Dear Sugars

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Radically empathic advice

WBUR and The New York Times


    • Jan 14, 2022 LATEST EPISODE
    • every other week NEW EPISODES
    • 36m AVG DURATION
    • 310 EPISODES

    Listeners of Dear Sugars that love the show mention: sugars, dear sugar, letter writers, cheryl strayed, love cheryl, almond, cheryl's, thank you cheryl, love dear, steve provide, listening to cheryl, beautiful things, trans people, dear abby, radical empathy, thoughtful advice, come back to us, writers', love episode, dilemmas.



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    Latest episodes from Dear Sugars

    Encore: Rapid Fire: Make the Call

    Play Episode Listen Later Jan 14, 2022 39:41

    In this encore "rapid fire" episode, the Sugars 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.

    Encore: A Spy In The House Of Love — With Ariel Levy

    Play Episode Listen Later Dec 21, 2021 33:11

    Snooping on your spouse is generally ill-advised, but what if he or she has an addiction and is constantly lying about it? The Sugars and writer Ariel Levy answer this question in this episode, originally released on December 2, 2017.

    Encore: There's Just One Thing

    Play Episode Listen Later Dec 17, 2021 40:40

    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.

    Encore: Sexless Relationships, Part 2

    Play Episode Listen Later Dec 3, 2021 26:00

    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.

    Dear Sugars Presents: Woman Yelling at a Cat

    Play Episode Listen Later Nov 19, 2021 42:40

    This week, we're sharing an episode of another WBUR podcast, Endless Thread.The show is in the middle of a series all about internet memes, and they recently featured the woman at the center of the popular "Woman Yelling at a Cat" meme, Taylor Armstrong from the original cast of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. The story behind the image featured in this meme is surprising and painful, so please take care when listening. 

    Encore: A Night of Bad Stories

    Play Episode Listen Later Nov 5, 2021 41:03

    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.” This episode was originally published on April 12th, 2018.

    Encore: Sexless Relationships, Part 1

    Play Episode Listen Later Nov 5, 2021 32:34

    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.

    Encore: The Other Half of Sexless Relationships

    Play Episode Listen Later Oct 8, 2021 24:22

    The Dear Sugars inbox was flooded with responses to the two-part episode “Sexless Relationships” with Esther Perel. In those episodes, the Sugars answered letters from people who were longing for sexual intimacy with their partners. But many readers asked why we didn't address the other side of sexless relationships: the people who want less sex than their partners. This episode was originally released on October 28th, 2017.

    Encore: Should I Intervene?

    Play Episode Listen Later Sep 24, 2021 41:05

    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 released on August 12th, 2017.

    Encore: Rage Is A Red Lesson

    Play Episode Listen Later Sep 10, 2021 40:46

    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... Content warning: episode mentions suicide. This episode was originally released on May 12th, 2018

    Encore: Young & Isolated

    Play Episode Listen Later Aug 27, 2021 44:37

    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 is home-schooled; another feels disconnected from her best friend. Shirley Manson, the lead singer of the alternative rock band Garbage, joins the Sugars to discuss her own journey as an outsider.

    Encore: Lovers & Friends

    Play Episode Listen Later Aug 13, 2021 42:41

    It's healthy to cultivate friendships outside of your romantic relationships. But sometimes, they can be the source of jealousy and resentment. So when is jealousy actually justified? In this rapid-fire episode, the Sugars weigh in on this question and offer ways to confront and neutralize feelings of jealousy. This episode was originally released on March 31st, 2018.

    Encore: Trust Your Body

    Play Episode Listen Later Jul 30, 2021 42:02

    Her doctor categorized her as overweight when she was 5 years old. Her grandmother always introduced her as the “chubby one.” As an adult, she vacillates between moderation and binge-eating, restricting food some weeks, and gorging on cake and ice cream during others. “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.” The Sugars discuss and share their own struggles with body image. This episode was originally released on June 11, 2018.

    Encore: Emotional Labor: The Invisible Work (Most) Women Do

    Play Episode Listen Later Jul 16, 2021 44:16

    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 viral article in Harper's Bazaar, “Women Aren't Nags — We're Just Fed Up.” This episode was originally released on May 5, 2018. 

    Redux: Family By Proxy

    Play Episode Listen Later Jul 2, 2021 32:44

    When a family experiences loss, familial roles are often redefined. In this episode, the Sugars answer letters from people who are unexpectedly charged with caring for new family members. This episode was originally released on February 10th, 2018.

