[A large scale of Americans were asked, “Looking back over the past 6 months, who are the people with whom you discussed matters important to you?” in 1985 and 2004.] The percentage of Americans who list a friend, a sibling, a coworker, a co-member of a group, or a neighbor as a close confidant — who have at least one member of those social categories that is an actual confidant — has plummeted on the order of 30-60% over the course of 19 years in our very recent history.

The percentage of Americans in 1985 who listed a co-member of a group as a close confidant was 26.1%. By 2004, that number had plummeted to 11.8% … In 1985, 18.5% of Americans had at least one neighbor who was a close confidant. By 2004, that number had plummeted to 7.9%

…More and more of us are increasingly dependent, increasingly focused on the spousal relationship at the expense of this much broader social milieu we used to have, [so] keeping a high quality marriage when we’re putting so much stock in this one relationship is crucial.

…Most people, when they think about intervening in their marriage, think about marital therapy. That’s fine, except that most people — when they think about marital therapy — they view it as the final stopgap procedure that you use because you’re about to divorce. They say, ‘Well, gosh, it’s been 15 years and I’ve sort of hated you all this time and now we’re thinking about divorce, let’s go see somebody about that.’ That is the wrong time, the wrong time to seek marital therapy because you’ve developed terrible patterns … you’ve developed scar tissue created from hurt and anger and frustration.

I want to suggest that the right time to intervene is earlier.

Eli Finkel, in his TEDxUChicago talk, "The hack to save your marriage."

In his talk, social scientist Finkel sheds light on an overwhelmingly simple step that couples can take to maybe save their relationships — something he calls, “the marriage hack.” Watch his whole talk here. 
It’s not enough that you have this sort of decent relationship with this person. He also has to be your best friend. He also has to be your only romantic partner. He also has to be somebody who inspires you every day. He has to be somebody who is going to help your career. He has to be somebody who co-parents with you. He has to meet you on 25 different levels of intersection.
Elizabeth Gilbert on marriage, quoted in Eli Finkel’s TEDxUChicago talk, "The hack to save your marriage."

"Relative to any time in the past," Eli says in his talk, "we are depending on the marital bond more and more for these emotional, physical, career-related needs … and what that means is that the quality of your marriage is more important today than ever before … that keeping a high-quality marriage when we are putting so much stock in this one relationship is crucial." Watch his whole talk here. 

Happy Valentine’s Day! 6 TEDx Talks on modern love (and sex)

Valentine’s Day is here and we’re all about love on the TEDx blog this week. If you aren’t yet fulfilled by Jocob Berkson’s exploration into the philosophy of love, Helen Fisher’s studies into the biological underpinning of “the one”, or David Page’s genetic revelation into the health implications of gender differences, these 6 should quell your desire:

TEDxMidAtlantic 2012 - Amy Webb

How I gamed online data to meet my match: Amy Webb

Amy Webb shirks her relatives dating advice, quantifies her desires, and manipulates the online-dating experience to successfully find love.

Make your bed is the ultimate treehouse: Debby Herbenick

Psychologist Debby Herbenick shares the results of some of her studies investigating the value of focused, exclusive and, of course, fun sex.

The sex lives of sea slugs: Muljadi Pinneng

With beautiful underwater photography, Muljadi Pinneng explores the coral reefs of Indonesia to show you some of the strangest sexual practices in the wild world.

When it comes to love, nature doesn’t matter: Ronald de Sousa

In a profound and impeccably reasoned talk, Ronald de Sousa challenges the notion that there’s such a thing as “natural” love.

Beyond the orgasm: Nicole Daedone

Nicole Daedone prescribes mindful sex — a possible cure for relationships that have lost their spark.

Find your erotic creatureSheila Kelly

Television actress and pole dancer Sheila Kelly describes how she found her “erotic creature” within and encourages everyone to do the same.