early stages of our relationship, I hadn’t witnessed Rae emote much. Generally, she has a firm handle on her feelings, is very measured and doesn’t waste her words. So I was surprised when her voice cracked about halfway across the bridge.
As a guy, broaching the topic of periods in a relationship can be daunting, but this is not about our uninformed feelings on their experiences. Granted, there’s stigma surrounding it, and you probably learned little to nothing on the subject in health class, but you can access helpful information that can be beneficial to your relationship beyond whether or not each of you are comfortable with period sex.
Rae introduced me to Flo, the app she uses to track her menstrual cycle. Through it, she can log details like symptoms associated with her period, monitor her mental health and find expert insight on fertility and family planning. As she showed me how she uses the app, it dawned on me that it would be good for our relationship if I had access to it, too.
The app’s interface is simple. I use the Insights section most to read about a variety of topics within sections called Reproductive Health 101, Sex and Relationships or Understanding Your Cycle. But I also like the Secret Chats forum where users share about everything from wearing makeup to living with a significant other before marriage and how to know when your period is coming. It normalizes these experiences for someone like me who doesn’t have them. I’m a fly on the wall to hear about subjects that typically may be taboo elsewhere.
If I’m ever lost, the app has video clips of OB-GYNs and psychologists who can offer information about any questions I may have before I bring it up to her. It can also be helpful with unlearning bad habits when approaching these conversations and learning some better ones. Periods aren’t some part of life that exist in a vacuum outside of your relationship. It’s a significant part of your partner’s experience that can impact work, family or time with you.
Rae is easy for me to talk to in a way I haven’t experienced in past relationships. Having already established comfort in our communication made using the app together feel like an opportunity to nurture that and broaden my understanding of her. It has resulted in her and I being “on the same page” in a tangible way.
Teamwork makes the dream work (really!)
James’s active interest in what’s going on with my body and my health—particularly the part that he’s intimately involved in—has shown me I can approach any topic with him. From day one, we’ve really tried to operate by putting all our cards on the table. And our growing comfort around talking about periods is making that an easier philosophy to live by when it comes to other topics as well.
His application of what he’s reading has also impressed me. Despite being fully aware that I might be PMS-ing or having obsessive thoughts, he doesn’t brush off those feelings or invalidate them with newfound knowledge about where I am in my cycle (nor does he ignore holding me accountable). He just asks what I’m feeling and tries to find ways to help when I’m struggling to find relief for myself, whether that’s via the app’s actionable recommendations or him simply listening and affirming that I’m heard and understood. He never hesitates to log the symptoms he observes (or I complain about), from cramps to high sex drive. At this point, he says, “Logging it!” and leaves notes that aren’t even related to my cycle.
Although I wish the tracker had more information about the impact of taking Plan B (a type of morning-after pill) on your cycle in the event you have to take one or a better way to log it, using the app together has also made both of us take ownership of contraceptives. He knows when I’m ovulating and exactly what that means for us. It’s no longer simply on me to be responsible for whether I end up pregnant or not, flagging where I’m at in my cycle or even bringing up the topic of contraceptives like I’ve had to with previous partners. He literally gets a push notification, and with that information, he takes a lot of initiative to create conversations and opportunities to learn more about each other. It’s become a regular part of his morning routine: gym, shower, Flo app and Bustelo, text me luteal phase facts. (It’s the phase right before your period when the ruptured follicle closes after ovulation and forms a structure called a corpus luteum or, in his summary for the layman, “when you get thick on the inside.”)
Using the app together has offered me immeasurable comfort and confidence in communicating about anything at any time, whether it’s during that first day of bleeding or that feeling of relief when your period ends just in time for vacation.