You Should Know… Lisa Bonos

Lisa Bonos
Lisa Bonos (Photo by Ben Droz)

Lisa Bonos thinks of herself as a nosy person, which can be useful as a journalist. The 38-year-old native of Santa Rosa, Calif., became an intern at The Washington Post in 2005 and never left. Bonos specializes in pieces on dating and relationships.

Why did you decide to become a journalist?

That goes back to second grade where I had some assignment where you had to write a story, and it was a version of the children’s book “Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.” We were supposed to write our own version of that. And I put together all the bad things that had ever happened to me, which, as a 7 year old, wasn’t many. I had a pretty happy childhood, but I wrote this story. And I drew little pictures for it.

The teacher took it to the third-grade teacher because she liked the story so much and she wanted to show her. And so I was very proud that this thing that I had done was getting attention. So I went home that day. I’m like, yeah, I want to be a writer. But I looked at my mom who was a visual artist and how much she struggled to make a living as an artist, selling a piece here and there, and even at age 7, I was like, well, I want a steady job doing this creative thing. So I’ll be a journalist. That’s a steady career field, I thought in the late ‘80s, early ‘90s.

How did you come to write about dating and relationships for The Post?

I had a really great editor on the opinion section who asked me very pointedly, “What do you want to do here? Do you want to write a dating column?” Because I had been writing one-off dating stories. I was pitching these stories about what it’s like to date right now.

I went home and thought about it. I was like, well, I want to write a singles column, not just dating because there’s a lot that goes into being single that isn’t all about finding a partner. And so that’s how I came up with the idea for “Solo-ish,” which was a blog that I launched in the Style section in 2015 that was not just about dating, but friendship and family and travel, and all sorts of other things that can go into being single. So for many years I did it as a blog. And now I am just writing stories about dating and relationships.

Do you have any general dating advice?

I would just encourage people to go have fun with it and not put so much pressure on a relationship early on. That relaxing into something and maybe becoming friends first and seeing what sort of connection you have before you move into the next level can be great.

How do you see yourself as a Jewish person?

I come from an interfaith household, which I think shaped my Jewish identity, and that I think about my Judaism very proactively and intentionally. Obviously, everybody has to shape and craft their own Jewish identity. I feel like because I was a product of an interfaith household it made me really want to lean into Judaism more, because I often, growing up, felt like I didn’t really belong with the other kids in my Hebrew school class. And I didn’t really belong in a Christian setting. And so I really wanted to figure out what I connected with within Judaism.

And now what does that mean? It means that in quarantine, when I’m really separated from my community, I’m craving all those Jewish rituals even more, right? I find myself trying to celebrate Shabbat in whatever way that’s possible. I have really found that during this time that Jewish ritual has helped to give me structure and a way to make meaning out of the everyday when everything else is turned upside down.

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