Ask Natalie by Natalie Bencivenga

Fighting with boyfriend and thinking that moving out might make the heart grow fonder?

DEAR NATALIE: My boyfriend and I have been together for over five years and we have lived together for three of those five. But, lately, our schedules have not been meshing, we have been arguing a lot, and we haven’t been spending a lot of “quality” time together (if you know what I mean). We have been talking about perhaps not living together for a bit and see how that goes, but don’t you think that is just one step away from breaking up? I don’t want to lose him, but things can’t keep going the way they have been. -- FEELING DISTANT 

DEAR FEELING DISTANT: Usually when relationships are going well, people want to be together more not less. But, you have to decide if this is just a bump in the road or if you are both going your separate ways. Before you decide not to renew that lease, try a few of these ideas first: 1. You may be suffering from a bit of cabin fever. Try planning an escape route together. Take a weekend trip somewhere or even spend a night at a local hotel once in a while to change up the scenery. 2. Don’t forget to still date each other. It can be easy to fall into the pattern of being roommates and forgetting that you are also lovers. Plan one date night a week. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy, but reconnecting over a meal, taking a walk in the park or checking out a new art gallery can reignite passion and interest in one another, sparking conversation and hopefully lighting a fire (if you know what I mean). 3. Take little breaks from one another by spending time with friends, family or attending work functions solo. A little distance can make the heart grow fonder, but too much can make the heart forget.

DEAR NATALIE: How do I tell my friend that she isn’t invited to my wedding? We are having just a very small event and it’s mostly family. The minute I told her that I was getting married, she just assumed that she was invited. She has already bought a dress and asked me if she should try and get a date or just come solo. I don’t have the heart to tell her that she hasn’t been invited, but my fiance keeps saying that I better say something before she shows up and realizes she doesn’t have a seat at the table. What do I do? The last thing I want is to hurt her feelings. -- YOU CAN’T SIT WITH US

DEAR YOU CAN’T SIT WITH US: Unfortunately, there really is no way around this without ruffling her feathers. It wasn’t fair of her to make any presumptions about having an invite. If she hasn’t received something in the mail (or in her inbox) then why is she assuming she is on the list? In any case, weddings are always emotionally charged events and the only thing you can do is to just be honest and be kind. Say something like, “You know I would love to have you a part of our day, but unfortunately, we only have room for family and just a few friends. I would love to do something after all of the wedding craziness is over and have a fun night out, just us!” She may be taken aback, she may get upset, but what can you do? Make it clear that she isn’t invited, but that doesn’t mean that you don’t care about her or want her in your life. Give her a little space if she feels hurt, but also leave the door open to keep communication alive. If she is a real friend, she will get over it in time. If not, I don’t know if I would want someone so sensitive around me all the time, anyway.

Natalie's Networking Tip of the Week: People like to talk. About other people. But, you never know who knows who, so whenever you do speak about someone in a networking situation, keep it positive. It may get back to them, and that would be a good thing!

Please send your questions to Natalie Bencivenga to her email, nbencivenga@post-gazette.com; or through postal mail to Natalie Bencivenga, 358 North Shore Dr., Pittsburgh, PA 15212.

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