PODCAST REVIEW

On the language of love, couple therapy and relationships

By Neroli Price 26 June 2020
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Image design by Leila Dougan for Maverick Life

This week’s selection of podcasts might inspire, surprise or bring you some joy. They are all about love and connection, dipped in laughter, personal insight and professional advice.  

Physical distancing which was implemented because of the pandemic is putting strain on all our relationships. The podcasts collected below showcase the joys of human connection. Listen in and find love in the most unexpected of places.

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Saoirse Ronan Reads Grappling With the Language of Love – Modern Love (WBUR & The New York Times)

Length: 20 minutes

Format: Single episode

Year: 2018, republished in 2020

Listen on: Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Radio Public or any other podcast app or streaming service

Modern Love is a popular New York Times column turned equally popular podcast. Each week a celebrity guest picks an essay from the Modern Love archive to read. In this episode, Saoirse Ronan who recently starred in Little Women, brings us a story about love tangled up in translation. While in Syria learning Arabic, American Emily Robbins meets and falls in love with an Iraqi doctor. Their relationship is defined by their struggle to understand one another. Years later, equipped with a better understanding of Arabic, Emily revisits poems the doctor had written for her. Scored by subtle background music and voiced by Ronan’s lush Irish accent, this touching story comes alive in audio, reminding us that our lives are defined by our relationships, past and present.

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Young Love – Where Should I Begin? with Esther Perel (Audible)

Length: 51 minutes

Format: Single episode

Year: 2019

Listen on: Apple Podcasts, Spotify or any other podcast app or streaming service

Couple’s therapist, Esther Perel, invites her listeners into her office as she holds real therapy sessions with real couples. Don’t worry, it’s all above board – the couple’s identities are kept secret and each consent to being recorded. It’s fascinating to be a fly on the wall as couple after couple delve into issues from infidelity and commitment to sex and divorce. She even has a couple of episodes about managing your relationship while in lockdown. In this episode, we hear from a young couple in a long-distance relationship who are weighing up whether to get married to finally be together. All these burdens so early on in the relationship seem to, as Perel puts it, “pit immigration against romance”. It’s a rare vulnerable space to learn from, so drag your partner along to listen with you.

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The Cat and the Whippet – Love Me (CBC)

Length: 28 minutes

Format: Single episode

Year: 2018

Listen on: Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Radio Public or any other podcast app or streaming service

Looking for a laugh? This one’s for you. The story follows John as he desperately looks for his perfect fairy-tale romance. Try as he might, John’s love life is defined by one disastrous misunderstanding after the next. John is a comedian and storyteller adept at taking you along for a hilarious journey into the trials and tribulations of dating. The episode is punctuated at the end by a poetic segment on home and love.

If you enjoyed this episode, listen to other Love Me classics like At A Loss For Words that details how to fall in love via Google Translate or To My Heart about cultivating love and connection at Guantanamo Bay.

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Episode V: Looking for Love – How to Be a Girl

Length: 10 minutes

Format: Single episode

Year: 2014

Listen on: Apple Podcasts, Spotify or any other podcast app or streaming service

A sweet montage of a mother and daughter navigating the ups and downs of dating and love. As a single mom of a transgender daughter, how do you find love in a dating world riddled with rigid gender norms and transphobia? This is the guiding question in this short and touching episode bursting with insights from a smart kid and a tentative mom. This episode is part of a larger series about parenting a transgender child that is equal parts tender and delightful.

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Alain de Botton: The True Hard Work of Love and Relationships – On Being with Krista Tippett

Length: 51 minutes

Format: Single episode

Year: 2017

Listen on: Apple Podcasts, Radio Public or any other podcast app or streaming service

This interview with philosopher Alain de Botton will have you reconsidering what you think you know about relationships. Building on his 2016 New York Times opinion piece, Why You Will Marry the Wrong Person, De Botton pushes back against the dominant narratives of love. Using sulking as an example, De Botton unpacks the huge pressures that we heap solely on to our romantic relationships, expecting our partners to know everything about us and being bitterly disappointed when they don’t. Simple in presentation, but rich with complexity, On Being weaves together contemplations on philosophy, religion and civic engagement to tackle some of life’s biggest questions. These conversations enter your ears and remain with you forever.

If you’re wondering how to listen to these audio gems, local podcast organisation, Sound Africa, has prepared a handy guide to show you how.

Happy listening! DM/ML

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