The inherently personal quality of audio makes podcasting one of the best formats for conversations around sex, relationships, and dating. In some cases, they even offer free erotic fiction, with audio specifically designed to get you off.
Admittedly, I might be the only weirdo who’s horny for podcasts that aren’t even about sex and relationships. But I’m certainly not alone in recognizing the podcasting medium as a uniquely intimate experience.
That’s probably why sex and relationship advice has been a staple of radio for decades, with a select few (like the Savage Lovecast) making the transition from broadcast into podcasting. Podcasting has opened up new possibilities for spreading sex-positivity through audio, though, offering more diversity in hosts, topics, and formats.
The fact is that many folks are still deeply uncomfortable with openly talking about sex — or don’t have access to others who are willing to be open. Podcasts not only fix the access problem, but also provide a digital buffer to ease you into taboo subjects you’re not ready to broach IRL. Many of the podcasts on our lists feel like hanging out with very sexually wise and experienced friends, but remove the pressure from listeners to participate.
We also wanted to make sure our list focused on diverse perspectives, identities, and orientations who cover as much of the vast spectrum of sexual experiences as possible. If you live in a place dominated by cis, heterosexual, white male sex and dating culture, then podcasting can serve a crucial role in expanding your understanding of what intimacy can be so that you can learn what feels right for you.
A lot of us are feeling especially lonely and starved for intimacy right now. Of course, podcasts aren’t a replacement for real human interaction. But during a global pandemic, they can keep you growing your relationship vocabulary and knowledge — especially after you’ve tired out of talking about how lonely you feel to friends on Zoom.
On top of all that, audio is just plain hot and a deeply underrated format for porn. Erotica podcasts tap into all the benefits of auditory porn, which can be much more welcoming to marginalized identities and bodies. Your imagination gets to dictate what you get off to, so you can cater to your wants, desires, preferences, kinks, etc.
Sex and relationship podcasts aren’t just a whole lot of fun. They’re an essential service, destigmatizing taboos around universal experiences we’ve been taught are impolite to talk about.
So here’s a comprehensive list that spans from interviews and advice to polished narrative explorations of intimacy to hot and heavy erotic storytelling. Regardless of how you identify or where you are in your sex and relationships journey, there’s something for everyone to get into.
What it is: Various forms of auditory narrative art exploring intimacy from all angles, especially the experiences of women and LGBTQ folks.
Why it’s great: [From our Best Podcasts to Fall Asleep To roundup] “Kaitlin Prest brings you in closer than any other host on this list. Covering all things intimacy from an achingly human perspective, each episode feels like falling asleep on your lover’s chest, listening to the unique rhythm of their body.” Often spotlighting LGBTQ and women’s perspectives, it features many guest hosts, with formats spanning from poetry to fictional stories to personal essays. In summary, The Heart is a feat of auditory storytelling that journeys into every artery of human relationships, from romantic to family to friendship to our meta relationships with larger cultural issues.
What it is: A hilarious, informal conversation between two friends getting into the down and dirty of all things racy.
Why it’s great: We could listen to hosts Mandii B & WeezyWTF shoot the shit about literally anything. But in Whoreible Decisions, they grace us with all the very explicit details of their enviably adventurous sex and love lives. Like the WAP of podcasts, they are unapologetically bold and audacious. Both by leading by example and giving very legitimate advice with the help of special guests including doctors and porn stars. The podcast opens listeners up to parts of sex no one else dares talk about.
What it is: Like Radiolab, but for sex.
Why it’s great: A lot of the sex and relationship podcasts out there follow the conversational, interview, or call-in advice format. But Embodied stands out for bringing the polished structure and intellectual rigor of scripted public radio — like Radiolab — to the topics of sex and the bodies that have it. Host Anita Rao dives into topics like porn from unique angles, such as its ethical concerns, lesser-known erotica formats, art projects inspired by porn, and even a conversation with her parents on whether they watch it. Embodied brings analytical journalism into the space without ever losing sight of the humanity at the core of any discussion around sex.
What it is: The OG of sex and relationship advice radio.
Why it’s great: It’s impossible to make any list about sex and relationship podcasts without including Savage Lovecast. Host Dan Savage has been doing sex advice radio since the ’90s, breaking barriers (especially on LGBTQ topics) and even coining terms like “pegging.” In its current form as a weekly free podcast, the Savage Lovecast uses the quintessential call-in and listener email advice format to address a wide spectrum of intimacy conundrums and questions.
Dying for Sex
What it is: Two friends face terminal cancer through a journey of unadulterated horniness.