    Redux: In The Shadow Of Damaged Parents

    Play Episode Listen Later Jun 17, 2021 33:35

    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.

    Redux: Consent, Part 3

    Play Episode Listen Later Jun 4, 2021 40:51

    The #MeToo movement deluged the Dear Sugars inbox with letters about sexual harassment in the workplace. In the final episode in our series on sexual consent, the Sugars read some of these letters and discuss what happens when non-consensual sexual attention moves from the private to the public realm. This episode was originally published on March 24th, 2018.

    Redux: Consent, Part Two

    Play Episode Listen Later May 28, 2021 33:11

    Some sexual encounters are obviously consensual, while others are obviously not. But what about those that are neither black nor white? In the second episode in our series on sexual consent, the Sugars plunge deeper into the gray area. This episode was originally published on March 17th, 2018.

    Redux: Consent, Part One

    Play Episode Listen Later May 21, 2021 39:16

    In the midst of the #MeToo Movement, women and men all over the country were 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. This episode was originally published on March 10th, 2018.

    Redux: Cutting The Financial Cord

    Play Episode Listen Later Apr 30, 2021 30:28

    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. This episode was originally released on December 23rd, 2017.

    Redux: The Dark Side Of Porn

    Play Episode Listen Later Apr 9, 2021 38:18

    The Sugars continue their series on porn with a letter from a woman whose fiancé is "addicted" to porn. This episode was originally released on December 16th, 2016.

    Redux: Is Porn Wrong?

    Play Episode Listen Later Mar 26, 2021 35:30

    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.

    Dear Sugars Presents: Double Date

    Play Episode Listen Later Mar 13, 2021 33:13

    This week on Dear Sugars, we have a special treat for you. It's an episode of Marlo Thomas and Phil Donohue's new podcast, Double Date. Hear how actress Viola Davis met Julius Tennon and how they found deep love in the land of Opposites Attract.

    Redux: Baby or Bust

    Play Episode Listen Later Feb 26, 2021 35:18

    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.

    Redux: Career vs. Love

    Play Episode Listen Later Feb 12, 2021 34:01

    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.

    Redux: The Price Of Our Dreams

    Play Episode Listen Later Jan 29, 2021 34:56

    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.

    Dear Sugars Presents: Anything For Selena

    Play Episode Listen Later Jan 15, 2021 31:01

    Today, we present the very first episode of Anything for Selena, a new podcast from WBUR and Futuro Studios. In "Anything For Selena," Host Maria Garcia takes listeners on a deeply personal journey into the life and legacy of the Mexican-American popstar Selena Quintanilla. She shares how Selena's music and unapologetic sense of identity helped her find her own place in the world. And it explores how Selena's legacy continues to spark important conversations around race, class, and body politics.

    Redux: You Must Change Your Life

    Play Episode Listen Later Jan 2, 2021 38:26

    “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.

    Redux: Buyer's Remorse

    Play Episode Listen Later Dec 18, 2020 24:12

    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, and he joins the Sugars to offer guidance to a letter-writer whose therapist and family don’t take her spending seriously. This episode was originally published on April 14th, 2018.

    Redux: Haunted by Ghosting

    Play Episode Listen Later Dec 4, 2020 37:01

    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.

    Redux: Location, Location, Location

    Play Episode Listen Later Nov 20, 2020 36:02

    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.

    Redux: When Your Loved Ones Just Don't 'Get It'

    Play Episode Listen Later Nov 9, 2020 32:05

    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.

    Dear Sugars Presents: Anything For Selena

    Play Episode Listen Later Oct 29, 2020 4:54

    Listen to the trailer for "Anything For Selena," a new podcast from WBUR and Futuro Studios coming in January 2021. Subscribe now so you don't miss it! About The Show: On March 31, 1995, nine-year-old Maria Garcia came home to find her mother glued to the TV, tears rolling down her rosy cheeks. The phone kept ringing. Relatives in Mexico and the States wanted to know if Maria’s family was watching, too. American networks and Mexican programming aired the same top story. Selena Quintanilla, the Grammy-winning ascending Mexican American popstar had been killed — swiftly, violently — by the president of her fan club. The story shook the country and changed Maria’s life. In "Anything For Selena," host Maria Garcia goes on an intimate, revelatory quest to understand how Selena has become a potent symbol for tensions around race, class and body politics in the United States. The series weaves Maria’s personal story as a queer, first-generation Mexican immigrant with cultural analysis, history and politics to explore how, 25 years after her death, Selena remains an unparalleled vessel for understanding Latino identity and American belonging.

