One of the most polarizing holidays is on its way: Valentine's Day.
If you love love, this is the holiday for you. If you don't, your plans to wear all black and stuff your face with Ben & Jerry's ice cream on the couch as you watch Pawn Stars re-runs are probably already under way.
However, whether you are pro or con Valentine's Day, love, in all its various forms, is an important part of the human experience. It can bring happiness, sorrow, change lives and affect how we see ourselves and other people. It's always worthwhile to gain a greater understanding of love, and what better time to do so than around Valentine's Day?
Many TED Talks discuss the subject of love, covering everything from how it affects our brains to literature's take on it to intimacy in the digital age. These nine TED Talks will open your mind about love and may even make you a more loving person too.
1. John Hodgman - "Aliens, love — where are they?"
You probably know humorist John Hodgman from his appearances on The Daily Show with John Stewart or as the PC in those Apple commercials way back when. However, Hodgman has a lot to say when he's doing his own thing. This TED Talk starts out with Hodgman talking about physics, space and aliens, but it's ultimately a heartwarming — and hilarious — love story.
2. Amy Webb - "How I hacked online dating"
Online dating is increasingly becoming the way people find relationships. However, with so many people using it and the sometimes not-so-great anonymous virtual encounters, it doesn't always give you the best results. After having no luck in the online dating game, digital strategist Amy Webb approached it from a data perspective and found how to craft "a super profile." Watch this TED Talk, and you may be able to do the same.
3. Andrew Solomon - "Love, no matter what"
Love isn't always easy, and no one knows that better than parents. In his TED Talk, writer Andrew Solomon discusses how parents maintain their unconditional love for their children, no matter how they are born or who they grow up to be.
4. Helen Fisher - "Why we love, why we cheat"
If you ever wanted to take a deep dive into what love means to our society, look no further than this TED Talk from anthropologist and love expert Helen Fisher. In this TED Talk, Fisher covers the origins of love, how it has changed over time and how it affects our brains. Fisher's talk on "The brain in love" is worth checking out too.
5. Hannah Brencher - "Love letters to strangers"
These days, you're lucky to get a phone call from your beau instead of just a quick emoji-filled text message. But it wasn't terribly long ago when people actually used to write letters to express their feelings for their special someone. When Hannah Brencher experienced depression after graduating college, she began writing love letters... to strangers. Thus began Brencher's The World Needs More Love Letters initiative. Not only will this short TED Talk make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside, it'll inspire you to make the world feel that way too.
6. Stefana Broadbent - "How the Internet enables intimacy"
You don't usually associate the Internet with compassion. However, staring at your computer screen all day doesn't have to make you feel dead inside. Tech anthropologist Stefana Broadbent uses her research to show how you can actually form deep, personal and intimate relationships online.
7. Al Vernacchio - "Sex needs a new metaphor. Here's one..."
Scoring, making it to third base, striking out. These are all baseball terms and common metaphors used to describe intimacy and sex. However, sexuality educator Al Vernacchio argues that using these metaphors turns sex into a competition, which can be harmful. In this TED Talk, Vernacchio serves up a new metaphor we should be using to describe sex instead: pizza. I bet that got your attention.
8. Parul Sehgal - "An ode to envy"
With love often comes envy. Literary critic Parul Sehgal takes a look at what fiction through the ages has taught us about jealousy, which may help us understand it better and maybe even do a better job of getting over it.
9. Esther Perel - "The secret to desire in a long-term relationship"
If you're celebrating yet another Valentine's Day with your main squeeze this year, you might be worried about your celebration going stale. In this TED Talk, relationship therapist Esther Perel discusses what couples really need in order to keep that spark in their relationship. This video is really helpful if you want to have a happy Valentine's Day.
Image: FrankGuido / Flickr