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 powerful 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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
Nora Johnson had been making weekly visits to older man after he suffered a mild stroke. But he wasn’t just any older man. “We had the worst marriage in the history of human relations,” Nora wrote in her 2014 Modern Love essay. “Dysfunctional doesn’t even begin to describe it.”
During her visits, the memories would coming pouring back: the fights, the vacations, the plunging bank account. But Nora’s ex-husband had forgotten all that. He’d even forgotten her. And this blank slate had presented an opportunity.
Today, we listen to Nora’s story about reconnecting with her ex in spite of their painful past. Then, we meet another couple, Margaret Eginton Carmichael and Greg Carmichael, who learned to date again in their sixties.
Nora Johnson died in 2017 at 84. You can find her obituary in The New York Times here. And click here to read her first Modern Love essay, "Age is No Obstacle to Love, or Adventure," which remains one of our most read.
Heather von Rohr had moved to Los Angeles with aspirations: to make it as a screenwriter and to fall in love, marry and have a child. In need of a day job, she took an entry-level position at the research library of a prestigious film academy.
At the library, she met Nick — who was 13 years younger than she was and in no position to support a family.
Today, we also meet Edgar and Beatriz, a couple featured in our Vows column, who tell their own story of letting go of expectations and finding each other in the process.
Mansoor Adayfi was only 19 when he arrived at the prison camp at the Guantánamo Bay Naval Base in Cuba. Growing up in a tiny village in the mountains of Yemen, “I didn’t know much about the world,” he said. “Now my world was Guantánamo.”
For a period during his 14 years there, he and his fellow detainees organized informal classes for one another. There was a cooking class, taught by a former chef. In a marriage class, they learned about love. They shared their views on how men should treat women, they discussed what it would feel like to meet the person you love, and they even simulated an engagement and wedding celebration. “I have never been in love, but now I could feel its sweetness,” Mansoor said.
Today, we listen to Mansoor’s essay and then hear an update from him. Since Guantánamo, he said he has experienced one of the best moments of his life — and one of the most painful. He talks to our host, Anna Martin, about what he would now teach others about the art of love.
Mansoor Adayfi is the author of “Don’t Forget Us Here: Lost and Found at Guantánamo.” You can find more information on today's episode here.
When Mike Rucker and his partner, John, moved in together, they purchased a sofa they affectionately named Miss Bee. “I didn’t just feel grown up buying this sofa, I felt sophisticated,” Mike wrote in his Modern Love essay. Miss Bee had low arms, wooden legs with brass wheels and a white denim slipcover. Miss Bee was not only a provider of comfort, but also the anchor of Mike and John’s home life. For our season premiere, we listen to Mike’s story about the process of saying goodbye to Miss Bee — and the role she played for him in grieving John’s death. Then, Mike joins our host, Anna Martin, in the studio. He reflects on some of the other physical objects that continue to keep John alive for him.
Modern Love is back for the summer: For the next 10 weeks, we’ll be releasing episodes about love in all its messy, complicated forms — including stories about star-crossed lovers in their 60s, the best nanny in all of New York City and an adoptee who overturns her assumptions about her mother. New episodes drop on Wednesday afternoons. Click here for more details.
We have exciting news: We’ll be back on Wednesday, June 1, for a new season of stories. In the meantime, we invite you to listen to a mini episode featuring Ariana DeBose, who recently won an Oscar for her role as Anita in Steven Spielberg’s adaptation of “West Side Story.” A few months ago, Ms. DeBose read a selection of her favorite Tiny Love Stories at a Modern Love virtual event. Today, Anna Martin, host of the podcast, and Miya Lee, editor of Modern Love projects, share two of those stories, both with the themes of hope and renewal.
If you would like to submit a Tiny Love Story, click here. Tune in on Wednesdays for new episodes of Modern Love.
What’s the song that taught you about love as a teen? When we asked this question at the start of the season, your anthems came pouring in. We heard from present-day teens, and we heard from listeners who have been with their partners for over 50 years. There were stories of Nat King Cole and One Direction, adrenaline rushes and loneliness, and many lessons in matters of the heart. (“Don’t let your friends choose your boyfriends,” Amy from St. Louis told us.) On our season finale, we share your songs and stories. Then, we fast-forward to an essay about the end of love. After more than 50 years of marriage, Tina Welling decided that she wanted a divorce — a decision that turned out to be liberating.
Thank you to our listeners from across the world for sharing your teenage anthems! You can hear all of them on one glorious Spotify playlist. If you’d like to add your song to the playlist, email us at [email protected]
It’s 2022, the year of matrimania. Roughly 2.5 million weddings are expected (a bump not seen since 1984), and other trends are wildly taking off — ceremonies for pets, weddings on weekdays, a revival of epic poofy dresses.
While the business of nuptials is evolving, we revisit Pauline Miller’s essay from 2017 about one tried-and-true approach: tying the knot at City Hall (a decision fueled by Pauline’s desperate need for health care). Then, our host, Anna Martin, and producer Julia Botero take to City Hall in downtown Manhattan to see it for themselves. They talk to a swirl of people getting married — from a duo who met on Myspace to a divorced couple giving it another go. They also get the scoop on the most unforgettable wedding ever witnessed by the city clerk.
