The Quantified Relationship

Am J Bioeth. 2018 Feb;18(2):3-19. doi: 10.1080/15265161.2017.1409823.


The growth of self-tracking and personal surveillance has given rise to the Quantified Self movement. Members of this movement seek to enhance their personal well-being, productivity, and self-actualization through the tracking and gamification of personal data. The technologies that make this possible can also track and gamify aspects of our interpersonal, romantic relationships. Several authors have begun to challenge the ethical and normative implications of this development. In this article, we build upon this work to provide a detailed ethical analysis of the Quantified Relationship (QR). We identify eight core objections to the QR and subject them to critical scrutiny. We argue that although critics raise legitimate concerns, there are ways in which tracking technologies can be used to support and facilitate good relationships. We thus adopt a stance of cautious openness toward this technology and advocate the development of a research agenda for the positive use of QR technologies.

Keywords: data ethics; love; privacy; quantified relationship; quantified self.

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations*
  • Medical Informatics / ethics*
  • Object Attachment
  • Personal Autonomy*
  • Personal Satisfaction
  • Self-Management / ethics*