The concept used to be simple: "forgive and forget." It’s all we had to say when little Jimmy tripped us on the playground, or Susie pulled our hair. They would be forced to say they were sorry, we’d get a cool Band-Aid, and everything would be fine.
Nowadays, we're all about the meaningful quotes we see on Tumblr or Pinterest. You know, the white text on a beautiful faded landscape. Or those quotes written in black Sharpie marker on random paint swatches, which have no connection, and read something stoic like, "Forgive, but never forget."
In our ever-so-dramatic 20-something lives, relationships are probably the most complicated things we have going on, right next to our club softball teams. Relationships requiring a lot of giving and receiving, but we can't give and receive without an incentive, or reason, to give and get in return. If we’re on a level playing field with our partner, and there’s an equal amount of input and output from each person in the relationship, then everything remains copasetic. It’s when one partner steps out of the boundaries of comfort, however, and shakes up the equal amounts of giving and receiving, that things start to become less objective and more complicated.
Whether it’s a case of less effort put in, or any other fairly mendable issue, there is one looming problem that brings all relationships to a crossroads: cheating. What do we do when our partner cheats? Do we choose to forgive and forget? Do we forgive and decide to slash the tires on his or her car? Do we walk away and never look back? 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 shots on the house? Maybe she was really drunk, maybe she pulled away quickly, or maybe she even slapped him silly and threw her drink on him in the heat of his failed pass. Whatever 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, or maybe you understood that she felt terribly. Either way, you looked at her and said that you wanted to forgive and forget that anything ever happened.
If this is the route you choose to take in any situation of your partner cheating, you should first understand a few things. YOU forgave your partner. You are completely choosing to forgive and forget. With that being said, there should be no mention of the cheating in the future, and no grudges held. If you forgive, both of you acknowledge that something bad happened and people were hurt, yet you still see a future. With that understanding, it should never be a restated factor, ever again.
Is she running late for a date? The last thing you should do is text her saying, "Babe, where are you? I hope you’re not cheating on me! *chuckling emoji*" Jokingly or not, there's just a little too much sensitivity (or lack thereof) behind that joke. Not to mention, you look insecure as hell, and you’re are trying to hide it behind a not-so-funny joke. Your partner cheated, and you bringing it up will only remind her of what she did, which isn’t going to be incentive for her to stick around.
We don’t have forgive and forget.
There are just some things that you can't and won’t forgive. He cheated on you with your best friend? That’s something you will likely remember forever, and thus, never forget. You probably won’t forgive him cheating on you with his best friend, either. You won't forgive him for being the ringleader 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, and there isn't a point in holding a grudge because it’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 considered an accident. If you're hurt, and I mean really hurt - 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 and 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 cheating, 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’ll realize that it's probably best to just forgive him 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, too. "Sorry new boyfriend, I'm broken. Blame my cheating ex and fix me."
HOWEVER, at some point, you have to mentally move past your cheating old loves and embrace the new ones. You can’t hold the mistakes of past partners against your new one. If you find yourself doing this, then maybe you aren't ready for a new relationship and should focus on yourself for a little while – that’s okay and completely normal.
These rules are totally subjective, and of course, there are an abundance of scenarios and circumstances that come up in different relationships. You might find yourself defending your cheating partner and your tainted relationship because, "He apologized and said it would never happen again." "She was super drunk! She's really a good person!" "He had no choice!"
There’s always an excuse behind a mistake. The truth is, though, that no one can decide on your ability to forgive and forget better than yourself. Make sure that your choice is what you want, and your behavior after making 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 leave it where it lays, on the floor.
Top Photo Courtesy: Tumblr