Chances are, you probably didn’t have the best sex education. Most likely, you fidgeted through a couple health classes over the years, where the most you could hope for was a few pieces of vaguely helpful information on how to use a condom and successfully avoid STIs. And sure, your parents might have explained things to you once or twice, but let’s be honest, that was probably so traumatic that you mainly blocked it out. Aside from these imperfect introductions into the world of sex and relationships, most of us have to muddle through to the best of our ability, picking things up from movies, TV, the internet, friends, dirty books covertly checked out from the library, and, of course, our own fumbling first experiences. But even with all of the information out there, it can be hard to find truly helpful advice, relatable storytelling, and fresh perspectives on the timeless questions of love, romance, sex, relationships, hookups, breakups, and everything in between. Have no fear, though, because the following five podcasts offer the perfect antidote to all the complications, contradictions, and misinformation you've most likely picked up along the way. I promise that your confused, hormonal 9th grade self will thank you.
1. "Sex Nerd Sandra."
Hosted by the endearingly geeky, super sex-positive Sandra Daugherty, the "Sex Nerd Sandra" podcast feels like listening in on a bunch of candid conversations between your most adventurous friends. Sandra interviews such a diverse group of couples, individuals, sex educators, writers, porn performers, comedians, and more that there is truly an episode for everyone. Her friendliness, curiosity, and candor are absolutely infectious and will almost certainly leave you feeling much more open-minded and exploratory than before.
2. "Guys We Fucked."
The full title of this podcast is "Guys We Fucked: The Anti-Slut Shaming Podcast," and hosts Corinne Fisher and Krystyna Hutchinson certainly live up to that purpose through hilarious, candid, and refreshingly unabashed conversations about their past and present sex lives, as well as those of their guests, a mixture of fellow comedians, friends, and yes, guys they’ve fucked. Originally started as a way for Corinne to process getting dumped by her long-term boyfriend at a Panera Bread and for Krystyna to work through her jealousy over a boyfriend’s porn-performer ex, the podcast has developed into a strong, unapologetically feminist platform for sex positivity and low-key advice from two caring, no-bullshit friends. Think of it as the perfect wine pairing to the delicious meal that is "Broad City" -- honest, open, and always funny.
3. "Savage Lovecast."
I will be the first to acknowledge that Dan Savage can be a controversial and problematic figure. Over his 20-plus years of column writing, public speaking, and podcasting, he has certainly used his fair share of harmful and ignorant language, and demonstrated callousness and lack of insight into issues such as biphobia, cissexism, and more. However, it is also important to acknowledge Savage’s commitment to bettering the lives of LGBTQIA+ individuals through his It Gets Better campaign, his forthright and refreshing advice on countless sex and relationship issues, and his continual evolution as a person and an activist. If you don’t mind a blunt, provocative, no-nonsense host, "Savage Lovecast" is an incredible resource for eye-opening, horizon-expanding advice.
4. "Dear Sugar."
Based on "The Rumpus’" beloved “Dear Sugar” column (much of which has been compiled into the truly life-changing book "Tiny Beautiful Things"), the "Dear Sugar" podcast is hosted by both of the original “Sugar” columnists, Cheryl Strayed and Steve Almond. Both accomplished and well-known writers ("Wild," anyone?), Cheryl and Steve offer a refreshing counterpoint to the snarkiness and sass of other sex and relationship podcasts through their trademark honesty, earnestness, and self-described “radical empathy.” Perfect for when you need something heartfelt, moving, and inspiring, "Dear Sugar" will almost certainly make you feel better about yourself, your relationships, and the world around you.
5. "Modern Love."
Like "Dear Sugar," "Modern Love" also has its origins in print, namely in the ultra-popular “Modern Love” column of The New York Times. Like a relationship-themed "This American Life," "Modern Love" (hosted by Meghna Chakraburti) explores the confusing, complicated, joyful, and bittersweet world of love in all its guises through a series of essays, read by an amazingly talented group of actors, authors, and other well-known figures. Just in this past year, the list of readers has included Katie Couric, Tituss Burgess, Gillian Jacobs, Jennifer Finney Boylan, Amber Tamblyn, Judd Apatow, and many more.
Whether you're in the mood for something wry and funny or poignant and heartfelt, these podcasts have absolutely got you covered.