DEAR NATALIE: My boyfriend and I have been together a little over two years and we are crazy about each other. I definitely see wedding bells in our future. Recently, he was offered a fantastic opportunity in another city. He said I should move with him and we can get a place together. I agreed and was excited until I talked to my friends. They were like, “Why would you move without a commitment (i.e., a ring)?” and “why would you give up everything for him?” I was shocked by their reaction and now I have two questions: Should I move to a new city and live with him without a ring? And should I be mad at my friends? I don’t think they are being supportive, but I don’t know what to do now. I’m utterly confused.
-- MOVE FOR LOVE?
DEAR MOVE FOR LOVE: Follow your gut. You were excited about this until your friends clouded your initial reaction. You have to ask yourself: “Is this what I want? Do I want to move? Do I want to try and see where this relationship can go?” If you can believe it can go the distance, then take a leap of faith. But first you should ask him where he thinks this relationship is going. Tell him that you want to move, but it is a big jump and he needs to be aware of what you are sacrificing. If you expect an engagement soon, tell him. Gauge his response and reaction. If he’s on the same page, I say go big or go home. But reassess if he doesn’t seem interested in an engagement or feels moving in is the next step without marriage in the cards. What do you want? You can be wildly in love with someone and it still may not work out — you must have the same vision of the future. Reflect on what you want and need. As for your friends, don’t judge them too harshly. They have your best interest at heart, hopefully, and are probably asking you the tough questions to make sure you’ve fully considered the future. Plus — and they may never admit this to you — they may not want you to move because they’ll miss you. Humans are complicated creatures.
DEAR NATALIE: My father and I haven’t spoken in a long time and he is engaged to be married. I’ve never met the woman he is marrying, but he sent me an invite in the mail. When I was coming out years ago, he didn’t accept it and we grew apart. Now that I am happily married to a wonderful guy, I find myself wanting to reconnect with my father. We want to start a family soon and I would like for our future children to meet him. I think this invitation is his olive branch, but my husband says I shouldn’t get my hopes up for a reconciliation. I do expect an apology before I go to the wedding. Do you think I should call him? -- FEELING FATHERLESS
DEAR FEELING FATHERLESS: I’m so sorry that your father didn’t accept you when you came out to him. Rejection from a family member can hurt so much and run so deep. I agree that this invite is an olive branch. He may be ashamed of his behavior when he turned you away instead of embracing and loving you for who you are. Maybe he realized what he did was wrong, but he can’t find the words to tell you. However, this does not replace an apology. You deserve one, you need one and I don’t know how you could move forward without one. There needs to be a call before you see him again. This RSVP gives you the perfect excuse. Tell him that you need to talk before you agree to attend the wedding. Hopefully, this will propel him into apologizing immediately. It may not. Either way, you deserve to tell him how you feel and how he hurt you when he shunned you. In a perfect world, he would call you to make amends, but sometimes people need us to meet them where they are. Take this situation as an invitation to perhaps heal. You don’t have to forget what he did to you, but hopefully there is a way to forgive and begin again.
Natalie's Networking Tip of the Week: Don’t interrupt. Remember, the point of networking is to learn about the other person, so give them an opportunity to speak. You don’t have to dominate the conversation to seem interested in what they are saying. Allow them space to share.
Please send your questions to Natalie Bencivenga to her email, email@example.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.)