7 TED Talks That Will Change How You Think About Relationships

ByMehak Anwar

Most people have some sort of relationship with someone out there, whether it's with friends, parents, professors, sock monkeys, or significant others. Sometimes, these relationships can be fraught with complications and hard to understand — but luckily, there are a huge variety of TED Talks about relationships that will not only expand your knowledge of all the potential each and every one of them can truly hold, but which might even change how you think about relationships entirely. TED Talks, which are given by professionals, activists, and speakers from all over the world, are mini-crash courses in specific subjects that can range from Guitar Hero, to broken education systems, to artificial intelligence and computer systems. Whether the talk is five minutes or 25, there's always something to learn from TED — and these talks about relationships are no exception.

But what would we need to learn about relationships anyway? Aren't we all experts on the topic, since we all probably have at least one relationship with someone or something? The point of these TED Talks isn't to tell you what you already know about having parents, dating, friendship, or loving someone else; the point is to shed some light on some aspects of your relationships you might not have hitherto considered, whether it's how they function in your life or how you can improve them.

The seven talks seen here are also just the tip of the proverbial iceberg — there's plenty more where they came from. Looking at a familiar subject from a different perspective is always useful, so these talks might be a good place to start:

1. "Love — You're Doing It Wrong" By Yann Dall'Aglio

In this thoughtful TED Talk, philosopher Yann Dall'Aglio talks about modern love and relationships in terms you may not have thought were linked before: Materialism, capital, and consumerism. Dall'Aglio discusses what it means to have relationships with people in an age of individualism, asking and answering the central question, "How can we think of love in years to come?"

2. "It's Time For 'The Talk'" By Julia Sweeney

Comedian Julia Sweeney takes us on a humorous journey through one interaction with her 8-year-old daughter, whose questions about mating required some careful answers. This particular talk is about one woman's relationship with her child, but at its core, it's an experience that has occurred over many generations and across many cultures, making it more universal than you might at first think.

3. "Let The Environment Guide Our Development" By Johan Rockstrom

When most people think of the word "relationship," environmentalism isn't the first topic that comes to mind. But no matter which way you slice it, humans are inherently tied to the Earth, whether it's through food, energy, or travel — which is exactly what sustainability expert Johan Rockstrom explores. This TED Talk holds us accountable for how we treat the planet and simultaneously teaches us how to do a better job — because our relationship with the planet is an important one. Without it, literally nothing else exists.

4. "How I Hacked Online Dating" By Amy Webb

Do you think about relationships in terms of data, variables, strategies, and spreadsheets? Digital strategist Amy Webb does, and in her hilarious TED Talk, she discusses it all: Online dating how-tos, her own journey with online dating after a bad breakup at 30, and more. Amy Webb pro-tip? Don't use buzzwords from your resumé on your dating profile. Just... don't do it. Seriously.

5. "What We Learn From Insects' Kinky Sex Lives" By Marlene Zuk

Evolutionary biologist Marlene Zuk uses the relationship between insects and how they have sex to better understand the relationships between humans, how we have sex, and how we assign certain responsibilities to certain people based on totally arbitrary factors. Fascinating stuff.

6. "Compassion At The Dinner Table" By James Forbes

Reverend James Forbes discusses his relationship with his parents and siblings, and how his Southern upbringing taught him to be loving, compassionate, and giving. His words are simple and his ideas of justice, caring, and peace are timeless, but his poignant stories and selected quotes leave a lasting impression. This talk is an important reminder of the core principals we should all live by, but often forget about in our busy lives.

7. "Love Letters To Stranger" By Hanna Brencher

We don't often think about our relationships to strangers, but when she battled with depression after college, Hanna Brencher found herself writing letter after letter to strangers and leaving them all over New York City. In this uplifting and short talk, she tells her story.

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