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Dear Sugar


The cult-favorite advice column is back, this time speaking straight into your ears. The Sugars, Cheryl Strayed and Steve Almond, take on all your questions — no matter how deep or dark — and offer radical empathy in return. *New episodes are released weekly.*

The cult-favorite advice column is back, this time speaking straight into your ears. The Sugars, Cheryl Strayed and Steve Almond, take on all your questions — no matter how deep or dark — and offer radical empathy in return. *New episodes are released weekly.*
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The cult-favorite advice column is back, this time speaking straight into your ears. The Sugars, Cheryl Strayed and Steve Almond, take on all your questions — no matter how deep or dark — and offer radical empathy in return. *New episodes are released weekly.*




Episodes We Love: Make The Call

The Sugars bring you another "rapid fire" episode, where they 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. This episode was originally released September 30th, 2016.


Episodes We Love: How Do I Find The Courage To Be My Own Guide?

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. The Sugars discuss with the GRAMMY-winning singer/songwriter India Arie, who shares how she learned to be her own guide. This episode was originally released September 23rd, 2016.


Episodes We Love: I'm A Transgender Man, Seeking Acceptance

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. This episode was originally released September 2nd, 2016.


Dear Sugars Presents: Last Seen

From our partners at WBUR, a new podcast that looks into the greatest unsolved art heist in history: the theft of half a billion dollars worth of art from the Isabella Stewart Gardner museum in Boston. Listen to the first episode and subscribe wherever you get your podcasts.


Episodes We Love: Can A Sexual Assault Survivor Love A Rapist?

The Sugars discuss a letter from a survivor of sexual assault who has just been told by her long-time partner that he raped someone when he was in high school. The writer wonders how she, as a survivor and self-proclaimed feminist, can justify loving a rapist. This episode was originally released July 28th, 2016


The Long Goodbye

After four years of ministering to the lost, lonely, and heartsick, the Sugars say farewell on this final episode of the podcast. We take a look back at some of our most powerful advice, hear from former guests, and talk to listeners about how the show has impacted their lives. Cheryl and Steve share what saying goodbye means to them, speaking with radical empathy straight into our ears, one last time. For more information on today’s episode visit


Moving On, Part 2 — With Dr. Harriet Lerner

“Dear Sugars, I’m a serial codependent. I’ve married and had children with two addicts,” begins a letter signed by “Mommy Messed Up.” Over the years, her second husband began to withdraw and stash money inside of old bottles. Now Mommy Messed Up is ready to end their toxic relationship. The only problem is she’ll have to disrupt her children’s lives for a second time. “I’m fine with breaking my own heart,” she writes. “But how do I break my boys’ hearts?” A second letter comes from a woman...


Moving On, Part 1 — With Claire Bidwell Smith

As our final season draws to a close, the Sugars have been thinking about what it means to say goodbye and let go. In this first episode of our two-part series on moving on, the Sugars and Claire Bidwell Smith answer two letters from people struggling to move past their grief after the death of their loved ones. The first letter comes from a woman who recently discovered that her best childhood friend died by suicide. Now she’s haunted by the fact that she failed to intervene years ago. The...


Talking About Privilege — With Catrice M. Jackson

Privilege comes in many forms: socio-economic privilege, gender privilege, heterosexual privilege, to name a few. But behind every case is an imbalance of power, invisible to those who possess it, and ever-present for those who don’t. In today’s episode, the Sugars reply to two letter writers whose loved ones are unable see their own privilege. One letter comes from a woman whose fiancé wants her and their future children to take his last name. The Sugars call on Catrice M. Jackson, a...


Emotional Abuse — With Reema Zaman

He removed her makeup when he thought she was wearing too much. He refused to put her name on the leases for their car and their house. He told her that she had a green card only because he chose to marry her. Reema Zaman was in an emotionally abusive marriage. Although her husband’s abuses never left any physical mark, it took her years to repair the damage he inflicted upon her. In today's episode, Ms. Zaman describes some of the telltale signs of an emotionally abusive relationship and...


