Ask Natalie

DEAR NATALIE: Recently, I bought a house that needed a lot of work. I had about six months to get it fixed up so my fiancee and I could move in after we were married. I planned to do most of the work myself, mainly because I didn't have the funds to hire a crew, and most of the work was cosmetic. I'd go to my regular job, then go to the house to work on fixing it up.

A lot of my friends said they would help me. As it turns out, only three helped me at all, and they helped me a lot. I could never have done it without them. All the rest of my "friends" were always too busy going out at night or over the weekends to help like they said they would. The house finally got finished no thanks to them.

I have heard through the grapevine that one of my "friends" who never lifted a finger to help me when I really needed him is planning an elaborate bachelor party and inviting all my "friends" who couldn't be bothered to be around when I needed real friends. I want nothing to do with this party. I realize my "friends" are probably trying to make up for not following through on their promise of helping me work on my house, but I am angry about this. I would rather just go out with my real friends who did help me. What do you think? -- NO TIME FOR FAKE FRIENDS

DEAR NO TIME FOR FAKE FRIENDS: Here's the thing about friendships: People disappoint us. They can be selfish and petty, and, frankly, they sometimes hurt us. And it sounds as though you are truly hurt underneath your anger. You feel as though in your hour of need, very few people stepped up to the plate to be there. But what you did learn -- and you are very lucky, in fact, to have learned this -- is that you have three really good ride-or-die friends. Think about that. There are people who will live their entire lives and never even find one person who would help them move a couch let alone rehab a whole house!

You now know this. You know who are your true lifelong friends. So, if your "friendlies," as I like to call them (those people we socialize with but don't have on speed dial), want to throw you a party, let them. They feel bad; they feel guilty -let them assuage their sad feelings by throwing you a fab party. Enjoy the night. Just have fun, keep it light and plan a separate night out for you and your three very close friends either, before or after this event, and enjoy that experience, too. The lucky thing in this situation is that now you know who are true friends and who are friendlies. That is priceless information. Besides, it's not worth holding on to negative feelings. They won't serve you, and what's the point in that?

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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