7 "Modern Love" Essays You Need to Read

The beloved New York Times column, “Modern Love,” has been publishing weekly essays for 15 years. The personal writings deal with heartbreak, revelations and feelings...all in 1,800 words or less. It’s grown into a book, a podcast and, most recently, a TV show. 

Love can take place between significant others, friends, family, pets, or even one’s own self, which the column tries to emphasize. So, this Valentine’s Day, treat yourself to reading about someone else’s love. Here are our picks for seven “must read” entries:

  1. It’s a tale about a drawn-out break-up and the fall out that resulted. For anyone who feels as though the hurt might never end after a devastating goodbye, this is the one for you. 

    “I’m not sure if we fall in love with people or if we fall in love with the way they make us feel, the ways they expand who we are and wish to be.” ​

  2. A story within a story within a story, this is all about missed loves and connections rekindled after years. It’s equally heartbreaking and warming – perfect for complicated Valentine’s feels. 

    “I found him by accident, doing research on theater companies for my last novel. There he was above his too-common name. I composed the email: ‘Are you the same man who stood me up in Paris?’” ​

  3. Take caution: you’ll need a box of tissues for this one. Sometimes the things we love are forever tainted by a traumatic situation. How we move on is an ever-evolving journey. 

    “It is difficult to hide from the Beatles. After all these years they are still regularly in the news. Their songs play on oldies stations, countdowns, and best-ofs...but hide from the Beatles I must.” ​

  4. Not often are love stories about elderly couples told. In this gorgeously written piece, two people find a love to end their lives with and compare it to the loves they’ve had before. 

    “Old love is different. In our 70s and 80s, we had been through enough of life’s ups and downs to know who we were, and we had learned to compromise. We knew something about death because we had seen loved ones die. The finish line was drawing closer. Why not have one last blossoming of the heart?"

  5. In one of the most shared ML columns ever, a wife searches for new ways to deal with the human flaws that appear throughout a marriage. It’s a sweet, hilarious look at how we can learn to co-exist, while also checking our own shortcomings. 

    “After two years of exotic animal training, my marriage is far smoother, my husband much easier to love.”

  6. What does it mean to have a relationship without a label? Does the concept lend itself to more heartbreak than we might be admitting? This is the essay for all of us broken-hearted over someone we never actually dated. 

    “We aren’t supposed to want anything serious; not now, anyway. But a void is created when we refrain from telling it like it is, from allowing ourselves to feel how we feel. And in that unoccupied space, we’re dangerously free to create our own realities.”

  7. Finally, the essay that made us cry for days. The writer is penning a letter to her husband’s future love, as she is dying from terminal cancer. It’s a touching and unbearably sweet tribute to a love that lasts – in life and in death. Bonus, a year after the author’s death, her husband wrote the followup, “My Wife Said You May Want to Marry Me.”

    “I need to say this (and say it right) while I have a) your attention, and b) a pulse. I have been married to the most extraordinary man for 26 years. I was planning on at least another 26 together.”