Stop me if this sounds familiar: It's Taco Tuesday, and you're halfway through your first round of margaritas with your best friend. Between sips and bites, she confides in you that she and her boyfriend of two years might be heading toward a breakup. She wants to know — what should she do? Except, uh, you have no idea, because it's hard to give your friends relationship advice. Especially if you've never dated someone so seriously, or been in her exact shoes.
After all, the stakes feel impossibly high; you don't want to mislead your friend during one of the biggest crises of her life. And you might have had an easier time figuring out those tricky math equations on the SAT than you're having right now, attempting to figure out how to counsel your friend.
Meredith Goldstein, author of the new memoir Can't Help Myself, knows exactly what that's like. In 2008, she was a reporter at the Boston Globe. She pitched her editors an advice column. Why not, right? She had been advising her family and friends her whole life. But before she could write even the first column, she was blindsided by a breakup. To make matters worse, her former boyfriend was a co-worker. Suddenly, she was spending a lot of time crying next to the office vending machines, holing up at her desk to avoid spotting her ex in the cafeteria, and seeking advice from her own friends at The Cheesecake Factory. Anxiety set in. She doubted her ability to write the column.
Luckily for readers of the Globe, she pushed through her fears, and her column "Love Letters" debuted in January 2009 to great success. For nearly a decade, she's helped a fast-growing, opinionated community of readers sort through rejection, confusion, and heartbreak.
Now, she's passing along her skills to you. I asked Goldstein how to give your friends the best advice possible — even when you have no idea what to say or do.