Dear Carolyn:

I am a 25-year-old guy. Up to about four months ago, I was with my girlfriend, 21, of four years. Things were good in the relationship, with just a few normal problems -- or so I thought. She cheated on me with a male friend of hers. I was very hurt and broke up with her.

We started talking again, and have talked about getting back together. I miss her a lot and can forgive her for the cheating.

But recently she found out she is pregnant by the guy she cheated on me with. I would like to get back together but I am not sure I can deal with this. Also, I realize the father has a right to be around. I was wondering if you had any advice on how to deal with this situation.

-- Signature

Easy! You banish every last particle of self-interest from your body. That's how.

This banishing can take one of two forms. The first is for you to love the child as you would your own.

That means not only forgiving your girlfriend, but also, essentially, forgetting she wronged you at all. And I don't mean pretending the fling never happened; no matter how deeply you bury resentment, it always claws its way back out, and you can't risk treating the child as a living reminder of what your girlfriend did, not even subtly. This is an innocent kid.

The forgetting has to come from making genuine, eternal peace with the infidelity -- either by confronting whatever problem led to it, so successfully that your relationship is better than it was before; or by loving the baby so fully that the thought of his not being conceived is worse than the thought of the cheating. Even if he's the spitting image of Pa.

However you get there, you need to be able to say "no" to the rewind test: If you had a chance to rewind your lives to a time before she cheated, would you do it?

No one would blame you if you said yes. It's asking a hell of a lot.

But that brings us to the second way you can banish your self-interest here: Resisting your urge to get back with your girlfriend. She may be right for you, the great love of your life even, the One of Ones. Nevertheless, if you're not right for her kid, you have to say no to them both.

Dear Carolyn:

I am unwilling to move beyond friends/ flirtation with a guy, because in the past year he has had three sex buddies and I don't care for the idea of being number four. My friends think I'm insane and keep saying, "But he really likes you." What do you think?

-- London, UK

Don't have sex with him till next year?

You don't have to sleep with him, even if you decide to go out with him. You don't have to agree with your friends just because they're your friends, and you don't have to stop being their friend just because you disagree. You don't have to like any guy just because he likes you. You don't have to apologize for not doing any of these things. And if I've missed something, you don't have to do that either.

Write to Tell Me About It, Style, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071, or tellme@washpost.com, and join Carolyn's live discussion at noon Fridays at www.washingtonpost.com/liveonline.