These eight podcasts provide a range of views of love and belonging — from how we get there to how we make it work over the long haul.
By Orrin Grey
Whether you’re single and playing the dating game or in a long-term relationship, there’s something to be learned about how to recognize love, how to make it work, and how to be the best version of yourself every day. After all, loving and being loved isn’t just about romance — it’s about how we treat each other, and how we long to be treated.
No matter your relationship status, these eight podcasts will have something to teach you about love, romance, staying together, breaking up, and everything in-between.
StoryCorps Podcast (StoryCorps)
A partner of NPR and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the StoryCorps podcast has been bringing people together to tell candid stories of the human heart for nearly 20 years. Not all of the stories are about romantic love, but all of them are about the bonds that bring people together and bind them together — the ways that we interact with the people we love, whether friends, family, romantic partners, coworkers, or anyone else who touches our lives. With thousands of unscripted stories from ordinary people, StoryCorps shines a light into the lives and loves of everyday citizens all across the country.
Modern Love (WBUR)
It started as a popular column in The New York Times, featuring reader-submitted essays about love and relationships — how people came together, what helped them stay together, and what drove them apart. Then, WBUR adapted the column into a podcast, with host Meghna Chakrabarti and editor Daniel Jones, along with celebrity guests like Judd Apatow, Jake Gyllenhaal, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Gillian Jacobs, Kristen Bell, and many more. With nearly 200 episodes in just a few years, it can be tough knowing where to start. Fortunately, the podcast has put together a “starter kit” to help you find your footing with this intimate, funny, and often touching podcast.
The Heart (Radiotopia and Mermaid Palace)
An “audio art project about intimacy and humanity,” The Heart podcast (formerly Audio Smut), brings together a “community of badass writers, radio makers and artists who make personal documentary work about their bodies and their loves.” Aiming to bring reality and humanity — sometimes scathing, sometimes funny, sometimes touching, always intimate, always real — to their work, this Peabody Award Finalist tackles everything from love to sex to life and everything that happens in-between.
Strangers (Story Central)
A former director of The Moth created this storytelling podcast that is “an empathy shot in your arm,” bringing together true stories of encounters, meetings, love, and heartbreak from real people just like you. The Moth helped people bring their stories to the stage, to radio, and beyond. Now, Strangers shines a light on true stories of the people that you encounter, from the ones who leave an impression to the ones who change your life and those you might not have noticed if you hadn’t heard their story here.
Dear Sugars (WBUR)
Offering “radical empathy,” Dear Sugars is a podcast for the “lost, lonely, and heartsick,” inviting listeners to send in questions “no matter how deep or dark.” Hosted by the two “Sugars,” Cheryl Strayed and Steve Almond, this podcast from WBUR is the late-night, radio call-in show that lonely hearts have been looking for, even if they didn’t know it yet.
Love is Like a Plant (Ellen Huerta, Sarah May B.)
From the creator of Mend, an app for getting through your latest break up, and the podcaster behind The Break-Up Album, comes a podcast of relationship advice. Sure, as you might imagine from that pedigree, it covers break ups, but it also touches on other aspects of relationships, from maintaining a healthy, long-distance relationship to dating someone older (or younger), social media, sex with your ex, and even enjoying Valentine’s Day when you’re single.
Where Should We Begin? (Gimlet)
Couples therapist Esther Perel brings listeners into her office as real couples tell the anonymous stories of their struggles, triumphs, and heartbreaks. From infidelity to lack of chemistry to shame and loss and beyond, the therapist’s office is a place for couples to be heard and understood. By bringing these stories to her listeners, Perel transforms it into something else: a place where we can feel empowered in our own lives and learn how to understand our own relationships better.
Beautiful Stories from Anonymous People (Earwolf)
Comedian Chris Gethard hosts this podcast where he opens the phone lines to anonymous callers, who can talk about whatever they want. The only rules are that there are no names, the call can’t last more than an hour, and Chris can’t hang up first, no matter what happens. The results are intimate, shocking, touching, and extraordinarily personal confessions of life, love, philosophical musings, and all the wild things that make up this world of ours. Not every call focuses on relationships, but there are plenty of stories about how people come together and drift apart in these uncensored calls from anonymous citizens.