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Social media for two
Digital services are cropping up for couples to have their own private social networks.
May 31st, 2012
08:00 AM ET

Social media for two

Ian Kerner, a sexuality counselor and New York Times best-selling author, blogs about sex weekly on The Chart. Read more from him on his website, GoodInBed.

Facebook recently made headlines twice - first, when the company went public and again, when founder Mark Zuckerberg tied the knot. Although Facebook’s IPO was disappointing to those who had high expectations, we can hope at least that Zuckerberg’s marriage will soar, even if his stock did not.

One way the Zuckerbergs - and all couples - can help maintain a healthy connection with each other is to be cautious about the way they use Facebook and all social media, for that matter. As I’ve written before in this column, social networking tools can bring people together, but they can also pull couples apart. Think about it: You and your partner might be sitting next to each other on the couch or in bed, tapping away on your individual laptops, smart phones, or iPads, lost in a virtual world where flirting with a stranger, friend, or old flame is just a click away. In other words, you’re turning on social media—and maybe turning on to someone else, too—even as you tune each other out. From laptops, to smart phones, to tablets, today’s gadgets allow us to remain connected 24/7—yet that doesn’t necessarily mean that we are connected to our partner

There’s no doubt that Facebook and other types of social media can be a real threat to even the strongest relationships.  I sometimes advise couples to avoid “friending” each other on social media because it saps a sense of mystery from the relationship. By dinner, you already know that your partner had a lousy day at work, ate a ham sandwich for lunch, and can’t wait for the season finale of Dancing With the Stars. What’s left to talk about? Plus, post some sweet nothings on your partner’s “wall” and you’re apt to get mocked by your friends - or at least make them uncomfortable with your public displays of virtual attention.

Luckily, a number of new digital services are aimed not at tearing couples apart, but at keeping them glued firmly together. Think of them as a Facebook built just for two, where you can lay on all the effusive displays of digital affection that you want, without judgment. Better yet, there’s no dealing with pesky exes, nosy family members, getting tagged in embarrassing photos, or a steady barrage of “friend” requests that get in the way of your most special friendship.

Consider Between, a digital service that describes itself as “an intimate space for two”. Created in South Korea (but available in the U.S. and other Western countries), Between stems from the idea that many people - and Asians in particular - are reluctant to share private memories with others, even their friends. Instead, the app allows couples to create photo albums, message boards for sweet (or saucy) notes, and instant messages, all of which are shared only with one’s partner. Users can build a one-to-one archive of materials including chat history and photo albums, and they can also share a “virtual memory box.” Since launching about six months ago in Korea, nearly 1 million people worldwide in relationships have signed on for the service (or about 500, 000 couples, since each user can only have one partner.)  Although available in the United States as an app, the company plans to launch more officially in the US later this year.

Other programs like TwoSome and TwoCup  offer similar functions, including a score of your relationship’s overall health, “coins” that you can cash in for real date nights, and shared calendars to help couples coordinate their schedules. And still other apps are geared to specific audiences: Kindu is aimed at helping couples explore their sexual fantasies,  as is Sex Life. LoveDare is meant for Christian couples, and the amusingly named Girlfriend Keeper helps partners (okay, men) remember anniversaries and other important relationship dates.

While such apps might elicit some eye rolling, particularly from single people, I think they can be a positive addition to a couple’s relationship. Technology has changed the way we work, the way we communicate, and, yes, the way we interact with (or ignore) our romantic partners. Couples apps not only help us from becoming disconnected from each other, but they also offer us the chance to playfully reconnect - and that’s a benefit worth “liking.”


soundoff (12 Responses)
  1. What Now

    Gee, why not just talk to each other across the dinner table once in a while? It is sad that we now are considering an app to connect to our partners. Perhaps we should encourage learning to communicate with each other before we marry. Sorry, but this just seems ridiculous. Do we really need a gadget to encourage human interaction?

    May 31, 2012 at 11:08 | Report abuse | Reply
    • What Now

      PS...I'm married and predicting that the eye-rolling will come from more married than single people.

      May 31, 2012 at 12:22 | Report abuse |
    • EC

      will work great for long-distance relationship couples?

      May 31, 2012 at 14:39 | Report abuse |
    • Mark Glicker

      Computers are fun and insidious at the same time.

      June 3, 2012 at 03:42 | Report abuse |
    • will

      I agree this coulds be really good for LONG DISTANCE relationships only.

      June 6, 2012 at 02:22 | Report abuse |
  2. KJC

    I think the issue with facebook getting between couples is partially in flirting with others, but it is also in connecting to your old life and wondering about the "what if's" beyond relationships. The younger generation has grown up constantly connected, so I think this syndrome is not as strong for us. But imagine someone in an older generation who has not spoken with college friends in 20 years suddenly joining facebook and finding out that Bob is rich and Joe has a hot wife and Sally has an awesome career and Jane lives in a fancy foreign country. If this individual had been following these people's trajectories all along, it might not be a big deal, but suddenly being opened to the world of possibilities that everyone else is experiencing adds some additional complexity to a mid life crisis. Everyone else's life looks so much more exciting than your own (of course it does, because they're trying to make the online world think they're awesome), and it can make you question what you have. I have seen this get between couples, and I think that generations who did not grow up with the internet may be more susceptible to believing that everything they see about other people's awesome lives is true or may have more trouble balancing internet time with the rest of life, because that was not part of their balancing act growing up. True story.

    May 31, 2012 at 14:31 | Report abuse | Reply
    • tmr

      As a 49 year old woman, I can tell you that you definitely got this totally right! I have experienced this first hand with the family problems caused by my jealousy when my husband's brother friended my husband's former serious girlfriend. My kids don't see the problem with it because they have grown up with this type of thing.

      June 1, 2012 at 08:21 | Report abuse |
    • erika

      excellent point!

      June 1, 2012 at 13:08 | Report abuse |
  3. E

    II think couples need their own space online as well as offline. I think it will make me feel more special, and help me share more knowing it will be private. Facebook connects people, but it equalizes relationship dynamics too, almost too much

    May 31, 2012 at 15:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Canada: America's Hat

    I do that with my husband..it's called a scrapbook.

    June 1, 2012 at 13:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Keith Cairns

    social networking has not only revolutionalised the way we connect but also has changed the way we react emotionally.this might lead to evolution in terms of hormones

    July 10, 2012 at 04:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Jacki Storr

    Beta blockers interfere with the binding to the receptor of epinephrine and other stress hormones, and weaken the effects of stress hormones.They are particularly used for the management of cardiac arrhythmias, protecting the heart from a second heart attack (myocardial infarction) after a first heart attack (secondary prevention)",...

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    June 8, 2013 at 20:51 | Report abuse | Reply

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