This really has nothing to do with food or sex, but it does have to do with relationships, and in relationships you have sex, so we can just pretend, like when you order a salad and then eat all of your boyfriend’s French fries and tell yourself you were healthy.
You know that epic Alexander Pope quote, “To err is human; to forgive, divine?” It may be a bit over-used, but I believe it to be true.
It’s easy (but not healthy) to harbor resentment and bitter hatred. It’s hard to admit that yes you’ve been wronged, but still find the strength to get over it. And that whole “forgive but not forget” thing is utter bullshit. It is not forgiveness if every time you get a couple drinks in you you’re saying things like “Oh I did see that movie! That twist at the end totally surprised me. Her tits did look fake, SORT OF LIKE THAT GIRL YOU CHEATED ON ME WITH IN CABO 3 YEARS AGO. But I like, totally forgave you. Dick. ”
It’s never healthy to hold resentment, but forgiving everyone who mistreats you can be equally bad for your relationships and feelings of self-worth. Sometimes you do need to ask yourself what “forgiveness” means. Let’s say someone you really care about messed up big time—your best friend betrayed you, or your boyfriend lied to you. Or both. You can forgive them, but it doesn’t mean you need to stay with them. You can forgive them and move on.
I have always had this weird inability to stay angry at anyone. I like to think my inability to remain cross is a strong point. Forgiveness is hard, after all. Plus, I hate bad energy floating around me. But sometimes I worry perhaps by forgiving people who have hurt me I am telling them their behavior is acceptable. In every situation I have been in where I forgave a partner who did me a big-scale disservice, and stayed with them, they proved my leniency to be a mistake and repeated their offense.
As a result, I straddle this weird line between pessimist and hopeless romantic. Like drunkenly standing on the line between two states and screaming “Look! I’m Mandy Moore from A Walk to Remember!” my hypocritical way of thinking often makes me look like an asshole. I’ve got one foot on the Cut-And-Run side of things and the other on Love-Prevails! What I end up with is a half-baked mess of confusion, conflict and bitter sarcasm. I tell all of my friends in situations where they are contemplating forgiveness things like “A liar is a liar is a liar,” and “People don’t change,” and “Once a cheat always a cheat.”
And then I turn around and take people back, or dole out second chances. Do as I say, not as I do!
When it comes to relationships, I can be loyal as a golden retriever. You might be stealing my television, but I still want to sniff your crotch and slather you in sloppy kisses. Basically, it doesn’t matter if you’re a total jerk; if I love you, this means I have made the decision to stand by you. That sounds great, but in reality it means I often stay with people long after the relationship has curdled like dairy in a hot car. I don’t fall in love easy, but when I do, I’m in it for real. Even if they treat me badly, I feel guilty leaving them, because I think when you love someone you’re supposed to stick it out. Sometimes, sticking it out is not the way to go.
So here are some guidelines on forgiveness.
1. Decide whether or not you should forgive. It takes years to build a solid foundation of trust, and seconds for it to crumble. Think long and hard about what and who you are forgiving. Does the person who wronged you have a history of similar behavior? If so, it’s unlikely they will change. Does it seem out of character? Everyone messes up sometimes. Is it a surface level slip-up, or is it a 5 layer cake of lies? Decide if what is broken is mendable. You can want to forgive someone, but if you know you will be reduced to a shaking quaking pile of Jello every time they go out without you, then that’s a problem. There is nothing worse than insecurity in your relationship. Insecurity breeds neuroticism and psychotic behavior. If you don’t think you can trust them, then begin to move on. If you believe it can be fixed, see guideline 2.
Quick tip: Can they “fix it?“ One thing I learned the hard way is that abstaining from acting like an asshole in the future does not count as “fixing things.” I had a boyfriend who was always telling me he was going to “fix things” but never actively did anything. He just thought that not repeating his past mistakes counted as mending whatever it was he broke—in that case, trust. Abstaining from being a jerk is not actively mending things; it’s just doing what you should have been doing the entire time.
2. Let out your anger. Don’t be all “oh I forgive you” right away and then stew. Stew, and THEN forgive. Find an outlet. I like to let out my anger by screaming at the top of my lungs, and pounding my frustration away on the treadmill. I end up calmer and with a nicer-looking butt. Score!
Quick tip: Monitor your ranting. It’s fine to fall back on your friends and family for support, and to have conversations about what is going on, ask for advice, and sob all over them in your car parked outside your apartment so your room-mates don’t hear and gossip about you. But if you rant to everyone about how awful your girlfriend is, and then decide to stay with her, well don’t be surprised when everyone you know thinks your girlfriend is awful.
3. Let it go. You’ve decided to forgive and you’ve let out your aggression. Congrats! Now let it go. Don’t bring up the misdemeanor unless necessary. Spend quality time with the perpetrator to try to regain closeness. Is it a friend or family member who hurt you? Take a trip or plan some alone time to get back on track. Is it your beau? Make-up sex is always a good idea. Oh and presents. I mean…
So tell me, do you forgive too quickly? How do you know when to move on? Want more on forgiveness? My girl Sarah from SarahOnTheGo.com is writing on it later today so check it out!