The Rules of Forgiveness

The concept used to be simple. “Forgive and forget.” That’s all we had to say when little Jimmy or little Susie tripped us on the playground. They would be forced to say they were sorry, you’d get a cool band-aid, and everything would be fine.

Nowadays, we’re all about those meaningful quotes that we see on Tumblr, you know, those white texts on black backgrounds or those black sharpies on random paint cards (that make no sense by the way) that read something stoic like, “Forgive, but never forget.”

In our ever so dramatic 20-something year old lives, relationships are probably the most complicated things we’re involved in, right next to our club softball team. Relationships, thus, requiring a lot of giving and getting, but we can’t give and get without a reason FOR it.

Let’s talk about this reason: cheating. What do we do? Forgive? Forget? Slash tires? Personally, I’m not a fan of forgiving a cheater, but let’s look at this situation objectively and set some rules for forgiveness.

we can forgive and forget. 

Did your girlfriend kiss the bartender one night after having one too many Sex on the Beaches on the house? Maybe she was really drunk, maybe she pulled away quickly, maybe she even slapped him silly and threw her drink on him… or in his general area, because he wouldn’t stand still in her buzzed vision. Whatever the severity was of the situation, you somehow came to the conclusion that you would forgive her. You realized it was an accident, you realized your love was stronger than this, you understood that she felt terribly, I don’t really know. Either way, you looked at her and said that you wanted to forgive and forget.

If this is the route you are taking, you need to understand a few things. YOU forgave HER. You are completely choosing to forgive and forget. With that being said, you aren’t allowed to hold it against her any time past that point. If you forgive, both of you acknowledge that something bad happened and people were hurt, yet you still see a future. With that understanding, you can never throw it in her face again. Is she running late for a date? Yeah, you’re not allowed to text her saying, “babe, where r u? i hope ur not cheating on me! *chuckling emoji*” Jokingly or not, there’s just a little too much truth in that, you look insecure as hell but are trying to hide it behind a not-so-funny joke, and shit just gets a little too real.

we can also not forgive and not forget. 

There are just some things that you can’t and won’t forgive. You don’t forgive him cheating on you with your best friend. You don’t forgive him cheating on you with HIS best friend. You don’t forgive him for being the ring leader of a prostitution ring and “testing out” the new girls every week. What.

Sure, forgiveness might be the best thing to do; we’re always told to be the bigger person, that there isn’t a point in holding a grudge because that’s just unhealthy! I agree with that idea wholeheartedly… except when I don’t. If he or she deserves this treatment and does not deserve you, there’s no point in granting forgiveness. You’re much too good for the excuses, and there are just situations that cut a little too deep to be just an accident. If you’re hurt, and I mean really hurt and not the “drama queen looking for attention” kind of hurt, then he doesn’t deserve your forgiveness, nor does he deserve to ever forget how he screwed up and probably lost the best thing he ever had.

we can forgive, move on, but never forget. 

Something bad happens, and you realize that maybe this act was a sign that your relationship was already kind of over; maybe you just sadly needed something concrete like cheating to come to the realization. However, that definitely doesn’t justify a thing, and it doesn’t make what happened okay. With that mindset, you can forgive the bastard because I’m sure he’s feeling awfully guilty and has tried ever so hard to get you back, through chocolate, flowers, and other tokens of love that come in edible or aesthetically pleasing arrangements. However, you realize that it’s probably best to just forgive him and and let him move on, and hopefully you can do the same. However, it’s going to be tough to ever forget the feeling of betrayal, and there will be a lasting effect, maybe subtle hesitations in future relationships. “Sorry new boyfriend, I’m broken. Blame my cheating ex and fix me.”

HOWEVER, at some point, you can not hold this against your new boo. Don’t punish your next for something your ex did to you. If you find yourself doing this, then maybe you aren’t ready for a next and should probably just stick to Facebook stalking for now.

These rules are totally subjective, and of course there are reasons that you can think of to defend yourself and your relationship. “He apologized and said it would never happen again.” “She was super drunk! She’s really a good person!” “He had no choice!” Everyone has a story, everyone has an excuse. The truth is though that no one can make this decision on forgiveness but you. Just make sure that your choice is what you want, and your behavior backing this choice is fair. Personally, I am not an advocate for getting back with a cheater. I have forgiven, I have forgotten, and I have also come to this conclusion:

Getting back with your ex is like putting on the same underwear after you take a shower; it’s dirty, you’ll do it if you have absolutely no other choice, and you are most likely going to be embarrassed to say it in public, so just don’t do it.


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