It’s easy to say “always forgive”, which is what I’ve been known to preach here and here. However, forgiveness can be a stubborn bitch. She goes at her own pace and doesn’t always invite acceptance to her party, which never helps her cause.
Great, so how can I officially move past THE past?!
I have a theory that “forgiving, but not forgetting” is a fake process of forgiveness. If you are committed to moving past a hurtful experience with a partner, keeping that instance in the back of your mind doesn’t necessarily allow for full forgiveness to unfold. This tool is great as a defense mechanism — a wall that shields any future hurt — but it’s not realistic and won’t actually help you move past the issue, causing your relationship to lack the “oomph” it needs to prosper.
Let’s say your boyfriend, “Russell” (remember him?) got a little too flirty while drinking and did something that hurt you. Regardless, you decided to move past the incident and swore you forgave him. Now let’s say weeks or months later, Russell has NOT repeated the same mistake, but every time he goes out for drinks, you tense up. The thoughts of what he did in the past still affect your vision of him, so you get quiet and upset. Russell notices, you have constant talks about this insecurity, and despite him doing his best to evolve from the past, nothing gets resolved. This is what I’ve seen “forgiving, but not forgetting” do. It’s a one step forward, two steps back internal process.
The good intentions are there; you genuinely WANT to move past any blunders, but that cannot happen unless you fully let go and choose to forget. Genuine forgiveness should mean accepting the human you’re dating has made a mistake, acknowledging he could do it again and therefore committing to your evolving bond. This way, each future mistake lessens in severity and quantity (that includes YOUR wrongdoings!).
Let’s get real, no one can prevent love from misbehaving and hurting. I can’t show you a healthy couple who hasn’t dealt with both. However, keeping mental tabs on someone who has caused you hurt isn’t going to add more support to the relationship, it’s only going to make it crumble. You must make the decision to either unconditionally trust “Russell” or leave him in the past with his mistakes (aka without you).
IF you decide to trust, you must also forgive yourself FOR forgiving someone. Keep in mind accepting disappointments happen in a relationship does not mean you are welcoming them to happen. It’s all about handling each relationship-snafu with a dose of realism. Your notion of love should be something like, “Who is going to learn and evolve from what happens in life and relationships?” instead of “Who isn’t going to hurt me.” That’s when love, to me, is believable and worth fighting for.
Forgiveness and acceptance are necessary in the book of Nina advice, but it’s also important to determine who is worth these vulnerable aspects of yourself. So I say to you, my darlings, if you’re with someone who has gone off your path of expectations, but you don’t believe the foundation of love is lost, then I challenge you to trust that instinct. Let your partner’s decisions live in the past with your mental tallies. Open yourself up to the unknown — the space that carries hurt and vulnerability along with an incredible opportunity to grow within a relationship. You can’t beat that kind of dedication, but it won’t happen unless you’re willing to erase and look forward.