Ask Natalie by Natalie Bencivenga

Boyfriend won’t pick your relationship over his friendship with ex? Keep trying to “just be friends” but sending mixed signals?

DEAR NATALIE:  My boyfriend and I haven’t been dating for that long, but we are already talking about marriage and children. We both are on the same page and want the same things in life, but there is one problem that is making me very hesitant about moving forward. He still has a close relationship with his ex-girlfriend. When I told him that it made me very uncomfortable and that I didn’t want him hanging out with her, he basically blew me off and said he wouldn’t give that up. But, I don’t get it. He wants to marry me but won’t stop talking to his ex. What should I do? I’m in love with him but not comfortable with this. — HESITATION

DEAR HESITATION:  While I would like to be totally progressive about this and think we can all be friends with our exes without there being a problem, I’m not European. Instead, I see red flags and sirens going off all around this situation. Now, whether they are rooted in reality is another story, but something just isn’t sitting right with me. While you shouldn’t control who your partner talks to, it does seem strange that he is putting his relationship with her over his relationship with you. If this guy really wants to marry you and have children, there needs to be a sense that he has your back no matter what. Have you ever brought up to him the fact that you are worried he may still be in love with her? Maybe he didn’t want to break up with her in the first place. Be really direct about this with him and get to the bottom of why their relationship is so important to him that he is willing to risk his relationship with you. Time also will tell. Since you haven’t been together for that long, maybe their relationship really is platonic. Maybe she’s happily in a relationship, and they are really just friends. I’ll forever be an optimist, but I’m also a realist. Get to the bottom of this or move on. You deserve to be a priority with the man who says he loves you. And if he can’t prioritize you now, then when?

           

           

DEAR NATALIE: I’m friends with this really great guy. He and I have always “just been friends,” but recently, he pulled me aside and said that he has always loved me. It totally caught me off guard. He also has a girlfriend, so I told him we couldn’t even have this conversation because he was in a relationship. Well, two days later, I got a phone call, and he had broken up with her. He wanted to take me out. I kept an open mind, but there was no spark. So, I let him know that I didn’t feel the same way. I felt awful, and we didn’t speak for months. I called him up recently and asked him if he wanted to meet for coffee. We met, I told him I wanted to be friends, and he seemed cool with it. He even asked me to join him to see a play later that week. Well, of course, when we went out, he misconstrued it as a “date” and was totally upset when I had to explain to him AGAIN that I just wanted to be friends. Now, we aren’t speaking, and I still feel awful. Should I reach out to him? — JUST FRIENDS

DEAR JUST FRIENDS: Why do you enjoy torturing this poor guy? Stop trying to reel him back in only to get his hopes up. I know you said you just want to be friends, but those mixed signals are only making this worse. You have to stop contacting him. If you really care about him as a human being, let him go.

           

           

Natalie’s Networking Tip of the Week: Dress to impress. You know that old saying: “Dress for the job you want, not the job you have,” has some truth to it. When you dress with confidence, people take note. Stand out in the crowd by wearing what makes you feel your best. Your positive energy will shine through and attract people to you.

           

           

Need advice? Send questions to nbencivenga@post-gazette.com. Follow Natalie on Twitter @NBSeen and on Instagram @NatalieBenci.