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TikTok video detailing how relationship 'performance improvement plans' work has experts sounding off

A woman on TikTok shared a video earlier this year about how she placed her boyfriend on a “performance improvement plan,” and the move reportedly turned their relationship around, but relationship experts are sounding alarms as the 58-second clip continues to get views.

Nadeen Hui, a San Francisco-based TikTok user who appears to provide relationship commentary and tips, turned to the video-sharing app and said she successfully “PIP’d” her boyfriend, much like employers do before they consider terminating a worker.

“My boyfriend and I were having a lot of issues in the beginning,” Hui explained in her video. “Ultimately, I felt like we weren’t compatible even though we had a lot of love for each other, so as a last straw, we decided to do a performance improvement plan.”


In a follow-up TikTok video, Hui said their review period happened three months into their relationship, and now they’ve been together for three years.

couple appears to argue

Relationships experts are speaking out about “partner probation” after a TikTok user (not pictured) revealed to her followers that she placed her boyfriend on a PIP, which often stands for “performance improvement plan” in corporate work settings. (iStock)

Fox News Digital reached out to Hui for comment.

Hui’s “PiP’d my boyfriend” video has generated over 270,500 views, and relationship experts are divided on whether the term should be used in the dating world.

“Using this language can better assist people in understanding that their relationship is in jeopardy and determine what needs to change for it to continue,” she explained. “In couples counseling, this is simply known as a behavioral contract, where boundaries are created to achieve goals within the relationship.”

Setting up a relationship performance improvement plan could help a couple address issues they’re facing, according to Lawless.

Left: Person looks at performance improvement screen. Right: Couple talks while reviewing tablet.

Partner probation, also known as a relationship performance improvement plan, has benefits and detriments, according to experts. (iStock)

Outlining goals and partner responsibilities provide a sense of clarity, purpose and accountability, and it can help eliminate assumptions, said Lawless.

“Ultimatums are terrible for relationships, as they are based on one partner’s needs without consideration for the other, and create a one-up one-down power dynamic that is usually deadly for love and intimacy,” she explained.

Couple in therapist office

Couples may need to consult relationship therapists or counselors if partner probation is on the table. (iStock)

Putting together a performance improvement plan for a romantic partner assumes the partner is the source of the problem, according to Melancon.

“This can absolutely be abused,” she said. “Healthy communication is a two-way street where both partners acknowledge their role in any issue – no matter how big or small – are honest about their wants and needs, and consciously help to fulfill their partner’s wants and needs.”

“I think that term grossly misrepresents the underlying concept of using communication to improve relationships, and it makes attempting to improve your relationship sound automatically punitive,” she said.


While Hidem agrees that communication of “wants and needs” is important, she believes the formation of a formal performance improvement plan could make it easier for one party to shift blame on the other.

“So many divorces happen because one or both partners didn’t articulate their needs, and they ended up resentful and bitter,” Hidem continued. “But if you speak up, you find out if your partner is willing to make the change to meet your needs and the relationship can proceed or not proceed accordingly.”

Couple reviews paperwork in kitchen.

Creating a relationship performance improvement plan requires a lot of work and effort from the probationary partner and managing partner. (iStock)


Use ‘partner probation’ as a last resort

Avigail Lev, founder and director of the Bay Area CBT Center in San Francisco, which specializes in cognitive behavioral therapy, told Fox News Digital that taking a break from a relationship can be beneficial.

Couples who deploy a partner probation system must “agree to how each partner will work on themselves” and disclose “what evidence” is needed “to show that change has occurred,” Lev said.

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