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


Falling in love, the secret to a happy marriage, the truth about your nasty-ass pheromones, how to properly get your partner off — is there anything a nerd with a wireless mic and some PowerPoint slides can’t teach you? In these 9 TED Talks, philosophers, authors, researchers, and Fatherly’s favorite couples’ therapist school you on all of the above and more, so after you’ve applied some “Ideas worth spreading” toward being a better parent, you can shift your focus where it belongs: being a better husband.

For Couples Who Get Turned On By Stats

Jenna McCarthy has been described as the hypothetical love child of Chelsea Handler and Dr. Phil, a description Fatherly may borrow in future press releases. Her talk hilariously illuminates the “What You Don’t Know” 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, but surprisingly so if your wife is gunning for a Best Actress Oscar. Seriously.

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For Couples Who Think They Have It All Figured Out

Sure, you don’t need to know how to make artificial semen, 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 you’ll be infinitely more entertaining at cocktail parties once you do. Watch this hilarious talk and then give your partner the only gift that’s never disappointed a woman.

For Couples Who Love Vegas

The only thing that screams “Valentine’s Day” louder than the world’s largest speed dating event in the middle of Vegas: Nevada’s largest retirement community. Under the direction of editor Stacey Baker, photographer Alec Soth photographed pairs of people at both 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 In It For The Long Haul

A few reasons why this is the TED Talk on sex and eroticism, with 7 million views: First, balancing conflicting needs for security and surprise is the greatest key to relationship success besides agreeing on proper toilet paper orientation (Yes, there’s one right way). Second, Perel is a world-renowned family and marriage therapist who writes and speaks regularly on the topic; she knows her stuff.

For Couples Who Get Turned On By Neuroscience

Helen Fisher put 37 people into an MRI brain scanner who’d reported either being currently happily in love, still in love after 10-25 years of marriage, or recently dumped to learn where love lives in the brain and how it works neurologically. Watch her talk so that the next time your partner demands to know what the hell is wrong with you, you can defend yourself on the basis of your crazy love and call it science.

For Couples Who Like The Smell Of That

Sadly, Oxford zoology researcher Tristram Wyatt’s talk dispels the popular notion that your animal pheromones send chemical sexytime attraction signals from your pits to your mate. Instead, he highlights some exciting, real science: pheromone research could lead to synthesizing of a molecule that could help premature babies suckle immediately after birth and improve their odds for survival. But yeah, you’re still gonna need a new excuse for your pungent musk.

For Couples Who Think They’re Missing Something

Besides being a really good excuse to never have to shave, being a philosopher allows Yann Dall’Aglio to ponder and lecture you on the true nature of love. Specifically, how you can deeply connect with your partner in an era when you’re fighting to see whose selfie gets the most likes. Turns out, all you’ve gotta do is try a little tenderness. Too bad no other philosopher came up with that one sooner.

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 4 minutes without speaking. So your toddler is halfway there when they ask you, “Why?” 36 times in a row, but Catron warns of an important distinction between falling in love and staying in love. So yeah, your kid’s routine is only endearing for so long.

For Couples Who Are Pphubbing Each Other Right Now

Before phubbing was a real made-up word, Stefana Broadbent gave this talk asserting that the internets 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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