What is Ask Polly?

I’m Heather Havrilesky and I’ve been writing the Ask Polly advice column for 12 years. I created Ask Polly for The Awl in 2012, and in 2014 it moved to New York magazine’s The Cut and became one of the site’s most popular features. My book How to Be a Person in the World, a collection of Ask Polly columns, was published by Doubleday in 2016.

In April of 2021, Ask Polly moved to Substack, where it has over 100k free subscribers and thousands of paid subscribers who receive the column at least once a week. Along with advice columns on subjects like how to embrace your secret creative dreams, how to become more flexible and open-hearted and how to navigate difficult friendships, I also write essays on subjects like intimacy, exuberance, obsession, regret, and navigating conflict instead of avoiding it.

I love writing this column!

I also publish a newsletter called Ask Molly, written by Polly’s evil twin. I’m the author of four books, the latest of which, Foreverland: On The Divine Tedium of Marriage (Ecco, 2022) was named one of the Best Books of 2022 by the New Yorker and the Chicago Tribune. Foreverland has received many rave reviews and I narrate the audiobook myself. (You can buy it here.) My published work has appeared all over the place and includes humor (The New Yorker), essays (New York Times and New York Times Magazine)and criticism (Bookforum). I started my career writing cartoons for the late, great early-web experiment Suck.com.

When you subscribe to Ask Polly, you get at least one column a week, you can read everything in the archives, and you can comment on any column and join in discussions with the most intelligent, insightful readership I’ve ever encountered. Thank you sincerely for your encouragement and support!

Every day, we endure a world that’s bent on improvement and optimization. Ask Polly is about learning to enjoy who you already are, learning to notice what you already have, and learning to attune yourself to the imperfect gifts of the world around you. Whether you come back to this spot or not, don’t let your head tell you that joy is a luxury that will always belong to other people and not you. You’re at the center of everything. Your flaws and mistakes are what make your life a work of art. Celebrate who you already are, and spread that forgiveness and love to everyone you see.

Send advice letters to askpolly@protonmail.com.

Subscribe to Ask Polly

Advice and wisdom from Heather Havrilesky, published since 2012 (formerly at The Awl and NY Magazine). Paid subscribers receive twice weekly posts on how to navigate our broken world with compassion, realism, and an open heart.


Advice columnist, cultural critic, author of the memoir Foreverland (Ecco, 2/8/22) +three other books.