    Redux: Pet Dilemmas

    Play Episode Listen Later Oct 23, 2020 46:34

    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 released on August 26th, 2017.

    Redux: Male-Female Friendships

    Play Episode Listen Later Oct 9, 2020 32:04

    The Sugars' conversation on friendship continues 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 published on November 4th, 2016.

    Redux: I'm A Transgender Man, Seeking Acceptance

    Play Episode Listen Later Sep 25, 2020 38:32

    The Sugars read the letters of two transgender men who are struggling to find love and acceptance. They discuss with Cooper Lee Bombardier, a visual artist, writer and transgender man.

    Redux: Step Into Your Spotlight

    Play Episode Listen Later Sep 11, 2020 36:51

    The Sugars find out what happened to two letter writers who let self-image sabotage their love lives. They 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. This episode was originally published on February 3rd, 2018.

    Redux: Inbox Outliers

    Play Episode Listen Later Aug 28, 2020 39:33

    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. 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.

    Redux: 'Totally Confused' Finds A Resolution

    Play Episode Listen Later Aug 17, 2020 40:18

    The Sugars get an update from a 62-year-old, divorced woman who was considering a reconciliation with her ex-husband, even after years of unhappiness inside their marriage. The situation was further complicated by the fact that he was engaged to another woman. Find out how the letter-writer and her ex-husband decided to proceed. This episode was originally published on August 26th, 2016.

    Redux: Does 'The Wicked Stepmother' Still Feel Wicked?

    Play Episode Listen Later Jul 31, 2020 49:36

    The Sugars revisit a letter from a woman who felt like a fairytale-esque wicked stepmother. When she wrote to the Sugars, she was feeling pressured to love her stepchildren "like her own," but she didn't want to be their mother. The Sugars find out how the self-proclaimed 'Wicked Stepmother' and her husband are doing today. This episode was originally released on August 19th, 2016.

    Dear Sugars Presents: Loneliness In A Socially Distant World

    Play Episode Listen Later Jul 16, 2020 13:37

    Former U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy talks with the Kind World team about the startling effects of chronic loneliness and how we can combat this public health concern -- even in a socially distant world.

    Redux: An Update From 'Head Or The Heart'

    Play Episode Listen Later Jul 10, 2020 33:43

    The Sugars get an update from "Head or the Heart" -- a woman who'd fallen in love with a man with a troubled childhood. She worried that the traumas of his past could surface at some point in their relationship. Nine months later, is she still with her boyfriend? The Sugars find out. This episode was originally published on August 12th, 2016.

    Redux: An Update From 'Two Truths And Many Lies'

    Play Episode Listen Later Jul 2, 2020 49:22

    The Sugars catch up with "Two Truths and Many Lies," whose letter about her husband's infidelity generated significant interest and advice from our listeners. Did she stay with her husband or walk away? The Sugars find out.

    Redux: Sexual Fluidity

    Play Episode Listen Later Jun 26, 2020 42:31

    "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 March 3rd, 2017.

    Redux: I Divorced My Spouse, And My Child Divorced Me

    Play Episode Listen Later Jun 19, 2020 30:59

    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.

    Redux: The Writer's Resist, Part 2

    Play Episode Listen Later Jun 12, 2020 29:39

    Part 2 of "Dear Sugar Radio: The Writers Resist" at The Aladdin Theater in Portland, Oregon. They discuss how to counteract post-election cynicism with Zahir Janmohamed, writer and co-host of the podcast "Racist Sandwich," and they answer questions from the audience in rapid-fire fashion. This episode was originally released on January 27th, 2017.

    Redux: The Writers Resist

    Play Episode Listen Later Jun 5, 2020 37:18

    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?" In this episode, the Sugars bring that question before an audience at The Aladdin Theater in Portland, Oregon. This episode was originally released on January 20th, 2017.

    Redux: Friendships

    Play Episode Listen Later May 29, 2020 41:28

    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.

    Redux: How Do I Find the Courage to Be My Own Guide?

    Play Episode Listen Later May 22, 2020 26:50

    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. This episode was originally released July 28th, 2016.

    Redux: What About The Stepchildren?

    Play Episode Listen Later May 15, 2020 40:10

    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? The Sugars respond with an episode devoted to the other side of the story. They're joined by Jane Alison, author of the memoir "The Sisters Antipodes," which tells the story of how her parents swapped spouses with another couple when she was 4 years old. This episode was originally published on November 18th, 2016.

    Redux: May-December Romances

    Play Episode Listen Later May 8, 2020 29:54

    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.

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