Ask Catherine Cohen: Help! I’m Allergic to My Partner's Family

“The good news is that doctors are calling this a very common allergy this season.”

Catherine Cohen, a comedian, stares into the camera with a bemused expression. She's wearing a black...
Catherine Cohen photographed by Ryan Lowry.

Catherine Cohen is a comedian and actress. In her original show tunes, character videos and on her popular podcast Seek Treatment (co-hosted with fellow comedian Pat Regan) she skewers the clichés of millennial aspiration, deadpans about sex on antidepressants, and earnestly celebrates such triumphs as finding love or drinking seven beers. Her Netflix Special, The Twist...? She’s Gorgeous, and her book, God I Feel Modern Tonight: Poems From a Gal About Town are out now.

Have a question for Catherine? Send it to for a chance to be answered in her next column.

Is there such a thing as a non-cringe way to announce a major life event (i.e. an engagement, a gender reveal, a new job) on social media?

Honey, I swear this collective fixation on cringe will be the death of me! There is no avoiding cringe. Cringe, like its successor, death, comes for us all! As we live, we change and grow in such a way that everything eventually becomes cosmically embarrassing.

There are few decisions we can look back on with complete confidence. I’m already mortified that I wrote the first sentence of this paragraph. Instead of worrying about what other people think of you, ask yourself a simple question– why are you posting? For example: I post because I get a dopamine rush when I feel like people like me and support my career and if I’m successful in my career I will be worthy of love and never feel pain again. Slay!

There’s nothing wrong with posting about something you’re proud of—it’s a great way to let family and friends share in your happiness. Even if some haters hate (which they’re wont to do) the people who actually care about you will find your joy contagious.

Don’t half-ass it either. There’s nothing worse than a post that reeks of faux humility (aka fumility) So OWN it, baby!! Who knows how many times you’ll get engaged? I only hope to do it three times and lord knows I’m gonna be posting.

Share that new job update—it’s easier than texting everyone you know. That being said, I don’t think we need to be announcing “gender reveals” at all…feels a bit retrograde, I must say! If posting makes you happy, post. If it doesn’t, don’t. It’s 2022 and the chicest thing you can possibly be is offline. Privacy is a luxury in the attention economy. Anyways, please do post and retweet this. My self-worth depends on it Xo

What do you do if you're deeply allergic to your partner’s family?

The good news is that doctors are calling this a very common allergy this season. Most family dynamics are bizarre/annoying at best. Even seemingly perfect families are addicted to reverting back into old toxic patterns. But if you’re in a long-term relationship you’re unfortunately also in a long-term relationship with your partner’s family. And as is true with any long-term relationship, it’s important to make the occasional sacrifice and know when to set boundaries. If you love your partner and they love their family, you must (publicly) love their family as well. Beyond that, what goes on in the recesses of your heart is not for moi to judge.

Try to reframe spending time with your sweetie’s fam as an Act of Service towards your beloved. (I used to think my love language was “Acts of Service” but I recently found out it’s literally “Gifts.” To quote Taylor Swift, “Ain’t that the worst thing you ever heard?!”) Be patient with the family and whenever they’re driving you absolutely bonkers, just pretend you’re in a quirky holiday movie. When in pain? Romanticize it away!

Cat!!! I just found out a person I have been in a relationship with for six months is married. I think I’m in love, what do I do!

Nooooo can you hear that? I’m screaming. Six months? Why do people insist on being monstrous against all odds? I’m so sorry. You may be in love, but you also need to be away from this person ASAP. How can you build something with someone who has been hiding a major part of their reality from you? It’s so shitty, but whatever version of this person you fell in love with wasn’t real in the first place. Whether or not you end it now, it’s done. The illusion has collapsed in on itself. There may be reasons why this person lied to you, but it doesn’t matter. It’s time to move on. May I suggest my breakup starter pack? I prescribe 2 weeks of beer and Pad Thai followed by 2 months of bicycling, journaling, and hydrating.

Sending you all the love. Forgive this person (they’re unwell), forgive yourself (you’re swell), and get ready to open yourself to a love based on mutual trust and understanding or at least like…someone who is single.

I have a crush on my coworker and I think she might like me too. How bad of an idea is it to start an in-office romance?

Umm it sounds like a hot good idea to me but what do I know? The only time I worked in an office I slept with a co-worker who “didn’t like soup”—how fucked up this that? I love soup! It can be full of so many things.

Either way, it doesn’t matter what I say—a crush is pure inertia, it cannot be stopped by an advice columnist alone. Time reveals all and your feelings will surely seep out of your pores eventually. And a little flirting can lift you out of the mundane, provided that both parties feel safe and respected. After all, what else is there to do at an office job? Send emails? Honey, you can do that from anywhere. Ever heard of a laptop? Look at me being a Woman in Tech. Crushes serve as a reminder that you’re alive. You’re alive and your big bloody heart is beating right next to someone else’s. Someone else who is living a whole life in the same lifetime as you—how remarkable is that?

Just make sure you’re not crossing any boundaries. If you’re getting any pushback, let it go and move onto the next crush, wherever they may be… But if the crush turns into an actual relationship, that’s another thing entirely, and in that case, I’ve seen TV shows where people disclose their relationships to HR…so I guess you can eventually…do that?