Can a social network built for two really improve your marriage?

Married couple using social network

I just finished posting the obligatory wedding anniversary status update on Facebook, complete with a wedding picture. Let’s face it: These kinds of status updates have replaced greeting cards for a lot of people. But some people simply do not want to share their most intimate sentiments with other peoples’ news feeds, which has given birth to the personal social network.

Yes, a personal social network. While some offer to link you up exclusively with only close friends or relatives, a number cater specifically to relationships. It’s just you and you’re significant other. But what’s the point of a “social network” comprised of two people? Do these services actually bring you any closer together? I decided to find out.

It’s been eight years for my wife Kathy and I, and as with any good marriage, our love has grown in response to the problems we have faced together. Communication is key, so I was more than willing to try one of these social networks built for two, an app called Tokii.

Once you and your partner have entered into a relationship (one sends an invitation that the other has to accept; no imaginary relationships with Jennifer Lawrence), you are provided a place to describe your mood using both text and a rather large collection of emoticons. There’s also a bank of quizzes – called DiscoveryGames – that you can take solo, together, or in a “compete” mode where you try to guess what the other person’s answers will be.

The quizzes run from groups of ten steamy questions you might come across with a sex therapist to banks of questions about parenting or religion. This is the most fun part of the process and where Tokii has its claim to fame, having started as a website that focused on these types of quizzes. Unfortunately some of the cooler ideas from the site, like the TradingPost where you can barter for certain services from your mate, haven’t made it to the app yet.

The generic quizzes are great, and cover universal themes that every couple should address in their relationship. Some of the “timelier” quizzes, asking your partner’s take on current events for example, are in terrible need of updating. The most recent ones cover the events that made news… in 2011. Not surprisingly, my wife was in favor of killing Osama bin Laden.

After a couple of weeks of use, I can report that we did not use the mood-entry function at all. It’s a fine idea, but we found that if we were stressed or excited or wanted to flirt, we would just text like we’ve been doing for years. Also, texting tells you when you have a new message, whereas Tokii lacks push functionality and only sends email notifications when a quiz is completed. If you just put things out into the ether on an app I’m not used to, things get ignored.

The DiscoveryGames were fun – even if they were only multiple choice – and Kathy will be the first to tell you that she won all of those in which we “competed”, but only by a question or two. I’m blaming the fact that men are irrefutably honest; therefore it was easy to guess my answers. Allowing short answers on certain questions would be a much more valuable experience for sharing, even if you couldn’t play the guessing game.

As with any aspect of a relationship, the key to making Tokii work is commitment. If you and your partner really focus on using it for your interpersonal communications, it provides some value. If it’s something you do on a lark, you will quickly move on to the alternatives you have already been using.

Many social networks provide a way to connect with the people, the question with Tokii is whether it can save you hundreds of dollars in couples’ counseling fees. Because of the anemic messaging and lack of short-answer capability in the DiscoveryGames, the answer is no. Much more ground – and much more up-to-date topics – can be covered on the leather couch of a therapist. But does that mean that some of these other personalized social options can’t work? After all, isn’t one of the main features of Google+ the idea that you can form circles of specific people?

The fact that my wife – a very private person who is about as far away from an oversharer on Facebook as you can get – could not open up on Tokii says a lot. Social networking is not for everybody. We shouldn’t have to design new sites and apps in an attempt to draw people out from their bubble or protect oversharers from embarrassing themselves.

While personal social networks present an interesting alternative to the wide world of Facebook, they’ll will need to provide much more value and really help people along on the path of relationship building in order to shift the paradigm. Offering a more secure experience is not enough.

The views expressed here are solely those of the author and do not reflect the beliefs of Digital Trends.

Home Theater

How the headphone jack helps Samsung out-Apple the king

Samsung’s latest flagship phones and wearables unveiled at the Galaxy Unpacked event had plenty of exciting new tech. But one of the most useful features Samsung revealed is also the oldest: The mighty headphone jack.
Home Theater

Banish the buffer screen with these tips for silky smooth streaming video

If you’ve been having troubles with streaming Internet videos from Netflix and other services in HD, the problem may be your network. Here’s how to make sure your streaming video experience goes smoothly.
Smart Home

From the kitchen to the bedroom, here are the best Alexa tips and tricks

Amazon's voice assistant Alexa has plenty of neat skills. So many, in fact, it seems like new ones appear every day. We've rounded up the top Echo tips and tricks to help you get the most out of your virtual assistant.
Gaming

How to share your best gaming moments with friends on the PS4

Check out Digital Trends' quick guide to everything you need to know to save your outstanding PlayStation 4 gameplay moments, share them online, and transfer them to your computer.
Trash

Looking to get into shape? Snag one of these fitness trackers

Looking for your first fitness tracker, or an upgrade to the one you're already wearing? There are plenty of the wrist-worn gadgets available. Here are our picks for the best fitness trackers available right now.
Gaming

Age of Empires II thrives 20 years later. Here's what Anthem could learn from it

Age Of Empires II is approaching its 20th birthday. It has a loyal following that has grown over the past five years. New always-online games like Anthem would love to remain relevant for so long, but they have a problem. They're just not…
Smart Home

Alexa may be everywhere, but it’s Google’s Assistant I want in my home. Here’s why

The Amazon Alexa may have the Google Home beat in quantity of skills and compatibility with other products, but does that really matter when Alexa falls flat for day-to-day conversation?
Gaming

Devil May Cry is Fantastic, but I still want a DmC: Devil May Cry sequel

Capcom's Devil May Cry 5 is one of the best games of 2019 and a welcome return for the series, but its success should not discount just how wonderful Ninja Theory's DmC: Devil May Cry really was.
Gaming

DMC 5’s greatness is a reminder of all the open world games that wasted my time

Devil May Cry 5 modernizes the stylish action combat while retaining its storied PS2 roots. More so, though, it reminded me that we could sure use more linear, single player games to combat the sea of open world games.
Gaming

Don't get the hype over Fortnite? Let us change your mind

Fortnite arrived very quietly but after launching Battle Royale mode it became a cultural phenomenon. Today, Fortnite is one of the most content prolific online games and it's starting to change the meta.
Mobile

Hey Google, why did you kill off Allo, your best messaging app in years?

Allo, Google's messaging app, has shut down. I convinced my closest friends and family to switch to the app two-and-a-half years ago when it debuted, and we've been using it since. With its death, I'm feeling pain and sadness.
Mobile

Apple’s new iPads are hardly new at all. Don’t waste your money

It has taken Apple four years to get around to updating the iPad Mini line, but the new iPad Mini is virtually identical to its predecessor. It’s joined by a confusing iPad Air with no obvious target audience. Is Apple just trying to sell…
Home Theater

There isn’t a single good reason to buy Apple’s new AirPods

After nearly a three-year wait, Apple has finally announced a new version of its popular true wireless headphones, the AirPods. We had high hopes for vast improvements, but that's not what we got.
Gaming

The Division 2 offers nothing but a funhouse mirror of America

Tom Clancy's The Division 2 improves on the design shortcomings of the original game in several different ways, but its version of Washington D.C. is completely removed from reality.