Why it’s great: [From our Best New Podcasts of 2020 (So Far) roundup] “Most people think sex and disease couldn’t be more diametrically opposed to one another. But Dying for Sex is all about host Nikki Boyer’s best friend Molly telling her story of wild sexual exploration after she was diagnosed with terminal Stage IV breast cancer. While mostly told through conversational retellings of said escapades, there’s also re-enacted journal entries and text exchanges — and even interviews with some of the people on the receiving end of her sexual journey. It’s a podcast that’s full of life and love, which goes hand-in-hand with the frank discussions around dealing with the realities of dying.”
This is Love
What it is: Expertly told and surprising stories of love, from human intimacy to far more abstract concepts of relationships and adoration.
Why it’s great: Phoebe Judge’s dulcet tones are probably best known for hosting Criminal, a true-crime interview podcast that tells unexpected and personal stories around criminality (which we covered in our Best True Crime Podcasts of All Time roundup). Judge takes a similar approach with This is Love, unraveling the mysteries of strong connection by examining all the idiosyncratic forms it can take. She’s one of the best storytellers in the game, covering everything from the more traditional stories of romantic hardship, to a lifelong friendship sparked by an NYC woman’s love for birds, or even an Italian town that loves only ugly things.
The Turn On
What it is: Created explicitly for Black audiences, The Turn On uses literary erotica as a jumping-off point for discussions around getting off and sexual liberation.
Why it’s great: When you’re part of a marginalized group, discussions around your sexuality tend to get politicized, often at the cost of more personal conversations around individual experiences. The Turn On is a counter to that, with hosts Erica and Kenrya leading raunchy, but still approachable, conversations around what gets them off as two Black women. Some episodes are more free-form interviews with experts on topics like kinks, toys, sex education, and sexual difficulties. But The Turn On‘s bread and butter is its unique structure of first reading a piece of erotic literature followed by the two talking about what they like about it. It’s a podcast designed to spark the sexual curiosity of Black audiences seeking satisfaction that’s uninhibited by the white male gaze.
What it is: Audio re-enactments and readings of the seminal New York Times sex and relationship column.
Why it’s great: The Modern Love New York Times column featuring true stories of “love, loss, and redemption” has become so popular that it has inspired both a podcast and an Amazon Prime show spin off. The weekly podcast is simply a reading of their best stories, with regular performances from celebrities like Kate Winslet, Uma Thurman, Angela Bassett, Jake Gyllenhaal, and Sterling K. Brown.
Death, Sex, & Money
What it is: An intimate interview show centered around people’s personal stories dealing with all the most taboo topics you’re not supposed to talk about.
Why it’s great: As the title suggests, this WNYC podcast centers around openly talking about the most private parts of our lives. Host Anna Sale is a calming voice who dives into the most personal (often difficult) moments of a person’s life with an incredible amount of compassion and delicacy. While it’s not strictly relegated to relationships and sex, the two often come up as Sales interviews everyday people going through all the extraordinary experiences of this thing we call life.
Where Should We Begin? with Esther Perel
What it is: Like being a fly on the wall of an intense couples therapy session.
Why it’s great: Thanks to doctor-patient confidentiality and/or poor access to healthcare, we rarely get a glimpse into what therapy actually looks like. Where Should We Begin? with Esther Perel allows listeners into that black box, as the renowned Belgian therapist counsels a couple through a major conflict in their relationship. By digging into the specificity of their situation, though, Perel offers universal insights into managing all the complicating factors that come with love, from family to infidelity to religion.
Thirst Aid Kit
What it is: A wholesome pop culture podcast that analyzes depictions of romance, love, and heartthrobs.
Why it’s great: [From our Excellent Podcasts with Black Hosts roundup] “Thirst Aid Kit is a beacon of love, light, and (of course) unquenchable thirst. Through in-depth discussions on romance in pop culture, hosts Bim Adewunmi and Nichole Perkins dive into the bottomless pool of women’s desires. While the conversation stays light and humorous, they also get to the heart of underlying issues surrounding representations of romance, from why it awakens our thirst to who it excludes. Adewunmi and Perkins create a beautiful space for normalizing the desire of women (particularly women of color), questioning social scripts while envisioning a world of healthier love with more unbridled passion.”
What it is: Candid conversations about sex with two sex-positive women in film who interview a guest on their sexual history.
