Technology & Science·Q&A

App aims to keep couples happy in relationship with quiz-style game

There's a huge number of apps and services that promise to help you find love. But there are about a handful of apps specifically designed for people who have already found love. Happy Couples is one of them. CBC technology columnist Dan Misener explores the quiz-style game, aimed at keeping relationships together.

Happy Couple promotes talking, which helps keep couples together, app co-founder says

Happy Couple is one of few apps targeted towards people already in a relationship.

There's no shortage of dating apps and online services to help you find romance.

But what about technology for existing relationships?

CBC technology columnist Dan Misener recently tried out an app for those who have already found love. It's a quiz-style game called "Happy Couple."

What is this Happy Couple app?

Happy Couple is basically a game you can play as a smartphone app for iOS and Android. There is also a web version. It's a quiz-style game, kind of like the TV show The Newlywed Game.

The idea is that you sign up with your partner and the app asks you a series of questions each day. Some of the questions focus on you. But others ask you to guess your partner's answers. And if you and your partner give the same answer to a question, you get a match. If you don't answer the same, you get a mismatch and it shows you where you match and where you mismatch. 

The app also gives you tips and challenges that you're supposed to complete together. For instance, the app suggested that I send a kiss to my wife's phone via text, picture or video message. It also suggested that I create a shared playlist on Spotify or YouTube, adding songs that we'd both like.

A question in a Happy Couple quiz. (CBC)

Why make this into an app (rather than just talking to your partner)?

I wondered exactly the same thing. 

It turns out the app is designed to bring up questions that couples might not think to ask on their own, according to co-founder Lonnie Barbach. The app can also prompt discussions that one partner might feel too shy to initiate, said Barbach, who is also a psychologist and couples therapist. 

The questions the app asks can be personalized.

"We can design these questions differently for married couples, or couples who are living together, or engaged, or dating, or gay couples, or long-distance relationship couples; couples with kids or without," she said. "This is more targeted to you and your relationship."

Barbach has written a number of books about sex and relationships. She said this personalization is one of the reasons she decided to pursue an app, rather than write another book.

Who can access the personal information stored on Happy Couple?

The app does ask some very personal and intimate questions about your relationship and stores that information online. I think it's perfectly reasonable to wonder about who gets to see that information.

In order for the app to work, you both need to sign up for an account and you both need to agree to the terms of use and privacy policy.

The privacy policy is pretty clear. It says, "We do not sell, trade, or otherwise transfer to outside parties your personally identifiable information."

Barbach also said "nobody has access" to your information. She said even her team that works on the app can't see users' answers.

Right now, the app makes money by selling additional packs of questions as in-app purchases. 

How many apps for couples are on the market?

There's a huge number of apps and services that promise to help you find love. But there are just a handful of apps specifically designed for people who have already found love, like Avocado and Couple.me.

Happy Couples offers tips, such as this one. (CBC)

Barbach had a simple explanation for that discrepancy.

"It's easy to match people together on whatever criteria you decide to put together. But it's much harder to come up with something that is truly helpful," she said.

"Relationships go bad because people stop talking about things that are bothering them or don't know how to talk about them in a way to get positive change, or don't understand what's going on with the other person and don't ask."

Barbach thinks the solution is talking — exactly what she's trying to promote with Happy Couple.

You have been testing Happy Couple with your wife. What do you think of it?

We've been trying it for a couple of days and it has prompted some interesting conversations — more than I would have expected going into this. I think we'll keep trying it for a little while and see how it fits into our lives and whether it leads to the kinds of conversations it's supposed to help with.

To be honest, I feel a little bit strange entering very personal information about my marriage into a smartphone app. And actually, that's the most interesting aspect of this story for me — how comfortable (or uncomfortable) people are with the technological mediation of their romantic lives and how those attitudes may change over time.

Years ago there may have been a taboo around meeting somebody online, but that has gone away. Whereas, within the confines of an existing long-term relationship, there's maybe a little less comfort with having a piece of technology sitting between you and your partner.

About the Author

Dan Misener

CBC Radio technology columnist

Dan Misener is a technology journalist for CBC radio and CBCNews.ca. Find him on Twitter @misener.