Sometimes, even in the best relationships, we make mistakes – we’re only human after all. We mess up, do stupid things, regret (or don’t regret) the things we do which ultimately hurt the people closest to us.
With different levels of patience, forgiveness and ability to understand, when it comes to matters of the heart, how far should we go to forgive someone? When does a mistake become unforgivable?
Fixing a shaken relationship isn’t easy. It takes some measure of trust which is definitely not easy to give once that trust has been rocked. It takes work on both sides, and whilst sometimes that work is worth it, unfortunately other times it is not.
So how do you move forward from it? How do you know whether to forgive, or forget them?
The way you found out
They told you
As much as it is painful to hear straight from their lips, this is the best way to find out. They are being honest with you, and don’t want you to find out another way (which would be worse). It shows that as much as they know it may hurt you, they want to limit the hurt you experience. It also means they are aware that what they’ve done will hurt you, which is easier than having to explain when you find out, and they think they’ve done nothing wrong.
Someone else told you
Ouch. This is definitely the worst way – because other people know something shitty and chances are, you’re the last to find out. Opinions form, whispers are uttered and outsiders to your relationship are starkly aware of the issues which you two are going through.
You found out yourself
Whether it’s through snooping or turning into your very own private investigator, this is still a pretty dire way of finding out your SO is hiding something. This is when you’ve found evidence which would lead you to believe that your other half has done something bad. The worst thing is that you make it 100 times worse in your head: your view of your SO is suddenly changed – and it’s all out of your control.
The way they react
When you confront your other half about the mistake made, the way they react says a lot about whether they regret the mistake, or simply regret you finding out.
They become defensive and refuse to believe they’ve done anything wrong. They turn the blame onto you. They get themselves tangled in a webs of lies trying to dig themselves out of what they’ve done. This is not a great reaction. [Read: 5 Red Flags You’re Dating A Habitual Liar]
As much as it’s easy to get angrier at this, if you’ve rationally explained the situation, why you’re hurt and how it’s affected you, and they’re still not listening or apologising – then they clearly don’t care about your feelings. If they show no remorse or willingness to repair the damage, be wary – you don’t deserve to be treated like this.
Apologetic and understanding
Providing they genuinely mean it, this is positive. This gives you the chance to dig deeper and find out the root of the issues: why they made the mistake in the first place. It spares your feelings a lot more than not getting through to your SO at all. Even though you’re still hurting, knowing they do actually feel remorse for their actions shows they do still care for you.
The mistake itself
In truth, I don’t think white-lying is that big of a deal in general. Lies only become a problem when they directly impact you and the security of your relationship. If your other half is lying to you about where they go, what they do or who they’re with – you have something to worry about because you then have to wonder why they lied. Hiding things is seriously shady – you’re in a partnership, so the need for hiding things shouldn’t even exist.
One lie is a problem. Multiple lies is a pattern and you need to get out. You’ll never be able to remove that lingering thought of what you believe: if you can trust what they say just isn’t a convenient lie to keep you happy and oblivious.
Where were you in their minds when they were unfaithful to you? Not there, that’s where.
Get out. Get out now. A contentious subject: cheating, in my mind, is unforgivable. It’s a serious betrayal of trust and causes deep-rooted, irreparable emotional damage. Not only can this revelation feel like someone has gutted you, callously ripping your heart from your chest, but it can seriously mess up your ability to love in the future. Don’t wait and find out whether they’ll do it again or not – they’ve done it once, if you forgive them, they will do it again.
A reoccurring problem
If the mistake is neither of the above, or a combination of both, then perhaps the issue is a reoccurring one which you two face. Perhaps it’s a deal-breaker which you looked past for them, or perhaps it was something which is morally unacceptable for someone to do in a relationship. Maybe it’s just something which you just dislike, as it affects the relationship too.
With this mistake, you have to ask yourself why it keeps rearing it’s ugly head. Is this an issue which you can get past? Maybe you both just aren’t on the same page and see different things different ways.
Unfortunately in this case, you have to decide if it’s something you can move past, or if you may be better off without each other.
Do they respect you?
After you find out the mistake, you have to ask yourself if your partner respects you enough. To be able to put someone through pain, and live with the consequences, shows a lack of fundamental respect. If their friends joke about the mistake, or call you crazy for finding it painful, is you SO laughing with them?
If someone can hurt you, do they ultimately respect you?
How you choose to resolve it
Communication is integral and you need to know that your voice is being heard in your relationship. Remember though, it is just as important that you listen to your SO as well. If you don’t feel like they’re listening to what you’re saying, you need to make sure they know that.
The first step is an apology. If you’ve both listened, heard each other out and drawn to a conclusion, then you both need to know where you stand. Even if they are someone who absolutely abhors apologising – it’s the first step towards moving forward.
If you decide this is something you can forgive and move past in the relationship – great! Just make sure you’re not staying out of comfort, or fear of the unknown land of ‘the-singleton’. If you do decide to move forward, the only way is to genuinely forgive and forget – no more bringing up the mistake as ammo in your next fight. This is your choice, and if you’ve chosen to accept it, then you have to genuinely move on.
To forgive or to let go
If after everything, they still can’t understand, or take in what you’re saying, then there is something fundamentally wrong with the relationship which stems much further than forgiving a mistake.
If you have come to the conclusion that the mistake is too big, too awful, too painful to forgive: you know what to do. Never Settle for less than you deserve.
One thing is for certain, you absolutely cannot try to continue on with a relationship if you don’t feel you can forgive the person you’re with. If you decide the relationship is worth fighting for, then you need to, as hard as it is to do, let go of the hurt and the pain and focus on the future.
As much as it is an impossible position to be in, this one is entirely up to you.