For 18 years, the Modern Love column has given New York Times readers a glimpse into the complicated love lives of real people. Since its start, the column has evolved into a TV show, three books and a podcast.
Each week, host Anna Martin brings you stories and conversations about love in all its glorious permutations, dumb pitfalls and life-changing moments. New episodes every Wednesday.
Could I Forgive Him One Last Time?
When Victoria Rosner was seven months pregnant, her husband filed for divorce. He “decided that he couldn’t be married anymore, not to me, he said, and probably not to anyone,” Victoria wrote in her Modern Love essay.
A couple of years later, while they were living many miles apart, he reached out to her with a request. He had been diagnosed with a cancer that had metastasized to his bones, and he wanted to spend the time he had left with Judah, their young son. Victoria had to make a complicated decision: to forgive her ex and allow him into Judah’s life, or to close the door on Judah’s relationship with his father, possibly forever.
On our season finale, we listen to Victoria’s story about forgiveness. Then, our host, Anna Martin, checks in with Judah, who is now 16. Judah reflects on what he remembers about his father — and the impact of the choice his mother made years ago.
This is our last episode of the summer. We’re taking a little break, but we’ll be back in the fall with a whole new lineup of stories. We hope you’ll join us.
How to Find the One
When Meher Ahmad first saw the movie “Bend It Like Beckham” as a young girl, she was transfixed. Watching the main character, an Indian woman who looked like her, kiss her white soccer coach, she saw a vision of her own romantic future. While she felt pressure from her family and her culture to be with a Pakistani boy, the movie opened up her lanes of attraction — from white boys to, eventually, “anything but brown men.”
As Meher grew older, though, her thinking started to shift. Today, we share her story about how she found “the one.” Then, our host, Anna Martin, discusses a trend that is all over TikTok: romantic manifestation. She speaks with Laura Pitcher, a contributing writer for The New York Times, about how people are manifesting their ideal partners — and why the spiritual practice is so appealing to Gen Z.
Hey, Modern Love listeners: What’s the most unusual place you have ever gone on a date? Maybe you crossed the Atlantic Ocean on a cargo ship, or you wound up at a restaurant after hours. We want to hear your story. Visit nytimes.com/datestory for submission details.
The Shame Game
The year was 2006, and Damon Young had just met a woman on MySpace. Their back-and-forth was witty, flirty and easy. They went on a first date at Barnes & Noble, where they browsed books and continued to vibe.
Things were going great, Damon thought. That is, until she called off their second date. Damon was confused, but he had a hunch about what fueled her sudden disinterest: his teeth.
Damon’s teeth had always been a source of shame and anxiety for him. “I know that in America, good, strong, bright, straight teeth signal good, strong, bright, straight money,” he wrote in his Modern Love essay. “My mouth is a memoir. Of canceled orthodontist appointments when my parents couldn’t afford the premium.”
Today, Damon shares his story about his complicated, evolving relationship with his teeth — and his self-worth. Then, we hear a Tiny Love Story about a woman who reflects on her mother’s ritual of doing her hair when she was a child, which she comes to realize was a sign of love.
A Mother's Secret
Ayad Akhtar’s parents met in Pakistan in the early ’60s, when they were both medical students and “ridiculously attractive” — or so their friends say. Despite having a love marriage (against the wishes of their parents), theirs was rocky from the start.
“By the time I was 4, I already knew my father had ‘other women,’ as my mother used to call them,” Ayad wrote in his Modern Love essay. But it wasn’t until years later, when Ayad was an adult, that his mother shared her own confession with him.
Today, Ayad tells his story about seeing his mother in a new light. Then, we listen to a Tiny Love Story about a child who recognizes their parent for the very first time.
Ayad Akhtar, who received the 2013 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, is the author of the novel “Homeland Elegies” and the president of PEN America.
‘Do It, I Dare You.’
In his early 20s, Kevin Renn moved to New York City with dreams of making it as a playwright. When money got tight, he decided to fall back on a familiar option: babysitting.
“The question, though, wasn’t whether I would be a good nanny, but if anyone would let me — as a Black man who is over six feet tall,” Kevin said in his Modern Love essay.
Kevin soon became a nanny to Lucas, a 4-year-old boy with a wide smile and stylish parents. Today, Kevin takes us into his secret world with Lucas — their intertwining daily routines, the nights full of spaghetti and meatballs and jazz music, and the times they stood up to strangers with a phrase that became their refrain: “Do it, I dare you.” Then, we get to hear from Lucas, now 7 years old.
Left to Be Found
Yvonne Liu knew from a young age that she was adopted, but she didn’t know the details. All she knew was that she had been left by her birth mother in a busy stairwell in Hong Kong. It wasn’t until she was 30, on the night before a critical surgery, that she was given a handwritten note in Chinese that transformed her understanding of where she had come from.
Meanwhile, Lynn Domina had never envisioned herself as a mother — until she met Amy, a spunky 8-year-old who was obsessed with “Harry Potter.”
On today’s episode, we hear from two women about their adoption journeys and the emotions and discoveries they’ve experienced along the way.