At a time when more and more young adults are immersed in a hookup culture with multiple romantic partners and high turnover, it's easy to write off Millennial courtship as superficial. But according to couples therapist Esther Perel, there's actually a method to the madness of romantic behavior among twenty and thirty-somethings, and a surprising correlation between Boomer and Millennial love.
"Throughout history, we've had three types of marriage," Esther says. "The traditional, family-centered marriage eventually became a romantic, couples-centered marriage, and finally we arrived at the child-centric Millennial marriage." The latter comes to fruition after multiple partners and careful vetting, she adds. But is this behavior healthy? And what do therapists need to know about courtship rituals that are often confusing for Boomers and Millennials alike?
In the following video clip from her Networker Symposium Keynote address, Esther shares what she's learned about the social and cultural forces shaping today's intimate relationships.
Esther Perel, MA, LMFT, is the author of the international bestseller Mating in Captivity, the consultant on the Showtime series The Affair. She’s currently writing a new book called The State of Affairs: Cheating in the Age of Transparency. Her TED Talk has reached more than 5 million people.
As it turns out, Esther says, what many perceive as the chaotic love lives of Millennials reflects the desire for a partnership founded on well-rounded affection and stability. "In the modern marriage, we're trying to reconcile two fundamental human needs. How do we bring together our need for security, predictability, and reliability with our need for adventure, novelty, and mystery, and expect this from just one person?"
According to Esther, Millennials are working toward the answer. Instead of prioritizing intimacy like their Boomer predecessors, they seek transparency above all else. And that's not necessarily a bad thing. "Today, the younger generation is asking partners to give them what once an entire village provided," Esther adds. "They are creating a community which Boomers so nicely did away with."
Stay tuned for more of Esther's clinical wisdom in our upcoming video blogs!
Did you enjoy this video? You might also like Esther's article, "The Mystery of Eroticism," where she explains why today's couples are confronting a new frontier in the basic understanding of what marriage is all about. And don't miss our latest issue on sex and marriage, Speaking of Sex: Why Is It Still So Difficult?, including reflections from Susan Johnson, Alexandra Solomon, Michele Weiner-Davis, and more!
Tags: attachment | Attachment Theory | boomer | Couples & Family | couples conflict | couples research | Esther Perel | generation | healthy relationships | love | love and relationships | millennials | Networker Symposium | relationship | Symposium | Symposium 2014