Ask Natalie by Natalie Bencivenga

Ask Natalie: Planning a friends-only road trip but an obnoxious girlfriend wants to tag along? Stuck in the “Friend Zone” and not sure how to get out?

DEAR NATALIE: My friends and I are planning to take a RV trip this fall down the California coast. Hopefully by then, COVID-19 restrictions will be lifted. It is going to be awesome because we haven’t seen one another since the onset of the pandemic last spring. There’s just one issue. My one friend has a really obnoxious girlfriend and she asked if she could bring her. None of us are bringing our significant others, so we think it is pretty ridiculous that she wants to do this. What should I say to her? I don’t want her girlfriend to come and neither does anyone else. The only reason she wants to bring her is because she’s super clingy. It’s only for a week … can’t she just give her space? —NO OBNOXIOUS PARTNERS

DEAR NO OBNOXIOUS PARTNERS: This is all in how you frame it. Make it very clear that this is just a “friend” trip and that no one is bringing their partners. Joke that you’ve all spent more than enough time in quarantine with your loves but not nearly enough time with your friends. Let her know that it isn’t personal -- even though it sounds like it is -- and that it wouldn’t be fair to everyone else if she brought her girlfriend. It’s only a week, after all. If they can’t stand to be apart, then talk to your friends about what the other options could be. Are they willing to let the girlfriend tag along if they take their own vehicle? Perhaps the girlfriend could meet you halfway through the trip? If none of this is acceptable to the group, maybe your friend sits this one out. She can plan a couples’ getaway in the winter for everyone to bring their significant others. There is a compromise here, but it depends on how willing everyone is to bend. 

DEAR NATALIE: I have a lot of guy friends, but not a boyfriend. All the guys I hang out with tell me how awesome I am. They all wish they could find a girl like me. I think they like that I am laid back and easy to get along with, which is true! So I don’t understand why none of them will ask me out. There are two guys, in particular, that I could definitely see myself dating. But no one makes a move. I don’t know what to do, and I’m too shy to share my feelings. Plus, what if they don’t feel the same and then I lose them as friends? I feel like I’m stuck. Any advice? —SAY NO TO THE FRIEND ZONE

DEAR SAY NO TO THE FRIEND ZONE: The things that you are saying to yourself -- I bet they are saying to themselves, too. If a guy is saying to you, “Why can’t I meet someone like you…” it could mean that he is gauging your reaction to see if you might be interested. It could also mean that he really does have you in the friend zone and wants you to help him find someone cool like yourself. The only way forward here is with transparency and honesty. Take a leap of faith and ask one of the guys that you are interested in out for coffee. I know you are shy, but this could be good for you to get out of your comfort zone and recognize your power. Yes, it’s a risk, but it’s the only way you will know for sure. 

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