Hi Miss Emily,
 
I am a college freshman with a girl friend back home, 4 hours away.  We had dated for 3 years, with about a six month "break" halfway through (about a yr and a half ago).  Last year I went through a lot and lost two family members.  I hit rock bottom.  That's when I realized who was going to be there for me, and my girlfriend was there, always. I realized she was the one I wanted to be with, and I was willing to make the sacrifices in college to be with the girl I love.  Everything had been working out perfectly -- until last night, when I found out she had cheated on me. She hooked up with a friend of hers 2 months ago, and I caught her and him flirtatiously  instant messaging.  They were saying how they need to hook up again, and maybe even take things further. My girlfriend admitted she hooked up with him just once, but she said she would never ever actually do what they were saying in the instant message.  I don't know what to do or what to believe. I love her! She is my best friend.  But I've never been so hurt in my life.  Do I forgive and give one last chance, or do I end it here? Your advice is greatly appreciated.

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

When two people get together in a long-term relationship, especially at your age, this kind of thing is not uncommon. There is temptation out there and it spells trouble for this relationship. She can say what she wants to absolve herself from this situation, but it still does not mean that this isn't a symptom of something that needs to be seriously addressed. You are not around to maintain continuity in your relationship with her, and that also is a problem. I think you need to tell her that no matter what she says about this, her messages to this guy seem to run counter to that. You need to have a calm, heart-to-heart with her. Let her know that you are not going to insult her over this, nor make her feel ashamed. But you need to know where you really stand if she truly cares for you, and this warrants complete honesty. After the discussion, if you feel confident this issue has been resolved, you can proceed with the relationship. However, what happened is a wake-up call to what may end up happening in the future -- another break, or a permanent end to the relationship.