The New York Times has been publishing its “Modern Love” column in Sunday Style for over a decade. Over the years, its writers have penned hundreds of stories that have made readers laugh, cry and share the content with their family and friends. Many of the columns have been extremely popular with readers, and we’re taking a look at some of the most memorable ones.
A Wife’s Dying Wish
Recently, the column “You May Want to Marry My Husband” by Amy Krouse Rosenthal went viral. The author was diagnosed with cancer two years ago and wrote the column as a dating profile for her husband, Jason Brian Rosenthal.
A Love Letter To Her Husband
Amy went to the emergency room on Sept. 5, 2015, believing she had a bout of appendicitis but learning she had ovarian cancer instead. Her youngest child just left for college, and Amy realized all the plans she had with Jason were suddenly in jeopardy. And after being married for 26 years, Amy decided to help him find a companion to share the rest of his life with. “I have never been on Tinder, Bumble or eHarmony, but I’m going to create a general profile for Jason right here, based on my experience of coexisting in the same house with him for, like, 9,490 days,” she wrote.
The Perfect Man
Amy then proceeded to talk about Jason being 5-foot-10, 160 pounds, with salt-and-pepper hair and hazel eyes. Sh described him as a sharp dresser, a wonderful father and an artist with a law degree. “Here is the kind of man Jason is: He showed up at our first pregnancy ultrasound with flowers. This is a man who, because he is always up early, surprises me every Sunday morning by making some kind of oddball smiley face out of items near the coffeepot: a spoon, a mug, a banana,” she noted. The column was both touching and heartbreaking, and readers were gripped by it.
One reader wrote, “I was beyond touched by your article. You have obviously had an amazing marriage with your husband and that is not something he is going to ever just replace.” Another added, “Thank you Amy for such a beautiful essay and love letter to your Jason.” A third reader commented: “Absolutely stunning. Thank you for this powerful reminder to diligently pursue “Plan Be” in order to savor our blessings and nurture gratitude. That is what enables the release of kind and loving energy (like this beautiful essay) even as we work through heartbreak and loss.”
Love Amid Obstacles
Other columns have also made a big impact on New York Times readers. David Finch wrote, “Somewhere Inside, A Path to Empathy” in 2009. In the article he discussed how his very patient wife showed him he had Asperger’s Syndrome and helped him deal with it. David wrote, “She started observing my unusual behaviors — rigid adherence to routines, unusual reactions to social stimuli, conditional regard for the needs of others — as I became less capable of hiding them. Before long, my endearing quirks multiplied and became exponentially more annoying until eventually her life was flooded with my neuroses.”
Love Conquers All
His wife was a speech pathologist who worked with autistic children. One night she had him fill out an online Asperger’s evaluation to see if David fit the criteria. “I laughed and cried as the questions so perfectly revealed me. My score: 155 out of 200. That meant, as Kristen put it, ‘a whole lot of Asperger’s’ — an armchair diagnosis that would later be seconded by a health-care professional. I’d spent two decades trying to understand why I didn’t fit in. Now I had my answer,” he explained. Once David was diagnosed, they made steady progress through therapy and communication.
See the story of how one woman found true love in her female friend in the next slide.
An Actress Comes Out
Actress Maria Bello wrote the column, “Coming Out as a Modern Family.” In the article, the star described how she fell in love with her best friend Clare Munn, who happened to be a woman. She also explained the complexities of revealing the news to her son and family. “We had an immediate connection but didn’t think of it as romantic or sexual. She was one of the most beautiful, charming, brilliant and funny people I had ever met, but it didn’t occur to me, until that soul-searching moment in my garden, that we could perhaps choose to love each other romantically,” she wrote.
A Son’s Incredible Response
Clare was like a godmother to Maria’s 12-year-old son, and the star struggled to find the words to tell him, and the rest of her family, that she was in love with a woman. When her son asked if she was romantically involved with anyone, Maria told him the truth. His reaction was overwhelming. “He looked at me for what seemed like an eternity and then broke into a huge, warm smile. ‘Mom, love is love, whatever you are,’ he said with wisdom beyond his years. (Yes, he obviously attends one of those progressive schools in Los Angeles!)” Maria revealed.
Love At Every Age
In the column, “Age is no Obstacle To Love, or Adventure,” writer Norah Johnson revealed in 2013 that she wasn’t looking for love when she met George, an 83-year-old widow. Norah was 71 at the time and long divorced. “He seemed to have good health, except for a little diabetes. He had a cane and could still walk — a block or so. There were false teeth, identified by a golden stud that appeared at one side of his disarming smile. He had most of his hair. Best of all, when he talked, it was worth listening to,” she wrote.
His Last, Loveliest Adventure
Eventually, Norah moved into his house in the Florida Keys. “What astonished us was that the electricity we generated was as strong and compelling as love had been 50 years before, that it scrambled the brain every bit as much. Yet more surprising was that we had a rousing and delightful sex life,” she added. George later had a stroke, and passed away seven years after they met. ”He had said I was his last, loveliest adventure, and he brought joy and magic to my life. He died when he was 91 and I was 78. Only then did I start to get old.”
