Getting relationship advice online is probably the best way to open your mind to possibilities you didn't know existed - from the comfort of your own home. While a lot of relationship and dating experts offer such online services for lonely hearts, very few are based on real-world experience and evidence-based information. That's why it's important that you only get online relationship advice from sites you can trust. Here, we list 7 top websites that can give you valuable and personalized tips and techniques to make your relationship work, whether it's a long-distance relationship (LDR) or a geographically close relationship (GCR.)
But first, a fun section about how this all got started in the first place!
A History of "Agony Aunt" Columns
If you've never heard of the term, an Agony Aunt column is a popular inclusion in print publications from the past. Appearing in journals, magazines, and even daily newspapers, it was essentially a collection of questions from readers who would write in, and corresponding responses from the resident expert at the publication. It wasn't unusual for a newspaper or magazine to hire a psychologist or other sort of professional as the in-house columnist providing such advice.
As such, these agony aunt columns for different types of relationship advice were around as early as the 17th century. Look at this report about such a column, which appeared in a 1692 edition of the Athenian Mercury, a biweekly periodical:
Complaints in the Athenian Mercury about a ‘Knot of Apprentices’ misbehaving with a ‘Servant Maid, of no good Reputation’ were frequent. The Athenian Society warned apprentices that such behavior risked ‘scandal and danger‘ to their reputations. The termination of an indenture could be ruinous to a young man’s prospects, and such conduct threatened his ‘Fame, Estate, Body, and ’tis to be fear’d Soul and all’. (March, 1692)
The advice column format itself is said to be the creation of John Dunton, who was the editor-in-chief of the Athenian Mercury. Here's how they solicited letters from their readers:
All Persons whatever may be resolved gratis in any Question that their own satisfaction or curiosity shall prompt 'em to, if they send their Questions by a Penny Post letter to Mr. Smith at his Coffee-house in Stocks Market in the Poultry, where orders are given for the reception of such Letters, and care shall be taken for their Resolution by the next Weekly Paper after their sending.
Although the advice column was originally a generic one for any type of query, it set the tone for agony aunt columns in the following centuries. At its peak, which is generally considered to be around the 1960s, there were literally dozens of newspapers, periodicals, and magazines that published their own versions of the expert advice column, and it eventually became more specialized into advice for relationships, personal finance, medical problems, work-related queries, and so on.
So, how has this phenomenon been around for so long and why is it more popular today than ever? That's the next question we'll try to answer before we get into our list.
Why Look for Relationship Advice Online?
One of the reasons these columns were so popular is obviously because of the level of demand they enjoyed. And that demand stemmed from the fact that even so-called modern societies tend to be highly repressed when it comes to matters of a personal nature. With these columns, an avenue was created for readers to ask questions that were important to them.
That's also why professional and online forums get high traffic for relationship advice online - because we often find it hard to communicate our feelings to our closest family members. Sadly, this sentiment that has been around for centuries hasn't changed a bit. That speaks poorly about our collective ability to communicate our real feelings in public, doesn't it?
Moreover, not everyone has a cool sibling or an understanding aunt who is also a qualified relationship expert. For these reasons, relationship advice websites have flourished in the age of the Internet. Some of the best ones are listed below.
Top 7 Websites for Relationship Advice Online
Surprisingly, Reddit has emerged as one of the leading forums for people to ask any kind of relationship question they're looking for an answer to. The main benefit of this, however, is also its biggest weakness: not everything you read is from experts. However, there are some subreddits, such as r/relationship_advice, that offer genuine and serious solutions, tips, and techniques to complicated relationship problems. One key feature is that specific comments can be upvoted by other readers, giving the person posting the question some indication of popular consensus for different solutions.
- Crowdsourced solutions to personal relationship problems
- Free for everyone
- Option to remain anonymous
- Not necessarily expert advice in the traditional sense
- Too many comments to go through
- Chance of being trolled
Another popular crowd-sourcing platform for personal questions is Quora, a highly regarded site. As with Reddit, the upvoting feature allows the questioner to sift through loads of responses and tag one as the best possible answer. Moreover, people who regularly get their responses upvoted by readers are eventually considered "experts" in specific categories where they are most active.
- Free to use
- Anonymity maintained
- Upvoting offers a sort of filter to help sift through dozens of answers
- Wide variations in the quality of answers offered
- Not a forum for true experts on the subject
- Wrong advice might end up getting upvoted
Relationship expert April Masini has been covered by top media names such as The New York Times and Men's Health magazine. Her approach is warm but she's known for her directness and no-nonsense style. Her blog, AskApril.com, offers Relationship Advice, Relationship Issues, and various other categories where you can get answers to a wide range of relationship questions. For personalized answers, you'll need to go to her Advice Forum on AprilMasini.com.
