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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: For some time I had suspected my girlfriend of sleeping with someone I had considered my best friend. We all lived in the same college house, so it was a tense situation. When I confronted the two of them, they denied it and I believed them. It was easier than thinking that two people I loved were lying to my face. Soon thereafter I witnessed them in a sex act in his car. I was destroyed, but didn't know how to handle the situation, so I kept quiet.

Since that time, my girlfriend and I have moved to New York for the summer. I have cautiously brought up the subject of infidelity with her on several occasions, but I didn't tell her what I had seen. I was trying to give her an opportunity to tell me the truth; the truth is all I've ever asked of her. She repeatedly denied that anything had happened, going so far as to become angry with me for suspecting her. The pain of her lies is nearly unbearable.

Abby, I love them both so much and have no idea how to proceed. I feel like a doormat, a cuckold, a fool; however, I can't bring myself to hate them, even though society dictates that I should. They both mean too much to me to cut them out of my life.

How can my pride be salvaged in a situation like this? Should I allow them to believe their secret is safe? -- DYING INSIDE

DEAR DYING: I don't blame you for feeling hurt. Your girlfriend has not only cheated, she's also proven herself to be a liar -- and your "best friend" has shown he's no better. That combination of punches would floor almost anyone.

You owe it to yourself to tell them what you saw, and that they owe you an explanation. After you get some answers, whether or not you choose to continue either of the relationships is entirely up to you.

DEAR ABBY: The letter from "Sorry Down South" compels me to write. The description of the office politics surrounding the undeserved firing of a co-worker could easily be what my husband experienced two years ago. As a result, his chances for promotion in his career are now nonexistent.

"Sorry Down South" wants to undo the damage to the co-worker's career. Contacting the man's lawyer would be a good start -- if he has a lawyer. However, I suggest that "Down South" also contact the former co-worker himself. He may be praying for someone to come forward with the truth so he can build a case and hire a lawyer. Equally important, whatever suspicions he may have about the reason for his firing can then be put to rest.

Abby, I'm glad you told "Sorry Down South" to step forward. It could begin a healing process for all concerned. One person's courage in admitting the truth might encourage others to step forward as well.

Please, "Sorry Down South," this man deserves the truth. As the wife of a man who could easily have been your co-worker, I know that it will be received with open arms. -- WIFE WHO'S BEEN THERE

DEAR WIFE: Perhaps my advice, coupled with your plea for justice, will inspire "Sorry" to do the right thing. I'll hold good thoughts for you and your husband. You are in my prayers.

What teens need to know about sex, drugs, AIDS, and getting along with peers and parents is in "What Every Teen Should Know." To order, send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby, Teen Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, Ill. 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

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