Ask Natalie by Natalie Bencivenga

Is romance dead (after marriage)? First kiss at 25 didn’t go so well?

DEAR NATALIE: My fiance and I got into a big fight about Valentine’s Day approaching. I (made a joke) saying that after this Valentine’s Day, I wouldn’t have to make much of an effort to date her once we were married or do anything romantic. She got really upset and now is having second thoughts about marrying me. Our wedding is this fall. Isn’t it a little silly to celebrate something like this once you’ve already tied the knot? At what point can we honestly stop dating and just settle into a married life? -- RIDICULOUS ROMANCE

DEAR RIDICULOUS ROMANCE: I’m going to assume you have your holidays confused and you are sending me this letter as a April Fools’ joke because no man that wants to stay married thinks that he can stop “dating” his wife and everything still come up roses. But my question for you is why do you want to stop dating in the first place? Dating is fun. It’s nice to go to a restaurant and talk over candlelight. It’s nice to go to a museum in the middle of the day, or a sporting event on the weekend together. It’s fun to catch a movie after happy hour and have a laugh together. Pull yourself together and recognize that dating your soon-to-be wife is one of best things you can do for your relationship and for your own mental health. Stop being so lazy and get in the mood for love. And if you aren’t, why the heck are you marrying her in the first place?



DEAR NATALIE: My friend is a really sweet woman, attractive and easy to be around. She is 25 years old and literally hasn’t been kissed up until recently. She claims she has focused all of her energy and time into school and work over the years, and didn’t have a burning desire to meet men or to date. Well, all of that changed recently when she actually met a man that she liked. They went out on a few dates and finally, she got that very first kiss. But it wasn’t good. In fact, the guy remarked to her that he hadn’t realized that literally she had never been kissed. I guess he thought she was exaggerating. Well, this has made her feel incredibly insecure. He never texted her back (this happened a month or so ago) and now she is convinced that she’ll never be kissed again. She’s been really depressed. I feel so badly for her. What can I do to help? -- KISS KISS BABY

DEAR KISS KISS BABY: Short of practicing with her and this turning into a “racy” late ‘90s rom-com starring Selma Blair and Sarah Michelle Gellar, I think the best thing you can do for her is just be her friend. Kissing, dating, intimacy...these topics aren’t easy for everyone to discuss or engage in. There could also be some underlying issues that you may not be aware of. There may be things she isn’t willing or ready to share that could have happened to her when she was younger, making her uneasy about men and dating. Or, this could be just a strange batch of events that took place, leading her to the point of never being kissed. But, the worst is over. She had her first kiss, and whether or not it was good or bad, it’s behind her  now. Even though she probably feels like a romantic pariah, I would remind her that it’s always awkward at first, but at least she doesn’t have to tell anyone moving forward that she’s never been kissed. That guy could have played into that idea, making it out to be worse than it really was. Don’t put any pressure on her, but gently encourage her to get back out there when she is ready. After all, practice makes perfect (and who doesn’t love to practice kissing?).



Natalie’s Networking Tip of the Week: Since Valentine’s Day is upon us, think about the people in your life who may not have as many visitors or relationships any more. Grandparents, great aunts and uncles or friends need a pick-me-up, too. Valentine’s Day is the perfect time to stop by with some flowers, a box of candy or even just a handwritten note and spend some time reaffirming your love and appreciation for them.



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