DEAR NATALIE: I am a 36-year-old man in love with an amazing woman. We’ve known each other since high school and have held each other up through the roughest times in our lives — my divorce and depression, her ill father and abusive ex-boyfriend. She’s beautiful, she’s smart, and she’s great with my kids to the point that I could imagine her as the perfect stepmom to them. A few weeks ago, I took a chance and expressed my feelings for her. She rejected me, then acted as if nothing had happened. She continued texting me regularly and tagging me on social media as though she expected nothing to change. I asked her to stop contacting me, but that made her irrationally angry. She says I’m throwing away a 20-year friendship, but she is the one throwing it away. She says she “misses” her “best friend,” but I have plenty of friends. What I need is a romantic partner. I feel as though she is trying to have things both ways, keeping me around as long as it suits her but never too close. How do I get her to get off the fence and make up her mind? To either decide that she wants to be with me properly or to decide that she doesn’t and let me go on my way without her complicating things? -- LOVE ME OR LEAVE ME
DEAR LOVE ME OR LEAVE ME: You know what you need to do. In a way, you already did it and found her answer. When you told her your feelings and she rebuffed you, ignored you and then proceeded to act as though nothing had happened, that really said it all. Move on from her. Cut off communication with her and recognize that perhaps she was a crutch to you when you needed one, but now what you need is someone who wants to be with you as much as you want to be with them.
DEAR NATALIE: I have been trying to deal with my husband’s infidelity for a while now. He had been having an affair a few years back, but when I confronted him, he stopped. Recently, we decided to sell our house and separate to see if living apart would be the solution. I found out that he has a girlfriend who has been staying at his new place. I am livid. It was his idea to get separate spaces saying that “he needed time to think” and instead he’s just with another woman. What should I do? We have two college-aged children and they are sick and tired of seeing us like this. My children think that we should divorce once and for all but I still have my hesitations about that. I don’t like the idea of being divorced. What do you think is the best route forward? — DIVORCE OR STAY
DEAR DIVORCE OR STAY: Leave him. Think of the example you are setting for your children. What does it say to them to have them see your husband to continually disrespect you in this way? They are watching everything that you do, and if they see this behavior, they could be likely to mimic it in their own relationships down the road. If nothing else, please start seeking counseling to help you deal with some of the deeply rooted issues that are preventing you from moving forward in your life. You don’t deserve to be treated like this. Redirect your energy to things that make you feel good about yourself. This drama is for the birds.
Natalie's Networking Tip of the Week: When you are at a networking event, take care not to overindulge in alcohol. Sometimes we reach for a drink when we are nervous, but make sure you keep your wits about you. You only want people to have a good impression of you, not a sloppy one.
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.)