Why it’s great: Florence Barkway and Reed Amber are best known for their Come Curious YouTube channel, focused on breaking stigmas and normalizing conversations around horiness. On their F**ks Given podcast, they bring their trademark British charm to audio, feeding their sexual curiosity through interviews with a variety of diverse guests, ranging from doctors to sex magic practitioners. Each episode is structured around three questions that dive into said guest’s sexual past: 1) Their first fuck, 2) their best fuck, and 3) their worst fuck.
What it is: Short, 10-minute excerpts of audio erotica stories for women.
Why it’s great: We here at Mashable love audio porn. But if you’re not in a place where you can afford subscription-based audio erotica apps like Quinn or Dipsea, we highly recommend the short, free samples of sexy stories on Erotic Audio. They’re geared toward women and couples, narrated by British actors and often told from a first or second-person POV. However be warned that these are roughly 10-minute excerpts best used to learn whether audio erotica works for you and what you specifically like. You’ll have to go to Audiodesires website and pay for the full finish.
Inner Hoe Uprising
What it is: One of (if not the most) diverse sex and relationship weekly podcasts reclaiming sexual conversations for marginalized identities, orientations, and bodies.
Why it’s great: It’s impossible for a panel of hosts to represent the full spectrum of human sexuality in all its infinite forms, orientations, intersections, and preferences — but Inner Hoe Uprising gets the closest. Many sex and relationship podcasts, while inclusive in subject matter and guests, are still predominantly hosted by white, cis, heterosexual, monogamous women. But it’s the explicit mission of Inner Hoe Uprising to embed as many different identities and experiences of sex and love into the show’s foundation. At the top of each episode, all four queer Black hosts (or “hoes” as they prefer to say) start with an intro on how they identify. Per a Salty World interview: “Sam is a ‘Black, polyamorous, feminist hoe living in New York City;’ Akua is a cisgender, heterosexual intersectional feminist who ‘specializes in all things mental health and all things carefree black girl’; Rebecca, a ‘fat, Black pansexual whose life is a series of coincidences that somehow landed her here’; and Rob, a ‘pansexual agender feminist with a fatty.'” Everyone can learn something vital through the topics covered, whether it’s new relationship energy, hypersexuality, fatphobia, ethical non-monogamy, or the impacts of racism on sex and motherhood. The rapport is as hilarious as it is welcoming and well-researched, structured around segments like Bae of the Week, Self-Care Tip of the Week, and a listener advice section called Fuck Me, and Fuck You.
Sex with Emily
What it is: Another longtime favorite interview and advice sex podcast hosted by sex therapist Emily Morse.
Why it’s great: While the structure of this podcast is like many others, there’s something especially comforting about Morse’s approach. She’s a great voice to have in your head whenever you encounter sexual difficulties or uncertainties in your real life, with advice that runs the gamut from medical expertise to astrology charts.
What it is: Queer news and pop culture podcast centered on the perspectives of two lesbians.
Why it’s great: Dyking Out is one of the podcasts that incorporates more news and pop culture elements, covering whatever the hosts feel intersects with queerness. Hosted by comedians Carolyn Bergier and Melody Kamali, as the name suggests, Dyking Out does focus specifically on the views of women who love women. But there’s plenty of diverse guests who bring other perspectives too, with the latest being comedian and writer Ashley Ray, who talks about her solo polyamory lifestyle.
What it is: A well-crafted narrative podcast that tells inspiring couples stories.
Why it’s great: Committed is great at what it does, but we suggest it with the caveat that it comes from a more traditional perspective on relationships that won’t be for everyone. Stories of couples overcoming loss and hardship can hit right when you’re in a place to hear them. But like seeing displays of affection from a loving couple in public, they can also feel sickeningly sweet to listen to at the wrong times. Regardless, host Jo Piazza does a great job taking you on each couple’s journey, so it’s definitely worth checking out — especially if you’re feeling deprived of intimate connection because of the pandemic.
What it is: “The Moth for pervs,” as LA Weekly perfectly summed up.
Why it’s great: The Moth podcast popularized the format of storytellers (from amateurs to professionals) telling their non-fiction tales in front of a live audience — then Bawdy Storytelling made it horny. With the appeal (but not the grossness) of the Amateur porn category, real people are invited to perform stories of their sexual exploits in front of a crowd, and the results are as liberating as they are titillating. Some are hot, some are relatable, others are moving, and many are hilarious. During the pandemic, they’ve switched to a virtual audience, which doesn’t fully capture the electricity of the IRL live shows. But there’s still plenty to enjoy, as well as years of backlog to catch up on.
Fangasm (somewhat canceled)
Nancy (now canceled)
The Ersties Girls (now canceled)
Dear Sugars (now canceled)
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