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.

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 this 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.

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.” 

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