If you’ve felt the strain of this year on your relationship, know that you are not alone, and technology, as it so often does, is coming to the rescue. Where couples apps in the past may have struggled to raise funds, Paired had no such issues, successfully raising $1 million back in October.
Co-founders Kevin Shanahan and Diego López, who previously worked at the language app Memrise, teamed up with Professor of Intimacy and Sociology, Jacqui Gabb – the app’s ‘Chief Relationship Officer’.
Keeping you healthy
CEO, Shanahan, explains that romantic relationships are an incredibly important part of our lives as “it affects our physical health, our mental health, and the lives of our children.”
While therapy for couples is often targeted at those in distress, “there aren’t many solutions to help couples keep their relationship healthy,” he argues, and where a lack of commitment to using couples’ apps may be an issue for some services, Paired recommends that you only use the app for just 10 minutes a day.
The app hosts content related to areas that you might want to work on, including sex and intimacy, family and friends, fun and excitement, home and work, communication, conflict, connection, money and finances, and meaning and growth.
Specific courses contain audio guides, and exercises (with transcriptions included), that function a bit like an interactive podcast.
Shanahan told SEXTECHGUIDE that the daily prompts are designed to be “fun, interactive, and [not] require much time to complete,” which he feels this is in contrast to some other apps, “which can feel heavy or assume the user has lots of time to dedicate.”
Sharing information between partners “creates an ‘aha moment’ for many of our users. They learn a lot about their partner and it creates mutual accountability and support,” he adds.
Free users can access a daily quiz, question, tips from relationship experts, and three free love notes to send and receive, one entire course ‘Progressing in the Pandemic‘, and two free sessions per course for all other courses.
Upgrading to a Premium account ($59.99 per year for two users) grants access to all the expert relationship tips and courses, all couple questions and quizzes, and unlimited love notes to send and receive.
Any time you answer a quiz or question, your partner will have a chance to do the same, allowing the app to compare results and offer tailored content for improving your relationship.
One upcoming feature is called ‘Couple Stories’, and will be a place in the app where you can read the relationship stories that users have submitted. “Some of these stories are very heartwarming and allow you to see your own relationship experiences in them,” Shanahan says.
In addition to therapy
The app says the materials are “not intended to, and do not constitute, medical, psychological, or mental health advice, or diagnosis, and may not be used for such purposes[…]”. As much as this is a legal disclaimer, it’s also part of the ethos of the app.
Rather than an alternative to therapy, Paired can act as a supplement. “I think self-directed apps are good for people looking for something that is affordable, interactive, light, and at your own pace,” Shanahan told SEXTECHGUIDE.
The company is offering therapists free subscriptions to give to clients as homework between therapy sessions, as a method of discussing clients’ answers to partner quizzes and questions, and helping clients to maintain healthy relationship habits.
Who is it for?
All the features in Paired can be used solo and about a quarter of its users do this. For example, people can learn positive relationship practices via its bite-sized tips or reflect on their relationship by answering daily questions and quizzes, shares Shanahan. “I think both partners using the app is still the ideal, but this isn’t always possible and that is totally fine.”
The app prides itself on inclusivity, with gender-queer and non-binary options when tailoring the user experience, and uses terms like “partner” to avoid heteronormative language. It has also begun creating content specifically for its LGBTQ+ users, Shanahan says.
“You can see one tip already in the app on dealing with discomfort around public displays of affection and we’re adding more on LGBTQ+ parenting and queer identity soon.”
However, as it only has the functionality to share answers with one partner at the moment, people in relationships with multiple partners tend to pair with their primary one, says Shanahan.
We learned back in June that couples apps that deal with too broad a spectrum of relationship problems can lead to an app that inevitably caters to no-one. That’s why you would likely need a whole other app suited to deal with more intricate issues, such as those within polyamorous relationships, couples of color (Blex), parenting couples (Gilly), or those struggling with pleasure (Ferly) specifically.