Ask Natalie by Natalie Bencivenga

Girlfriend has bad breath? Fighting over what kind of house you will live in once you are married?

DEAR NATALIE:  I love my girlfriend, but lately, she has had horrible breath. I don’t mean to be rude, but I have been avoiding kissing her for weeks now. She has asked me why I don’t like kissing her, anymore, but I don’t have the heart to tell her the truth. How can I say that she has bad breath without upsetting her? --BAD BREATH

DEAR BAD BREATH: The fact that it has gotten so bad that you don’t want to kiss her isn’t just concerning from a romantic standpoint, but also from a health perspective. Sometimes, bad breath can indicate that something something more serious is at work. If she is coming to you and aware that you don’t want to kiss her, you might as well just tell her the truth. Of course, you don’t want to hurt her feelings, but avoiding her kisses can’t go on forever. It sounds as though you really love her and sometimes the only way beyond something is through it. So, the next time you are together, you should say that you are concerned for her health and while you love kissing her, her breath has been “off” lately. Recommend that she see a dentist and take it from there. She may be embarrassed at first or taken aback at your honesty, but in the long term, you aren’t doing either of you any favors by keeping your mouth shut.

DEAR NATALIE: My fiance and I are in the process of buying a new home. He wants something small, a townhouse or a condo since neither of us have ever lived on our own together. I, however, want a big space. I want a large yard, at least three bedrooms and a large living area and kitchen. He thinks it is overkill and unreasonable, especially because the price tag basically will double in the neighborhoods we are looking at. We both have good jobs and I think we should go all out with our first home. But, we both don’t want kids for a few more years and he doesn’t see the need for all that space. What do you think? I want this squared away before we tie the knot in four months. --SIZE MATTERS

DEAR SIZE MATTERS: I would save your pennies and am inclined to agree with your future husband on this one. After owning my first home, I can say with a deeper understanding that you don’t actually know what you want until you own your first home. Now I know for my next house down the road what it is that I want to keep, in terms of features, and what are new “must-haves” that I didn’t even know that I wanted. An apartment or another rental can give you some idea of what you like, but until you deal with the ups and downs of homeownership, you don’t really have a clue. Also, you don’t want to be in a financial situation where you have overextended yourself right out of the gate. Homes are expensive, and not just in the initial purchase, but with taxes, renovations and repair costs to factor in. You may be be able to purchase something, but will you have enough money on hand to furnish it how you would like and to upgrade certain features over time? Plus, you don’t want to be in a situation where all of your money is allocated towards your mortgage and you don’t have any extra for dinners out, entertainment, travel or emergency funds. Think smart about this. You may want to start small and grow as your family grows and your lifestyle changes.

Natalie's Networking Tip of the Week: With the holiday season upon us, it can be easy to spread yourself too thin. Remember to take care of yourself during this time with self care tips like regular exercise, meditation and healthy foods to keep you properly fueled for all of the fun gatherings ahead!

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.)