Here’s what she sent:
I am wondering if you would be willing to post my Master’s thesis survey on your website. This survey is intended for those who have been victims of emotional and/or sexual infidelity, and I need as many participants as I can get, so I am looking to find infidelity blogs on which to post my survey. Please let me know if you would be willing to share my survey (it only takes about 10 minutes to complete) so I may send you the link or post the link myself, whatever your preference. Thanks!
“The topic of this research is the effect of the specific aspects and characteristics of an affair on an individual’s forgiveness of his or her unfaithful partner. Forgiveness is an important process for the reconciliation of an intimate relationship. Previous studies have found that forgiveness of one’s partner is dependent upon a variety of factors, including empathy, commitment, and relationship satisfaction with his or her partner. The present study is exploring if forgiveness is also impacted by the specific characteristics of an affair, such as the length of the affair, how one discovered the affair, the type of affair, and why they think their partner had the affair. There may be differences between men and women in forgiveness. These findings may be helpful for counselors working with couples struggling with the aftermath of an affair.”
I wrote back to the researcher and told her I did not agree with the premise of her research, and moreover I found it offensive.
I realize this person is going into a helping profession and probably thinks she is doing some good healing broken relationships with “forgiveness,” but I honestly don’t think she’s thought this out and is going with the general Reconcile or Die school of marital therapy.
I replied. (And Divorce Minister — I gave you a plug. I’d rather let someone with a M.Div point out the theological tenets of cheap forgiveness.)
I do not believe that forgiveness is an essential part of moving on after infidelity. I think you can have an absolutely stellar life without forgiving the person who cheated on you.
There are people whose religion requires the sinner to acknowledge the sin before forgiving it, and for the person who gave offense to be contrite and make recompense — most people who have been cheated on never get this. And they stay stuck in a sort of forgiveness limbo. Check out the blog www.divorceminister.com on this issue (the blogger has an M.Div from Yale).
I counsel people to get to “meh” — indifference. Acceptance. Not wishing the person dead. IMO, that is a form of forgiveness. You no longer have the power to hurt me. It is a VERY personal journey and I would NEVER presume to tell people that they must forgive. In fact, I think this kind of advice is incredibly harmful.
You must understand the abusive nature of infidelity — people have to paternity test their children, they have their finances decimated, their children’s lives torn apart, they catch STDs, cervical cancer, lose pregnancies, are abandoned during pregnancy — I do not advise people to reconcile with cheaters — or “reconcile that intimate relationship” — I tell people to SEVER that relationship as they would any abusive relationship.
Would you counsel people that they must forgive their rapists? The person who mugged them? The guy who embezzled their pension fund?
That’s my audience. People who were harmed grievously by infidelity.
They do not lack empathy and commitment (the requirements for forgiving as you state). On the contrary, THEY are the empathetic, committed people. The cheaters were not empathic or committed. And there is not much relationship satisfaction after being cheated on, unless you consider puking, PTSD and general twitchiness “satisfaction.”
Please rethink your survey questions and the premise of your research.
As this person is looking into research on infidelity, I though you bitter, unforgiving, compassionless people might also want to share your thoughts. Survey says?