From a marketing perspective, it’s probably easier and more exciting to talk about finding love than it is about mending broken hearts. As a society too, we spend much less time discussing our painful breakups than we do fantasising over endless, unconditional, monogamist love. And in many ways, this optimism (or idealism) has heavily translated into the technology that surrounds us. This is probably why my phone has several dating apps installed (Tinder for the official chit chat meets ghosting, Feeld for the quirky rendezvous and Bumble for when I want to feel all female and powerful) and no apps at all to help me through the in-betweens—the breakups, the ghosting, the orbiting; the reality of dating. But it doesn’t have to be like that, at least not according to the founders of new heart mending technologies.
From the biggest app on the market called Mend to Rx Breakup, Break Up Boss and Rebound Date, mending shattered hearts is evolving into a lucrative business. While each having their own unique selling point, these apps are generally anchored in the concept of coaching users out of the often catatonic post-breakup phase of wanting to hide away. How they approach the task differs from app to consumer.
For those in need of gentle healing, Mend claims to provide “the essential self care you need after a breakup through daily audio trainings, practical tips and community support.” As a new user you will be guided by the voice and animated avatar of the app founder Elena Huerta as she guides you, with an apparently soothing voice, to take care of yourself during these tough times with the aid of audio training sessions, self-care techniques and constructive journalism. A community of ‘Menders’ also claims to play a crucial role in providing a sense of comradeship. It’s worth noting that this holistic guidance and community of the broken-hearted comes at a price, as the app is only free for the first week and then costs between $9.99 and $59.99 for variations of its ‘Heartbreak Cleanse’.
If community support and Huerta’s soothing voice isn’t your style, then Rx Breakup and Break Up Boss are more about changing your dating habits and shredding any signs of vulnerability out of your system. No comforting lullabies here, no, this is a boot camp for the pathetic self-pitying.
The Break Up Boss app similarly presents users with an illustration of an “emotional gym” where they are told to go out even if they don’t feel like it, resist social media and are encouraged to learn a new skill, such a “apologising” (I thought this is all about being right and unapologetic?!). Another feature of the app is its imitation of an iMessage page to stop users from texting their exes in a desperate or sunken moment. The blank page reads “There’s no way we’re letting you send a text to your ex. But a fake one so you can get all your rage/upset/misery out? You bet.”
My favourite so far though is the Rebound app, which claims to rid of that “embarrassing and awkward [moment] when the date… find out that they are on the rebound”, by connecting those on the lookout for a rebound date with people in the exact same state. You can also choose to put your status as “heart broke”, “angry at my ex” or “just broke up”.
A huge amount of the consumer applications out there today are all about building connections—whether those are professional, romantic or otherwise—so it doesn’t come as a surprise that there is now a spurt of apps that aim to aid us in going through some of the most disheartening experiences, accompanied by a (URL) community of fellow tormented souls. There is something necessary in the pain of grieving, and I am not sure that having a shortcut at my fingertips is a positive way forward—but for those of us not ready to deal with a broken heart alone, then why not fully surrender to technology and connect to like-minded Menders.
You’ve probably sexted before, possibly with your partner or with your most recent match. It can be a fun, stress-free experience for some, but for others who’ve never done it before, it can also be intimidating and beginners can miss out on the opportunity of becoming a master of dirty talk. That’s where Slutbot comes in.
Launched by the creators of Juicebox, a sex and relationship coaching app, Slutbot is a free service developed by sex educators and erotic fiction writers—sexting pros basically. At the moment, texting Slutbot is only free in the U.S. and Canada, while the rest of the world can sext with it for the cost of your standard messaging rates. If you feel like trying it, you can text ‘slutbot’ to (+1) 415-650-0395.
Slutbot starts by asking your age, gender, and the gender of the person you’d like to practise sexting with. The chatbot offers different types of pairings like female user to male bot, female user to female bot, male user to female bot and so on. After picking a pairing that suits your needs, you’ll have to choose between two types of sexting: one softer, called ‘slow & gentle’, and another called ‘hot & sexy’, which, much like its title, is more forward.
When I decided to try it, Slutbot was considerate enough to choose a safe word, in case things got too hot too soon—the bot picked ‘pineapple’ for some reason. The conversation started quite slowly, with sentences like, “I’ve been thinking about you today. Last night was really hot”, nothing too crazy considering I picked the ‘hot & sexy’ option. Slutbot quickly killed the mood by using texting abbreviations like ‘O.M.G.’ and the ‘100’ emoji three times in a row, making me wonder if I was texting a bot or a 15-year-old. The experience as a whole wasn’t that bad, and for a sexting beginner, the upsides that could come from a few conversations with Slutbot are clear, if you can ignore the over-the-top use of emojis and the absence of any sense of humour.
Talking to the New York Times, Founder and CEO of Juicebox Brianna Rader said, “People think sex and dating is supposed to be easy and innate, but it’s not. It’s absolutely a life skill just like all other life skills, but unfortunately we’re never formally taught these things.” A study conducted by McAfee in the U.S. showed that 49 percent of all smartphone users sext and of those, 70 percent are between 18 and 24 years old, so it only makes sense that someone came up with a sexting ‘starter pack’ to help onboard this new generation of sexters. Although Slutbot is exactly what it says on the tin—a slutty bot—it should be seen as a first step towards opening up new horizons for your sex life (that is, if you feel like you need a little push).
Slutbot tackles important issues, like consent and communicating desires, by always ending a text asking users if they’re enjoying this conversation or want to try something new. By practising your sexting skills with Slutbot without dreading the possibility of being ghosted, you could eventually feel confident enough to try it out with someone real. Ghosting is a problem that goes hand-in-hand with technology, especially texting—not only with sexting. That’s where another app called Mei comes in, your best chance at texting perfectly, thus avoiding any chance of being ghosted. Once you’ve downloaded Mei, the app includes an AI assistant that gives you real-time comments on your texting skills as you chat with friends, family, and partners.
Let’s say you’ve been talking with your new crush for a few days, but you feel like the conversation is not going as smoothly anymore. In your text conversation, Mei will pop up at the top left corner to comment on your way of texting, advising you on which tone you should try out and why. The app’s website says, “We hope to be a new messaging option that users can be excited about”. Although the concept sounds great on paper (we all ask someone close for texting advice from time to time) the idea that people could one day rely on extra help to text from AI should be a forewarning of how our society is beginning to lean perhaps too heavily on technology (especially when it comes to social interactions).
By now we all know that technological innovations have both positive and negative impacts on our social interactions. So next time you feel like sexting for the first time, or you don’t want to receive an unsolicited dick pic, you’ll know Slutbot is always here for you. Same goes with texting your mum after having a bad argument with her, Mei will be there to help you formulate that perfect text. Let’s just try to avoid being dependent on these apps—preferably without throwing away our phones.