Esther Perel, DLD New York
Agaton Strom for DLD

The Future of Love

Esther Perel is recognized as one of today’s most insightful and original voices on modern relationships. With her podcast “Where Should We Begin?” the Belgian psychotherapist invites the listener into her private therapy sessions with couples, with the conversation being condensed and anonymized. With disarming wisdom, patiently listening and quick-witted comments, she exposes the hinges in which the mechanics of the respective relationship have exhausted themselves.

Also Perel has published several New York Times bestselling books, becoming one of the most successful Couplethearapist worldwide. Some even call her a Rockstar. In her latest book “The State of Affairs: Rethinking Infidelity” she puts forth the controversial view that infidelity is ultimately beneficial to relationships, and she successfully explores the ways that affairs force partners to closely examine their attitudes about love, commitment, and sex.

The quality of our relationships determines the quality of our lives. Yet expectations and social normes are quickly shifting beneath our feet. At DLD New York Esther Perel examined the state of modern relationships and how to create thriving connections: “Relationship norms are rapidly changing. Expectations for romantic relationships are really high. And we’re making the rule book as we go.” In the past, decisions used to be made for us. Relationships have changed: from duty to choice, from certainty and rules to options and uncertainty. Roles in society and in relationship were clear – set up by religious structures and social hierarchies. Today everything is up for negotiation: Whose career is more important, who’s going to wake up and feed the baby and who should initiate sex are all decisions we make in conversation. What gender will I date, am I ready for kids, do I even want kids. For a long time we lived in communities. They were grounding, limiting. You understood who you were. Then humans moved to cities. In cities we became more free – and more alone”, explains Esther Perel. Intimacy has changed. Now we rely on our romantic partner to give us a sense of belonging. “In the history of love, monogamy meant one person for life; in today's world, monogamy means one person at a time," Perel says.

Relationships are becoming more and more vital at work. Loneliness and belonging are key themes: Loneliness is most vital measure of health, more than health insurance and more than food. It impacts productivity, stress and health care costs. Our relation with our coworker and CEO, they all are vital to our work performance as much as analytical and strategic prowess. Relationships are not soft skills. They are the new bottom line.This is the new challenge for companies. Esther Perel ends her talk with the advice: “Relationships are your story. Write often, edit well.”

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