Ask Natalie

DEAR NATALIE: I work with someone who is consistently late or absent. This causes stress among the people covering for him. Our manager is doing nothing in either direction -- no reward for showing up, no punishment for not. What might I do to find more balance? I believe the manager doesn't care what happens. -- BALANCING ACT 

DEAR BALANCING ACT: You cannot care more than the other person does, meaning, if your boss is shrugging his or her shoulders apathetically at this co-worker, it will do you no good to worry or stress about them. You are picking up his slack, and I suggest that you stop. If your boss asks why something doesn't get done at the office or why a customer is unhappy, simply say, "I'm doing what I was supposed to do. Some of us aren't and it isn't my responsibility to do their job as well." Most likely your boss isn't paying any attention because he or she isn't seeing the ramifications of this other employee's actions. Once those actions are made known, you might be surprised how quickly the manager will suddenly care. 

DEAR NATALIE: I'm a professional male in my late 30s and I am ready to settle down. But all the (cute!) guys that seem to flock to me are a lot younger (mid to early 20s). I want to try to find love, but I end up falling for guys who are really unattainable or just not realistic matches. What can I do to improve my odds to find a love match? -- FLIRTS WITH TROUBLE 

DEAR FLIRTS WITH TROUBLE: Sometimes we enjoy what is unattainable because we don't have to worry about getting hurt or feeling vulnerable. It can be fun to flirt or enjoy someone's company if you know it isn't going to go anywhere. It's exciting (and even a little sexy!). 

But when you are thinking about getting serious about love, the question you have to ask is: Are you making room for it? Of course you are "seeing" only the 20-somethings because that is what you want to see. But, if you really want to find love with someone who has the same vision of the future as you do, you have to delete your digital black book of all the names that are preventing those spaces from being filled with love. 

Until you decide to change who you look at and what you are looking for, you will continue to see only what you want.

Natalie's Networking Tip of the Week: Kicking off a conversation can be easy if you ask questions, but what do you do when you run out of things to say? Don't force a connection. If the conversation dries up, simply thank them for chatting with you and say something like, "I don't want to keep you, I'm sure you have plenty of other people you would like to mingle with!" Then simply exchange business cards and move on to the next person.

Please send your relationship and lifestyle questions to nbencivenga@post-gazette.com or tweet them to @NBSeen. You can also send postal letters to Natalie Bencivenga, 358 North Shore Drive, Pittsburgh, PA 15212

(This column was originally published by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.)

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