Head Over Heels: Relationship Wellness and The Dating Economy

Across the country, relationships are on the rocks.

  • Strained by the economic and emotional burden of the pandemic, online searches for divorce advice spiked over 95%.
  • Dubbed “the year of the breakup,” 67% of people tell Dating.com that they went through a split in 2020, up from 34% in 2019.

Table for two. Modern day self-care now extends to couples care. A crucial aspect of our well-being, studies show that our partners can have a massive influence on our mental health, associated with higher rates of self-esteem, safety, satisfaction with life, and more. (Of course, the opposite can be true as well.)

But younger generations are the most single in decades; over half of Americans aged 18–34 say they don’t have a steady romantic partner. That’s not to say that there isn’t a market though — this year, Americans spent $24B on Valentine’s Day.

Now, startups are looking to play Cupid.

Feeling butterflies. Online dating has quickly become the most popular way to meet someone new, but daters are tired of being ghosted. The next generation of dating apps like Snack, Heart to Heart, and Schmooze are using everything from audio to memes to make the intro. Looking to stay relevant, Bumble acquired Gen Z dating app Fruitz this February.

Keep the spark. Post-honeymoon phase, some couples find it hard to keep the fire burning, in and out of the bedroom. Say hello to the new marriage counselor.

  • Relationship wellness startups like Paired ($3.6M) and Lovewick ($1M) are here to help couples nurture their relationship.
  • On the heels of a $2M raise, Lover just became the first sex therapy app to get FDA approval, helping users improve their sex lives and treat sexual problems.

Parting ways. When all else fails, the breakup industry is here to take you in its arms. New York-based Onward, a post-breakup concierge, offers recalibration service packages for up to $1,050. Elsewhere, Hello Divorce raised $2M last year to ease the splitting process.

Takeaway: The trillion-dollar wellness market is seeping into everything, including our love lives. It’s only natural, especially as well-being gets increasingly holistic. But like most digital tools, these apps are merely meant to supplement, not replace, genuine connection and professional therapy. Kevin Shanahan, co-founder of Paired, agrees: “If couples therapy is a dentist for your relationship, then we would be a toothbrush.” 

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