The podcast is a perfect format for our times: It is bite-sized, convenient and personal.
You listen to it when you want, and ditch it when you’re busy, but it’s always there – like a partner, legs crossed until you return. It is also oddly intimate: a stranger speaking to you through your headphones, as if personally guiding you through your daily trials.
That’s why it is also the perfect medium for modern women looking for love in all its guises. After all, the idea of a “soulmate” and “the one” might seem quaint in an era of robots, AI, polyamory, meet-up apps and dating services. And podcasts seem to cover all aspects of modern love.
But what exactly is “modern love”, when our lives have been so intractably changed by technology and cultural norms? Is it more than mere romance? Is it more than just partnering up? Or is modern love all-encompassing, reaching across the divide to embrace family, friends, friends with benefits, potentials, that stranger in the MRT, and ultimately, about loving yourself as well – the greatest love of all (thanks, Whitney!)?
And why podcasts? We’re time-pressed, for one. But mostly because podcasts about love and relationships – the ones we’ve chosen here – are perfect for any stage of your life.
Whether you’re single, looking (over someone’s shoulder), on hiatus, in an open relationship, married, coupled up or in that “complicated” vacuum, there’s no shortage of experts, celebs, stories, myths and sound advice to help you navigate this game.
If nothing else, you’ll be entertained, you’ll be open to ideas, you might be transformed, and you’ll be armed and ready for whatever comes next.
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Sound Advice: A series of hilariously awful date stories told by the people involved, that lets you know we’re all in this dating mess together.
While some date stories sound too bad to be true, the ones here will make you laugh and think “hey, my last date wasn’t too bad” or “being single beats having my leg accidentally broken!”.
In a stroke of genius, a couple in London – IT worker Gavin Wong and radio producer Claire Crofton – decided to create this podcast after hearing many entertaining date stories.
“We’ve been in a relationship for more than six years, and our love life is pretty stable, lovely (and boring!). Our single friends had the best stories that were too good to keep to ourselves, so we decided to share them,” says Claire.
Thank goodness they did. This well-crafted podcast is the perfect antidote and pick-me-up many an app-fatigued woman needs.
Narrated by the callers, the stories have their emotions played up by Gavin and Claire’s use of music and sound effects. Many of the stories will have you in tears – of laughter.
It was originally meant to showcase tales from dating apps, but Claire says they were surprised when the majority of stories came from people who met organically.
“We both think that if we were single, we’d make full use of modern dating apps – it’s brilliant that you can meet people outside of your own social circles and don’t have to awkwardly investigate each other’s availability.”
Sexy, funny and dishing out doses of cruel reality, the episodes range from a man named Archie breaking his date’s leg (by falling on her by accident!) on their first date in Edinburgh, to a grave evening where Rosie’s first-ever date surprises her by taking her to visit… his father’s grave.
It’s not all bad, as Archie and his date ended up in a serious relationship for nine months despite their first date ending with an ambulance carrying her (pumped full of anaesthetics) down Arthur’s Seat.
On a more relatable note, Dimitri meets a girl at a New Year’s party, swops numbers
and subsequent flirty texts, and finally gets the courage to ask her out. The night comes, he arrives at the pub, and she texts him saying she’s injured and has to cancel.
Fast-forward a few months, they arrange a second date…and she turns out to be a he. That’s when Dimitri realises he saved both the girl’s and this man’s numbers under each other’s names during that drunken party. Hey, it’s better than being ghosted – at least the guy showed up!
“We all make a fool of ourselves, and that’s okay! We stick by our motto that ‘an embarrassment shared is an embarrassment halved’,” says Claire.
“A couple of people who contributed to the podcast have said that the experience has boosted their confidence – so I do think there is something empowering about sharing the nitty gritty details of your most embarrassing moments,” she says.
Maybe you’d find it cathartic to contribute one of your own? I’m seriously considering it.
Takeaway: A disastrous first date shouldn’t be the end. It’s the first story you get to tell moving forward.
Sound Advice: This podcast is the perfect pre-wedding prep, whether you’re single, in a relationship or about to get married.
Yes, it’s produced by a young, happily married couple, Sarah and Chase Kosterlitz (married five years). But hey, isn’t it better to learn about the ups and downs of marriage and relationships before you take that big step?
That’s not to say this podcast is exclusively for those of you with a ring on your finger. Together with relationship experts, real couples and therapists, Chase and Sarah cover a range of topics from raising a child to mental health and staying connected in this busy world.
Also important: finances. According to a study by the Ministry of Social and Family Development, 28,212 people in Singapore got married and 7,578 got divorced in 2017; and relationship counsellors often state that couples who don’t discuss money matters are more likely to split. It’s not a sexy topic, but it is necessary, and I found the Kosterlitzes’ approach informative, yet soothing.
“Individuals can have different emotional connections and feelings towards money. Bringing these feelings into the relationship can have negative effects, such as blaming one another for not contributing (financially) as much,” says Chase.
No matter what your relationship status is, make sure you’re both on the same page about what you want, and that you’re not choosing separate accounts to hide your spending.
“Separate accounts work for some, but at the end of the day communication is key, perhaps even more so than if you have a combined account,” says Sarah.
Worried that it’ll be a tough conversation? Focus, write down all your points, make sure your talk starts and ends with the same topic, and don’t devolve into name calling and bringing up past wrongs (I plead guilty to this).
