Dating apps are de rigueur for finding potential partners now, but using apps once you’re in a relationship hasn’t been quite as commonplace. Usually, we’d be thrilled about that — more face time, less FaceTime, please — but then came 2020.
Dr. Britney Blair, a clinical psychologist and co-founder of sexual wellness app Lover, isn’t surprised by the transition. “Everything is digitized, and especially [during the pandemic] it saves you a trip to the doctor’s office,” says Blair, who adds, “Sex therapy, especially, can be time-consuming and expensive.”
It also doesn’t help that the pandemic has put an unprecedented strain on our mental health. For those who live with their partner, the forced alone time, without the usual stress-relieving outlets (we never thought we’d say this, but, we miss you, gym) may do more harm than good. “Stress reduces the libido by up to 85 percent,” explains Blair.
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One in two women and one in three men have a sexual complaint,” Blair says, which may be why many couples are seeking help from none other than the app store. The Lover app, which launched in February, has seen roughly 20 percent growth month-to-month since the start of the pandemic. 71 percent of Lover’s users identify as being in relationships, and there’s a nearly even split between men and women.
Coral, another sexual wellness app, saw downloads double in March, when the pandemic initially forced stay-at-home orders across the U.S. “We’re all craving genuine human connection,” says Coral CEO and founder Isharna Walsh. “We’re empowering people to enjoy something they literally don’t need to leave the house (or order) to find.”
Whether you’re looking for tools for a healthy relationship or some ways to spice things up, keep reading below for the best apps to try.
Developed by Dr. Blair and six other sexual medicine experts, Lover aims to make sexual wellness less taboo by addressing common issues people face in the bedroom — either on their own or with a partner. With a Meyer-Briggs-like evaluation and science-based exercises, it’s like having a sex therapist in your pocket. The app offers plenty of tips for solo growth as well, including body positivity and how to stay present.
Download it! $9.99/week, or $59.99/year; lover.io
Setting the mood just got more exciting — and empowering. First, you’ll take a short questionnaire that curates sexy stories just for you from the library of more than 300, all written through a feminist, realistic lens.
The app’s co-founder Gina Gutierrez reports that downloads in July of this year were twice what they were in February, while the average time spent on the app has increased by about 20 minutes per month in August compared to February. “People are making time to check in with themselves and their bodies, which we think is amazing and noteworthy considering the tight quarters many couples are working with during the pandemic,” says Gutierrez.
Download it! $8.99/month, or $47.99/year; dipseastories.com
The popular sexual wellness app features contributions from experts like Dr. Ian Kerner, the author of She Comes First, and much of the app can be accessed without a subscription.
Download it! Free for basic access or $59.99 for an annual subscription; getcoral.app
Another app geared toward sexual self-care, Ferly has journaling activities, stories, breathwork and more — all intended to make sex a more “mindful” experience.
Download it! $12.99/month, or $35.99/year; weareferly.com
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Haddish recently went on a virtual date with Common on the Bumble app
If you’ve already conquered Animal Crossing and Candy Crush, you officially have a new game to try. The couples’ dares are the big draw, but it also has flirty messages and a private chat, so you and your partner can have your own little place to virtually get busy.
Download it! $15.49; getdesireapp.com
Dust is an encrypted messenger service billed as “a safer place to text.” Although it isn’t technically just for dating, you can see the appeal — especially for those in long-distance relationships. *Wink, wink.*
Download it! $0.99/month, or $9.99/year; usedust.com