Today’s Rant: Forgiveness- A Virtue or Vice?


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!

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About SexyTofu

Good food. Good sex. Good fun.
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8 Responses to Today’s Rant: Forgiveness- A Virtue or Vice?

  1. Sheena says:

    It sucks when providing the benefit of the doubt and a clean slate but too often it get taken for granted. The upside: I value the hell out of the good friendships I have forged.

  2. Amen to the Quick Tip: Can They Fix It?

    As much as I would like to say this can be for either male or female, it’s the guys who do this more often. It’s like they can’t acknowledge their faults and will probably just continue to be a jerk for all of time… which will eventually lead to me acting out number two. Oh, young love!

    • sexytofu says:

      Haha I donno, I don’t like to pin it to the dicks (in every sense…). I know some lady-douches. Some people just suck regardless of what they’ve got hanging out between their thighs.

  3. darkjade68 says:

    To be honest with you, I don’t connect “Forgiveness” with a Romantic Relationship… In other words, it’s never your “Duty” to forgive anyone.

    In a Romantic Relationship, the Foundation is Trust… First you have to Earn it/Build it which happens over time… But, if someone Cheats in the Relationship, in all honesty, Trust is Obliterated.

    And without Trust, A Romantic Relationship can be a Pretty Painful, Drawn out thing.

    To me the “Forgive, but don’t Forget” thing isn’t saying “Forgive your mate for cheating”, it’s saying, make piece with it if you can, but don’t forget that it happened.

    And when I say don’t forget that it happened, that doesn’t mean stay together but don’t forget what they have done… It means, remember that it actually happened, and that it can happen again… And that it can happen with other relationships. Learn, incorporate it, move on.

    But when I say move on, I don’t mean “Stay” with that person, and just let it go… No. That’s just you not wanting to leave.

    Here’s the thing… If someone Cheats on you, there’s a reason, or reason’s… They say it generally doesn’t have to do with someone else (like the person they cheated with), but that’s hard to say… And besides, there’s a bigger issue here… The fact that they Cheat at all.

    To me, the absolute most Fundamental Thing to a Successful Romantic Relationship, is Compatibility. Don’t get me wrong, makes sure that you’re in love with them, and that you are attracted to them… But, if you are not Compatible, you’re potentially in for a lot of Pain, and Heartache.

    When you say you don’t “Hang on to Anger”, that’s fine and dandy, but it doesn’t mean you should be “Forgiving” People that Cheat on you… No… In Fact, these are two completely different things.

    Let me correct myself, it doesn’t mean “You Should Be Staying with Them”, just because you’re not angry, and may in fact have forgiven. No, that doesn’t mean that at all.

    You need to Separate “Who You Are”, who may be just Extremely Loving, Forgiving Person… From what the Situation is… And what the Situation is when some Cheats, has absolutely “Nothing” to do with Forgiveness… No… It has everything to do with “Trust”.

    Trust my Friend, is very, very, very “Hard Earned”… And, “Easily Lost”.

    “I Forgive you, but I can’t be with you… I don’t, trust you any more… I’m sorry, I have to let go of you”… How many times have you said that? Probably not many… Or, maybe not until you’ve hung around long enough for it to happen over and over.

    It’s fine that you love someone, but I gotta tell you, “Beware” of the Loyalty thing. As Honorable as it may seem to be “Loyal”, it can often lead you to being “Blind Sided”.

    Leave Loyalty to the Golden Retrievers… You are a Human… Which means, you have a “Consciousness”… Which means you’re about 1000 or Times more Complicated than a Golden Retriever, lol… And Brilliant as they are, and they are, Amazing Dogs.

    If you are “Over Loyal”, or think you’re supposed to for a moment Stick with someone who is Hurting you, you are wrong. You’ve Learned that somewhere, but is simply not true.

    Keep in mind, I don’t think People That Cheat ate Monsters… No. But I do think they have some work to do “Before” they get Romantically involved… And Sadly, Generally, people that Cheat aren’t likely to do the work before they get involved.

    If they Cheat on you, and want to Jump into Therapy and try to figure out what’s up, and what it means, fine… But most wont… And if they do, you still need to Protect yourself for a while.

    Also, if you keep putting yourself in situations where “Loyalty”, and “Staying” in Relationships with people that Cheat, you should probably do some Counseling yourself… Not because there’s something “Wrong” with you… But because Humans often Repeat Behavior they’re accustomed to… And Breaking Habits and/or Cycles is really difficult thing to do… And a “Good Counselor” can be a good person to help you through/do it.

    Just Remember “Forgiveness Does Not Mean Stay with Someone”… It just means you’re not going to be Angry forever about it, even you’ve moved on.

    Generally, like you say, Giving People “Chances’ simply reinforces their behavior.

    That said, in the Relationship that ended for me last June, after 4 1/2 years, she had Cheated on me within the First 6 Months with and Ex… I did forgive her, because I know she loved me, and she had been with that person 5 years… But in reality, the Other Guy thing was always, always, always and issue in our relationship, and was what basically ended up ending us… I don’t regret having stayed with her, on the contrary, it was the best relationship I ever had… However, it was “Potentially Doomed” from the get go, because she Never, Never, Never addressed her behavior with/towards other men. (I was the Over Forgiver in that Scenario)

    Nuff Said, sorry for the Large Comment, but it was a really good Post

    DarkJade-

    • sexytofu says:

      Thanks for the input! It’s a difficult subject, really. It’s dizzying! Cheating is shitty, but so is any type of dishonesty. Betrayal is not always in the form of infidelity.

      • darkjade68 says:

        I agree, as the last relationship that I was in didn’t end because of her getting Physically Involved with someone else again, it ended because of “Emotional” Cheating, and basic Lying.

        Basically, she had “Emotionally” left the Relationship, and was “Emotionally” involved with someone else.

        She knew it was destroying us, and she wouldn’t, or couldn’t stop… And so it ended.

        I’m not upset at her for getting involved with her Ex at the beginning of our Relationship, I’m just Sad that she got Emotionally Involved with someone else, and wouldn’t give them up, or change it, or at least work with me on any Real Issues we might have had.

        But, that comes down to Trust and Compatibility partly… She Obliterated trust between us in the beginning of the relationship, then we spent 3 1/2 years rebuilding it, and then she toar it down again in the last 6 months that we were together.

        In all honesty, it almost seems as though she has some “Addictive” behavior going on, which doesn’t just show up with Alcohol and Drugs, people can also be Addicted to Certain Behavior.

        But in the End, if she’s not willing to Deal with this Behavior, or in her case even Admit that she’s doing it, the Relationship is pretty much Doomed, lol

        DarkJade-

      • sexytofu says:

        I enjoy your ominous use of Capitalization. Dun dun dun! Emotional betrayal is often worse than physical. Chin up.

  4. LunaSunshine says:

    Forgive and forget is absolute bullshit. No one ever forgets, even if they can find it in them to forgive. And if you can’t forget, how can you truly forgive? Simple. You can’t.

    As humans, we have the capacity to harbor resentment for a reason. To stop us from making the same mistake twice (although we often do). It’s a self-preservational tool. The body forgets pain. If that weren’t true, then most women would only have one child. And I believe the mind can too, as long as a person can find a way to let it go. Maybe don’t forgive it, and don’t forget it. But, just let it drift further and further away from memory, mind, and heart.

    The best part is the last. Don’t rehash it. Like the court system does, if you are a one-time offender, they’ll seal your record. But, if you continue to be a repeat offender, it will remain there for ten years since the last time you got into trouble. Even the courts can forget. But, a one-time offense won’t be unsealed just because someone got a parking ticket.

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