The most romantic day of the year is coming again! Did you just read that sentence with a sarcastic tone in your head? Or did you read that with the hopes of finding love? Either way, we are sure you can learn some useful love lessons from the love-related TED talks. If you are looking for inspiration or answers about life and love, these TED talks will make you see relationships from a different perspective.

1. A better way to talk about love – Mandy Len Catron

We say people “fall” in love, as though it is accidental and uncontrollable. When we speak of love, we talk about burning with passion. We say love makes us crazy and that we feel “lovesick”. We say our hearts ache and break. All metaphors surrounding love seem to equate it to undesirable states of illness and madness. If we accept love as madness yet still long for it to last forever, it seems like we are asking for these undesirable states of “illness” to last a lifetime. Love doesn’t sound so desirable anymore, does it?

The key takeaway from this talk is that love should be reframed as a collaborative work of art rather than madness. Love is what comes out of a conscious effort, not something that one has no control over.

Great suffering does not always lead to great reward. We don’t need the irrationality or devastation portrayed in Romeo & Juliet to legitimise our feelings for another. If we perceive love as a collaborative work of art rather than madness, we tune ourselves to treat relationships as something we create with our partners; instead of an uncontrollable experience that happens to us.

What this means for you this Valentine’s Day:

  • For singles, remember that courtship should go beyond intense feelings of passion. Keep a lookout for someone who is willing to collaborate with you on your “work of art”. For couples, remember that you should be consciously working on the relationship with your partner every day, not just on February 14!


2. Falling in love is the easy part – Mandy Len Catron

Decades ago, psychologist Arthur Aron came up with 36 questions that could make individuals fall in love with each other by increasing their interpersonal closeness. A heartbroken Mandy tested those questions out with her date and detailed her experience in a New York Times article.

In the Ted talk, Mandy tells the audience how her love life became a matter of public interest. Everyone wanted to know if she was still together with her date, whether the questionnaire was really capable of producing “real love”. She concludes that as useful as the questions were in creating a sense of closeness, they should not get full credit for the relationship she now has with her partner (also the abovementioned date). They remained in love because they “choose to be”.

The key takeaway from this talk is that Aron’s 36 questions merely provide a shortcut to falling in love, but it does not guarantee that two people can stay in love. The latter is a deliberate choice of two parties that require effort on a daily basis.

What this means for you this Valentine’s Day: 

  • Whether you’re single or happily attached, these questions can make for good dinner conversation! There’s no guarantee that you will fall in love, or in a couple’s case, stay in love – but at least you will leave knowing more about the other.


3. Love – you’re doing it wrong – Yann Dall’Aglio

When one goes out to date, it’s as though they are trading in a stock exchange. This kind of love is what philosopher Yann Dall’Aglio calls the “seduction capital”. While we all have the need to be valued, we all have zero inherent value – because we need to be desired by another to have any sort of “value”. So we end up obsessed with being perfect so that others will desire us, and enhance our value. Just like in any kind of competition, there will be more losers than winners in this battlefield of love.

The key takeaway from this talk is that everyone is without value. We owe it to ourselves to accept the people we love for who they are, good and bad.

Yann tells us that it’s wise to move away from seduction capital and try tenderness, a form of love that makes us accept our loved one’s weaknesses and love them in spite of.

What this means for you this Valentine’s Day: 

  • For the singles, go out there and infect the people you date with tenderness. The society needs people like you to take the first step in moving our generation from seduction capitalism to tender love. For the couples, let your partner know you love them (flaws and all), and prove it by not giving up on them when times get rough.

4. Technology hasn’t changed love. Here’s why – Helen Fisher

In this talk, Helen, Chief Scientific Advisor of Match.Com, explains how the only algorithm for love is our brain. Technology may be changing the way we court others, but it will not change love, or who we love. With technology, we now have access to thousands of potential partners online, and this influx of choice has driven our brains to decide our life partners much slower than our ancestors.

There are more one-night stands, more friends-with-benefits arrangements and even more couples living together long-term before marriage. “This is not reckless”, Helen explains. This is slow love.

The key takeaway from this talk is that technology has not changed love – it has simply changed how we look at marriage. People are remaining in courtship longer because there is an increase in choices available and a decrease in shame towards sex before marriage. We can now take our time to find someone we want to marry now, and still wish to remarry 50 years down the road.

What this means for you this Valentine’s Day: 

  • For the singles, don’t rush love. Take time to know your partner before you marry, because marriage is no longer the beginning of a relationship, it is what comes after. For the happily wedded couples, keep loving, because you have reached the best part – the finale.


Feeling Valentine’s inspired?

Valentine’s Day may have originated because of a tragic love story between St Valentine and his lover, but don’t take that as a cue that your relationship has to be all that. As this TED talks explained, love isn’t a drama scene; it’s a work of art between your partner and you. Be tender, accepting of their faults, and take it slow. Happy Valentine’s Day!

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