Ask Catherine Cohen: Can I Tell the Bride I Hate My Bridesmaid Dress?

This month, the comedian tackles queries about jealousy, a lifelong friendship turned sour, appropriate birthday gifts, and bad outfits.

Comedian Catherine Cohen wearing a blazer, red lipstick and gold earrings.
Catherine Cohen styled by Ryan Lowry; styled by Daniel Gaines.

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.

I’m in my 20s, and a friendship I’ve had since elementary school is starting to feel toxic. Do I try to preserve it, or should I move on?

With the taste of your lips I’m on a ride! Sigh, if only everything toxic were as fun and sensual as Britney’s hit song from 2003. That nude bejeweled bodysuit? A cultural reset! Now say that three times fast—nude bejeweled bodysuit, nude bejeweled bodysuit, nude bejeweled—oops I just got my MFA! Enough of that. Now, I’m sorry to hear you’re going through a rough patch with an old friend, but when you’ve known someone for over a decade, ups and downs are par for the course (guy’s girl alert!!!)

A recent study at The University of My Little Brain just declared that life is simply a series of Things to Get Through and as we all muddle through said things, we grow and change at different rates. It can be painful to feel friction in a relationship that once gelled so naturally, but instead of forcing something that isn’t working or fully ghosting that person, can you try taking a little space?

If your friend is making you feel bad about yourself/sucking the life force from your veins, it’s perfectly acceptable to keep your distance for a while. That could mean consciously devoting more time to yourself/other relationships or formally asking for a bit of a break. I think we could all benefit from applying some of the language we use to discuss romantic relationships to platonic ones.

The older I get (cue me asking to turn on closed captioning) the more I value the friends I’ve known since before I even knew myself. I urge you to treasure this friendship even if that means the two of you don’t speak for a few months or even years. Things have a funny way of coming full circle. You might reconnect with this pal down the line and find yourself sliding into a new dynamic that makes you feel good and powerful enough to rock a nude bejeweled bodysuit.

Every time my boyfriend says another girl is pretty, I get overwhelmed by jealousy, but I don’t know how to express that to him, or if it's just petty to do so. Should I just try and manage my reaction internally? Or what should I say?

Ewww why is he doing that? My boyfriend knows he’s only allowed to mention another girl if he makes it clear that she is a) gay and/or b) a fan of my work. A straight girl who doesn’t know I exist? He’s not allowed to know that she exists. Does this seem healthy? I had a green juice last month!

In all seriousness, I think it’s totally normal, and occasionally even erotic, to let your partner know who/what you find attractive, but the vibe has to be right to ease into that kind of convo. In what context is your partner bringing this up? There are some people who are just objectively hot and it’s fine to acknowledge that, but it sounds like your bf is mentioning other girls in a way that makes you uncomfortable, which is making me have this random reaction where I hate your bf, whom I have never met.

I think it’s totally fine to be open about how his behavior makes you feel and let him know you need a bit of reassurance from time to time. TBH if you tell him you’re a bit jealous it will probably turn him on (humans are sick/vile creatures). Beyond that, if he reacts poorly to you stating how you feel and telling him what you need then he needs treatment XOXO

My boyfriend of three years is still close with his ex (I’ll call him Jim) who moved to our city a couple of months ago. I trust my boyfriend completely, and their friendship is important to him, but Jim has no boundaries and spending time with him makes me feel completely insane—he's constantly touching my boyfriend in ways I think anyone would find inappropriate, and frequently brings up stories about when they were together. Is it ever ok to ask a significant other to cut someone out of their life because it makes you feel uncomfortable? Or do I just let them be friends but stay out of it completely (i.e. never do stuff as a group). Or is there some other healthy adult way to deal with this?

Shoutout to Jim for being absolutely weird and inappropriate!!! I would never recommend telling your partner to cut a friend out of their life because they might subconsciously develop some weird resentment towards you and we don’t have time for that. I also think there’s no reason why you need to hang out with Jim in any context. Sadly, all we can control in this life is how we feel and how you feel in this situation is totally understandable. I think you can let your boyfriend know that his relationship with Jim is making you go coo coo loo loo and put the ball in his court. Jim is his friend and his problem! This whole thing was weird for me because my dad’s name is Jim. Love you though!!!

Is it ever ok to tell a bride I hate the bridesmaid dress she chose for me?

Even though I hate wedding culture (a pageant you pay to be in???) and think that part of my brain atrophied during the 14hr day in which I was a bridesmaid, I have to say no, it’s not okay. Just wear the dress. It’s one day. Famously not your day. And it’s not worth causing the bride, who you presumably care about, any stress. Put on the dress, wear a sexy shoe of your choosing, and have a cocktail or seven.

My girlfriend and I have been officially dating for two weeks and her birthday is coming up. What’s a good gift to give her?

Your question just sent a shiver down my slender spine! I’ll never forget the dark, dark day when I learned that one of my main love languages is gifts: My boyfriend™ had just gifted me a massage for my 30th birthday, the SAME gift he had given me the year prior…can you imagine the horror that ensued? “Why didn’t you get me a necklace or something?!” I shrieked from the rooftop bar of an overpriced Williamsburg hotel that gives full Leaning Tower of Pisa realness anytime a storm rolls in.

“I didn’t know you wanted a necklace! I’ve never seen you wear a necklace!”

“Because I don’t have one that MEANS anything to me!”

After a few tears and Aperol spritzes, I soon realized my reaction had nothing to do with the gift and more to do with my own insecurities (ugh is anything about the actual thing anymore? Subtext will be the death of moi!)

This is all to say there are no “good” or “bad” gifts, and any gift will go over well if it comes from a place of love (and isn’t the exact same thing you got them last year). I also think at two weeks of dating, a cupcake or a bouquet of flowers is more than enough for your bday gurlie. If you want to go above and beyond, you can safely choose from the following three categories: something thoughtful and inexpensive (inside-joke related trinket, a journal with her favorite poem written on the first page), something romantic and frivolous (perfume, overpriced creams/liquor she would never buy herself), or something intangible/experiential (concert tix? A cute lil coupon for a beach day together? A picnic packed with her favorite treats, etc).

I don’t know anything about your girlfriend except she has chosen a partner with excellent taste in advice columns, but when it comes to gifts for your lover I always opt for whatever the two of you will enjoy the most together. Isn’t that the point of being in a relationship? Double the birthdays, baby!!!