Dear Miss Emily:

I am a 23 year-old college student with many dreams and goals. However, I have been in a relationship with the same man for four years. We have a house, a child and all of the things people consider the American Dream, although we are not married. This is partly due to me, because I want to finish school before we get married due to financial reasons. When we first met, we fell in love. He had a girlfriend, and I told him to call me when she was gone and refused to answer his calls. Three months later, he knocks on my door and we have been inseparable since. I moved in with him and got pregnant. During my pregnancy, he cheated on me. However, I did not find out until the baby was a year old. The female with whom he cheated had been his friend for 10 years. He introduced me to her (prior to confession).  She babysat our child and claimed she was my friend.  I was so naive, but I always had this gut feeling they weren't telling me everything. After he "confessed", we drove to her house and he told her that I knew the truth and that it would be best if they didn't talk anymore. I felt that was adequate for forgiveness, so I moved on. A few months later, her number started to show up on his phone. To make a long story short, she still has not disappeared. There was even a pre-paid phone and a car title that he had put in his name for her. This woman has 7 children, no education and cannot read. She doesn't even want the help to do anything with her life. I do not have the feeling that he is sleeping with her, just that they will always be friends. He has a soft heart and will do anything for anyone. Am I wrong to leave him because this issue will not disappear??? We have such a beautiful family, and a very prominent future ahead of us. Besides this problem, we have never argued, never fought or had any problems. I know that it is not fair to suggest that a person choose , but what else am I to do??? If I keep accepting this how far will it go? I am the type of person that is open to many things, and if I can not be respected I would rather be alone. I do not need him and would just move out and start over. He will not be honest with me, and in my heart I need closure so that I may move on with my life or move my family forward. I am so hurt that she will not disappear and, for the record, I am not solely blaming her...it takes two.. PLEASE HELP!!!

------------------Miss Emily's advice---------------

My heart goes out to you, because everything seems right, except this 800 pound gorilla in the room.  The first thought I had (after reading your e-mail) is: are any of the seven children, his?  Oh, I know, I'm the suspicious type, but has it ever crossed your mind?  You had forgiven him, when he confessed to cheating with her, and that's not easy to do.  I commend you.  He has, however, chosen to go behind your back and continue his contact with her, as well, a financial obligation.  This is absurd.  Beside the trust issue that's been breached, again, any explanation he has will pale next to the fact that his commitment to her seems to supersede his commitment to you.  He cannot control his impulse to help her, and that is the problem.  You were able to be firm about his situation when you first fell in love with him, and that same strength and integrity is needed now.  You cannot include her in your life, because of the past, and I would be insulted if he were to suggest it. You had given him a chance to make things right, and he failed to follow through.  Whatever this woman's hold on him, be it something more than he lets on, or his gutlessness (you call it a soft-heart) in allowing her back in his life, this problem needs to be resolved NOW.   I see a couple of choices:  Give him a second chance at severing ties with her, and hope he's capable of doing it or; move out and let him work this through on his own.  It's stunning to think that Octomom (minus one), has such a hold on him, and he would jeopardize his future with you -- a smart woman, the mother of his child, and one who offers him a promising future.  But the older I get, the more I realize that humans too often make lousy choices, and usually live to regret them.