The sexist AI app that shows just how bad dating is right now

As a new app promises to help placate ‘angry girlfriends’ everywhere, Olivia Petter asks what the creation of such technology says about the way we date today

Friday 03 May 2024 08:57 BST
The app promises to placate ‘angry girlfriends’
The app promises to placate ‘angry girlfriends’ (Getty)

When did romance die? Was it when we all started swiping for love on the loo? Or when sliding into each other’s DMs for sex became a thing? How about when Brad and Angelina broke up? No, it’s only today that the death knell is finally sounded. Because, thanks to a new app, straight men have started using AI to resolve arguments with their girlfriends. We might as well all give up now.

Introducing “AngryGF”, the app that is “designed to help users handle relationship conflicts with their partners, especially girlfriends or wives”. I know what you’re thinking. Of course an app like this has been created. How else are straight men supposed to know how to communicate with their partners?

They’re too busy, you see. Chopping wood, hunting animals, and just generally grunting at themselves in the mirror takes up a lot of time and energy. Of course they aren’t going to have time for basic empathy as well. Frankly, it would be audacious for anyone to assume otherwise. Thank goodness, then, that now there is a robot that these burly, emotionally inept men can turn to when they need to be functioning human beings.

Released this month, AngryGF offers up a list of different scenarios that might, you guessed it, anger a girlfriend: being late for a date, say, or looking “at a beautiful girl”. In that latter scenario, the app explains: “You and your girlfriend join a party. You keep staring at a beautiful girl from time to time. Your girlfriend notices and becomes angry.”

Tap “challenge” and you enter into a conversation with an AI chatbot, the idea being that you have to placate your angry girlfriend in 10 written attempts as if it’s a game. At the top of the conversation is a rating with a “forgiveness” scale from 0 to 100 per cent, which moves as you progress in either calming down the girlfriend or winding her up further. If you communicate in a considerate way, the scale should go up to 100 per cent, earning you her forgiveness.

“Through this process, you will discover that conversational skills in a relationship can be learned and improved,” the app states in its advertising. “In real life, soothing an angry partner is not easy, due to the differences in the way men and women think. Women are often more emotional, and minor things like being late for a date or coming home too late can cause their discontent.”

The app’s creator says it’s been designed ‘to help men in relationships that they really want to improve’
The app’s creator says it’s been designed ‘to help men in relationships that they really want to improve’ (Getty)

The angry girlfriend on AngryGF is, it transpires, very angry. After sending a meagre apology in the aforementioned scenario, she replies: “You’re sorry? That’s it? You humiliate me in front of everyone by ogling someone else and all you can say is ‘I’m so sorry’? You need to understand that saying sorry isn’t enough to fix everything.” You tell ’em, sister.

Look, I can see that there are good intentions here. AngryGF was co-founded by a 26-year-old social media and marketing manager named Emilia Aviles, who, fed up after a string of badly behaved boyfriends, decided to teach them a lesson, figuratively and literally. “The result is an app to help men in relationships that they really want to improve,” she told The Times. I get it, Emilia. I want the men I’ve dated to improve, too. But I’m not sure this is the best way to go about it.

For starters, it endorses one of the most egregious cultural tropes that women are consistently forced to battle against: that we’re not allowed to be angry. As William Congreve famously wrote: “Heaven has no rage like love to hatred turned, nor hell a fury like a woman scorned”, and so on. Female rage has been off the table for some time, particularly within heterosexual pairings. God forbid we speak our minds too much, or react too viscerally to being hurt or disrespected. If we dare do that, of course, we earn ourselves the label “psycho”.

But perhaps the most concerning thing about AngryGF is the message it sends men. Don’t get me wrong – I think plenty of us, regardless of gender, could benefit from being educated about how to communicate in relationships, but this app taps into harmful archaic stereotypes about masculinity that will only hold us back in the long term. It’s condescending, insulting, and downright infantilising. And even if some men do need a little help expressing themselves, I can’t imagine anyone using a service like this in earnest.

The main problem with all this actually has nothing to do with men. In fact, I’d say the key takeaways are far larger, and more concerning, tapping into everything we know about contemporary relationships, gender dynamics, and social conditioning. The bottom line? Heterosexual people are not OK. And nobody knows what to do about it.

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