If we had a dollar for every “self-improvement” app we’ve seen, we’d be retired and sitting on a Caribbean beach right now. But shaking up the digital self-awareness space is Relish, a new app that’s made to strengthen and improve romantic relationships. Founder and CEO Lesley Eccles was motivated to create the app after thinking about ways to use technology in order to encourage deeper, more meaningful connections.
Remember when Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin “consciously un-coupled”? Well, Relish is all about “conscious coupling.” And while, yes, it is in some senses an e-version of couples therapy, it’s also very different than traditional counseling, Eccles notes. “Whereas therapy will often delve into your childhood or previous relationships to get to the source of your presenting issues, the focus with Relish is on what action you can take today that will move you relationship forward,” she says.
You also don’t have to do it with your partner: The app is about giving you control over your mindset, your perception, and how you show up in a relationship every single day. By making those changes, you can affect change on the relationship, she says. There are, of course, some other, more concrete differences as well – cost being one of them. A year’s subscription to the Relish app costs $99.99, a fraction of the price of what couples therapy can end up costing.
Plus, the activities in the app (more on those in a minute) utilize a variety of different therapeutic methods, rather than just one or two any particular therapist you see may be trained in. Still, Eccles points out that Relish can be used either in lieu of in-person therapy or in tandem with. “For people in therapy already, therapists are recommending it as a companion tool that’s useful in between sessions. For others, it's an early intervention, which means that they either don't need therapy in the future, or they will get better outcomes faster when they do go to therapy,” she says.
So, how exactly does it work? You start by filling out a quiz about yourself, your partner, and your relationship — essentially to help determine the areas of your strengths and weaknesses. Based on this, you then get customized lessons and activities, specifically created and suggested to help address the particular needs of your relationship. There are fun suggestions for unique types of date nights, progress tracking, plus lots of helpful deep dive reads and research. You also get access to an individual relationship coach, with whom you can communicate directly, as well as a community of other ‘Relishers.’
But does it work? As someone with some hefty baggage in the relationship department, I’m all about improving and strengthening relationships. For background context, I recently got divorced after five years of marriage, during which we tried couples therapy. I’m now in a fairly new-ish -- though serious, committed -- relationship and took the Relish app for a test drive with my boyfriend.
My big takeaways: If you are doing this with a partner, make sure they are on board. It’s the same principle I believe applies to traditional couples therapy — it takes two to tango, and if one of you isn’t on board, it’s not going to be effective. There were a few things that I think could be improved upon; for example, despite the fact that I put in that I was newly dating, some of the activities/quizzes were more tailored for couples living together. That being said, both me and my boyfriend found the activities interesting and helpful, and the conversations they spurred important.
To toot our own horns for a minute, we are pretty healthy and strong communicators to begin with, and, at least at this point, we don’t have any major issues we’re trying to resolve. Still, I could see this being extremely helpful for couples facing challenges. My BF pointed out that it could also be a great tool for couples who perhaps aren’t used to healthy communication in that it would make it easier to have certain conversations; he likened it to bowling with bumpers.
The Relish app is easy to use, fun, and has lots of thought-provoking information and ways of looking at a variety of issues, from communication to sex to parenting. Given the cost and the ease of use, my takeaway is that it’s absolutely worth giving this a shot, whether you’re simply looking to strengthen a relationship or have more concrete problems you’re trying to resolve.
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