Training Her Husband
In 2006, Amy Sutherland wrote, “What Shamu Taught Me About A Happy Marriage.” In the column, she describes how she responds to her husband differently after using a technique she learned from a dolphin trainer. This includes not responding when he stomps around searching for a lost set of keys. “The central lesson I learned from exotic animal trainers is that I should reward behavior I like and ignore behavior I don’t. After all, you don’t get a sea lion to balance a ball on the end of its nose by nagging. The same goes for the American husband,” she revealed.
Unexpected Role Reversal
A dolphin trainer introduced her to least reinforcing syndrome (L. R. S.). “When a dolphin does something wrong, the trainer doesn’t respond in any way. He stands still for a few beats, careful not to look at the dolphin, and then returns to work. The idea is that any response, positive or negative, fuels a behavior. If a behavior provokes no response, it typically dies away,” she wrote. Then the tables are turned when the author gets braces, complains compulsively, and her husband doesn’t react: “He finally smiled, but his L. R. S. has already done the trick. He’d begun to train me, the American wife,” she noted.
A May-December Platonic Romance
In the column, “When Your Greatest Romance Is a Friendship,” Victor Lodato talked about his unusual friendship with an elderly woman named Austin that not everyone understands. “Often our mirth seems fueled by some deep-celled delight at being together. Friendship, like its flashier cousin, love, can be wildly chemical and, like love, can happen in an instant,” he explained. The pair met as neighbors in a small town in Oregon. She invited him to see her garden. He was in his 40s, she in her 80s. “From the beginning, there was something about our interaction that reminded me of friendships from childhood, in which no question was off limits,” he wrote.
Friendship: One Of Life’s Greatest Romances
It wasn’t too long before the pair started spending time together every weekend. “Sometimes we went out to a restaurant or hiked in the mountains. Austin’s older friends seemed confused,” Lodato revealed. Out-of-town friends thought he had a new boyfriend named Austin. “What was perplexing, I suppose, was not that two people of such different ages had become friends, but that we had essentially become best friends,” he noted. She was later diagnosed with “a quick-ravaging illness deep in her brain.” But Lovado waxed on, “Some of the greatest romances of my life have been friendships. And these friendships have been, in many ways, more mysterious than erotic love: more subtle, less selfish, more attuned to kindness.”
Fighting For What You Believe In
In the 2013 column “A Father, a Son and a Fighting Chance” writer Dominick Zarrillo discusses gay marriage and how his son and his son’s long-term partner weren’t legally able to enjoy marriage like he and his wife were able to. The topic hit home on several levels because some of Dominick’s friends were not very supportive of his son’s lifestyle. He explained, “My wife and I went to dinner one night with another couple, some people we knew pretty well, and the subject of Jeff and Paul came up. The guy said: ‘I don’t believe in gay marriage. I think it’s wrong.’”
It was a revelation that caused Dominick’s friendship to end. He continued, “I almost lost my mind. I wanted to smash my dinner plate in his face. My vision dimmed while long-buried emotions rushed back: my little son, all alone, being picked on by bullies, being told he couldn’t walk the same path home because they said so. Why couldn’t people just treat him with respect? I’m sure this guy isn’t a bad person, and no one would consider him a creep or a bully, but I stood up and left that table and have not spoken to him since.”
Single & Mormon
In “Single, Female, Mormon, Alone” by Nicole Hardy, the author writes about being a 35-year-old Mormon looking for love. “Most troubling was the fact that as I grew older I had the distinct sense of remaining a child in a woman’s body; virginity brought with it arrested development on the level of a handicapping condition, like the Russian orphans I’d read about whose lack of physical contact altered their neurobiology and prevented them from forming emotional bonds,” she wrote. “Similarly, it felt as if celibacy was stunting my growth; it wasn’t just sex I lacked but relationships with men entirely. Too independent for Mormon men, and too much a virgin for the other set, I felt trapped in adolescence.”
To Fall In Love With Anyone, Do This
In “To Fall in Love With Anyone, Do This” by Mandy Len Catron, the author asked a date 36 questions from a 1997 psychology experiment and applied the technique in her own life while staring at the man in the eyes for four minutes. The column went viral. “Most of us think about love as something that happens to us. We fall. We get crushed. But what I like about this study is how it assumes that love is an action. It assumes that what matters to my partner matters to me because we have at least three things in common, because we have close relationships with our mothers, and because he let me look at him,” she wrote.
Want To Be My Boyfriend?
In the column, “Want to Be My Boyfriend? Please Define,” writer/college student Marguerite Fields discusses the differences between dating someone, hooking up, seeing someone and what it’s like to be part of the noncommittal dating scene in one’s late teens and early 20s. “Sometimes I don’t like them, or am scared of them, and a lot of times I’m just bored by them. But my fear or dislike or boredom never seems to diminish my underlying desire for a guy to stay, or at least to say he is going to stay, for a very long time,” she wrote.
A Passionate Mother
In “Truly, Madly, Guiltily” writer Ayelet Waldman discussed being a mom and how it affected her sex life. “I am the only woman in Mommy and Me who seems to be, well, getting any. This could fill me with smug well-being. I could sit in the room and gloat over my wonderful marriage. But I don’t,” she revealed. “I am far too busy worrying about what’s wrong with me. Why, of all the women in the room, am I the only one who has not made the erotic transition a good mother is supposed to make? Why am I the only one incapable of placing her children at the center of her passionate universe?”