Ask Natalie by Natalie Bencivenga

Friend dating someone you can’t stand? Slept with your friend’s fiancé and not sure what to do?

DEAR NATALIE: My friend and I used to be really close, but he’s engaged to a woman I can’t stand and it’s causing issues for our friendship. He doesn’t see what everyone else sees. She is manipulative and mean and I just don’t know what to do when I am around them. He keeps texting me to hang out with them and celebrate his engagement, but I have been coming up with excuses. I recently bumped into him on the street and I know I was acting really weird and awkward. I feel bad. We always had a good time together, but I can’t bring myself to be around her. What should I do? I know he is going to invite me to the wedding. Any advice? -- CAN’T STAND HER

DEAR CAN’T STAND HER: I guess the question really is: What is more important to you? Would you rather be his friend or avoid her forever? The fact that you are writing to me suggests that you have reservations about abandoning this friendship or you would have done it. There is no easy answer here. You cannot tell him that you don’t like her. He will side with her and your friendship will be over. Instead, plan things for just the two of you to do together, and save your interactions with her for when you are in larger group settings (like the wedding!) so that you can easily avoid her. If he insists on bringing her along for outings, bring a friend of your own as a buffer. Be a good friend and support him. In time, these things work themselves out. You will hardly have to spend any time with them both at the wedding, anyway, and RSVP-ing “no” will just make things worse in the long run for your friendship.

DEAR NATALIE: My friend is getting married in a few weeks and his fiancé and I just hooked up a few nights ago. We were all out drinking together one night and it just happened. He left early and we stayed and one thing led to another. We both agreed it wouldn’t happen again, but now things are really weird. My friend has no idea what happened between us, but I’m starting to worry that his fiancé is going to say something. She told me she feels really guilty about what we did and isn’t sure if she wants to marry him now. I don’t want to ruin their relationship but I don’t know what I’m supposed to do. I’m one of the groomsmen, so you can see how this is even more complicated. What should I do? -- MESSED UP

DEAR MESSED UP: You didn’t want to ruin their relationship? You sure have a funny way of showing that level of concern. Yes, it takes two to tango, but you’ve really put yourself in the middle of a terrible situation. You have two choices. You either keep your mouths shut for the rest of eternity, or you both come clean with your friend. He most likely will find out at some point, anyway, especially if she is already acting guilt-stricken by this bad decision. While he may stay with her--you’d be surprised how often that happens!--your friendship with him is probably toast. I don’t think I could live with the guilt of knowing I did something like that and never confess. I also don’t think it is your place to initiate the conversation. I would follow the fiancé’s lead on this one. It’ll really come down to whether or not she actually marries him. If she is already having reservations, maybe hooking up with you was her way of getting out of the marriage. It was stupid, childish, selfish and hurtful what you both did. I hope in the future you will take your friends’ relationships and your own more seriously and recognize that some things can’t be undone. Be prepared to lose your friend.

Natalie's Networking Tip of the Week: Keep things friendly but professional with your networking contacts. Remember, you are there for business, so make sure your interactions don’t make anyone feel uncomfortable. .

Please send your questions to Natalie Bencivenga to her email, nbencivenga@post-gazette.com; 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.)