Ask Natalie by Natalie Bencivenga

My friend likes to kiss my husband on the lips… My husband loves to compliment other women except for me.

DEAR NATALIE: One of my “social” friends has this really annoying habit. Whenever she is around my husband, she makes it a point to greet him with a kiss on the lips. My other friends said they think it is weird. My poor husband looked incredibly uncomfortable the last time she did this. And it isn’t just to him — she kisses all the wives’ husbands on the lips. Am I crazy or is this not a normal way to greet someone else’s man? How do I get her to stop? And especially now with the coronavirus running rampant, this seems really gross and irresponsible. 

— TIGHT-LIPPED

DEAR TIGHT-LIPPED: Why anyone would think it was appropriate to kiss any acquaintance on the mouth is beyond me, especially when the whole world is on edge over COVID-19. Explain to your husband that this makes you feel uncomfortable. See how he reacts. If he doesn’t seem bothered by it, maybe mention that it’s just unsanitary.

If he also feels uncomfortable, come up with a solution together the next time she attempts to plant one on him. Maybe he should take a step back and extend his hand. In general, people should be more aware of their personal space. You don’t know who has a compromised immune system or who might be susceptible to the coronavirus. Get a game plan together not just for her, but in general. What are your boundaries? What are his? How can you find a middle ground where you both feel validated and respected?

DEAR NATALIE: I was recently out with my husband and a very attractive woman approached us at a networking event for his job. She was flirty with him and he was very complimentary of her and told her “how great she looked” at least three times. It was eye-rolling to say the least. I’m not concerned about him cheating, but he did annoy me in that he never compliments how I look. So, I brought that up to him and we ended up in a huge fight with him calling me “insecure.” Is it so wrong to want my husband to tell me that I’m attractive, too? He has no problem telling other women, apparently. Any advice? —AREN’T I ATTRACTIVE?

DEAR AREN’T I ATTRACTIVE: Not cool. Not only was it unnecessary to compliment this other woman, but to do it in front of you and then offer you nothing is one of two things: 1) Passive-aggressive. 2) Ignorant. Which one is he? In any case, you told him exactly how you felt and then he deflected, turned it around on you and then called you a name. Not sure how he thinks this is going to make you feel better about the situation. I would broach the subject one more time, now that tempers have hopefully cooled off.

Start with an “I” statement. Don’t make it at all about the other woman or he may just call you names again. Say something like, “I was thinking more about our disagreement the other night and I think what is really upsetting me is that sometimes I don’t feel valued. It really hurt my feelings that I was called insecure simply by expressing myself and we didn’t actually discuss why I may have been feeling that way. I don’t want to fight. I love you. I would like to understand why it is hard for you to say nice things to me, especially when you know it would make me feel good about myself.” Most likely, he just wasn’t thinking and then became defensive because he was embarrassed by his behavior. This isn’t an excuse, but possibly an insight into his reaction. Hopefully, in the future, he will think before he speaks and recognize that we all need our lover to support us and, yes, tell us we look pretty from time to time.

Natalie's Networking Tip of the Week: Consider keeping a healthy distance in the current climate. Instead of shaking hands, give a little wave. People will understand. If you feel even a little under the weather, don’t push yourself to be in a large group of people. Protect yourself and others by laying low until you feel better again. Networking is a great way to connect, and in this time, you just have to get a little more creative with your greetings!

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.)