Orgies. Sex in public. Incest. These are the things that some of us think about in the dark. Taboo fantasies can be exciting, but they can also be the source of our deepest shame. In the first chapter of this two-part series on sexual fantasies, the Sugars read letters from people who want to turn off the thoughts that turn them on. This episode was originally released on January 13th, 2018.
The Sugars conclude a two-part series on early childhood death. In Part 2, they read letters from parents who worry that their grief may overshadow their surviving children. They are joined by the writer Emily Rapp Black, who decided to have another child after learning that her son had a fatal congenital disorder. This episode was originally published on November 11th, 2017.
In the Empty Chair series, the Sugars discuss early childhood death, an absence that can be ever-present. In Part 1, they read letters from siblings who live in the the shadow of their parents’ grief. This episode was originally released on November 4th, 2017.
“I remember them finding the drugs and holding them up in the sky. And I was like, 'Oh man, I’m going to prison.'” This week’s guest, the writer Mitchell S. Jackson, started selling drugs when he was 14 years old, then went to prison for drug possession years later. When his mother tried to buy drugs from him, he knew he couldn’t run away from his bad decisions. This episode was originally released on October 21st, 2017.
The Sugars are joined by the therapist Esther Perel to discuss a letter from a husband who is in a sexless marriage and is looking for a way to help his wife heal from trauma. This episode was originally released on September 16th, 2017.
A sexless relationship is often a symptom of deeper dysfunction. The Sugars, along with couples therapist Esther Perel, advise a letter writer whose loving partner is erotically absent. This episode was originally released on September 9th, 2017.
Episodes We Love: In The Shadow Of Damaged Parents
A damaged parent can cast a dark shadow over our lives, especially when we inherit some of that damage. Steve’s father, the psychoanalyst Dr. Richard Almond, joins the Sugars to answer letters and offer a way out. This episode was originally released on September 2nd, 2017.
We can't choose our parents, but we can choose whether or not to have a relationship with them. This week, the Sugars discuss parental estrangement with the help of Stephen Elliott -- founding editor of The Rumpus and author of the books “The Adderall Diaries” and “Happy Baby” -- who estranged himself from his abusive father. This episode was originally released on April 20th, 2017.
You love your partner, you love your career... but they're pulling you in different directions. What do you do? The Sugars have help from psychotherapist and sociologist Leslie Bell, author of Hard to Get: 20-Something Women and the Paradox of Sexual Freedom. This episode was originally released on April 13th, 2017.
Infidelity. In-Laws. Friendship. These are just a few of the categories that help keep the Dear Sugar inbox organized. But every once in a while, we get a letter that doesn't fit neatly into any category. This week, the Sugars discuss a handful of those letters in rapid-fire fashion -- from a woman whose mother-in-law might be faking an allergy to her cat, to a woman whose identity was stolen...by her own sister. This episode was originally published on April 25th, 2017.
You wants kids; your partner doesn't. Or your partner wants kids, and you don't. Whatever the scenario, few subjects are as emotionally charged and potentially deal-breaking in a relationship as a disagreement over the decision to become parents. The Sugars take on this tricky topic with the help of the writer Danielle Herzog, who's written in the past about ending her own marriage to become a mother. This episode was originally published on March 22nd, 2017.
This week, adventures in animal ownership! The Sugars, along with Julie Barton -- author of the memoir "Dog Medicine: How My Dog Saved Me From Myself" -- answer letters about pet dilemmas and the ways these creatures affect human relationships. This episode was originally published on August 26th, 2017.
It’s never easy to talk to our romantic partners about their bodies, especially when it’s about weight. The Sugars, along with the writer Ashley C. Ford, answer letters from people questioning their relationships because of major changes in their partners’ bodies. This episode was originally published on August 19th, 2017.
When we decide to meddle, it can often backfire. The Sugars, along with the writer Meghan Daum, answer letters from people who see loved ones heading down the wrong path, but worry intervention might be the wrong move. This episode was originally published on August 12th, 2017.
