Relationships have their ups and downs, but at what point do the downs make the relationship more trouble than it’s worth?
For Sarah Gray, the answer lay in a graph. As she grappled several years ago to determine whether there was more good or bad in her long-distance romance with her college sweetheart, the computer programmer created a Web tool to track her constantly shifting feelings. Twice a day, for six weeks, she ranked how happy she was with her boyfriend and wrote explanatory diary entries.
At the end, the graph showed she was happy just 39 percent of the time, and spent the rest feeling neutral or unhappy. Reviewing the diary entries, she realized it wasn’t the distance but fundamental aspects of his personality that rubbed her the wrong way.
“It took another couple of months for us to break up,” Gray said, “but I think I was clearer after that that it was on the way out.”
To help other men and women in murky relationships see the forest through the trees, Gray in March launched the Should I Break Up With My Boyfriend? iPhone app (shouldibreakupwithmyboyfriend.com, 99 cents). The app sends you a reminder at the same time every day to rate how you’re feeling about your significant other — totally in love, feelin’ good, so-so, feelin’ down, or totally over him — and offers a space to say why. After two weeks, it plots your results on a line graph and gives you a bit of automated advice.
“Should you break up with him? Signs point to yes,” the app counseled after I put it to a two-week trial. “You’re bored. Underwhelmed. The bubbles have left the bath.”
That is not to say anyone should make drastic life decisions based on an app, which did not have the input of trained therapists.
And certainly there’s such a thing as over-examining a relationship.
“It’s not meant to be the be-all, end-all,” Gray said. “It’s just a little two weeks of self-reflection.”