Our relational lives are undergoing a radical shift, says couples therapist Esther Perel, bestselling author of The State of Affairs and Mating in Captivity. But in a never-before seen romantic landscape where we have unprecedented choice—and with it, unprecedented levels of anxiety—what role can therapists play in helping clients navigate these changing times?

In the following video clip from her 2018 Networker Symposium Keynote, “The Future of Modern Love,” Perel explains how far we’ve come from the relationship norms of yesteryear, and why, when it comes to romance, our clients need us now more than ever.

As Perel notes, for perhaps the first time in human history, relationships have become conversations and negotiations—with ourselves and with our partners. Who is going to be the breadwinner? Who is going to plan the next date? Who is going to negotiate sex? Where should I live? Am I happy? Am I happy enough? When should I have children? Do I even want children? These are just a few questions we’re asking ourselves in the new culture of romance.

But therapists, she adds, play an invaluable role in helping people have these conversations. When they enter our offices for the first time, she says, many clients have rarely—if ever—had these conversations before. “We are the people who create that space,” she says, “for security, for structure, for calmness, for reassurance.”

Esther Perel

Longtime contributor and speaker at the Psychotherapy Networker Symposium, Esther Perel, MA, LMFT, is recognized as one of the most insightful and provocative voices on personal and professional relationships and the complex science behind human interaction. She is the best-selling author of Mating in Captivity: Unlocking Erotic Intelligence (translated into 25 languages) and producer of the online training continuation, Rekindling Desire. Fluent in nine languages, the Belgian native is a practicing psychotherapist, celebrated speaker and organization consultant to Fortune 500 companies. The New York Times, in a cover story, named her the most important game changer on sexuality and relationships since Dr. Ruth. Her critically acclaimed viral TED Talks have collectively reached over 14 million viewers. For more information about her educational programs and resources, please visit www.estherperel.com.