It’s everything you’ve talked about with your girlfriends – but maybe not with your partner.
Takeaway: Partners need to discuss everything, especially finances.
Sound Advice: Author, journalist and pundit Dan Savage answers listeners’ questions with brutal honesty, so if you’re not looking for sugar-coated relationship advice, Savage is about as real as it gets.
Does your new man really like you for you, or is he just trying to get into your company (and your pants)? Just bumped into your ex? Here’s how to handle these situations. Or are you unsure how to set the scene for seduction? Here’s a playlist.
Worried that your boyfriend may be addicted to porn and unable to finish with you? While it’s easy to judge, I found the way Savage explained things really enlightening.
He says that, yes, your boyfriend may need to help himself, but it may not have anything to do with porn – he could be on antidepressants, or addicted to masturbation, though his sexual attraction is to you, and his stimulation comes from you.
I also empathised with a woman who asked how to deal with her fluctuating weight and not compare herself to models when on a date.
“If all you’re seeing is incredibly thin women, that’s all you’re looking at – women come in all shapes and sizes. The confidence you’re projecting now attracts attention from guys who are into your body type.” Forget stretch marks, says Savage; everyone has insecurities.
“Would you rather sleep with a man in the dark because you’re worried about stretch marks, or go for someone who doesn’t even see those stretch marks because they’re so into you? Be confident.”
Savage isn’t afraid to touch on slightly more serious topics like emotional cheating, abusive relationships and STDs, and handles them with respect. Though if you’re the sensitive type, this podcast may be too spicy for you.
Whether you’re in or on the way to a new relationship, Savage Lovecast is a wild, entertaining and educational ride.
Takeaway: Learn to embrace your quirks and defects, and make them work for you.
Sound Advice: Relationships between lovers, family and friends can be tricky (hello, nosy aunties), so this column turned- podcast by writers Cheryl Strayed and Steve Almond (aka “Sugar”) brings on the big guns like Hillary Clinton and Oprah Winfrey to discuss and navigate such hazards.
Together with celebrity guests, therapists and dating coaches, The Sugars discuss how to say no to the men in your life, trusting your body, age gaps, and getting over break-ups.
Admittedly, the many big names on the show were a big draw for me, and the podcast has received rave reviews.
For many women, the price of success may come in the form of gold-digging friends and relatives, wanting a slice of your money pie (and awkward convos during Chinese New Year).
What would Oprah do, I wonder.
“I wasn’t close to all my family members, but once I became famous, suddenly I had all these requests. Eventually, I sat them all down and told them exactly what I was (or wasn’t) going to give – I took control. Yes, some didn’t speak to me again, but decide what is most important to you. For me, it was to let my parents retire comfortably,” says Oprah.
Thanks, Oprah! But what should I do when I feel jealous that a friend’s career is taking off , unlike mine, especially when she’s all over social media?
“Let’s say Steve wins some big award that I wanted. What I would do in this scenario is tell myself, ‘That bit of jealousy, let’s just put that aside. Let’s remember what’s really true and valuable – that I’m happy for my friend and that my day will come.’ Be conscious of your feelings and turn away the negative ones,” says Cheryl.
Useful advice, especially when we’re inundated with deliriously happy posts on relationships, career, food envy, you name it – and suffering from FOMO.
The podcast ended recently, but hundreds of episodes are there for you to pore over from the show’s 10-year run.
Takeaway: Celebs – they’re just like us!
Listen: www.wbur.org/ dearsugar
Sound Advice: The OG that started it all, The New York Times column turned- podcast is a long-running show with celebrities like John C. Reilly, Constance Wu and Krysten Ritter reading heartfelt essays from real people.
It’s a story bound to resonate with anyone who uses dating apps: Rapper and Crazy Rich Asians star Awkwafina narrates one of the funniest accounts by media director Sarah Moses, which opens with “I almost gave up on dating when a sandwich rejected me”.
The sandwich in question is the unnamed man’s missing profile picture, which already screams red flag.
The sandwich and Sarah have a few punny bread related exchanges when, without warning, he ghosts. I raged together with her at the indignity of being rejected by a sandwich after she’d invested time and puns in this loaf-life.
A successful young woman in New York, Sarah’s quest for love also involves awkward dates with men who tell her things like how her nose is “a little hooked but not too beaky”. Oh, and quoting Taylor Swift to break up with her ex. Girl, we’ve been there.
Awkwafina’s deadpan delivery is spot-on, dry, unimpressed, and totally exasperated with the pithy pool of dating options, which goes to show modern dating and having more alternatives do not a romance make. It’s even better when the producers bring on the writers themselves to talk about the aftermath of going public with their stories, because we all want to know if they got that happy ending.
My heartstrings were tugged as actress Olivia Munn narrated the tale of writer Marina Shifrin’s years of unrequited love, as she charted her “life plan” together with her crush, her best friend Kevin, from childhood until a turning point in college. (Spoiler: they don’t end up together and it’s devastating at first, but I cheered up when I heard that Marina – once she learnt to let go of Kevin – met and married a friend of his, whom she connected with when Kevin brought him to her stand-up show.
Takeaway: Gather your courage to confess your feelings. It may not work out with whoever, but it may free your heart and open it to the possibility of someone who is right for you.
Listen: www.wbur.org/ modernlove
Four tips on how to get out there and meet more people