The term "ghosting" may be relatively new, but the concept -- someone suddenly and inexplicably disappearing from your life -- is not. In the past, a total halt to communication with a friend might leave you feeling concerned that something bad happened to him/her. But in a time where our devices have made us more accessible than ever, it can leave the person who's been ghosted feeling rejected or unworthy. This episode was originally published on March 16th, 2017.
Location, location, location. It makes all the difference in real estate, and it can make all the difference to one's happiness. But finding a place that really feels like home can be tricky. This episode was originally published on March 9th, 2017.
"Whatever" -- that's how the actress Maria Bello describes her sexual orientation. Her "love who you love" attitude toward sexuality, regardless of gender, is often referred to as fluidity. Maria joins the Sugars this week to discuss a couple of letters having to do with the confusion and complications that can accompany a shift in one's sexual preferences and partnerships. This episode was originally published on February 28th, 2017.
On November 9th, 2016 -- the day after Donald Trump became America's President-elect -- the Dear Sugar inbox was flooded with emails asking some version of the question, "How do we move forward as a nation from here?" The Sugars bring that question before an audience at The Aladdin Theater in Portland, Oregon. This episode was originally published on January 20th, 2017.
How many times have you heard this: "I love him, we're great together, but..."? There's always room for doubt, even in the happiest of relationships. So this week, the Sugars take on some of those doubts in rapid-fire fashion. This episode was originally published on January 5th, 2017.
From our partners at WBUR, Endless Thread is a podcast featuring amazing stories found on Reddit. In this story, they talk to a happily married couple who has recently decided to experiment with consensual non-monogamy.
Pornography is more abundant and accessible than ever before. So it probably isn't surprising that it appears to be having a greater impact on romantic relationships. Part one of a two-part series focuses on some basic questions about porn -- is it wrong to use it? Why do people turn to porn? Is there such a thing as "healthy" porn use in a relationship? This episode was originally published on December 1st, 2016.
When the Sugars answered a letter from a woman who felt trapped in the role of "wicked stepmother," dozens of listeners wrote in asking the same question: what about the stepchildren, who have no control over the restructuring of their family? This week, the Sugars respond with an episode devoted to the other side of the story. This episode was originally released November 17th, 2016.
Episodes We Love: When Your Loved Ones Just Don't 'Get It'
Our loved ones are the people who are supposed to understand us. But what if they just...can't? Where do we turn then, and how do we fight the feelings of resentment that this lack of understanding can stir up? This episode was originally released November 11th, 2016.
The Sugars have another conversation on friendship, this time with a handful of letters concerning male-female friendships. Is there such a thing as a platonic relationship between a heterosexual man and woman? Can male-female friendships be as emotionally satisfying as same-gender relationships? What do you do when a friend crosses a romantic line? The Sugars discuss it all in rapid-fire fashion. This episode was originally released November 4th, 2016.
Safe For Work is an advice show that reminds you that while your office may be crazy, you don’t have to be. Office MVPs and corporate veterans Liz Dolan (ex-CMO, Nike, NatGeo, Oprah Winfrey Network) and Rico Gagliano (audio host, producer, print reporter and author) will help you make the big decisions, sort through the small stuff, and get more fulfillment from your work life.
The Sugars, along with fiction writer George Saunders, field letters from people who are chasing their creative dreams but frightened by the practical and financial risks that come with that pursuit. This episode was originally released on August 5th, 2017.
In a heated moment, a mother reveals a dark chapter from her childhood to her daughter, then immediately regrets it. What now? In this week’s episode, the Sugars tackle this and several other questions, including how to handle a brother-in-law who treats your vacation as his own free childcare; what to do when your best friend’s husband asks you to lie; and why we sometimes recoil at very public displays of grief. This episode was originally released July 29th, 2017.
"What do I want?" This is the question Oprah Winfrey finally asked herself, after years of struggling to say "no" to people in her life. In the second of this two-part series, the Sugars continue their conversation with Oprah Winfrey on when, why and how to say "no."
There’s incredible power in saying “yes.” It opens up avenues and allows us to be brave. In Cheryl's case, it’s what led to her becoming Sugar. But saying yes to life's opportunities can also have its risks. The Sugars are joined by Oprah Winfrey to discuss when to say no, how to say no, and what happens in the wake of that. This episode was originally released July 15th, 2017.
