Got a relationship problem? Jason Godfrey, our man about town, is here to help.

Portrait of Tammy Strobel

“… guilty feet have got no rhythm…” 

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How do I make my in-laws like me? They just don’t seem to connect with me, and they’re extremely reserved people.

This may sound stupid, but maybe try to enjoy their food? Seriously. I’ve always got along uber-well with all my girlfriends’ mothers, and now my in-laws, in part because I love love love to eat eat eat. So when I’m eating at my in-laws’ I’m genuinely enjoying myself, and it doesn’t take much. A lot of the enjoyment is because it’s free – free food always wins me over. But usually, food is taken for granted by the family. As an outsider, you have a chance to tell them how great their cooking is and what’s different and unique about it – and hopefully, really mean it. If your in-laws aren’t big cooks? Well, don’t assume they aren’t connecting with you. If they’re very reserved, they may also be a little shy. Try some other way to bond with them – maybe buy them a nice meal?

I don’t believe in “opposites attract”. I want to find a partner who’s exactly like me, with the same interests and sensibility. What’s your take on this?

I don’t necessarily believe that opposites attract either, but wanting to find someone who is exactly like you, with the same interests and sensibility, is a tad… I dunno… unrealistic. First off , no two people are exactly the same, so you’re already setting yourself up for failure. Second, haven’t you noticed that people who are alike often tend to hate each other? Yeah, it’s a thing. So even if you did find this mythical doppelganger of love, you’d probably murder each other in the first month. Maybe you should try to find someone who has similar interests and common sensibilities. I think that’s what everyone wants, and if you want to be in love with someone exactly like you, well, there’s always the mirror.

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In any relationship, fights happen, and fighting can be the death of any loving connection. So how can you fight fair in a relationship? The best way to fight fair is to not fight at all. Just be hunky dory and all puppy dogs and ice cream zenmaster calm about everything.

Which isn’t very realistic.

But the principle remains the same: Don’t fight. Maybe a better way to not fight is to extract yourself from the situation when you see the telltale signs of a fight coming.

Just pull yourself out: Go for a walk or strap on some headphones and blast Rage Against the Machine or Sade into your ear canals until you can’t take scream rapping or easy listening anymore. Walking away gives you time to think things through, and also gives your partner the same option. Hopefully, when you’re back in the same room, you can resolve the fight without actually fighting.

If you can’t extract yourself and you get into it bad, just remember one thing: This isn’t a fight in the traditional sense. A normal fight is about winning or losing. But in a relationship fight, winning is not the end game. Keeping your love and respect for each other intact is.

So handle the fight with kid gloves, parry, dodge, and get it back into discussion mode. There’s no point winning the fight if it loses you the relationship.

Unless you hate your relationship, in which case, fight away.

Have any questions about men and their romantically obtuse ways?

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