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Do You Have to Forgive a Cheater?

Chumps get caught up a lot on the notion of forgiveness. Taking the high road. Turning the other cheek. Being the bigger person. Let’s face it, after you’ve been cheated on — it’s all a big shit sandwich.

Generally, you only have to eat that particular “I forgive you” shit sandwich if you reconcile with your cheater, and those people tend not to be the readers of Chump Lady.

The rest of us wonder post-infidelity — how do I let go? And if I let go, does that mean I am some how condoning what the cheater did? Did I let them get away with it? Even if I get my happily ever after, does the cheater get to feel smug in the knowledge that what they did to me, to my kids, to my family — wasn’t that bad? 

If I don’t forgive them, does that mean I’m still hung up on them? Will I be an object of ridicule — one of those pathetic souls who prattles on incessantly about their evil ex? Does not forgiving make me a bad Christian, Jew, Zoroastrian? Would it be better for my children if I forgave their other parent?

Chump Lady has chewed on the forgiveness conundrum and concluded:

1. It is perfectly okay not to forgive. I think you can move on with your life, not let the injustice consume you, and still not forgive a cheater. One reason for not forgiving is maintaining vigilance. Cheaters dupe you so completely, you may not trust yourself being around them — to not get sucked back into their alternative reality of lies and spin. Remembering — oh that’s right, I’m aware of what you did to me and I don’t forgive you for it — can be a way to feel safe. Shields up!

Generally forgiveness requires some participation from the offending party in acknowledging that they harmed you. Most of us never get this, and those that do are often not that impressed. A thin veneer of “sorry” cannot shellac that shit. Why should you hold yourself to the higher plane of forgiveness in the absence of remorse? Like the song says, God may forgive you, but I don’t.

2. If you’re capable of forgiving, it might only possible from a great distance. If you can find it within yourself to not harbor ill will toward a FW, I think that can only be achieved with a lot of time and distance. Eventually your new life crowds out your old life and the pain fades, and your new life improves, and it gets harder to work yourself into much of a lather about their ongoing chaos. I think it is much harder (if not impossible) to achieve a blissful state of “meh” if you have to live with or still interact with the cheater. That means at some level you’re still invested and vulnerable. Scabbed over wounds can break open. But if the person is a nonentity, I think it’s easier to reach meh. This far out, forgiving my ex would be like forgiving my horrible 9th grade algebra teacher. Algebra doesn’t have a lot of relevance in my life right now…  so consider yourself forgiven, Mr. Cieliski.

3. Consider redefining forgiveness. Maybe it’s enough that you didn’t kill them. Maybe indifference is the best you can do and that IS forgiveness. Personally, I think meh — or basic acceptance without retribution — is enough. I like this take on forgiveness from Archbishop Desmond Tutu:

To forgive is not just to be altruistic. It is the best form of self-interest. It is also a process that does not exclude hatred and anger. These emotions are all part of being human. You should never hate yourself for hating others who do terrible things: the depth of your love is shown by the extent of your anger.

However, when I talk of forgiveness I mean the belief that you can come out the other side a better person. A better person than the one being consumed by anger and hatred. Remaining in that state locks you in a state of victimhood, making you almost dependent on the perpetrator. If you can find it in yourself to forgive then you are no longer chained to the perpetrator. You can move on, and you can even help the perpetrator to become a better person too.

But the process of forgiveness also requires acknowledgement on the part of the perpetrator that they have committed an offence.

Whether or not the cheater acknowledges the offense, by all means UNCHAIN yourself. I like how Archbishop Tutu includes righteous hate and anger with forgiveness. That is the shadow side of love — you feel the injustice deeply because you loved deeply. But you do not have to let the pain consume you, and letting it go is for you. It is self interest AND forgiveness. I like that. I don’t hold out a lot of hope that letting go will make the offender a “better person.” But who knows? It’s not your problem after you leave them.


This column ran previously.


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  • And this column is worth a rerun often.

    Desmond Tutu is the MAN for a real, human take on forgiveness. And the way he puts it, is that forgiveness comes after acknowledgement, and sorry. And the “sorry is as sorry does” kind of sorry. (Not known as a cheater’s strong card).

    Without that, as CL pins down so succinctly, it’s really just about acceptance, and being realistic about a very awful and painful thing, and aiming for meh. With grace and dignity.

  • I figure it doesn’t matter. You scrape the shit off your shoe, spray the remains off and leave the shit and the stink behind. You don’t have to forgive shit – it was there, you didn’t notice it to avoid (or know about it at all) and it’s not important anyway.

    Easier said than done when you have an ongoing hostage exchange to bring you in the vicinity of a big pile of steaming shit, but the point remains. They’re shit and you don’t want to stink by association.

    They just aren’t important enough to bother with this struggle. Your only regret is spending any further time with them after the lies are revealed. If you do forgive them, that’s fine. But you don’t owe it to the person who abused you.

