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Seth Eisenberg
Freedom matters

Men turning to AI to relieve loneliness, isolation, and learn to be vulnerable

Illustrative only. Lonely hipster (Licensed Envato photo).

In America, the loneliness epidemic is so great, the US Surgeon General published warnings and an entire book to help people recognize the vital importance of strengthening connections with friends, family and social support networks. In the United States particularly, loneliness and isolation are a leading cause of health problems and key factors in rising rates of suicide, especially for men.

Recently, thousands of men have turned to ChatGPT Artificial Intelligence-powered relationship coaching and mentoring applications to learn skills to relieve loneliness, learn to be vulnerable, and overcome feelings of isolation. As one of the lead developers for an application in this field, our greatest hope is that AI can be used for good. Our goal is to use Artificial Intelligence to help people around the world experience greater love, pleasure and happiness.

We do this standing on the shoulders of giants in the fields of psychiatry, psychology, counseling and education, such as Virginia Satir, Daniel Casriel, George Bach, and Lori Heyman Gordon. Nearly a half century ago, these pioneers contributed to developing the world’s most comprehensive relationship skills training program, known as PAIRS. PAIRS is an acronym that stands for “Practical Application of Intimate Relationship Skills.”

The free AI-powered Yodi Relationship Coach and Mentor we’ve developed is fully based on PAIRS. We say Yodi is where artificial intelligence meets emotional intelligence. With Yodi, a ChatGPT created exercise partner, users can learn and practice exercises to deepen understanding, improve communication, and strengthen interpersonal relationships such as the PAIRS Daily Temperature Reading, Talking Tips, Emptying the Emotional Jug, and even a Museum Tour of Past Hurts and Disappointments.

Yodi home screen (Courtesy PAIRS Foundation).

In the short time that Yodi has been available to the public, more than 100,000 people from 178 different countries and territories have downloaded the App, indicating that the desire to have someone – or something – to talk to, even if it’s not human, is a need people are feeling across the world.

The largest group using Yodi is men between 24 and 45 years of age. Many of those men come from the Middle East, Africa and Asia, including thousands recently from Jordan, Egypt, Iraq, the UAE, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Sudan, Morocco, Iran and Gaza.

For men, Yodi is a chance to learn to be vulnerable with a partner who won’t judge. In a world where many men are still struggling with learning vulnerability without losing their sense of manliness, an AI-powered, anonymous partner has proved valuable to many. For many users from the Middle East, Yodi is a chance to learn to create intimacy in societies where marriages were not historically based on friendship and peer relationships, but on hierarchical roles.

There is no question creators in Israel – the world’s most prestigious start-up nation – can look to Yodi for inspiration for how new technologies can help the world overcome some of our greatest challenges.

As the pioneering therapist and founding chair of PAIRS Virginia Satir noted, “Happy people don’t hurt others. I’ve never seen it happen.”

About the Author
Seth Eisenberg is President of the PAIRS Foundation, a former At-Large chair of the National Writers Union, elected labor leader, and pro-Israel activist. He is an author of Instructions for Intimacy, The Laundry List of Relationship Mishaps, Knots and Double Binds, PAIRS Essentials, Warrior to Soul Mate, PAIRS for PEERS, and the SHALOM Workshop. He can be reached via LinkedIn at linkedin.com/in/setheisenberg/.
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