Just like everything else over the past 11 months, this year, Valentine’s Day looks a little different. Of course, February 14th envokes something different in everyone anyway: you either love it, hate it or completely forget about it until you’re bombarded with adverts for red roses and chocolates. But for singles during the pandemic, V-Day feels like an extra punch in the stomach. For once – especially in places like the UK, where it’s still restaurant-less – there’s no option to meet up with friends or former flings to pass the day by and instead, you’re stuck at home, just like every other day – but with lots of loved up pink rose Instagrams to sift through.
Thankfully, podcasts exist. And there are a lot of them covering love, loss, heartbreak, sex and all the hilarious and horrible things that come with them. Below, your guide for what to listen to this Valentine’s Day, whether you love love or hate it.
For those who love love
Modern Love started as a column in the New York Times 16 years ago whereby people would submit essays about life, love and loss in any form. It was then turned into a podcast with celebrities reading out the previously published essays from across the years, before later being adapted into a (really good) TV show. It’s the ultimate podcast for anyone wanting to remember just how special human connection is.
Popular British author, journalist and former The High Low podcast co-host Dolly Alderton speaks to guests about their most defining relationships, including heartbreaks, first loves and how they’ve formed who they are.
For those looking for love
How to Date is a show about how to master the messy, complex, and downright bizarre world of dating, when you really didn’t think you’d be dating again. The hosts speak to psychologists, dating coaches, professors, dating app experts and sex workers to learn how to get better at dating.
Hosted by two Australian journalists, Ashleigh Austen and Melissa Mason, Jeans and a Nice Top was created to be a space where people could feel comfortable overanalysing everything from texting and dating app etiquette to exactly what to wear on a first date and how to get over a jerk. Nothing is off limits.
Created by bestselling author Jordanna Levin and released in conjunction with her new book of the same name, Higher Love explores how women date in 2020, posing the question; What if you quit falling in love and instead choose to rise in love?
For the brokenhearted
When I broke up with my boyfriend of five years aged 29, I had no idea of how humiliated I’d be or how much I’d feel like a failure, especially given I’ve never been someone to prioritise marriage or having a family. After a few months of keeping my break up a secret from our listeners, I ended up speaking candidly about it, and all the weird feelings and mental health issues that came with it, for an episode of the podcast I co-host, After Work Drinks, titled, ‘The Grown Ups Guide to Heartbreak’ (the segment starts at about the half-hour mark). To date, it’s our most listened to episode of all time and barely a week goes by without a message from someone saying how much it’s helped them. For anyone who’s heartbroken this Valentine’s Day, give it a listen (and then send me a message!)
This documentary-style series, narrated by Australian journalist and past The Bachelorette star Georgia Love, tells unconventional stories about relationships past by speaking directly to the people who lived them. Episodes are incredibly interesting and easy to listen to and include everything like how prison, immigration or funerals impact a couple.
For those wanting a laugh
Why Won’t You Date Me? Is one of my all-time favourite podcasts. Hosted by comedian Nicole Byer – who’s been single for decades – the podcast is Byer’s way to speak to different friends, celebrities and comedians about their love life in a bid to figure out hers.
Hosted at first by three British women of Bangladeshi, Indian and Iranian heritage, Brown Girls Do It Too is a hilarious, addictive and informative podcast that explores sex, dating and relationships when those subjects are usually a taboo topic. In 2020, Brown Girls do It Too was named ‘podcast of the year’ by Metro and dubbed Sex and the City in audio form. Now in its second season, Poppy Jay and Rubina Pabani bring on guests to reveal their best sex and dating stories.
For those wanting to learn about love
An incredible resource for anyone wanting to learn more about love, relationships and everything that comes with it. Hosted by Cheryl Strayed (the author of Wild) and Steve Almond, Dear Sugars is formatted like a magazine advice column with the Strayed and Almond reading out listener’s letters and answering them in audio form.
Relationship therapist Esther Perel records her one-on-one therapy sessions with couples and plays them in full for our listening – and learning – pleasure. Literal free therapy!
Happy wife, happy life? More like happy vagina, happy life. This podcast, hosted by British journalist Mika Simmons explores everything concerning women’s health, sex, shame and relationships by speaking each week to a different interviewee about an experience that completely changed their outlook on life – and their vagina.