It’s no secret that I love advice columns. I mean, hell – I started this blog with the initial intention of creating my own. (And I still love writing the Dear Dating Bitch posts.) But I also don’t think that I’m alone in this. The ‘agony aunt’ thing has been around for a while. So, is there a reason why we love advice columns?
Well, I have my theories. And it seems that psychology – for the most part – would agree with me.
3 Reasons Why We Love Advice Columns
I’m sure there are a lot of reasons for why we love advice columns. A lot of them are probably subconscious. But no matter what your specific reason is, chances are it falls into one of these three categories.
1. There’s a Voyeuristic Sense of Entertainment
This is probably the reason that comes to mind first. It’s similar to why we love watching reality TV shows or why we obsess over True Crime. We’re fascinated by drama and darkness.
So, while True Crime satiates that morbid curiosity we all have, advice columns satisfy the craving for drama. Just like with reality TV, there’s an aspect of voyeurism that goes into it. We can insert ourselves into someone else’s life or relationship troubles, getting a second-hand sense of excitement.
Related Read: Why Women Love True Crime
2. It Can Help Us Feel More Connected
I’m sure schadenfreude is part of the advice column appeal, but I’d argue that empathy plays a bigger role.
Reading advice columns helps us to feel more connected to other people. Often, we can relate to some part of the letter writers’ struggle. Maybe we’ve gone through something similar in our own lives. So, in that way, it can help us feel less alone.
In addition, we can often take the advice given and apply it to something of our own.
3. We All Love Giving Advice
This is probably the reason that I, personally, love reading advice columns so much. Yes, I find them entertaining, and yes, they inspire empathy and connection. But more than that, I myself like giving advice. I think most people do.
And I can’t be the only one who reads them and immediately thinks of what advice I would give to the letter writer.
Best Advice Columns to Read
Now that I’ve gone over some of the reasons why we love advice columns, I wanted to offer some suggestions. Dear Abby might be the most well-known agony aunt, but there are plenty of others out there. (And, in my opinion, plenty of better ones.)
So, here are some of my all-time favorite advice columns to check out.
1. Dear Prudence
Slate, a progressive online magazine, has several different advice columns, all of which are fantastic. Dear Prudence is an all-encompassing advice column where “Prudie” answers letters on everything from relationships to work to home life. Care and Feeding, their parenting advice column, is also worth a read.
2. Miss Manners
I’ve been reading Miss Manners since I was a kid. She’s one of the OG Agony Aunts. Her column is geared towards etiquette, but she delivers such sassy replies and I am here for it!
3. Ask a Manager
If you’re looking for a work-specific advice column, Ask a Manager is your gal. Alison Green offers well-written, witty, and insightful advice on workplace drama. She’s also put out a few books.
4. Dear Annie
This is another fairly typical advice column. Dear Annie answers questions on marriage, family, work, and everything in between with warmth and sympathy.
5. Ask Eve
Eve Green is the creator behind Never Settle, a lifestyle blog about dating, relationships, and women’s health. Like me, she has an advice column on her blog called Ask Eve where she answers dating questions.
6. Dear Sugar*
This was an advice column written by Cheryl Strayed for the online literary magazine, The Rumpus. Unfortunately, it ended several years ago. But I’m still including it here because she complied a number of the letters into a book called Tiny Beautiful Things.
It’s hands down one of my favorite self-help books out there. I know it’s not marketed that way, but I read it when I was struggling with a difficult breakup and no other book has helped me as much as this one. I highly recommend picking it up.
So, there you have it! The reasons behind why we love advice columns plus six of the best to read.
I’m curious to know how many of you are agony aunt lovers as well. Let me know in the comments below!
And of course, if you’ve got a love life question for me, feel free to submit it in to Dear Dating Bitch. Thanks for reading!
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