Dear Sugars Live: The Great Reckoning

Dear Sugars returns to Portland, Ore., for another epic live show. Special guests Mitchell S. Jackson and Rebecca Skloot share the stage with the Sugars to tell stories of personal reckoning and answer letters from the audience. To some extent, every letter the Sugars receive is a kind of reckoning, as it’s often the letter writer’s first attempt at taking account of their mistakes and delusions. In this episode, the Sugars take a long hard look at transgressions of love, friendship, the...


Rapid Fire: Love & Money

When it comes to love, money is supposed to be no object. But there’s no disentangling love from anything in our lives, and income is no exception. So how do you assess the role money should play in a relationship, and what happens when your desires and means change over time? In today’s rapid-fire episode, the Sugars answer five letters from people who want to know how to discuss money with their romantic and familial partners. For more information on today’s episode, including a list of...


Young & Isolated — With Shirley Manson

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 girl is home-schooled and rarely leaves the house. A second girl feels disconnected from her best friend, who has suddenly become popular at school. Both letter writers wonder if they’ll ever feel comfortable in their own skin. Shirley Manson, the lead singer of the alternative rock band Garbage, joins the Sugars to discuss her...


Who's Your Daddy? — With Steve Lickteig

With the advent of affordable DNA testing and companies like 23andMe, many people have discovered that the family members they grew up with are not biologically related. For some, these revelations can be a welcome and exciting discovery process. For others, they’re shocking and unwanted. In today’s episode, Steve Lickteig explains how his family and community kept his true identity from him for 18 years, and the Sugars advise letter writers who are still reeling from their genetic...


Trust Your Body — with Hilary Kinavey & Dana Sturtevant

A letter-writer who calls herself Body Negative was categorized as overweight when she was 5 years old. As an adult, she vacillates between dieting and gorging on cake and ice cream. The sinister cycle of dieting and binge-eating plagues many American women, but recently a counter-movement called Body Positive has sprung up. The movement promotes fat acceptance and attempts to reverse body-shaming, no matter one’s size. But Body Negative is skeptical, writing, “I struggle with how to be body...


Rapid Fire: There's Just One Thing

He’s smart, kind, generous and oh-so handsome. You’re beginning to imagine starting a family with him. He’s everything you’ve ever wanted in a partner — but there’s just this one thing... In today’s rapid fire episode, the Sugars read letters from four women who each have one not-so-tiny reservation about the men they’re dating. When it comes to religious and racial differences, commitment issues, and health problems, which can be ironed out and which are deal breakers?


Sex & Aging — With Dr. Pepper Schwartz

When two women in their sixties start losing interest in sex, their sex-starved partners become increasingly frustrated. Both women blame old age for their waning libidos. But is their diminished sex drive because of age or something else? The erotic lives of senior citizens are typically made invisible by our culture, which can lead to confusion and misinformation. Dr. Pepper Schwartz, the love and relationship columnist for AARP, joins the Sugars to dispel certain myths about sex and aging...


Rage is a Red Lesson — With Morgan Jerkins

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 filled with rage and she’s unable to control her angry outbursts. She worries that her anger will drive her husband away and irrevocably harm her children. The Sugars and the writer Morgan Jerkins discuss the connection between trauma and rage, and offer Tantrum Daughter practical ways to address both. For more...


Emotional Labor: The Invisible Work (Most) Women Do—With Gemma Hartley

Remembering the grocery list, coordinating with the babysitter, making food for the potluck, scheduling a get-together with the in-laws: These are some of the invisible tasks that (most) women exclusively do in their romantic relationships — and the list goes on and on. In today’s episode, the Sugars and Gemma Hartley read letters from wives and girlfriends who are fed up with the imbalance of domestic labor in their romantic relationships. For more information on today’s episode, including...


The Stepchild's Dilemma — With Theo Pauline Nestor

Whether you’re 5, 15, or 50 years old, it can be difficult to accept a stepparent into your family unit. In today’s episode, the Sugars answer letters from stepchildren who have fraught relationships with their stepparents. What can be done if you don’t like the person your parent chooses to marry? And what is a stepparent’s responsibility to a stepchild after divorce? The writer Theo Pauline Nestor joins the Sugars to help answer these questions.