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

Psychotherapist and New York Times bestselling author Esther Perel is recognized as one of today’s most insightful and original voices on modern relationships. Fluent in nine languages, she helms a therapy practice in New York City and serves as an organizational consultant for Fortune 500 companies around the world. Her celebrated TED talks have garnered more than 40 million views and her international bestseller Mating in Captivity: Unlocking Erotic Intelligence became a global phenomenon translated into more than 30 languages. Her newest book is the New York Times bestseller The State of Affairs: Rethinking Infidelity (HarperCollins). She is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, an AASECT certified sex therapist, a member of the American Family Therapy Academy and of the Society for Sex Therapy and Research. Esther is also the host of the hit podcast “Where Should We Begin?” which is available on Apple Podcasts. Her latest project is “Where Should We Begin – A Game of Stories with Esther Perel.” Learn more at EstherPerel.com.