Ask Natalie by Natalie Bencivenga

Moved in with boyfriend to save money and now he is acting controlling? Friend got a job promotion and accused you of being jealous?

DEAR NATALIE: My boyfriend has asked me to move in with him a few months ago. We are splitting the rent on the house that he lives in, but we are already butting heads. He wants to know where I am all the time now, something that he never did when we lived apart. I work two jobs and I am really busy. We used to mostly see each other on the weekends, but now that we live together, he wants to spend time together every night. I need my space. If I am being completely honest, I miss having ‘alone’ time. I moved in with him because I love him, but also to save money and pay down some of my student loans. I don’t know if I made the right decision. Any advice? --FEELING AWKWARD

DEAR FEELING AWKWARD: Moving in with someone can be a really big transition, and it sounds like you both just need a little time to adjust. He needs to recognize that just because you live together, doesn’t mean you are able to spend all of your time together. But on your side of things, you may have to adjust your schedule a bit so you can try and spend a little quality time together during the week, even if it is just one night where you carve out extra time. However, if you do explain your schedule more clearly, and you do try and make a little more time for him, and he still acts controlling, be aware of that. His controlling behavior plus your desire to save money by living together may be a bad combination. If you continue to experience this side of him, and you explain to him that it isn’t acceptable, but he continues to act this way, you may need to find new housing. Lack of affordable housing is why some people stay in bad relationships. They can’t afford to leave. I hope that while you are saving money and paying down your student loans, you put a few months’ worth of funds aside for yourself, just in case you need to find new housing quickly.

DEAR NATALIE:Recently, My best friend got a job promotion and I’ve been stuck in the same rut with work for almost ten years now. I have been trying to move up in the company, but it’s been difficult. She is a great person and I am happy for her, but the other day she told me that I was acting distant and jealous. She also tried giving me advice on my career path, which really annoyed me. I rolled my eyes, and this was when she made the comments on jealousy. We are in totally different fields, so it was a little ridiculous that she would lecture me. She has been texting me, but I’ve been ignoring her texts her a few days. I just needed a break. But now things are awkward. Any advice as to how to fix this? I don’t want to ruin my friendship with her, but it’s just frustrating to be in different places. --ANNOYED

DEAR ANNOYED: You are allowed to be annoyed. She’s probably feeling a little self-righteous and smug at the moment and you just couldn’t handle it. That’s okay. Eye rolls happen to the best of us! But now, it sounds as though the moment of annoyance is on the verge of turning into something bigger, so it is important that you clear the air before it gets weird. Friendships ebb and flow. Sometimes, you are in the same place, and other times, you are in different worlds. But real friends always find their way back to one another. I would just send her a text back and ask her to meet up for coffee. Then, just talk it out. This is just a tiny little blip on the friendship radar. Don’t let it get worse. Silence makes things harder, not easier, over time. Just tell her that you didn’t mean to hurt her feelings when you seemed annoyed, but that you don’t need her career advice, just her friendship. Sometimes, people think that they are being helpful, but in actuality, they are making things worse. Don’t sweat the pettiness. Life is too short. Go back to being friends and having fun. We all need support and love more than anything.

Natalie's Networking Tip of the Week: If you are nervous about networking, show up early to the event. There will be less people there, and you can make a few connections more easily in smaller groups. It’s a win-win!

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.)