Ask Natalie by Natalie Bencivenga

Friends fighting and you are caught in the middle? Brother and his new girlfriend’s public displays of affection making your family uncomfortable?

DEAR NATALIE: My friend, Amanda, and I both have a mutual friend, Jennifer. Jennifer is an intense person and you either like her or you don’t. Amanda and Jennifer were really good friends for a long time, but they recently had a falling out. Now Amanda is telling me that if I still hang out with Jennifer, we can’t be friends anymore. This doesn’t seem fair to me, as I get along with both of them. I told Jennifer what Amanda said, and now they are fighting again. Amanda is threatening to end our friendship. What can I do to mend fences while still staying true to myself? --CAUGHT IN THE MIDDLE

DEAR CAUGHT IN THE MIDDLE: Why on earth did you tell Jennifer what Amanda said to you? All that did was stir the pot and now everyone is in a fight. While I don’t know what your intention was, that wasn’t the smartest move. Now Amanda doesn’t trust you and it will be a lot harder to mend fences. On the other side of this, I don’t understand why Amanda felt the need to dictate to you whether or not you should be friends with Jennifer. You can be friends with whomever you want.  I would first decide what you want before you pick up the phone to mend fences. Clearly, you feel some loyalty to Jennifer since you told her what Amanda was saying. If you are going to be friends with both of them moving forward, you can’t talk to them about each other. This is only going to make it worse for everyone. You need to pick up the phone and call Amanda to apologize. Yes, pick up the phone. Do not text her. Tell her that you are sorry for repeating what she told you to Jennifer, and you realize now that if you are going to remain friends with both her and Jennifer, you have to stay out of their relationship. Then, tell Amanda that while you value your friendship with her, you don’t appreciate her expecting you to drop friends because she isn’t getting along with them. Leave it at that. If she can’t handle this answer, then you have to decide what’s more important. Your friendship with her or your relationship with yourself.

DEAR NATALIE: My brother just started dating this new girl and they are making everyone crazy with their public displays of affection. They are kissing and holding hands all the time, and they are practically on top of each other when we go out to dinner. It’s really gross and embarrassing and my family is over it. My mom wants me to say something to my brother, but I think it will just make it worse. Any advice for how to deal with these two? --NO PDA, PLEASE

DEAR NO PDA, PLEASE: Most likely this is a phase and will pass. You wrote that they just started dating, so everything is really new and exciting. Perhaps they are falling in love or just head over heels for one another. I think it is sweet and romantic that they can’t keep their hands off of one another. But, not everyone is comfortable with that, and I understand your perspective. I would just let this play itself out a little longer. They may calm down on their own over the next couple of months and settle into a relationship with each other. You could always just choose not to look at them. You could walk out of the room if you are uncomfortable. You could even make a joke and say something like “Get a room, love birds.” Public displays of affection aren’t for everyone, but it’s his choice, after all.

Natalie's Networking Tip of the Week: Don’t be afraid to smile. It makes you appear more approachable. A genuine smile is the start of a genuine conversation which could lead to a fruitful connection.

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.)