    Plus it pisses me off that the person who was the harmed party has the onus of forgiveness tossed on them too. Fuck ALLLLLL the way off anyone who suggests that you have some sort of moral obligation to do so.

  • And God forbid being “dependent on the perpetrator”.

    My youngest and my small grandchildren live in Europe. I was there for business and it was my grandson’s birthday. He wouldn’t know the difference if his FW grandfather were there or not. As luck would have it, FW was also there. But he didn’t get to go to the party. I would eat shit for the grandson, but not for adult children.

  • I know there are people who expect you to “forgive” the cheater. I don’t feel that I am required to “forgive” him. I will let his forgiveness come to him from the right authorities on judgement day. I am working on getting him out of all aspects of my life and moving on. I really don’t want to waste time or energy on him at all because that would give him satisfaction. Am I angry? Yes, the FW burned the house down without a thought to who and what was in it. I realize a FW will always be a FW and that I do not have to forgive, I just need to move on. This is pretty much like a scar, occasionally it will itch but most of the time you don’t notice it once it heals. I will work on healing and leave forgiveness to a higher authority.

    • That is partly how I got to move on. He is and never has been sorry for either the infidelity or the abuse before or after. I got to the point when I just left it up to God to forgive him if appropriate. I’d been still in CO tact with him and trying to explain how upset I was and he was giving me all that crap about how I was choosing to feel that, yeah just like if someone sticks a knife in me or runs me over and I choose to bleed or limp or whatever. At o e. Point I said something about repenting and he accused me of using emotive language, I kid you not.
      Well let him say that to God
      Also he did things that are not mine to forgive, sexually assaulted my sister, various other people, children… Not mine to condone or forgive
      It took speaking to the police and putting it in their hands for me to be able to stop the knowledge affecting me on a day to day level. Will never be able to get over it but maybe it’s like an abcess with a thick wall.
      So I’ve left it up to God and the police

      • What is it with these freaks and assaulting family? The monster in the closet aka ex husband assaulted my youngest sister..of course he denied it till the bitter end

  • “Eventually your new life crowds out your old life and the pain fades, and your new life improves, and it gets harder to work yourself into much of a lather about their ongoing chaos.”

    I think this sentence is the crux of the matter. It isn’t so much the “forgiveness” I learned about in my religious upbringing (turn the other cheek), but rather of, as CL said, making the person irrelevant. Thinking about what FW and AP did still can make me angry, but I DON’T THINK ABOUT IT much anymore. I have my new, good (MUCH better) life, I’m happy. They just don’t matter anymore. It’s almost like all those things happened to someone else. The person I used to be. I’m not her anymore.

    I’m at the point where I am actually grateful that the affair happened. It was absolute HELL to go through. I wouldn’t wish that on anyone. But it freed me from the hell I had been living in, but couldn’t see. My life now is better than it could ever have been with my husband. I get to live life the way I want to, free from constant criticism, abuse, and fear.

    I am in a fairly unique position because FW died, so I truly don’t have to deal with him anymore. And that does make it easier. But even before he died, I had reached “meh”. I didn’t care what he and AP were doing. I stopped trying to control the situation at all. My only ongoing connection was because of our kid, and my desire to protect him. I didn’t let up, legally, and fought for my kid and for what was mine. But I was already finding my own happiness in my own life. Karma (or consequences) caught up with them without my help. FW started becoming more abusive with AP and she left. FW couldn’t handle being alone, and his life was falling apart, so he ended his own life rather than own up to his mistakes and try and make things right. I was actually angry when FW killed himself, because it put him back at the center of my life (for a little while) while I sorted everything out, and forced me to contact AP for some information. She took that as an opportunity to … I don’t know, try and stay relevant in my life? But I shut that down, and had the satisfaction of telling her exactly what I thought of her before I blocked her number. She’s still a stupid person who just doesn’t see what a hypocrite she is, as she opines about surviving abuse and being a good person and paints herself as an innocent victim. But whatever. She has to live with herself and I can hold my head up knowing I didn’t act like her.

    I suppose I decided I had “forgiven” FW and AP when I realized I no longer needed an apology from either of then, because IT WOULD HAVE MADE NO DIFFERENCE in my life. I realized that any remorse they might have expressed would not be genuine, and it wouldn’t have changed how I felt or how I was living my life. They truly became irrelevant to me. How they felt about their actions just didn’t matter. AP sought out my forgiveness at one point, sending me an “apology” (of sorts), but I never responded. She was looking to assuage her guilt, and it’s not my job to do that for her. And she was only “sorry” because she and FW didn’t work out. Because she ended up being abused by him like I was.
    But before it happened to her, she didn’t believe me and called me a liar. And someone who only believes a victim’s story after they experience the same thing personally is someone without compassion or empathy. She didn’t feel bad about her behavior while she and FW were “in love”. FW expressed some regret over how he handled our breakup, in his suicide note. Neither “apology” affected me much.