Everyone has had a friendship quandary of some sort in the past, right? This week, the Sugars take on frequently asked questions in "rapid fire" fashion – from hating your best friend's significant other, to hating her politics. This episode was originally released October 28th, 2016.
Age is just a number in many contexts, but when it comes to finding long-lasting love, an age gap between partners can greatly impact the course of the relationship — both in positive and challenging ways. The Sugars discuss those so-called "May-December" romances with the help of Lucinda Franks, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author of the memoir Timeless: Love, Morgenthau, and Me, which tells the story of her marriage to New York District Attorney Robert Morgenthau, who's 27 years her senior. This episode was originally released October 20th, 2016.
Episodes We Love: I Divorced My Spouse, And My Child Divorced Me
Divorce is always a painful process, but it's especially so when there are children in the middle. This week, the Sugars discuss situations of parental alienation caused by divorce. They answer letters from a mother and a father whose daughters have cut off all communication with them after taking the other parent's side. This episode was originally released October 14th, 2016,
The Sugars bring you another "rapid fire" episode, where they give brief answers to a handful of letters. This time, they challenge each other to make the call — one way or the other — on the questions they're discussing, rather than offer open-ended guidance. This episode was originally released September 30th, 2016,
Episodes We Love: How Do I Find The Courage To Be My Own Guide?
The Sugars often discuss letters dealing with very specific problems or struggles. This week, they take on a broader, more existential question -- how to follow your heart. The Sugars discuss with the GRAMMY-winning singer/songwriter India Arie, who shares how she learned to be her own guide. This episode was originally released September 23rd, 2016.
From our partners at WBUR, a new podcast that looks into the greatest unsolved art heist in history: the theft of half a billion dollars worth of art from the Isabella Stewart Gardner museum in Boston.
Episodes We Love: Can A Sexual Assault Survivor Love A Rapist?
The Sugars discuss a letter from a survivor of sexual assault who has just been told by her long-time partner that he raped someone when he was in high school. The writer wonders how she, as a survivor and self-proclaimed feminist, can justify loving a rapist.
After four years of ministering to the lost, lonely and heartsick, the Sugars say farewell on this final episode of the podcast. We take a look back at some of our most powerful advice, hear from former guests, and talk to listeners about how the show has affected their lives.
In this second part of our series on moving on, the Sugars discuss how we can release ourselves from our past mistakes. Dr. Harriet Lerner drops in to answer a letter from a woman who calls herself a "serial codependent," as well as a woman who is haunted by her abortion.
Privilege comes in many forms: socio-economic privilege, gender privilege, heterosexual privilege, to name a few. In this episode, the Sugars reply to two letter writers who are facing different forms of privilege. They discuss with Catrice M. Jackson, a leading voice for racial justice.
As our final season draws to a close, the Sugars have been thinking about what it means to say goodbye and let go. In this first episode of our two-part series on moving on, the Sugars and Claire Bidwell Smith answer two letters from people struggling to move past their grief after the death of their loved ones.
He removed her makeup when he thought she was wearing too much. He refused to put her name on the leases for their car and their house. He told her that she had a green card only because he chose to marry her. Reema Zaman, our guest in this week’s episode, was in an emotionally abusive marriage. She helps the Sugars answer two painful letters from women who are struggling to disentangle themselves from their abusive partners.
Dear Sugars returns to Portland, Oregon, for another epic live show. Special guests Mitchell S. Jackson and Rebecca Skloot share the stage with the Sugars to tell stories of personal reckoning, and to answer letters dealing with transgressions of love, friendship, the self, and so much more.
When it comes to love, money is supposed to be no object. But there’s no disentangling love from anything in our lives, and income is no exception. So how do you assess the role money should play in a relationship, and what happens when your desires and means change over time? The Sugars take on 5 letters in this rapid-fire episode.
Feeling like an outsider is one of the hallmarks of adolescence. But in today’s episode, we hear from two 16-year-olds who have cause to feel especially isolated. One girl is home-schooled and suffers from social anxiety. Another feels disconnected from her best friend, who has suddenly become popular at school. Both letter writers wonder if they’ll ever feel comfortable in their own skin. Shirley Manson, the lead singer of the alternative rock band Garbage, joins the Sugars to discuss her own journey as an outsider.
