Ask Natalie by Natalie Bencivenga

Can’t Get Family to Accept Single Happiness

DEAR NATALIE: I'm happy. I'm genuinely happy single. I have a great career that I have built for myself, I have tons of friends who love to have fun together, and I am generally content with my home life. But my family won't relent. I'm 34, and they want me to find a man. The truth is, though, I don't want to date. I don't like dating. I'm not very good at it, and I am OK with being single. How can I explain to my family to let it rest? If it happens, it happens, but if it doesn't then that's OK, too. -- SINGLE AND NOT READY TO MINGLE

DEAR SINGLE AND NOT READY TO MINGLE: Unfortunately, we can't control other people, we can only control our reaction to them. In this case, simply change the conversation when your love life is brought up. For example, if Uncle Ned says something like, "When are you gonna get yourself a mate?" You could say, "I'm building one in my basement right now, and I've programmed it not to ask stupid questions." (OK, that's how I would want to answer it in my head, anyway). The truth is, people usually mean well when they ask these questions, but I also think people don't know how to make conversation with one another outside of the typical stuff (such as "How's work?" "How are the kids?" "How's the love life?"). While you can't stop them from asking private questions, you can change how you answer them. Eventually, they may get the hint!

Natalie's Networking Tip of the Week: Speaking of technology, challenge yourself to waiting 30 minutes in the morning before you pick up your phone to check messages. Making people wait (just a little) to hear back from you is a good thing. You don't want to allow networking to rule your life, you rule it.

Please send your relationship and lifestyle questions to nbencivenga@post-gazette.com 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.)