Anti-dating apps are helping modern daters heal after heartbreak.
The rise in dating apps has introduced a host of new behaviors to navigate, with cutesy names like ghosting, cookie-jarring and orbiting that belie their psychological and emotional impact. “Technology has made people less empathetic and sensitive in their dating habits. People are much more likely to ghost someone — just disappear without explanation — along with some other poor behaviors,” said Dr. Marni Feuerman, licensed psychotherapist and author of Ghosted and Breadcrumbed. Add to this the fact that everything from social media to shared Netflix logins make it harder than ever to fully separate from an ex after a breakup, and the opportunities for heartbreak in the digital age seem infinite.
To combat this, modern daters are looking to the very technology that got them here for a solution: apps. As dating apps prevail, so too do apps that help with the mess that modern, tech-ified dating leaves behind.
In February 2019, Onward launched its new “breakup concierge” platform that aims to ease the stress of post-breakup life. “If you don’t have a strong social network and disposable income, [a breakup] is an incredibly derailing process,” said Onward cofounder and COO Mika Leonard. “We realized there had to be a better way.” The company offers plans that address the logistics of relocating and rebuilding after a split, ranging from a $99 ten-day “reboot” to a $400 month-long “recalibration.” The plans provide assistance with everything from practical considerations like packing and apartment searching to self-care encouragement like dietary and fitness recommendations, therapist match-making and community building to heavy-lifting resources like financial planning and legal aid.
This is especially important at a time when people are moving in together at a higher rate, and often for practical reasons like saving on rising rental costs. The latest numbers show that 18 million unmarried adults in the US were living with a romantic partner as of 2016, up 29% from 2007, according to Pew Research. “Folks who are leaving cohabitation have all of the complex messiness of a divorce, without anyone sort of guiding them through that process,” Onward cofounder and CEO Lindsay Meck told Fast Company. “There was no service that helps people deal with this nightmare amidst major emotional turmoil.”
Breakup coach Mend, which was just voted one of Apple’s best apps of 2018, focuses on the emotional impact of a split by encouraging users to prioritize self-care. “Self-care is built into our training program on the app because we know how crucial it is to the mending process,” said Mend founder and CEO Elle Huerta. The app helps users build healthy habits to decipher and work through their emotions with daily check-ins, audio trainings from mental health and wellness experts and guided journaling.
Huerta explained that the “daily check-ins and audio trainings strike a delicate balance between science, emotion, and practicality,” offering users a more holistic approach to heartbreak. “All of the resources I found online felt cheesy and outdated, and none of them addressed the science of what’s actually happening in your brain and body during a breakup,” said Huerta.
Breakup Boss, which launched in 2017, addresses the technological temptations that come with a breakup. The app discourages users from contacting an ex, offering “all of the tools and techniques (and lots of lectures – cute!) to deal with all of the stages of your break-up, and just as you need them: in your phone, as you’re about to call your ex/have another shot of Tequila.” And Rx Breakup offers a 30-day program that “rolls clinical expertise into a smart, stylish guide for moving on in the digital age.”
At a time when the negative effects of technology on emotional and mental states seem inescapable, these apps are offering an optimistic alternative. “We do everything else on our phones, why not do a little therapy on our phones, too?” Rx Breakup cofound Jeanine Lobell asked. Breakup Boss creator Zoe Foster Blake agrees: “[Apps] can inspire you to exercise, meditate, eat and sleep better, heal your broken heart. And they’re just going to get better.”