When Steve Lickteig turned 18, he learned that his mother and father, who he thought were his adoptive parents, are in fact his biological grandparents. With the advent of affordable DNA testing and companies like 23andMe, more and more people are having revelations like Mr. Lickteig’s. For some, these revelations can be a welcome and exciting discovery process. For others, they’re shocking and unwanted. In today’s episode, Mr. Lickteig shares his story and helps the Sugars advise letter writers who are still reeling from their genetic discoveries.
Trust Your Body — With Hilary Kinavey & Dana Sturtevant
“It’s only when my pants are nearly impossible to button that I force myself to lose weight,” writes the letter-writer who calls herself Body Negative. “And then the pattern starts all over again.” Hilary Kinavey, M.S., L.P.C., and Dana Sturtevant, M.S., R.D., the co-owners of Be Nourished, join the Sugars on today’s episode to offer Body Negative and women like her some hope.
In this "rapid fire" episode, the Sugars read letters from four women who each have one not-so-tiny reservation about the men they’re dating. A black woman is dating a white man who is unwilling to talk about race issues, claiming that she’s “too sensitive.” Another woman’s boyfriend, a Christian, is having second thoughts about dating her because she’s an atheist. The Sugars tackle these issues and more, and weigh in on which can be ironed out and which should be deal breakers.
The erotic lives of senior citizens are typically made invisible by our culture, which can lead to confusion and misinformation. Dr. Pepper Schwartz, the love and relationship columnist for AARP, joins the Sugars to dispel certain myths about sex and aging: Do libidos change after menopause? How does the aging body affect the way we feel about sex? Should medical interventions be considered for a declining sex drive?
Shortly after the birth of her first child, a letter-writer who calls herself “Tantrum Daughter” lost her mother to suicide. Now, with a second child on the way, Tantrum Daughter is overcome with pain and anger. After reading Morgan Jerkins’s essay “How I Overcame My Anger as a Black Writer Online,” the Sugars enlist her help to answer Tantrum Daughter’s letter. Ms. Jerkins frequently taps her own anger in her essays on police brutality. The Sugars and Ms. Jerkins discuss the connection between trauma and rage, and …
Emotional Labor: The Invisible Work (Most) Women Do
Remembering the grocery list, coordinating with the babysitter, making food for the potluck, scheduling a get-together with the in-laws: These are some of the invisible tasks that (most) women exclusively do in their romantic relationships — and the list goes on and on. Women from across the country wrote in to the Dear Sugars inbox echoing identical inequalities in their relationships with their husbands and boyfriends. The Sugars commiserate with this aggrieved chorus, along with Gemma Hartley, the writer who set off a national conversation about emotional labor with her …
The Stepchild's Dilemma — With Theo Pauline Nestor
Whether you’re 5, 15, or 50 years old, it can be difficult to usher a stepparent in and out of the family unit. In today’s episode, the Sugars answer letters from stepchildren who have fraught relationships with their stepparents. What is a stepparent’s responsibility to a stepchild after divorce? And what can be done if you don’t like the person your parent chooses to marry?
For the first time on the podcast, the Sugars answer a voice mail message from the Dear Sugars hotline. The message comes from a woman who reunited with her ex-boyfriend, who once assaulted her. Wracked with shame, she wonders if reconciling with him is acceptable and if it’s possible he’ll change. Esta Soler, president and founder of Futures Without Violence, joins the Sugars to help answer the question: Is it O.K. to love someone who abused you?
