The 9 Best TED Talks About Relationships, Marriage, Sex & Love

Let's TED talk about it.

by Aaminah Khan
Originally Published: 

Falling in love. The secret to a successful marriage. How to properly pleasure your partner. Is there anything a nerd with a wireless mic and some PowerPoint slides can’t teach you? There are more than 2,500 TED Talks out there, many of which feature philosophers, authors, researchers, and couples therapists offering salient tips and asking big questions about parenting, love, and the pursuit of a happy marriage. Advice we could all use all the time — but perhaps especially as the stress of the coronavirus pandemic and quarantine take a toll on relationships everywhere. Being cooped up together doesn’t necessarily make it easier to connect or to feel close. So we’ve rounded up some of the best TED Talks on relationships, sex, and love — including Esther Perel’s classic lecture on what the element of surprise has to do with marital success and Helen Fisher’s pure-science search for love’s natural neurological habitat. Nine very different perspectives, but all guaranteed to make you see things in a new light. They also offer some damn fine advice — give ’em a watch.

For Couples Who Think They’re Missing Something

Philosopher Yann Dall’Aglio ponders the true nature of love. Specifically, he addresses how you can connect more deeply with your partner in an age where social disconnection is the cultural norm. Turns out, all you’ve gotta do is try a little tenderness.

For Couples Who Like to Ask Each Other Questions

As a writer, Mandy Len Catron explores love stories. As a TED speaker, she explains how you can fall in love with anyone by asking them 36 questions and then staring into their eyes for four minutes without speaking. Being cooped up together for weeks isn’t necessarily conducive to feelings of closeness — the key to Catron’s observations? There’s are important (and useful!) distinctions between falling in love and staying in love.

For Couples Who Get Turned On by Stats

Jenna McCarthy has been described as the hypothetical love child of Chelsea Handler and Dr. Phil. Her talk hilariously illuminates the What-You-Don’t-Know’s hidden in the subtext of what a bunch of American marriage research had you thinking you knew. It’s actionable whether you’re married or not.

For Couples Who Think They Have It All Figured Out

This very funny and factual talk from journalist Mary Roach offers a wild look at the ins and outs of the orgasm, something everyone should be well-versed in. Sure, you don’t need to know how to make artificial semen, or that it’s possible to give a dead person the least arousing orgasm of all time, or that in-utero masturbation is a real thing that’s been written about in medical journals. But think of how infinitely more entertaining you’ll be at the cocktail parties of the near future.

For Couples Who Love Stories About Love

Under the direction of editor Stacey Baker, photographer Alec Soth photographed pairs of people at the world’s largest speed dating event and Nevada’s largest retirement community to figure out how a true love story unfolds — and how yours compares. He didn’t take any pictures at the Spearmint Rhino, which is both prohibited and completely irrelevant to anyone’s love story.

For Couples Who Want to Know About Desire

World-renowned family and marriage therapist Esther Perel’s talk about marriage, love, and desire is the TED Talk on sex and eroticism. It’s main point: navigating conflicting needs for security and surprise is the greatest key to relationship success. Well, besides agreeing on proper toilet paper orientation.

For Couples Who Get Turned on by Neuroscience

Helen Fisher put 37 people into an MRI brain scanner (not all at the same time!). She’d chosen her subjects because they all reported that were either currently happily in love, still in love after 10 to 25 years of marriage — or recently been dumped. Watch this fascinating hunt for the place where love lives in the brain and how it works neurologically.

For Couples Who Are Very Into the Internet

Stefana Broadbent’s talk asserts that the internet can actually facilitate intimacy in addition to worldwide sharing of cat GIFs. Her argument is that technology now allows people to maintain regular, close connections regardless of place and time. It certainly allows you to watch her talk on your phone — preferably at the same time and in the same room as your partner.

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