Two Apps That Will Solve Your Dating Dilemmas

Photographed by Winnie Au.
Ever wanted to vent to a friend about yet another relationship problem, but A. They stopped caring after the last five dramas or B. You’re too nervous or embarrassed to bring it up? Now, you don't have to turn to an actual human for advice — you can just open up an app. Rather than sending a screenshot of the latest cryptic text from a guy to my friend, I recently tried out two of the most popular of digital alternatives. They take two different approaches: One uses crowdsourcing to solve your relationship issues, while the other gives you access to expert advice. Below, the good, bad, and weird of my experiment.

: The Dating Decoder
First, I tried Jyst, which I came across by word of mouth. Jyst is a crowdsourced, anonymous dating advice app made for and by women. It’s helpful, empowering, and fun to use (whether you're in a serious relationship, casually dating, or closed for business).
Photo: Courtesy Jyst.
Jyst didn’t ask me to connect with Facebook — or for any personal information, for that matter. The app is grounded in anonymity. When you open it, the app lists different types of questions. After you click on one, it shows you the newest questions people have, along with the option to check out the most popular queries (i.e. the ones that have received the most feedback). And of course, you can post your own questions, too. I hate to admit it, but I felt this awesome sense of superiority when handing out (solicited) advice. It was empowering thinking I knew the answers to strangers' relationship problems. How could these women be asking questions that I could answer without thinking twice? If your partner cheated on you multiple times, sorry, but that's a deal-breaker. Isn't that obvious? Or is it just obvious to me, since my own emotions aren't on the line? But in posing my own questions, my feelings from before — knowing in my core that I was helping someone with a seemingly obvious relationship problem — also helped. I found myself in what truly felt like a safe space. I could anonymously seek out advice, and also give out my own to others. Not only did I find it personally helpful, but I also felt good about — and confident in — my responses to a strangers' dating dilemma.

: Online Relationship Advice
When I approached Relationup, I was a bit more nervous. The app gives you access to a licensed professional, for a fraction of the cost, time, and effort it would take to visit one in real life. They are experienced and vetted through the app, and available 24/7. Laying in bed debating about whether or not to text your ex at 3 a.m.? You can log in and get help right then. (Here we thought we could get almost everything on-demand, but this was a whole new level of technological catering.)
Photo: Courtesy Relationup.
So why was I nervous? These people have PhDs, I thought. They're old and out of touch with the modern dating scene. However, like Jyst, there's an anonymity aspect at play, and it helped. Before you start, you get to peruse available therapists and choose someone who fits your needs based on their background, rating, style, and personal bio. And if you two start chatting and don't vibe, you can always choose a new one. After a few minutes chatting with the therapist I had chosen, I no longer had cold feet. She knew her stuff. I felt like I could jump out and ask literally anything — things I wouldn't dare even ask my best friend — and know that I would get an immediate response (like, within 30 seconds). The interface is just like a text convo, where you can ask questions, judgment-free. From there, you just talk. You've got 20 minutes to chat for free. When there are only three minutes left, you get a warning, plus the option to pay $12 for 15 more. It might sound pricey, but if you're having a good conversation and getting great advice — totally worth it (especially when compared to the price of your average therapist). However, I do feel that when talking to a therapist, they really have to get to know you in order to really help and get to the core of a problem. That is hard given that you only have 20 minutes, unless you're mostly looking to vent or maybe a quick-fix type of thing. But, if you liked your experience with a particular therapist, you can also book a future appointment to further delve into your own issues — it doesn't have to be a one-off. Being able to talk anonymously, in either of these apps, was incredibly useful. But having this sort of expert advice right at your fingertips, any time of day or night? That, in my opinion, is priceless.

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