Buzz Bissinger owns more than 100 pairs of leather pants and over 200 pairs of leather gloves, having spent more than $600,000 on leather goods in the span of three years. Mr. Bissinger has a spending addiction, but when he published his confessional in GQ magazine he was labeled an “obsessive,” a “fancy man,” and a “shopaholic.” Only when he was admitted into rehab did many people understand that he was struggling with a debilitating behavioral addiction. Mr. Bissinger joins the Sugars to offer guidance to a letter-writer whose therapist and family …
Dear Sugars returns to Portland, Oregon, for another raucous and uplifting live show. The Sugars get a surprising update from a letter writer from their past; discuss a new letter with a special guest, Omar El Akkad; and ask the audience, “What’s the ‘bad story’ you tell yourself?” “Bad Stories,” the title of Steve Almond’s new book, are the false narratives we tell ourselves that undermine our happiness. “You’ve got to revise those narratives,” encourages Cheryl Strayed. “You have the capacity for change and transformation.”
Consent Part 1: Into The Gray — With Jaclyn Friedman
In the midst of the #MeToo Movement, women and men all over the country are re-examining sexual encounters from their past. Over the course of a three-part series on consent, the Sugars answer letters from some of these women and explore the complexity and nuance of sexual consent.
In part two of our updates series, we find out what happened to two letter writers who let self-image sabotage their love lives. The Sugars find out if “Scared to Choose Wrong” married her fiancé, and they give “Aspiring Warrior for Love” a call to see how he’s changed since hearing the Sugars’ advice more than a year ago.
In today’s update episode, we check in with some of our most memorable letter writers from previous episodes. The Sugars find out if “Struggling” was kicked out of his mother’s house, and they give “Bad Mom” a call to see if and how her views of motherhood have changed since hearing the Sugars’ advice more than two years ago.
In part two of our Dark Fantasies series, Dr. Ian Kerner returns to help the Sugars answer questions about where our central ideas about sex and eroticism come from, and delve deeper into the world of sexual fantasy.
Orgies. Sex in public. Incest. These are the things that some of us think about in the dark. Taboo fantasies can be exciting, but they can also be the source of our deepest shame. In this two-part series on sexual fantasies, the Sugars read letters from people who want to turn off the thoughts that turn them on.
At age 18, we are granted the rights and responsibilities of adulthood in the eyes of the law. But for parents of young adults, it’s not so clear cut. When is the right time to wean your children off the family payroll? The Sugars tackle this question with the help of Dr. Kate Gale.
Most of us have days when we don’t feel attractive. But in this episode, the Sugars read letters from people whose faces are at odds with conventional ideas of beauty. The writer Ariel Henley joins the Sugars to talk about her own facial differences. Henley was born with Crouzon Syndrome. As a child, she underwent dozens of surgeries that permanently changed the shape of her face.
The Sugars conclude a two-part series on early childhood death. In Part 2, they read letters from parents who worry that their grief may overshadow their surviving children. They are joined by the writer Emily Rapp Black, who decided to have another child after learning that her son had a fatal congenital disorder.
The Sugars begin a two-part series on early childhood death. In Part 1, they read letters from siblings who live in the the shadow of their parents’ grief. They're joined by the writer Jessica Handler, whose two sisters died from different blood disorders. “I grew up knowing that I would be the only one left,” says Handler, “and I very often feel the need to live for three people.”
You Must Change Your Life — With Mitchell S. Jackson
In this episode, the Sugars talk to writer Mitchell S. Jackson, who started selling drugs when he was 14 years old and went to prison for drug possession years later. “There was no way for me to escape what I was doing,” he tells the Sugars. Jackson helps the Sugars answer letters from people who also feel stuck and aimless. One writes: “Here we are two abortions, two failed college attempts, a list of dead end jobs later, I’m stuck in a job I despise and I go home …
Friendships are different from any other type of relationship in our lives. They are purely voluntary, which can make them feel more tenuous. In this episode, the Sugars take questions from two letter-writers who both feel exhausted by a friendship and want out. They discuss with the writer Emily Chenoweth.
The Sugars bring you another "Rapid Fire" episode, where they give brief answers to a handful of letters that are all centered around a theme. The theme for this episode is "stay or go" -- people who have a voice in their head telling them to leave their relationship, but who aren't sure it's the right move.
In The Shadow Of Damaged Parents — With Dr. Richard Almond
A damaged parent can cast a dark shadow over our lives, especially when we inherit some of that damage. Steve’s father, the psychoanalyst Dr. Richard Almond, joins the Sugars to answer letters and offer a way out.
