DEAR NATALIE: I don’t celebrate Easter, but my fiance’s family invited me to their church services. Is it rude to say no? I don’t have any desire to go to church, and I don’t plan on it in the future after we are married. Any thoughts? — NOT MY THING
DEAR NOT MY THING: I’m all for keeping the peace with the in-laws, but spirituality is a personal thing. Don’t feel pressured to attend services with them, especially because you aren’t going to be attending them in the future. Be very polite about it, and thank them for the invitation, but let them know that you do not attend church. But, because sugar helps the medicine go down, invite them to brunch after church and bring a pretty potted plant or some small gift for your mother-in-law as a symbol of good will moving forward.
It’s good to set boundaries early on rather than trying to backpedal in the future. It’s interesting that they are unaware that you don’t attend church, considering how far along you are in your relationship. Are they aware you won’t likely be married in a church either? Better bring some smelling salts! I sense a faint coming on!
DEAR NATALIE: My boyfriend of four years and I just broke up last week. It was a rough breakup, but I was so unhappy I needed to get out of the relationship. Since then, he has been posting nasty messages about me all over Facebook and private messaging me that he has less-than-flattering photos of me that he wants to share. I am so angry with him for stooping so low, but I don’t know what to do to stop him. We broke up because of his controlling behavior, and I’m scared to confront him. What should I do? — FACEBOOK MADNESS
DEAR FACEBOOK MADNESS: This isn’t just a bad breakup, this is full on harassment. While the rules are still sketchy about what is actually considered online harassment, I would start taking screenshots of everything that he is doing and contact the police to file a report. Most likely they won’t do anything unless he physically harms you (how messed up is that?), but at least you can have something on record. Also, block him from all your social media platforms and contact Facebook to let it know that someone is harassing you. It is usually pretty good about blocking people and looking into accounts that qualify as cyberbullying, which this clearly does. In the meantime, lay off the social media yourself, get out and enjoy your life and be grateful that you didn’t waste a moment more with this jerk.
Natalie’s Networking Tip of the Week: Set the bar high — but not too high — when you are at a networking event. Managing expectations as to what you want to accomplish when you are out mingling will make you feel energized and excited to network and not feel as though you set yourself up to fail, which can inhibit your abilities to connect in the future.
Natalie Bencivenga is the Post-Gazette’s Seen and society editor. She has a master’s degree in social work from the University of Pittsburgh. Need advice? Send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Natalie on Twitter @NBSeen and on Instagram @NatalieBenci.