Ask Natalie

DEAR NATALIE: My boyfriend recently discovered that I have a webcam show online that I host to make money. It’s whisper therapy known as 'autonomous sensory meridian response' (ASMR). Basically, it means I talk in a soothing, calming voice to help people relax. My show is very popular and I’ve started making a little money from it. Well, he found out about it the other night when he was over and asked me what video work I was editing. He got completely weirded out by it. I told him it is non-sexual and helps people deal with their stress. I have helped insomniacs sleep and people with anxiety feel better! Plus, I enjoy it and it could prove to be lucrative for me. He said it wasn’t “respectable” for me to do this for a living. I also work as a freelance photographer and part-time at a restaurant. I told him that I’m a good person. I just don’t think he understands. He’s much older than me and sometimes acts more like a father than a boyfriend. What should I do? He wants me to stop the show because he says I’m “embarrassing him and myself.” But I really enjoy it! Thoughts? -- CAUGHT ON CAMERA

DEAR CAUGHT ON CAMERA: While ASMR is not everyone’s cup of tea, you certainly aren’t hurting anyone by posting those videos on YouTube. If people find it to be entertaining or helpful, what’s the big deal? What is it that he doesn’t find ‘respectable’ about it? It sounds more like a generational thing than anything else. I would try to explain it to him again and even have him watch one of your shows. If he still finds it completely creepy and weird (some people do!) then just tell him that this is your thing and he doesn’t need to be involved in any way. His personal feelings, however, don’t give him the right to tell you what to do or how you should make a living. Everyone is always so quick to judge others but in all honesty if this is the worst thing that he can dig up on you online, I would say you are in a pretty good shape. Instead, he should work on cultivating a healthy, loving relationship, one in which he embraces and respects who you are. If he can’t do that, tell him in a soothing whisper, to get out and stay out.  

DEAR NATALIE: My friend Liza is always trying to upstage me. I get a new car, she gets a new car. I get new jewelry, she gets new jewelry. I go on a fun vacation with my husband, she goes on one with hers to basically the same place. It’s really starting to annoy me. I told my friend Jennifer how weird it was and she went behind my back and told Liza. Now Liza is mad at me for talking about me to Jennifer and now Jennifer is siding with Liza. I feel like I’m back in middle school. Any thoughts on how to fix all of this? I like Liza, I just want her to stop copying me. I also like Jennifer, but she shouldn’t have said what I told her in confidence and used it against me. Help! -- MEAN GIRLS

DEAR MEAN GIRLS: Wow, it sounds like you have a really fabulous life. Cars, jewelry, vacations...maybe if you focused on all of those wonderful blessings in your life and focused less on what Liza is doing you would be in a better place. So what if she copies you? Why do you care that someone is clearly inspired by your lifestyle and wants to experience it, too? How does that really impact you? Stop worrying about what others are doing and just have fun with your friends. Maybe she is jealous. Maybe she is looking for attention or wanted to impress you. By talking behind her back, you’ve now involved another friend in all of this which could have been avoided. Instead of being mad at Jennifer, maybe take a look in the mirror and ask yourself why you are causing drama in your own life. Call up Liza and apologize for talking behind her back. Then call Jennifer and apologize for involving her. Then count your amazing blessings and work towards giving more of yourself. Maybe that will inspire Liza to do the same. You can volunteer together and realize that the best things in life aren’t things at all.

Natalie's Networking Tip of the Week: Commitment is key. Yes, it is easier than ever to cancel plans, but when you commit to making connections, the follow through is the most important part. The next time you say you will be somewhere or do something, do it. Be a person of action that other people respect.

Please send your questions to Natalie Bencivenga to her email,; or through postal mail to Natalie Bencivenga, 358 North Shore Dr., Pittsburgh, PA 15212. Follow her on Twitter at @NBSeen and on Instagram @NatalieBenci

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

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