DEAR NATALIE: My boyfriend and I want to get engaged. We’ve been talking about it a lot, but there is one snafu. I make a lot more money than he does, and I want to help buy my ring so that I can get something bigger. We got into a huge fight about this, and he said that I was superficial. He wants to plan the engagement and pick out the ring and surprise me, but I am not comfortable with that. Don’t you agree that I should get what I want, especially because I will be wearing this piece of jewelry for (hopefully) the rest of my life? -- NOT ENOUGH BLING
DEAR NOT ENOUGH BLING: I guess the questions you need to ask yourself are why you are (hopefully) getting engaged in the first place and what an engagement means to you. You can always buy yourself a shiny bauble, but an engagement ring is so much more than that. It is a symbol of a commitment being made, and that should count for something more than just the dollar sign. If you are worried that your ring won’t be “big” enough, think about how he must feel hearing that. It must be really emasculating for a man who wants to marry you and gift you with something of significant value (and no, I’m not talking about the carat size) and all you can say is, “I want more.” If you aren’t satisfied in the relationship, you need to ask yourself why you are marrying him. If it’s just to show off a shiny rock to your girlfriends, you’ve got some other issues that need addressed. Feel free to send me other questions. It’s one thing to have input, walking by a few stores and pointing out things you like to guide him in the right direction, but it’s another thing to take over. This ring is important, yes, but shouldn’t the relationship take precedence?
DEAR NATALIE: My friend and I are in similar industries, and I can’t help but feel the competitive vibes from her. When I talk about something at work, she mimics it. When I put something on social media, she doesn’t like it or comment on it. She always tries to upstage me, and I’m sick of it. I want to be supportive of her, but I’m starting to feel as if we are becoming more like frenemies than friends. I guess the question to you is what would you do if you were in my shoes? Retaliate? Ignore her? Confront her? I’m at a loss but feeling more agitated as the days go by. -- FRIENDS TO FRENEMIES
DEAR FRIENDS TO FRENEMIES: Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery -- and also the most annoying. It would be easy to say “you do you,” “ignore the haters” or other catchy phrases found on Instagram, but when it’s actually happening to you, it feels pretty lousy. In any case, it won’t help you in any way by breathing life into this situation — whether it’s real or imagined. If you confront her about this, she will deny any wrongdoing and probably turn it around to make you look petty. If you retaliate (and I’m not even sure what you mean by that), then you become the thing you are annoyed by, and that’s not a good look. Just try to just ignore it. So what if she doesn’t like your posts on Facebook? Are we all that insecure that we need constant validation? (Don’t answer that). Instead, just keep focused on what you need to do to move forward, be kind and recognize that those competitive vibes you are feeling may be coming from you as well. Harness that energy to propel yourself, but don’t let it get tripped up on her.
Natalie’s Networking Tip of the Week: Thinking about finding a new job? Use that network that you have been cultivating to put out feelers. Give some contacts your updated resume, ask them for their thoughts on how to make it stronger, and then ask them to pass it around. They may feel flattered that you wanted their opinion and more willing to help you.
Please send your relationship and lifestyle questions to firstname.lastname@example.org 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.)