Love in a Digital Age

It’s a scene that must be replayed thousands if not millions of times a day: guys are playing video games or watching the hockey game in the midst of a living space that looks like it just got hit by a SCUD missile. Full garbage bags mingle with dirty laundry across the floor. Half-empty beer bottles fight for space with spent junk food containers on the coffee table. Then the girlfriend shows up, and the real war games begin.

The archetypal gender gap is alive and well across North America. The stats are stunning. There are 42 million sexless marriages. 59% of married women would leave if they could support themselves. 51% of men call their marriages loveless. 50% of first and 67% of second marriages end in divorce. 60% of married men and 40% of married women cheat on their partners. 79% of wives want more sex but are afraid to say so. If marriage is the bedrock of a stable society, it appears that ours is on the brink of widespread breakdown.

Enter tokii.com, a Canadian-based website that bills itself as ‘the world’s first social media site for couples’. Its mission: to help busy couples stay in love. Built on the recognition that couples today are under tremendous pressure to find the time to communicate with each other – let alone have time for physical contact – tokii.com has created what it calls a ‘relationship management platform’ that leverages web and mobile technologies to facilitate closer and more regular contact.

Citing stats that on average, today’s busy couples exchange 1,000 texts and 400 emails a year that end up being misunderstood, tokii.com provides tools for couples to frame their communication in such a way as to clarify and balance their mutual intentions. One such tool, called ‘trading post’, allows couples to clearly state what they want for themselves and what they are willing to give their partner in exchange. For example, he wants his wife to participate in a certain sexual fantasy. She wants her husband to clean the house. They enter an online dialogue and negotiate a deal, and they both get what they need.

Or at least that’s how it’s supposed to work. Other tools include ‘moodmeter’, which helps couples share how they’re feeling, and ‘lovezones’, which allows couples to talk about how they want to be loved. As in traditional methods of couples therapy, a relationship that is being eroded by work and time pressure requires some structure in order to get back on track. Recognizing that digital channels are already where couples spend a considerable amount of their time and energy outside their relationship, tokii.com has simply found a way to help couples bring their relationship inside those channels.

So, will it work? Well, there certainly has to be a willingness to try it. And there needs to be a way to spread the word. Officially launched at SXSWi 2011 in Austin, tokii won the Canadian Startup Award at the Maple Leaf Lounge. The site has also reported that members from over 60 countries have signed up since launch. Looks like love really might make the world go round after all. Here’s hoping.

the author

Will Novosedlik

Will Novosedlik is the former Head of Growth Partnerships at Idea Couture. He is currently a strategist and storyteller at large.