DEAR ABBY: "Russell" and I have been living together for two years. (We met three years ago.) The problem is his "best friend," "Whitney." I didn't have a problem with her until last October. They have been e-mailing back and forth, and I have discovered some things in those e-mails I'm not comfortable with.
Russell uses my pet names with Whitney and says he would be "lost" without her and that he "loves" her. Whitney constantly has one crisis after another and needs to come over, even if she knows it's the only day Russell and I have off together. I have confronted him about this without confessing that I read his e-mails. He insists that he loves Whitney like "the sister he never had." But when she talks about her new boyfriends, he seems upset. And when she leaves from her visits, he gets depressed.
Russell and Whitney dated back when they were teens, and she insists he's like a brother. I just find it odd that if she calls and wants to come over, he'll drop any plans we have. I also find it odd that he tells her he loves her so often. I feel like I'm being replaced.
I know they aren't having sex, but their e-mails suggest that he's cheating on me emotionally. I love Russell and don't want to lose him, but I can't handle this anymore. We have talked about this over and over. Russell insists that he loves me and doesn't want to break up. However, I read an e-mail in which he said, "... even if I wanted to break up with her, I couldn't financially." That about killed me. Please help me. -- DEVASTATED IN IOWA
DEAR DEVASTATED: It appears Whitney is carrying a torch for Russell, and he has a soft spot for her, too. That he changes plans with you when she needs to lean on him, and gets depressed when she leaves, is not encouraging. However, that he uses the same pet names for you both could simply indicate a lack of imagination.
My advice is to stop hiding the fact that you have seen the e-mails and clear the air. I am willing to bet that the e-mail from which you quoted was in reply to Whitney's question, "Why don't you break up with her?" His answer indicated that he didn't want to end your relationship. Make the e-mail Exhibit A, tell him you "snooped" because you feel threatened, and then cross your fingers. Russell's response will tell you where you -- and your relationship -- stand with him.