Ask Natalie by Natalie Bencivenga

Awkward Mix of Business and Personal

DEAR NATALIE: My best girlfriend and I have been working together for a few months now. Her boyfriend (who is my boyfriend's older brother) has a lot of money. He was a successful tech entrepreneur and now wants to invest in something. He wants to buy the Pilates studio that I manage. This is causing a lot of anxiety for me. This is my space, and I don't want them to walk all over me or belittle what I do. I also find myself frustrated with my friend. She is really flighty, and I think she is just using him for the money. What do I do? I feel really caught in the middle of the whole situation. Any advice would be helpful. -- STUCK IN THE MIDDLE

DEAR STUCK IN THE MIDDLE: It sounds like there are a couple of issues at work here. Is it possible that you could be jealous of your friend? Maybe because her boyfriend has some money, or maybe because he's now able to do something that you would like to do - i.e., invest in a studio? Think about who and what you are really upset about. Stop worrying about her. Who cares if she is dating him for the money? You have a boyfriend, you have a job you seem to love - focus on yourself. As for what he is trying to do with the studio, I wouldn't get too worked up about this, yet. Wait and see if he actually takes the steps to invest. He could just be trying to impress the girlfriend. If he does seem to move forward with plans, you could always sit down with him and the current owner(s) and talk about the issues and goals of the studio moving forward. By being proactive instead of reactive, you will empower yourself and feel less anxious about the situation. 

Natalie's Networking Tip of the Week: Practice networking every day. Even if you just say hello to someone in the grocery store or stop for a minute to chat with a colleague at the office watercooler, the more you work on being assertive and friendly, the easier it will get. One contact a day. Make it a goal! 

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.)