Ask Catherine Cohen: How Do I Tell People I Don’t Have a Passion?

The comedian tackles questions about crushes, situationships, and whether quitting your job to start an OnlyFans is a good idea.

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Photo 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 first book, God I Feel Modern Tonight: Poems From a Gal About Town is out now. Have a question for Catherine? Send it to

I had a situationship with my neighbor that ended poorly. How do I move on when I am reminded of his presence every time I leave my house?

A situationship with a neighbor… how sexy! But sadly, nothing gold can stay… and nothing horny can remain. Did the poet Jack Gilbert not write “we are permitted romantic love with its bounty and half-life of two years”? The first step in moving on is accepting that it was bound to end. What were you going to do? Knock down the wall between the two of you and live together ‘til one of you dies? Maybe! But everything sexy is eventually drained of its mystery and joins us lowly flesh sacks down here on the physical plane. Why not instead romanticize that process? Instead of fixating on the awkwardness, take time to relish what an interesting person you are: Look at you, making anyone who crosses your path fall in lust! How sweet and sad that this convenient intimacy has ended! Time randomly does heal all, and soon every time you leave your house his memory will feel like a fuzzy, distant dream. Or you could pack up all your shit right now and move elsewhere. Your call! XO

I’m a gay man in college (who isn’t?) who cannot seem to go one single second without having an all-consuming, heart-engulfing, life-destroying crush. Even if there's no one I’m truly interested in, my mind will somehow always pick the worst man I've ever met (or a taken one) and decide his attention is the most important factor to my happiness. How do I even begin to be able to be interested in life without a crush?

A wise friend once told me “crushes are the glue that makes the world go round” so thank YOU for doing your part in keeping this big blue marble spinning on her axis. I haven’t tried all the drugs (last time I did weed I told everyone at the rooftop party I wanted to change my name to Nina and then stopped talking for three hours) but I’m pretty sure that crushes are better than any mind-altering substance.

This is all to say I GET IT, but since you’re in college and I’m full adult vibes (I just got a credit card, I’m 30!) I have to play the role of big sister here and tell you that I WORRY about you living and breathing solely for the attention of others.

It’s soooo unfair, but it’s true that if you aren’t happy on your own, you can’t be happy with someone else. And those crushes you so yearn for can feel the needy energy you’re giving off. It’s why when you ignore a guy for 45 minutes he immediately wants to move to the suburbs and start a family with you.

I think if you focus on yourself for a bit, you might find yourself crushing less and genuinely relating to others more. To do this, ask yourself: what makes a crush so exciting? Is it the promise of being truly seen as the person you were when you made that artsy, actually-really-good secret Tumblr in 2011? Is it the allure of turning a corner, falling into a kiss, and suddenly self-actualizing? Are you just addicted to the flutter-flutter of those sweet little butterflies? There are other ways to access shades of these feelings. Try a new hobby. Throw yourself into a creative project. Invest yourself in a friendship with someone you admire. Crushes will always feel life-ruining, but at least you’ll be proud of the life you have to ruin!

What do I do when someone asks me what my passion in life is and I don’t have one?

Tell them you don’t have a passion! How refreshing to meet someone who isn’t hustling for their brand to make each day an absolute epic slay and disrupt the industry by reinventing the way we think about optimizing our vibes! Just say, “I don’t know, life is confusing, there’s no promise of tomorrow, and it’s unclear what excites me on a day to day basis.” It’s like when someone asks, “How are you?” and instead of saying, “Good. How are you?” through a pained smile, you let them know you’re a bit anxious, bored, convinced your friends are all planning a trip to Palm Springs without you, horny but not in the mood to touch anyone, not hungry but eating a lot of honey mustard & onion pretzels, in love with yourself and convinced you’re hideous all at once. Or something like that!

But beyond that, I reckon (I’m in London right now) you probably do have a passion. Why not begin your journey to discover what that is? It doesn’t have to be grand or noble. Not everyone needs to want to change the world. How humiliating to be profound! Maybe your passion is sitting on the couch and watching Meredith Marks disengage while eating popcorn and m&ms at the same time and calling it “Cathy’s cosmic treat.” Maybe it’s helping foster puppies from a local shelter. Explore what makes you feel the most like you. Dare I suggest you read The Artist’s Way when I myself have not gotten past chapter 4? Maybe! Or try journaling. Surely your passion will reveal itself. In the meantime, delight those bold enough to ask you such a question with your startling honesty.

What’s the best strategy for dealing with a mansplainer?

Avoid them? Honey, we all have a limited amount of energy to give to others. Don’t waste your One Life™ telling this dude why the way he’s being isn’t ideal. If that’s unrealistic, just feel sorry for him. I looove feeling sorry for my enemies. If you want to say something to him, go for it, but he probably won’t change. People do what they want to do. Isn’t that frustrating?

How do you know when it’s time to quit the 9-5 and just start an OnlyFans account?

Why not both my darling? When you log out of Slack (does that still exist? I worked at a start-up for 15 minutes in 2016) log on to OF, upload some hole pics and see what the universe has in store for you. If you can make enough $ to live, laugh, love I say lean into your new lifestyle. If not, I’m sure there are other things you can do if the 9-5 is slowly sucking the life from your veins. The freelance lifestyle is a different kind of hell (jobs, even if they get to be completed on your own time, are ultimately… jobs) but you are powerful, competent, and have only so much time on earth. If leaving office life behind will enhance your existence, why not spend a few months saving up so you can take the leap?

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