When I was younger, I was trusting, but not forgiving. Being to trusting meant that I was hurt more often, which created this harsh unforgiveness within me.
As I’ve changed in my adulthood, I have become more untrusting and more forgiving. Those worthy of trust, were in turn worthy of forgiveness. However, forgiveness depends on the seriousness of the betrayal, how good of a friend they’ve been, how long we’ve been friends, and what they’ve done to attone. The longer we’ve been friends, or the better of a friend you’ve been, the higher the chances are that I’ll forgive you. Granted, forgiveness is not immediate, nor is it guaranteed. One must process emotion and deal with hurt feelings first. If I can’t shake the hard feelings, or they haven’t so much as apologized or acknowledged my feelings, it could be that the scorn is too great or that you don’t deserve forgiveness. There is a limit to what a person can forgive.
Keep in mind that forgiveness and apologies are not necessarily about laying or accepting blame. Emotions are not typically rational. You might not have done anything wrong, or accidentally hurt someone’s feelings when you had not intended to. It’s okay to apologize and make it up to them. It’s not an acceptance of blame to say “I’m sorry that I hurt your feelings.” Just a note, don’t say “I’m sorry you got hurt over something stupid.” That just blames the person for having a natural feeling. Granted, I’m sure there are cases inwhich sometimes a person can overreact, be too sensative, or be upset over something stupid… but get that out of your head. Just apologize for hurting them. It’s the first step to being forgiven, and if it’s truly as silly as you think it is, then it’s silly to loose someone when you can just say I’m sorry. I think most of the time, the one who is hurt will also apologize in kind, “I’m sorry that I got so upset.”
It’s up to you and your friend or loved one to figure out the right thing to do. I’m certainly not going to say you should always forgive. There are people who are not worth the emotional roller coaster and the endless apologies. Some people hurt your feelings on purpose, or just don’t care how you feel. Those people are not worth forgiveness. Some heartbreaks are so grand that you just can’t get past it, no matter how genuinely sorry the other party is, and it’s your right not to forgive if you feel you can’t. I like to hope that we can find forgiveness for anything, but that’s not generally the case.
For me, if we’ve only been friends a short while, or are not formally designated as “friends”, I am usually not very trusting or forgiving. If I can’t trust you this early on, then how much trouble are you going to be later on? Thankfully, I have learned to have some patience with new people and I have a special kind of tolerance and acceptance of the strange and unusual brand of folk (after all, it takes one to know one right?). Never the less, it takes some time and build up of trust to get into my inner circle. This comes from experience of hurt and broken trusts. It may sound harsh, but I have to know that you are worthy to be one of my trusted. There is a great difference between friends, which I am open to as a rule of thumb, and my trusted inner circle. Everyone has a ranking of friends, from minor acquaintences, to casual friends, to close personal friends, etc. People are never the same degree of closeness to every friend. It varies on trust that has been built and length of time of familiarity.
If we discect friendship with an unemotional view, friendships are a system of blackmail material and investments. You weigh a friend on their investiment… the more they do for you, the better of a friend they are. The longer you know each other, the more information you acquire on each other. This leads to blackmail material that can be mutually assured destruction, which means a far less chance of betrayal.
On the emtional side of the view, friends don’t seek to collect blackmail material… it’s just a byproduct of trust and getting to know one another. You tell each other your true feelings, you inner most thoughts, your secrets. You share things with your closest friends that you don’t share with others. This knowledge can be used against you and hurts more. This is why, I never share with friends who don’t share back. If someone isn’t willing to open up to you, you shouldn’t open up to them. That’s not to say that you should never open up… someone has to go first. It’s whether or not it’s reciprocated that I’m wary of.
For those of us who are friends, that wealth of knowledge of each other gives us the insight to making each other happy. You understand your friend, you know how to treat them, what will hurt them, what they’ll love and hate, and how to best console or advise them. It’s what it is to be a friend. Just remember, everyone makes mistakes. Everyone is selfish in some way and everyone gets irrational and emotional. At some point, you will hurt each other… it’s human nature. Thus, I ask, is the hurt really worth loosing all the good things they bring to your life? If you have more hurt than good, then maybe it’s time to re-evaluate your friendship. However, if you are going to re-evaluate your friendship, you have to look at yourself too. Are you causing more hurt than you’re worth?
It’s easy to judge others and say “You should leave him/her.” or “I wouldn’t forgive them.” but we don’t know the depth of their relationship. We don’t know the equation on whether forgiveness is due. We typically only hear one side of the story and we side with our friends and loved ones, because that’s what a good support system does. It doesn’t mean it’s right to encourage unforgiveness. It’s okay to say “I understand your pain.” but don’t decide for them. It’s great when a friend can help you put things into perspective, and the best way to do that is to ask the right questions. “Has this happened before?”, “Are you sure he/she did it on purpose?”, “Do you believe he/she loves you?”, “How much do you love him/her?”, “How long have you been friends?”, “How well do you know him/her?”, “Did he/she apologize?”, “What did they say the reason was?”, “Do you believe/trust him/her?” etc. Sometimes, just asking those questions and letting them answer will paint a clearer picture in their own mind.
For me, the best way to evaluate forgiving someone, is to ask myself if I’m being too harsh. I try to see it from their point of view. I try to see it from all angles. Then I typically ask or remind myself of what they do to make me happy. How often am I hurt rather than happy? What part in this is my fault or just an emotional reaction? Is the good he/she brings worth it? Does the good outweigh the bad? And so on.
I can admire a person who can forgive. My husband and I are very passionate and emotionally driven people, but we are blessed with a certain amount of intelligence as well. Forgiveness is something we both know and it plays a part in why we’re still very much in love after 13 years together ❤