Ask Natalie

Son didn’t thank you at his wedding? In a relationship with someone who can’t open up?

DEAR NATALIE: I am dating this guy and he is WONDERFUL. He is black and I am white and while he seems to be fine with that fact, I am starting to get worried about meeting his friends. I am worried about potentially having children together and not saying or doing the right things with our future kids. I am worried that people (like his family) will have a problem with our differences and not see how much we love each other. I am worried that we are moving too fast without having this conversation, but I don't feel like I should bring it up. I want to be with him. I want to spend my life with him, but I don't want things to become even more difficult for him. What should I do? -- WORRIED

DEAR WORRIED: The only way you are going to get over this hurdle is to go through it. You have to communicate your fears and concerns with him. He may be feeling the same way and not be sure how to broach the subject with you. Because race is an emotionally charged subject with plenty of underlying topics that need discussed, you may not feel equipped or ready for this conversation. But guess what? You never will be unless you have those uncomfortable moments and work through them. I wish we could live in a world where race wasn't divisive, but we clearly aren't there. So to move your relationship forward, you have to take off your blinders and try to see the world through the lens of another. Have open communication, commit yourself to education on the subject and be empathetic. These are great ways to bridge the divides you are feeling and become stronger together.

Natalie's Networking Tip of the Week: Don't be afraid to speak up if you hear of a job opportunity that could suit your colleague or friend. You never know who may be interested in something that you may have to offer. Who knows, they may return the favor one day!

Please send your relationship and lifestyle questions to nbencivenga@post-gazette.com 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.)

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