Ask Natalie by Natalie Bencivenga

Sisters engaged at the same time and causing major drama? Quit smoking marijuana and friend upset about it?

DEAR NATALIE: My older sisters both are engaged to be married. The proposals happened only days apart from each other. They are both very competitive with one another. It’s become a bit of an issue because they are fighting over who gets to get married first. Neither of them want a long engagement, but family is asking that they at least wait six months between weddings so that everyone can catch their breath and enjoy each wedding individually. My oldest sister, Diana, feels that she should get to go first even though Adriene was (technically!) engaged first. I think the whole thing is ridiculous but I feel caught in the middle. I suggested that they just do a dual ceremony and split the cost for the wedding since the same people will basically be coming to both. They hated that idea. So, who do you think should get to marry first and how should I handle this? --WEDDING MAYHEM

DEAR WEDDING MAYHEM: Picking sides won’t do you or anyone any good. From an objective perspective, the one that was engaged first should get married first. I can understand your family’s perspective of wanting the weddings to be six months apart just so everyone can enjoy each sister’s festivities without feeling like it’s a chore. I actually like the idea of a dual ceremony but I can also understand that it isn’t for everyone. It’s a shame neither of them are willing to elope. Your best bet is to stay out of it. They can flip a coin if they are both open to it. At the end of the day, it really shouldn’t matter. Their stupid competition with each other is only going to ruin an otherwise lovely experience for themselves and everyone else. Remind them that at the end of the day, it isn’t about the party, it’s about being married to the love of their lives. It all goes by in a blink of an eye, so encourage them to savor the moments, be there for each other and enjoy the journey.

DEAR NATALIE: I live in California and I recently quit smoking marijuana. It just wasn’t good for me. My friends have been mostly supportive, but one of my closest friends has been really tough on me. She makes fun of me for quitting and says I’m a loser. I keep telling her that it just didn’t make me feel good. She says “that’s all in your head” and thinks I am being dramatic. I really care about her, but being around her lately has been really hard on me and I don’t want her to keep bringing me down. What should I do? --UP IN SMOKE

DEAR UP IN SMOKE: Even though marijuana may be helpful to some, it isn’t helpful to everyone. You are under no obligation to enjoy it or engage in it. Any “friend” that can’t deal with it isn’t a real friend. She may be harboring some of her own fears and insecurities and taking them out on you. It reminds me of last winter when I eased up on social drinking. I just wanted to cut down on my calories after the holidays. A lot of people around me became suddenly uncomfortable with the fact that I was turning down wine at dinner. Sometimes, whether we mean to or not, we hold up mirrors for other people. And sometimes, they don’t always like what they see. Maybe in this case with your friend, she is relying too heavily on marijuana to deal with day-to-day life and you are a constant reminder to her of that. I would recommend you pull back from her for a while. Let her miss you and let her realize that your relationship, if it’s real, shouldn’t be about getting high together, but instead, sharing life together. If she can’t do that, why do you need to be around her, anyway?

Natalie's Networking Tip of the Week: Be someone who notices the person standing by themselves in a room and decides to go over and introduce yourself. Not everyone is outgoing, and not everyone is standoffish. Sometimes, people are shy and just need a little encouragement to step out of their shell.

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.)