Ask Natalie by Natalie Bencivenga

Friend Is a Constant Debbie Downer

DEAR NATALIE: We have a great group of girlfriends, but one is such a downer. No matter what we decide to do, she has a problem with it. If we go to a restaurant, she doesn't like the food. If we do a happy hour, she's unhappy with the location -- You get the idea. A few of my friends are sick of it and don't want to invite her anymore. So recently, we all went out and didn't invite her. She found out after looking at photos on Instagram, and now she is really hurt. I don't want to hurt her feelings at all, but how do I tell her she's just not any fun? -- DEBBIE DOWNER FOR REAL

DEAR DEBBIE DOWNER FOR REAL: This sounds like a "Mean Girls" scenario. It was really uncool to post photos on Instagram knowing very well that she would see them. Of course she is hurt because no one is real with her, and instead you are going behind her back and leaving her out. In any case, you should apologize for hurting her feelings. You can tell her that the girls were doing something that you didn't think she would be interested in, and you didn't mean to exclude her. If she says, "Why? What did you do that I wouldn't want to do?" use this as an opportunity to say in response, "Well, you don't like happy hour/restaurants/living/play with puppies and we didn't want to bother you." She may be taken aback and say something like, "But we go do those things together all the time." To which you can respond, "Yes, and you complain about them." See where I am going with this? You may be able to discuss the issue in a gentle way and in a way that may make sense to her. But cut it out with the Instagram until you clear this up, OK Regina George? 

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.)