If there’s one thing the jury’s still out on, it’s
millennial relationships. After all, we’re the generation that invented terms like “ghosting” and “Facebook official.” And while there are plenty of common threads throughout all romantic relationships, across history, there is something unique about love in a generation that has no clue how to unplug (or, you know, how to communicate in complete sentences anymore. Or in person. With eye contact.). To answer these burning questions, we’ve collected the Modern Love columns every millennial needs to read.
Millennials — anyone with a birthday between 1981 and 1996 — are known for a lot of things. Stacking up in the “
things the world hates about millennials column” we have: being obsessed with self-expression and using social media to prove it; being completely attached to our phones; and being more materialistic and less community-focused than the generations that came before us. On the positive side, we’re proving to be the most diverse generation by far. Many of us are actually quite civically and politically engaged, and we’re also reported to be the most educated generation in history.
If you’re not familiar with
the — a weekly essay series exploring the endless manifestations of human love and relationships: romantic, platonic, unrequited, familial, strained, and more — then consider this your brand-new crash course in modern relationships. Here are the 16 New York Times’ Modern Love column Modern Love columns that every millennial should read: 1 “Am I Gay Or Straight? Maybe This Fun Quiz Will Tell Me” by Katie Heaney
In "Am I Gay Or Straight?," one woman dives headfirst into the world of online quizzes, seeking the answers to her lifelong sexual identity questions.
Read it here. 2 “The Entire Netflix History of Us” by Tonya Malinowski
Writer Tonya Malinowski takes readers through the Netflix history (and Netflix-inspired memories) of her recently-ended relationship, only to discover that her ex has committed the cardinal sin of still using her Netflix login.
Read it here. 3 “He Made Affection Feel Simple” by Denny Agassi
Denny Agassi explores her dating life as a trans woman on
Grindr, including one-night-stands with cis men she meets on the app and how one guy stuck around long enough to build intimacy, in “He Made Affection Feel Simple.” Read it here. 4 “His Comfort Is Not My Responsibility” by Alexandra Capellini
In “His Comfort Is Not My Responsibility,” Alexandra Capellini, a medical student whose childhood cancer treatment included the amputation of one leg, ruminates on how much information about ourselves we should freely give to one another — and how much of it shouldn’t matter.
Read it here. 5 “How 30 Blocks Became 30 Years” by Ben Mattlin
Ben Mattlin’s essay, named for the length of the author’s marriage — and the distance his wife-to-be once walked on foot to see an Elvis Costello concert with him in the days before New York City’s public transit was wheelchair-accessible — is a testament to longterm relationships, as well as a subtle call for parity.
Read it here. 6 “How Lolita Freed Me From My Own Humbert” by Bindu Bansinath
Modern Love essay, Bindu Bansinath shares the irony of her much-older abuser buying her a coveted copy of Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita, and how that novel became a blueprint for her escape from her own cycle of manipulation and abuse. Read it here. 7 “How to Stop Breaking Up” by Matthew Sullivan
An on-again-off-again bohemian couple keep finding their way back to one another in Matthew Sullivan’s “How to Stop Breaking Up.”
Read it here. 8 “Is There Something Odd About Being Single?” by Helen Betya Rubinstein
Why do we assume the other adults we meet will be partnered up? Is singlehood, as Helen Betya Rubinstein describes it, “a state people assume you are trying to flee,” particularly for “childless white wom[en] in [their] 30s”? And if so, what does that mean for those who are comfortable being alone?
Read it here. 9 “Learning to Lean In Together” by Paula Derrow
Let’s face it: Not many millennials have the financial comforts Paula Derrow describes in this essay. But the casualness of Derrow’s romance, and the long-distance finagling they do to make things work, will be ultra-relatable to anyone who has had to move where the jobs were, even it was where their partners
weren’t. Read it here. 10 “A Millennial’s Guide to Kissing” by Emma Court
After two college students lip lock on an overnight flight from Israel to the United States, they’re certain to never see one another again — until writer Emma Court seeks her in-flight kiss out social media.
Read it here. 11 “My Best Friend Is Gone, and Nothing Feels Right” by Jared Misner
A heart-wrenching look at what it’s like to lose loved ones during a global pandemic, Jared Misner’s
Modern Love column recounts his relationship with his best friend, Alison, who died from Covid-19 at the age of 29. Read it here. 12 “My Platonic Romance on the Psych Ward” by Jeannie Vanasco
If you’re a millennial, you probably have at least one friend who has spent time in inpatient psychiatric treatment. Maybe you’re that friend. In either case, you’ll find a lot to love in Jeannie Vanasco’s “My Platonic Romance on the Psych Ward.”
Read it here. 13 “Not Saying My Dog Is Cupid, but...” by R.L. Maizes
This tender little story is the perfect read for anyone who watched
101 Dalmatians as a kid and hoped their dog would someday play matchmaker for them. Read it here. 14 “Race Wasn’t an Issue to Him, Which Was an Issue to Me” by Kim McLarin
Black writer Kim McLarin details her post-divorce relationship with a white man, giving particular focus to how each one dealt with racism in the United States, in “Race Wasn’t an Issue to Him.”
Read it here. 15 “Taking Marriage Class at Guantánamo” by Mansoor Adayfi
After spending nearly 15 years in the United States’ most notorious prison, Mansoor Adayfi penned this mournful tribute to a lost youth and the promise of a bright future.
Read it here. 16 “When Neither Male Nor Female Seems To Fit” by Claire Rudy Foster
If you are, or if you know, an AFAB person who now identifies as non-binary, you’ll immediately recognize the conflict Claire Rudy Foster describes in this powerful
Modern Love piece. Read it here.