“A Daily Dispatch of Wisdom for the Lovelorn”: Advice Columnist Meredith Goldstein Discusses Healthy Relationships

As an advice columnist and entertainment reporter for “The Boston Globe,” Meredith Goldstein has seen many kinds of relationship beginnings, from Venmo stalkers to various medical queries. Goldstein, who is best known for her “Love Letters” column and podcast, spoke about her experiences with relationships of all kinds on Friday, February 15, in the Mural Room.

In January, the “Love Letters” column, a section of “The Boston Globe” dedicated to sharing advice on relationships, celebrated its tenth anniversary. Goldstein attributes the column’s success, in part, to the universal problems that people are bound to face with relationships.

“No matter what era we’re in, no matter what age we’re in, we’re always going to be going through breakups, loves, confusion. It’s timeless stuff. And so people are always going to want to read about each other. And by the way, not because they’re looking to mock each other or laugh at each other. I think it’s like we’re looking to learn from each other,” said Goldstein.

Leila Hardy ’22 found Goldstein’s thoughts on the enduring nature of relationships to be both compelling and amusing.

“I was most fascinated by when she said that no matter what happens in the world, relationships are going to keep happening and people are always going to be dumped. That was really funny for me,” said Hardy.  

Over the years, Goldstein has become keener to the more unrefined aspects of relationships, noting how a certain level of chaos is perfectly normal in life.  

“As I get older, I have a better perspective of life just happening and life not being clean in that way. I need to remind myself sometimes that life is messy… There is a culture of one screw up is the end of the world, and some screw ups are better than others for sure, but I feel like in the beginning, I was not as open to people being messy but also that being okay,” said Goldstein during the talk.

Goldstein sees her column as both a source of enjoyment and possible help for those facing difficult moments in life.

“The idea that what seems like a sort of fun column for entertainment can also be a tool to help people in their actual lives, that’s a pretty moving thing. You know, it’s a pretty important thing, and I feel like super grateful and excited when I figure out that I’ve actually helped people,” said Goldstein.

Not only has the column allowed Goldstein to help others, it has also helped herself. According to Goldstein, finding positive solutions for others has made her more receptive to those same solutions in her own life.

“I think that [the column] has forced me to think more positively about my own life, because I’m so positive to other people. And I’m genuine about that. I truly believe great things are going to

happen for them. So it’s sort of forced me to feel that way about my own life and also to be a little bit braver,” said Goldstein.

Goldstein’s visit was sponsored by the Elizabeth Stuart Phelps Author Series and was organized by Saffron Agrawal ’21. Agrawal expressed her admiration for Goldstein’s sense of confidence in her work.

“I just find Ms. Goldstein’s career really interesting and admirable. She started the conversation talking about how she used to be defensive of her job and kind of telling people that she’s an advice columnist. I just really admire that she’s gotten over that and that she has now embraced that her job is really important and she likes her job and gets paid for it. And it’s an important part of the publication, and so I thought that was really cool,” said Agrawal.

The event was also organized in collaboration with Youth Educators for Sex Positivity (YES+), a student group that promotes peer-led sex education on campus. YES+ member Alex Horvat ’20 appreciated hearing Goldstein’s thoughts on the roles that individuals play in promoting healthy relationships on campus.  

“I really enjoyed Ms. Goldstein’s time with us last Friday. I thought she was well-spoken, engaging and promoted messages that closely align with the values of YES+. What struck me in particular, was her humility in helping others. She saw herself as an organizer of conversation around sexual topics rather than a therapist providing guidance from on high,” wrote Horvat in an email to The Phillipian.

In response to a question from Horvat, Goldstein provided some advice to high school students seeking to develop healthy relationships in their lives. In particular, Goldstein underscored the importance of finding a supportive group of peers.

“To not be afraid to ask questions and to be a good friend. We talked about that embarrassment and all the problems that can come from being embarrassed or rejected or the shame, and shame usually just leads to silence that leads to more awful things. To have a group of people and to be the kind of person that will take information without judgement… To have a loving circle of people and to be a part of somebody else’s loving circle of people, it makes life a lot easier,” said Goldstein.

When faced with those timeless problems that inevitably come with relationships, Goldstein recommends reaching out to others instead of shutting them out. For Goldstein, this strategy can ward off egotism and promote feelings of happiness.

Goldstein said, “I think when I when I hear from someone that they’re stuck in a breakup, like on that hamster wheel of over and over and over, I tell them to listen to somebody else’s problems for like 45 minutes because it’s amazing what that can do. And I think, you know, going through a rut can make you are real quick narcissist, and it’s good to just check in and see where other people are coming from. Being a good friend just makes you a happier person.”