First came self-care. Now it’s all about relationship maintenance. But can texts, prompts and emojis really bring you and your partner closer?
A few weeks ago, while scrolling Instagram and passing silent judgement on a stranger’s interior decoration choices, I was served an ad for Paired. The app promised “10 minutes a day to a better relationship” via quizzes designed by therapists and academics to spark more meaningful conversations. Had Alexa been eavesdropping on that row we had about the recycling? Either way, an algorithm had staged an intervention.
At no other point in our history have we scrutinised our relationships so closely. Two years of semi-confinement in homes that doubled as co-working spaces or classrooms will do that. Across the cultural spectrum, via the BBC’s fly-on-the wall Couples Therapy, or Gwyneth and her wolverine claw in Netflix’s Sex, Love & Goop, we are hooked on psychoanalysing other people’s relationships. What Paired, Relish, Coupleness, Love Nudge (if you can look beyond the name) and a growing number of other couples’ apps are doing is turning that fascination inward. It’s relationship maintenance for the time-poor, self-care curious – and business is booming.