Ask Natalie by Natalie Bencivenga

Ex-boyfriend wants you back but you’re dating his friend? Broke up but ex after you caught them cheating but they refuse to give ring back?

DEAR NATALIE: I just broke up with my boyfriend. We had been together almost three years, but he just couldn’t get his life together. It was so frustrating to always have to be the “grown-up” in every situation. I ended up being more like a parent than a girlfriend, and I just couldn’t live like that anymore.I started dating his good friend, and now they’ve had a falling out over it. On top of it, my ex is trying to win me back, and I feel really torn. I loved my ex, but my new relationship is going well. Do you think I should give my ex a second chance? .-- TORN BETWEEN TWO

DEAR TORN BETWEEN TWO:The first thing I thought of when I read this letter was that your ex wants what he can’t have. It’s like a contest now, a way to placate his ego and make him feel like the big dog if he can steal you back from his once-upon-a-time friend. The question you have to ask yourself is: Do you really want him back? Or is the idea of him fighting for you a turn-on? Is there part of you that started dating his friend so that he would fight for you? Do you really like this new guy, or do you really like that it gets under the skin of your ex that you are dating his friend? The only way to rid yourself of your ex may be to remove yourself entirely from his circle and move on. It sounds as though you had good reasons to dump him. Don’t let your ego get in the way of your good judgment.

DEAR NATALIE: I recently broke things off with my fiancé. I caught him cheating on me with several other women and realized how blind I had been. He is demanding my (very large!) ring back, and I feel as though I am entitled to keep it since he was the one cheating and ruining our relationship. What do you think I should do? He doesn’t deserve it, in my opinion! -- RINGLESS

DEAR RINGLESS: As much as I think you should run fast to the jeweler and cash that big rock in, it doesn’t really work that way. An engagement ring is a contractual piece of jewelry. If you aren’t getting married, you shouldn’t keep the ring. Plus, it will feel really satisfying to throw it at his head while you scream dramatically about the cheating scandal that he created. All kidding aside, I know it can be tempting to keep the ring as a form of retaliation, but in the end, it may feel even better to rid yourself of any energy attached to him and the relationship. Return the ring, move on with your life and be glad you dodged this bullet. Give yourself some space and time to heal from what happened, and when you’re ready, turn the page, and write your future with characters who love and cherish you.

Natalie's Networking Tip of the Week: Please don’t ask for a job. When you are networking, the idea is to gather information that could lead to the right connections to help you in your job search. But directly asking people at a networking event to help you land a position is going to be a turn-off. Down the road, once you have established a network, then you can discuss if they can support you in your job search. Slow and steady wins the race.

Please send your questions to Natalie Bencivenga to her email,; 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.)