Ex-lawyer turned relationship coach

How To Know When To Forgive Your Partner

Wouldn’t it be great if evil people actually existed? Then we could solve all our problems by rounding up all evildoers and putting them behind bars. Ta-daaa, heaven on earth. 

But it’s not that simple. 

When people do hurtful things, they’re generally not being good or evil. They’re just being people. 

Consider romantic relationships. You take two people who don’t really know what they want and can’t really express what they want, and tell them to love and support each other for as long as possible. 

Do you think that’s more likely to promote happiness or unhappiness?

It’s hard to say, right? It’s just so obvious that someone will eventually get hurt. Either through misunderstandings, unintended remarks, different expectations, disagreements, or unresolved emotional baggage.

Relationships are difficult even under perfect conditions because the longer you stay together, the more the damage stacks up. It’s like death by a thousand paper cuts. And when you’re wounded all over, it feels more like you and your partner are juggling flaming chainsaws.

But none of this has to be a showstopper. After all, love is about caring for a human. Someone with flaws. If you want unconditional love without any hassles, get a puppy. 

The difficulty in being committed to a person, however, lies in knowing when to forgive and when to walk away.

It’s always possible to swallow your pride and stay. But should you? Pair bonding isn’t about soldiering on at all costs. There’s no fun in that. And isn’t that why most of us enter a relationship?

So when is a single incident or series of slip ups too large to excuse?

When they apologise? Hmm, not quite. 

An apology doesn’t fix a wrong. Go ahead and test it. Take a coffee mug and throw it on the ground, now say you’re sorry. Unless you went to Hogwarts, I’m pretty confident the ceramic bits and pieces didn’t pull back together again.

So when should you swallow down your hurt and press on with the relationship?

That’s up to you. Are you both deeply committed to making things work? Has your partner apologized in all the ways that matter? Can you stop yourself from throwing their mistake in their face whenever you need to justify your own imperfections? Can you navigate how the event has changed your perception of your partner? Can you both stop blaming each other for creating the conditions that lead to the misstep and look for ways to prevent it from happening in the future?

Put simply, are the reasons to stay greater than the ones to give up?

Only you know the answer to that.

By Jeroen Elsing
Ex-lawyer turned relationship coach