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

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