Configuring the digital relationship landscape: a feminist new materialist analysis of a couple relationship app

Tom Witney, Jacqui Gabb, Catherine Aicken, Salvo Di Martino, Mathijs Lucassen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Digital technologies play an increasing role in intimate couple relationships, prompting new approaches to better understand the contemporary digital relationship landscape. This paper uses feminist new materialist assemblage thinking to explore the functioning and processes of a relationship support app, Paired. Deploying diffractive analysis, it presents three composite narratives that explore the temporality of couple relationships, relationship work, and situated practices of coupledom. Composite narratives retain the emotional truth of original accounts through combined participant voices, enabling attention to be focused onto the user–relationship–app assemblage. Findings suggest that routinised app notifications prompt meaningful everyday relationship maintenance behaviours. Human–technology intra–actions thus generate positive relationship health and wellbeing behaviours which may have lasting benefits. This paper’s contributions are therefore largely methodological and conceptual, with analysis of supplementary primary interview data (n=20) derived from a mixed methods evaluation including three months’ brief longitudinal surveys (n=440) and a detailed survey (n=745).
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-17
Number of pages17
JournalFamilies, Relationships and Societies
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2024


  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Couple relationships
  • relationship support
  • relationship quality
  • digital intimacies
  • feminist new materialism
  • composite narratives
  • relationship maintenance behaviours
  • digital interventions
  • more-than-relationship quality


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