Question: How do you handle someone who thinks he is a great cook and is actually not at all?
My neighbour always wants to host us at his house, with big gatherings of our families, but my husband and I and our kids can't stand his cooking.
It is always bland or burned or just downright awful.
We value hanging out with this family and I don't want things to get weird.
Answer: This is awkward, no doubt, but the good news is that neighbourly gatherings lend themselves well to a potluck mentality.
Take on the persona of someone who never comes empty-handed to a social event - and wow, how generous that the dishes you bring are a little more substantial than the typical offering! If he objects or tells you not to bother, you can say, "You always do so much; I don't want you to be the only one exerting effort," and you can also increase the invites to your house as well.
If you're not one for cooking, there is always that "great new takeout place you've been dying to try" and that you insist on bringing food from.
Of course, initiating more activities with them that are not food-based could help keep the friendship's foundation strong.
* Bonior, a Washington-area clinical psychologist, writes a weekly relationships advice column in The Washington Post's Express daily tabloid.