- Expert advice
- Well-known author and relationship expert
- Ms. Masini has recently begun another project and may not be actively responding
Love is Respect
The loveisrespect.org website is an initiative started by the National Domestic Violence Hotline and focuses on violence in dating and relationships. It is primarily focused on teens and young adults who face physical, emotional, and other types of violence. The benefit here is the live 24/7 support for any related advice and the additional information for involving law enforcement officials if the situation warrants it. The site itself covers a wide range of topics such as consent, conflict resolution, setting boundaries, types of abuse, etc. that are important to the younger generation.
- Expert advice with 24/7 live support
- Rich with useful resources
- Highly informational
- Highlights awareness and provides education for others involved in the relationship, such as family and friends
- Skews toward young adults and teens
- Primarily focused on abuse in a relationship
This site takes a different approach and focuses on relationship therapy. It offers personalized advice from licensed and registered therapists and support staff. It's not free but is advertised as being affordable and convenient. Per the website: "The cost of counseling through BetterHelp ranges from $40 to $70 per week (billed monthly). You can cancel your membership at any time for any reason."
- Guaranteed expert advice
- Wide range of issues covered for relationships, including marriage
- Various options to connect - phone, chat, video, and texting
- Need to pay before being connected with a therapist
- No definite time-frame will be provided for resolution, which means paying weekly until you cancel
A relatively mature site that's been around for a few years, gayforum.org offers relationship advice for same-sex couples. You can post a new thread or have a discussion about your own issues in a related thread, and community members will chip in with their thoughts and advice.
- Comments are given +1s so you can see if others agree with the advice given
- Good site for same-sex couples to get advice on specific relationship topics
- Decent range of issues covered
- Not very well known or highly promoted
- No expert advice available
This is a lot like Quora and Reddit but not as popular. Still, it covers a lot of useful areas for various types of relationships, such as those with family members. It even offers community-based advice on personal growth and fulfillment, divorce, and other topics that are hard to talk about with people you know.
- Free for everyone
- Advice from a good range of age groups
- Anonymous platform
- No expert advice available
The Importance of Seeking Relationship Advice Online or Offline
We've covered several aspects of relationship advice online and where to get it. One key factor we've yet to discuss is the reason for seeking such advice. When we try to "fix" problems ourselves, we often tend to make them even more complicated. Even worse, getting the wrong sort of advice can hurt or even end a close relationship. That's why getting advice from the right source is often critical to making a relationship work or saving it.
But getting relationship advice online is certainly not the only avenue open to you. Sometimes, there can be no replacement for formal therapy sessions with a licensed practitioner. However, it can be prohibitively expensive in most cases. That's why people search for more affordable and even free avenues to ask the questions they wouldn't dare ask a close friend or a family member.
Other Options for the Best Relationship Advice
Apart from these and other similar websites, there are also other avenues for you to explore:
Group therapy with a support group is a good alternative if you don't mind the traditional "offline" method.
- There are also several chat forums for relationship advice online where someone is usually available right through the day and night.
Social media. This might not be for everyone because it throws open your private life to practically everyone you're connected to online. However, you can make your post private or just invite a few close friends and have a discussion about your relationship issue. Warning: Not every friend on social media is a real friend. You need to earn those, not just accept friend requests!
- Some sites offer virtual or physical Meetup sessions with people in your area, which are similar to group therapy sessions but for very specific relationship issues.
- You can also search for relationship quotes from famous personalities. A lot of websites aggregate and organize such quotes so you can search with specific keywords. Something might set off a spark in your brain that eventually solves your problem.
Podcasts are another way to get expert relationship advice. One such channel is Dr. Brian Rzepczynski's The Gay Love Coach podcast, which you can find on Apple iTunes or the new Apple Podcasts app, which was introduced when iTunes was deprecated in macOS Catalina.
Internet radio is another place for great relationship advice, and you can privately listen to your favorite channels with Bluetooth earplugs so nobody knows what you're listening to.
Talk to a friend or family member. You might not feel comfortable at first, but try broaching the subject with a close confidant or family member you're especially close to. Sometimes, the best relationship advice comes from the people who know and understand you better than a complete stranger.
Talk to your partner. This is actually the first thing you should do before seeking any sort of relationship advice, especially if it's something that's been bothering you for a while. Open and honest communication are the hallmarks of any great relationship, and you'll only get there if you start to make the effort.
Getting relationship advice online or offline is great when it's from an expert or even a group of people with similar experiences, but two-way communication is always a better option. That way, you can get into details of your issue and dig deeper until you find the solution. If you want to know the recipe for a healthy relationship, we suggest you read this article