Ask Natalie by Natalie Bencivenga

Deflect Queries Concerning Plans for Having Children

DEAR NATALIE: I'm in my early 30s, have a great job, and I recently got married. Everything is going well for me, but I haven't gotten the "baby bug" like a lot of my friends have. People keep bothering me about when my husband and I are getting pregnant. Is there a polite way to shut down this conversation without coming off as bitter or annoyed? -- No Bugs Allowed

DEAR NO BUGS ALLOWED: What is it about turning 30 (or being a woman for that matter) that makes everyone feel as though they can inquire as to the state of your ovaries? Having or not having a baby is really no one's business but your own, but in our voyeuristic society, it can be hard to keep anything private. The best thing to do in these situations is to deflect. If someone asks you, "So when are you going to start having babies?" try to change the subject: "Babies? I'm still working on keeping houseplants alive," and then laugh before quickly asking them an unrelated question to move the conversation in a different direction. Most of the time, people are asking these questions out of habit. In any case, it's your body, your choice, so don't let anyone guilt you into making decisions before you're ready. 

DEAR NATALIE: I'm a city dweller and my love is a suburbanite with three kids. How can we make a life together without either of us giving up too much? -- WILTINGSUBURBIA

DEAR WILTINGSUBURBIA: Long-distance romance can be quite a challenge (even if the distance is just through the dreaded Squirrel Hill tunnel), but compromise is key. Because your partner has children ... let me guess ... you are the one who travels, right? If you don't speak up you may end up with the terrible (and often irreversible) condition known as resentococcus. The best cure? Let your partner know that while you are willing to travel one or two nights a week, he and his family will have to do the same. Be creative. Schedule events with the kids to check out the Carnegie Science Center and other places to enjoy city life together. See if your partner can book a sitter one weekend night for a romantic date. You both need the same vision of the future to go the distance. If your visions are not aligned, find that out now before you change your ZIP code. 

Natalie's Networking Tip of the Week: If you're nervous about networking, make a vow to get three business cards at every event you attend. This way, the seed has been planted: Within two hours of mingling you will walk away with a few solid contacts to follow up with in the days ahead. 

Please send your relationship and lifestyle questions to 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.)