This week, adventures in animal ownership! The Sugars, along with Julie Barton -- author of the memoir "Dog Medicine: How My Dog Saved Me From Myself" -- answer letters about pet dilemmas and the ways these creatures affect human relationships.
It’s never easy to talk to our romantic partners about their bodies, especially when it’s about weight. The Sugars, along with the writer Ashley C. Ford, answer letters from people questioning their relationships because of major changes in their partners’ bodies.
When we decide to meddle, it can often backfire. The Sugars, along with the writer Meghan Daum, answer letters from people who see loved ones heading down the wrong path, but worry intervention might be the wrong move.
The Sugars, along with the fiction writer George Saunders, field letters from people who are chasing their creative dreams but frightened by the practical and financial risks that come with that pursuit.
In a heated moment, a mother reveals a dark chapter from her childhood to her daughter, then immediately regrets it. What now? In this week’s episode, the Sugars tackle this and several other questions, including how to handle a brother-in-law who treats your vacation as his own free childcare; what to do when your best friend’s husband asks you to lie; and why we sometimes recoil at very public displays of grief.
"What do I want?" This is the question Oprah Winfrey finally asked herself, after years of struggling to say "no" to people in her life. In the second of this two-part series, the Sugars continue their conversation with Oprah Winfrey on when, why and how to say "no."
There’s incredible power in saying “yes.” It opens up avenues and allows us to be brave. In Cheryl's case, it’s what led to her becoming Sugar. But saying yes to life's opportunities can also have its risks. This week, the Sugars are joined by Oprah Winfrey to discuss when to say no, how to say no, and what happens in the wake of that.
Rapid Fire: A Wealthy Sister, An Impatient Girlfriend, An Unshakable Love
The Sugars are back for another batch of rapid-fire questions and answers. In this round, the Sugars take on six questions, ranging from a letter writer who is jealous of her sister's wealth, to a young woman who is growing impatient for a proposal from her longtime boyfriend, to a person wondering if people ever really change.
In this episode, the Sugars grapple with a difficult question — how do we make sense of the fact that very bad things can happen to people who have done nothing wrong? They discuss a letter from a visual artist who has just learned he is losing his sight, and another from a woman whose life has been transformed by her daughter's life-threatening condition.
In this episode, the Sugars take a question from a young woman whose boyfriend recently broke up with her because of uncertainty about his sexuality. The letter writer is heartbroken, confused, and wondering if she should wait for him while he figures it out. The Sugars are joined by Dan Savage, author of the sex advice column "Savage Love" and host of the "Savage Lovecast."
Money makes us crazy. In this episode, the Sugars take questions from two letter writers struggling with their relationships to money. The first, an aspiring playwright, feels guilty about all the advantages that her parents' wealth has provided to her. The second, a divorced mother, is unable to control her spending and is on the verge of bankruptcy. They're joined by the writer Sean Wilsey, who wrote about his own complicated relationship to family wealth in the acclaimed memoir, "Oh the Glory of it All."
In this short episode, the Sugars take a question from a 23 year-old woman who is engaged to the man she's been dating since she was 19. As a child of divorced parents who married young, the letter writer knows there are risks. As she prepares to tie the knot, she wonders whether she should be more concerned about those risks.
Every child has wondered of their parent: What were you like when you were my age? Who were you before I was here? And every parent has to decide how honestly to answer those questions. The Sugars discuss with poet and author Mary Karr, who has written three memoirs about her reckless youth and raised a son who was intimately familiar with those years.
In our Infidelity series thus far, we've heard from the cheaters, from those who have been cheated on, and from a psychotherapist and expert on the topic. In this final installment, the Sugars focus on the often-overlooked experience of "the other woman" and the moral responsibility that comes with the role. They discuss with the novelist and biographer Susan Cheever, who was "the other woman" in an affair...twice.
The Sugars' exploration of infidelity continues with a conversation with Esther Perel, a relationship therapist with extensive insight and expertise on the subject. What qualifies as infidelity? Why do we go through with it? And, perhaps most importantly, what does it mean to us? If you haven't already, listen to Parts 1 & 2 of the series, in which the Sugars heard from the betrayed and the betrayers.