Is it possible to forgive an infidelity?
A betrayal in love is something that can affect us psychologically.
An important aspect of infidelity is the fact that, in general, it occurs in secret. Therefore, it usually involves a betrayal of commitment, it usually involves a betrayal of the commitment agreed between the parties involved, the spouses.. This is a fundamental element when it comes to breaking the trust on which the couple's relationship is established.
When an infidelity occurs, the "aggrieved" person suffers a deep wound in his or her self-esteem that will need to be healed. One of the most difficult challenges he/she will have to face will be to forgive what happened, regardless of whether he/she wants to restore the relationship or not.
What is forgiveness?
Forgiveness is a process that has healthy effects on the person who forgives, thus promoting mental health. However, forgiveness is a complex matter that will take timeIt will take time, a desire to forgive, determination and commitment.
In this process we will have to change attitudes, thoughts and behaviors. Through this cognitive restructuring, we will be able to reconcile with those feelings that were violated, and return to normality.
The process of forgiveness after infidelity
The first step is to recognize the damage suffered. It is important not to try to deceive oneself by minimizing what happened, on the contrary, it will be from the importance of the event from where the "offended" will be given the opportunity to forgive.
In the analysis of what happened, it is necessary to understand the circumstances in which the infidelity occurred. Thus, we know that external attributions (attributing responsibility to circumstances external to the person), unstable (that vary) and specific (concrete and punctual) of infidelity facilitate forgiveness as opposed to internal attributions (attributing responsibility to the person's character), stable (that do not change) and global (generalizable) that hinder it.
The second step is to show us interest in forgiving what happened.at least as a possibility.
Misconceptions about the process of forgiveness
To do this we will have to analyze and recognize what it means for us to forgive in order to detect possible thoughts or ideas that may interfere negatively on the process of forgiveness. Some of these erroneous ideas can be:
1. "Forgiving implies forgetting what happened".
Memory is a brain function involved in all human learning processes. When we learn something, it is not erased from our "store", we cannot make it disappear. The goal is not to forget what happened, the goal is to remember it without it hurting us.
2. "Forgiveness is synonymous with reconciliation".
This is one of the most widespread ideas in consultation: "If he does not want to come back to me it is because he has not forgiven me, if he had done so we would be together". Forgiveness does not necessarily include restoring the relationship with someone else.It is necessary, but not sufficient. This is so because forgiving someone does not imply reaching new commitments with her, and the latter is necessary to repair a relationship affected by this type of crisis.
3. "To forgive is to minimize or justify what happened".
How many times have we heard phrases like: "it's not a big deal", "try to see the positive", "these things happen",...? Forgiveness does not imply changing the evaluation of the event.It is very likely that it will always be valued in a negative and unjustifiable way. However, what will change will be that, in spite of the fact that the valuation of the act is negative, the attitude towards the "offender" will not imply a desire for revenge or the need to "return the damage caused" in search of justice.
4. "Forgiving is a sign of not valuing oneself or of weakness".
When we are hurt, we learn that it is necessary to protect ourselves from the person who has hurt us.. Anger is a defense mechanism that protects us from the other (hatred allows me to "control" part of what happened, makes you feel important and restores some of the lost self-confidence).
But seeking reconciliation is not simply throwing in the towel to stop living "against" and anticipating reproaches or arguments with the other person (although it is true that in some cases, this happens). It is also a way to explore possibilities to improve the quality of the relationship, learning from mistakes and taking advantage of that experience to connect better. In other words, reconciliation after an infidelity or other form of couple crisis can come from a positive mindset, not from simply avoiding immediate discomfort.
Changing our thoughts in order to forgive
The third step that leads us to forgive, and this involves changing our behavior (the this involves changing our behavior (what we do) and accepting suffering and anger.. In the case of infidelity, it consists of stopping open and explicit destructive behaviors (seeking revenge or justice, lashing out against the "aggressor",...) or covert and implicit ones (wishing the aggressor ill, ruminating on the betrayal and the damage done...).
In addition, it is necessary to carry out tasks of repairing the damage caused (as far as possible), as this is one of the best ways to demonstrate repentance and, more importantly, interest in repairing the commitment to the other person.
The fourth step is to establish strategies aimed at self-protection.. Forgiveness does not mean "blind faith in the other", it implies recognizing that there is no certainty that it will not happen again and that risk is part of what it means to live and share life with another, even if one tries to reduce the likelihood of it happening again. It is important not to fall into excessive control that leads to jealous behavior.
Overcoming a complicated situation
Forgiving an infidelity, therefore, is possible.. However, it will not mean just to resume the relationship again, it is a necessary but not sufficient requirement. And this union must give rise to dynamics of coexistence and expression of affection; living together for years detesting the other person or making effective life as a couple may not be a way to officially break up, but it is not the solution.
On the other hand, it is important to give yourself time. Forgiveness is only possible once we have gone through the grieving process that will entail the loss of confidence both in the partner and in oneself, given the devastating effects it has on self-esteem.
- We help you: "Overcoming an infidelity: the 5 keys to achieve it".
(Updated at Mar 28 / 2023)