Retail

Money Can’t Buy Love, But Can A Subscription Make It Stick?

couple with heart balloons

There are plenty of apps that will help a consumer find love, or at least a reasonable simulacrum of it for an evening or two. But making love last has, until recently, been a less-explored opportunity to build a business. That service has mostly thus far remained in the largely analog world of marriage counseling. Finding a date might be easily digitally automated, but the conventional wisdom thus far has been the specific alchemy of making a relationship last over time is one of those ineffable areas where a slick digital interface with artificial intelligence and some support can’t really cut it.

The team at Lasting, however, believes that conventional wisdom is wrong. If an app can help people find love, the firm believes, then it stands to reason that an app can help them make a relationship last.

“In an age where apps help people with everything from dieting and physical fitness to mental health, there was a surprising lack of apps to help people build their relationship and marriage health,” Steven Dziedzic, founder of Lasting, noted in an emailed statement.

Couples therapy, according to Lasting, is a valid method of fixing a relationship, but not an attainable solution for every couple in need of a helping hand to stabilize their relationship. Lasting is designed to be an accessible and affordable mechanism to help couples build their relationship over time — with the help of a $12 per month digital subscription.

For the first time in history, we can now assign a market value to making love last over time — it’s slightly more than an Amazon Prime membership, slightly less than a family Netflix subscription. What, if any, deeper meaning can be mined  from that we’ll leave up to our readers.

The app itself is built around Gottman Method Couples Therapy and several hundred psychological studies on couples and what works (and doesn’t) over time. From there the app serves a twofold purpose. The first is as an educational resource for couples, who first fill out a semi-extensive intake application which helps them identify potential issues in their relationships. They are then given dual “assignments” to work through together, including modules on communications, cooperation, sex, finances — in short the greatest hits of problem areas that tend to undo the stability in a couple’s relationship over time, according to marriage counselor Liz Colizza, who is Lasting’s head of marriage counseling told Vox.

But the app is more than about teaching couples what to do — it is also about pushing them to take action. That might mean push messages that remind an app user to call and check in with their partner at midday, or a push at the end of the day to remind partners to ask each other about their day. These app features, incidentally, are the ones that often drive the most mockery of the concept. One particularly spirited Twitter feed on the subject indicated that couples who need to be reminded to talk to each other or ask basic questions about each other’s day should possibly consider breaking up.

But defenders of the app noted that long-term relationships end up caught in inertial tides, and it is easy to let maintenance slide in the context of living day-to-day life.

Colizza noted that the actions that the app pushes vary from couple to couple, depending on what areas of strength they are looking to develop or the weakness they are looking to overcome.

“In the marriage health intro, we talk about this concept of emotional calls, which are these tiny moments throughout your day where you are attempting to connect with your partner or your partner is attempting to connect with you,” she explained.

An app can help connect consumers to those check-in calls across a variety of contexts. Lasting starts with the premise that couples want to make it work, and are sincerely tracking that goal. Getting there, however, isn’t always easy or obvious.

And in order for it to work, according to Lasting, couples need to be willing to actually do the work that goes along with it — and according to even the most positive reviews of the Lasting app, that work is both time-consuming and involved.

“It’s challenging to get into the headspace of sitting down with your partner, in front of a phone, and focusing on something for an extended period of time,” one reviewer for Brit + Co noted. “When you opt to see a human therapist, the act of stepping into their office immediately puts you into that mindset (at least in my experience). This is something we struggled with in testing out Lasting, and I think it’s definitely a trade-off. You’re getting a less expensive, more convenient form of counseling, but with that comes less urgency to actually participate or to stick to a schedule.”

Moreover, Colizza said, for some couples there are fundamental breakdown issues in communication that mean the couple involved may actually need a human third party to step in and guide the conversation. The app can only work as well as the users are willing to work with it. Then again, by the same token, she noted, marriage only works if people are willing and able to work at it.

“There is no perfect easy answer,” she said.

But what there is, and what Lasting offers, is an on-subscription method of staying engaged with one’s relationship and partner in a way that pays dividends that are … well, lasting.

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