Ask Natalie by Natalie Bencivenga

Afraid new boyfriend may be abusive? Friend wants to have a baby on her own but you aren’t being supportive?

DEAR NATALIE: I have started to date this new guy and my friends don’t like him very much. They have heard rumors about him that he was in a domestic violence situation about six months ago and he put his ex-girlfriend in the hospital after the two of them got into an argument. I don’t see how this could be true. He seems really nice. They think I should walk away, but I think I should just ask him and find out if it is true. If it is true, what should I do? --HEARSAY

DEAR HEARSAY: Is there any way you can reach out to the ex-girlfriend? I would be wary of confronting him directly about this situation if he may have a bad temper. If you have no way of contacting her, you will need to discuss this with him. But, I would wait until you can talk about it with another person in the room. I would not confront him alone. If you do find this out to be true, break up with him. Do it publicly, do it with people around you, do not do it when you are alone with him. Many abusers first appear incredibly nice, but don’t mistake control for love. If he’s asking you where you are all the time, shows up unexpectedly, starts deciding things for you or demands that you do things that you aren’t comfortable doing, take note. This is abusive behavior. If you begin down this road, it most likely will only get worse. And remember this, the worst time for a woman who is with an abusive partner is when she tries to leave. This is the time when she is most likely murdered or violently attacked. So if there is a hint of abusiveness around him, investigate. If he is found to have hurt someone so badly that she ended up in the hospital, I wouldn’t just walk away from him. I would run. You are valuable. You have worth and purpose outside of any relationship. Love doesn’t hurt and it never should. If you need more support, call the domestic violence hotline for resources: 1-800-799-SAFE (7233).

DEAR NATALIE: My good friend has decided that she wants to have a baby on her own. She wants to go get fertility treatments and head to a sperm bank. She is single and pushing forty and says she is “tired of waiting to find the right guy.” She has been very career-driven her whole life and has done really well for herself. I still think she should go a more traditional route and focus on finding a husband first. We got into an argument about it the other day. She said if “I can’t be supportive, then she won’t be able to be friends.” I feel really hurt by this and don’t understand why she is taking my remarks so personally. I have three kids and I don’t think she is ready for the lifestyle change or responsibility that it will add to her life. Aren’t I allowed to share my concerns? --OH BABY

DEAR OH BABY: How else could she take your remarks? It’s an incredibly personal situation and she felt comfortable opening up to you about it and then you shot her down. While it may not have been the way you did it, or the way you would choose to do it, it’s her life and her body. If she has the financial means to take care of a child, and it sounds like she does, what is the problem here? Life is short and if having a baby is something that will bring her joy, she shouldn't have to wait to find “Mr. Right” to do it. Most likely she has been so focused on building her own career that she just didn’t have the time to invest in relationships. Her window is closing to have a baby, and while she may find love down the road, if she waits much longer she may not be able to have her own family. Of course she can adopt, but if she wants to have any of her own children, now would be the time. Instead of judging her for a choice you never had to make, why don’t you be her friend, instead? Share with her the ups and downs of motherhood. Talk about what keeps you up at night and what makes you laugh. Share your dreams and concerns for your children and give her a realistic idea of the thankless, albeit amazing, job that it is. She may just need someone to lean on. Let that person be you.

Natalie's Networking Tip of the Week: The holiday season is heading our way and this is the perfect time to get involved in a charitable organization. Many groups are looking for volunteers this time of year. What a great way to meet new friends and to do something meaningful, as well.

Please send your questions to Natalie Bencivenga to her email,; or through postal mail to Natalie Bencivenga, 358 North Shore Dr., Pittsburgh, PA 15212. Follow her on Twitter at @NBSeen and on Instagram @NatalieBenci

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