DEAR NATALIE: I'm recently married, and my husband and I are very happy together. However, I've been getting a lot of flack lately from my girlfriends. I like to flirt, and there are a few guys I hang out with (without my husband) outside of work. They are just friends. I would never cheat on him! But, my friends keep telling me I need to cut ties with these guys, that I am just "playing with fire" and could end up destroying my marriage. My husband knows about these guys from work and he doesn't seem to be bothered, but now I'm bothered by the whole thing. What's wrong with men and women just being friends? -- HARMLESS FLIRT
DEAR HARMLESS FLIRT: I would be curious to know if these guys you hang out with (without your hubby) are all single or taken? If they are all single, sounds as if you have a bunch of guys around you that may be hoping they could be there for you if your marriage ever turns south. If they are also married, are their wives really OK with this?
It's not wrong to have friends of the opposite sex, but when you say that you like to "flirt" I wonder if some of your innocent advances could be misconstrued. We all like to flirt and like to flirt with fantasy, with danger, with possibility. Just keep it in check. Have you introduced your husband to these guys? Would you? If you wouldn't (or haven't), ask yourself why. I also think it's good to play the game "Would I" and see what you would (or would not) do if your husband was there. I am not suggesting you need to police yourself for your husband, but if you are in a committed, monogamous relationship, flip it on yourself. Would you be OK with him doing the same?
Natalie's Networking Tip of the Week: You don't have to agree with people just because you are trying to get to know them. I'm inspired by the first question above. When you are networking, you may hear inappropriate comments being made. Remember, you don't HAVE to talk with anyone who doesn't fit the vision of who, you aspire to be. Surround yourself with positive people looking to improve the world around them, not ones out for just themselves.
Please send your relationship and lifestyle questions to firstname.lastname@example.org 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.)