DEAR NATALIE: I love my boyfriend but I have one major complaint. He is constantly checking out other women when we are out together. He even whistles under his breath from time to time when he sees a particularly good looking woman. Look, I know men are visual creatures, but I am starting to get a complex! I am an attractive woman. Aren’t I enough? I want to ask him to stop but I’m afraid he’ll think I’m being insecure and jealous. Any suggestions?
DEAR FEELING INADEQUATE: Dump him. Too harsh? I don’t think so. Clearly this man does not respect you. It’s one thing to glance on occasion when you see someone attractive. It is a whole other thing to ogle or whistle at women, especially when your significant other is right there to witness it! On its own, that is sexist and rude. But in front of you? It’s just disgusting behavior. The fact that you are nervous about telling him how you feel makes me think that in the past, whenever you have expressed your feelings, he has dismissed or belittled you. So, instead of asking why he is acting the way he is, why not ask yourself why you are willing to put up with it. He doesn’t deserve you and you don’t deserve to be treated like that. Walk away. He’s still a child and you don’t have time to babysit.
DEAR NATALIE: I’ve been widowed for three years. My wife and I were both in a terrible car accident but she didn’t survive it and I did. We were in our late twenties when it happened. I’m now in my 30s and still very single. I haven’t been able to date. It has been a very difficult time in my life and I don’t know how to move forward. But I recently met this woman and we really connected. She invited me out this weekend, but I called it off. I didn’t give a reason and she doesn’t know about my wife. I feel bad because I think I upset her. My friends and family tell me it’s time to move on. I just don’t know what to do. Any suggestions? --STILL GRIEVING
DEAR STILL GRIEVING: My heart goes out to you and to her family. I am so sorry for your loss. I can completely understand why you haven’t wanted to date after something so horrific and tragic. Have you been to a counselor in the past about your experience? You may have some level of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) that you may not fully be aware of. There may be layers of guilt and shame attached to dating because you survived the same accident that your late wife did not. No one should tell you when you are “ready” to date. The grieving process is a difficult one to navigate, and when you complicate it with the experience that you had, needless to say it is a lot to handle. I would find a counselor that specializes in grief work, and I would consider joining a support group for widows and widowers. You may find that sharing your experience with others who have lost their spouse to be healing. As for your new friend, I would be honest with her. She may be feeling badly about the fact that you canceled, and she deserves to understand why. You don’t have to get into all the details, but share what you are comfortable sharing. Explain to her that you like her and that scares you because you are still grieving the loss of your wife. Perhaps she will be willing to take things really slowly and just start as friends. See where things go. Give yourself permission to laugh again, to experience life again, to even love again someday. No one will ever replace your wife, but I doubt that she would want you to live a life of loneliness, either. Good luck to you and I hope that you find some sense of peace.
Natalie's Networking Tip of the Week: Work on your pitch. What makes you stand out from the crowd? What makes your work special? Find your niche and hone your message to share with others when networking.
Please send your questions to Natalie Bencivenga to her email, firstname.lastname@example.org; 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.)