Alexandra Capellini has been on the dating apps for about four years. Dating is already a fraught process, but to top it off, Alexandra has to decide if, when and how she should explain that she wears a prosthetic leg. Today, we listen to Alexandra’s essay about navigating the apps — and realizing that it’s not her responsibility to “make other guys more comfortable with meeting me.” Then, our host, Anna Martin, calls up Alexandra. They commiserate over the hopelessness of swiping in New York City, and they look at each other’s dating profiles. They celebrate their selfies, admire their use of the “closed-mouth smile” and laugh at their responses to prompts like, “Where to find me at the party.”
Garrett Schlichte was exactly twice the age of his sister. When he was 28 and his sister was 14, she would dish to him on the phone about her teenage love life. But the feelings she was experiencing — like electric attraction and aching jealousy — were unfamiliar to Garrett. When he was a queer, closeted teenager, Garrett turned to romantic comedies to grasp the emotions of a real-life relationship. While his sister could revel in her teenage crushes, he had suppressed his like a secret.
In today’s episode, we listen to Garrett’s essay about missing out on the thrills and challenges of young love — and what he has yet to learn. Then, we hear a Tiny Love Story about a woman who longs to get closer to someone who has grown emotionally distant.
Genevieve Kingston has carried a cardboard box with her throughout her life, filled with gifts for major milestones — childhood birthdays, her first period, graduation.
The gifts are from her mother, who died of cancer just before Ms. Kingston’s 12th birthday. In her final days, she prepared postcards for the future and filled the box with her love.
In today’s episode, we listen to Ms. Kingston’s essay about opening the packages in the box, and her reflections on what was lost — and what was found. Then, we speak to a mother and son from one of our Tiny Love Stories to hear about how they have connected during the pandemic through cooking.
Three months into the pandemic, Haili Blassingame was crafting an email to her boyfriend of five years, Malcolm, with the subject line “My Terms.” She wanted to break up. Haili had met Malcolm in college. At first she was “giddy about the cute guy with the deep voice who looked like Obama,” she wrote in her Modern Love essay. But as they started dating, she found that their identities were intertwining and people were treating them differently just because they called themselves girlfriend and boyfriend.
Haili longed for love but also for freedom and autonomy. Today’s episode explores Haili’s journey to nonmonogamy — and how, as a Black woman, she’s navigated the expectations of her family and friends. Then we hear from Haili herself.
Ariel Sabar was visiting his parents in his childhood home in California, when he awoke one morning to high-pitched giggles coming from his parents’ room. He opened the door to a Norman Rockwell-type image: his father, 70, riding his stationary bike in his pajamas; and his 6-year-old son perched on its frame, cheerleading for his grandfather.
Ariel was stunned: “As a boy, I’d seen this house as a battlefield, a place where children and parents less often joshed than jousted,” he wrote in his 2009 Modern Love essay. Was his relationship with his father as turbulent as he remembered, or had he blinded himself to happier times?
In today’s episode, Ariel starts to see his father in a new light, as his son brings them closer together. Then, we hear a Tiny Love Story about a woman who took a DNA test that led to a life-changing discovery (fun fact: coincidentally, she is a geneticist).
Join Modern Love for a virtual event on March 9 (RSVP at nytimes.com/morningatnight). And if you’re an undergraduate at an American college or university, submit your story to our college essay contest. Visit nytimes.com/essaycontest for details.
What are your dating non-negotiables? For Hyla Sabesin Finn, it was smoking — or so she thought.
Hyla met Larry in college. She was 17; he was a 21-year-old law student, puffing away outside the library. Hyla had been “indoctrinated by parents whose cocktail parties were littered with ‘no smoking’ signs back when smokers still mingled freely in society,” she wrote in her 2005 Modern Love essay. In spite of this, she was smitten.
Today’s episode explores how our standards can evolve (if at all) when it comes to love. Our host, Anna Martin, calls up her friends to ask about their deal breakers. Plus, we get to hear from Hyla and Larry, who’ve now been married for 35 years.
Modern Love is hosting its sixth college essay contest this year! If you’re an undergraduate at an American college or university, tell us what love is like for you. Visit nytimes.com/essaycontest for submission details. The deadline is March 27.
Before Andrew Limbong went off to college, his mother cautioned him about the dire consequences he would face if he hugged a girl. Andrew grew up in a strict Christian household, and his parents are Indonesian immigrants, so they never spoke about sex at home. When Andrew was 20, he met his first girlfriend, Sam. He felt his cultural and parental influences putting “pressure on my blood vessels, not allowing the blood to go where I oh so desperately wanted it to,” he wrote in his Modern Love essay in 2011.
According to Andrew’s Muslim American friend, his fears were the result of the “ham sandwich” effect: the feeling of shame when you’re breaking family tradition. Today, we unpack this metaphor — and then we hear from Andrew. He gives us an update about him and Sam (it’s exciting), and he shares advice for others who are struggling to take a bite of their own ham sandwiches.
Modern Love has a virtual event coming up: On March 9, we’ll share love stories written by readers and read by the Oscar nominee Ariana DeBose. RSVP at nytimes.com/morningatnight.