Since the dawn of time, human beings have been fascinated with relationships. From such real-life advice columnists as “Dear Abby” and Ann Landers to fictional ones like Carrie Bradshaw of “Sex and The City,” receiving lessons in love and relationships has always been a crowd-pleaser.
And tomorrow night, Nov. 14, you’ll have a chance to pose any burning questions you may have to Meredith Goldstein, advice columnist and entertainment reporter for the Boston Globe.
At 7 p.m., Goldstein will speak at The Soul Center at Beth El Congregation in Pikesville about her new book “Can’t Help Myself: Lessons and Confessions from a Modern Day Advice Columnist” (Grand Central Publishing).
Goldstein’s appearance is part of the Festival of Jewish Literature and The Page, The Soul Center’s author speaker series. The evening will include a book talk followed by a girls’ night out party, featuring The Soul Center’s first-ever bourbon bar, appetizers and an opportunity to get any juicy question answered by Goldstein.
A New Jersey native who was raised in Howard County and now lives in Boston’s Roxbury neighborhood, Goldstein recently spoke with Jmore about what audience members can expect from her talk.
Jmore: What exactly is a modern day advice columnist?
Goldstein: Honestly, the biggest difference between an advice columnist of today and what you think of columnists from the past is the level of engagement we can have with the person asking the question.
Back in the day, readers would send handwritten letters and wait to see if their questions were published. Because of technology today, I get an email and can stay connected to the individual asking the question even after their letter runs. Giving advice is a pure and unchanged thing, so fundamentally it’s the same as other advice columnists, just in a different form.
What’s generally your take on relationships?
I think we are living in a world where it’s more acceptable to say we are building a life, as opposed to building a marriage. People realize the importance of community and recognize that being single is actually OK.
On the flip side, it’s also OK to want to be in a relationship. A lot of advice I hear is we have to learn how to be alone, and people criticize those who jump from relationship to relationship. But it’s not a requirement to be alone.
I am guilty of believing that my singleness was a superhero act and it was something I was very proud of. I’m still OK with being single, but understand in some cases it takes a greater amount of courage to be accountable to a partner, and that deserves credit as well. In this digital world, in-person connections can be more difficult to find, but at the end of the day people want to have friendships or romantic relationships that are real. That in-person meeting, regardless of how you first connect, is always the end goal.
You’re 42 and single. How are you able to give relationship advice?
This is a common question I get, and it is funny that people come to me because my own life would suggest I don’t have any experience with this. But there are a lot of advice columnists who have to make peace with their own complicated relationships. I know I am a lazy dater, rarely date and am too comfortable being alone. But I also have been able to find empathy toward others who really want to be in a relationship, and that has taught me a lot about where I am today.
Do you personally want to be in a relationship?
Some people have a difficult time being single but for me it comes easily, and that can be dangerous. My mom was a single mother and she was really good at dating. Watching her taught me a lot about what I want and what I don’t want.
Honestly, I feel like I’m a late bloomer because it wasn’t until I turned 40 that I became more open to the idea of having a relationship. I always knew I didn’t want to have children, and it wasn’t until I hit 40 that people would stop saying I may change my mind.
Now, I feel like I can be in a relationship without feeling like someone will pressure me into having kids. I love children and love my friends’ kids. It just wasn’t something I ever wanted. I believe that people can change their minds and that some women do, but I didn’t think I would. Now that I’m in my 40s, I feel more open to the idea of having a relationship without having to have children.
What’s your favorite part of your job?
I now have a podcast where I hear people’s stories about falling in love or breaking up. There are so many details that I can’t include in the column because of space limitations, and there is something exciting about hearing the stories from the individuals themselves.
One of my favorite episodes in this newest season is where I speak with a chef who knew it was time to convert to Judaism. It was awesome to hear because as a Jewish person myself, it was interesting to hear a person not take for granted being a part of this group. He did it under no obligation, except that he wanted to convert for his partner.
For information about Goldstein’s appearance at The Soul Center, visit soulcenterbaltimore.org.
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