    I’m a better, wiser, and (I hope) kinder person because of everything I went through. I hated every minute of it, but I actually wouldn’t change it (although I would make some different choices if I had to do it over again). I wouldn’t go back to being the person I was before. I like myself much better now. I’m more confident, more myself, more comfortable in my own skin, and happier than I’ve ever been. It’s not that I condone FW or AP’s behavior, or that I’ve let them off the hook. I’ve let it go because I don’t have space or time for all that nonsense in my new life. I suppose “forgiveness” is when you can look back and laugh at how ridiculous it all was.

    • I love every single word of this I Saw The Light. This post is a gift to the newbies and I wish I had had it available to me when I was going through the shitstorm. I can totally relate to hating the experience but appreciating the growth that came out of it.

    • Golden words! Mine is still alive, but we are very rarely in contact. He moved many states away when we separated, and our adult children have nothing to do with him. I’m coming up on three years divorced.

      When we were supposedly trying to work things out long-distance, my ex didn’t get the difference between forgiving something small and forgiving something big like abandoning your marriage and having “friends.” He thought that I should just pretend that big strokes were equivalent to harsh words or forgetting a birthday. He also thought that the slate would be clean if we started over in a new place. Never mind the long history which included not being able to resolve conflict in a healthy way or the lack of trust.

      I also realized that when I didn’t need an apology, I was in a good place. He did say, “I botched up,” but that hardly made a difference. My ex made it a crazy divorce, but I had a very strategic attorney whom his attorney respected. His attorney repeatedly told my attorney to tell me that he was sorry and was trying to do all he could to settle it. I just wanted out. The two attorneys got it done despite my ex, maneuvering into a place where my ex finally signed.

      During the mess, a bank trust officer that I was interacting with on an ongoing basis on another matter told me about her divorce. Her ex had been her childhood sweetheart, and they ultimately divorced under similar circumstances. She said that as horrible as her divorce was, she was determined to come out as a more balanced and compassionate person. That truly helped me.

  • Forgiveness and reconciliation are two different things. Forgiveness is something you do for yourself and does not require the other person to participate. It’s the I’m not going to let this consume my thoughts anymore. Reconciliation requires that the perpetrator admit responsibility and take action to prevent further harm.

    • This is exactly what I was going to write and is a good distinction that can be used when people push for you to forgive your cheating FW. You can move on with your life and not be consumed with whether or not the karma bus runs them over without wanting to subject yourself to going on family vacations with them. Reconciliation requires restorative work done on the part of the transgressor. And even then reconciliation is not owed to them. And if they do think it is owed to them then it’s a sign they really aren’t putting in the work.

  • Here’s a twist. I forgave him. It was a hard path to forgiveness but I got there. I don’t want him back, I don’t have any warm fuzzies for him, and if someone asks why we divorced I speak the truth plainly. Forgiveness allowed me to stop carrying the pile of shit in my head stinking up my new life.

    The twist? My some close friends were livid when they found out. Called me names even my cheater didn’t use. Told me I was not welcome in their homes anymore and I would no longer be a part of their lives. They isolated me, spread totally false rumors that I was getting back together with him. WTAF.

    I don’t regret forgiveness. I sleep well and am stronger because of it. I am no longer a victim but a victor. I’m just sad my friends lack the capacity to see the good in it.

    • I have an elderly aunt who warned me about the loss of friends and relatives. She had been divorced twice when she was much younger when proof of adultery was required and actually lost her third husband last year when they were both in their 80’s. I didn’t believe her at the time, but she was right. We are polar opposites politically and in other ways, but she’s always been there for me.

      One time when she called to check on me, I related my frustration with how his family was digging into every aspect of our marriage including our sex life, declaring him mostly innocent. She asked me how I would feel if I ever sat at the dinner table with them again. I said that I didn’t think I could do it. Then she told me to consider that they might have become enemies and to walk very carefully with them. My aunt also said that when a spouse sides with their family against his partner, there is a major fissure in the marriage.

      Now she has dementia and is barely aware, but she was spot on when I needed it.

    • I have sort of a twist on that. I think one of the reasons I don’t/won’t forgive is that I’d be livid if one of my friends forgave him, so how can I? To put it another way, I would consider it a betrayal if one of my friends forgave him, and I sort of think of it as betraying myself if I do it. If that makes any sense….still in the early stages of thinking about this.

  • I’ve been thinking a fair amount about this; it’s been 5 years and I still have the occasional ping of anger.

    A lot has happened, I’m now remarried (!!!) and moving forward, kids seems to be fine launching.

    but every so often I’ll want karma to show up and get distracted, get that snarl in my head.

    Forgiveness* is necessary to move on once, but I find some anger plaque once in a while.

    *as you want to define it

  • I’m 10 years past divorce (12 years since he moved out) and I have to say I’m just indifferent to him. I don’t think I will ever forgive him but on the other hand, if I ever, even now, feel anger and hatred bubbling up, I find I’m able to put it into one of those compartmentalizing boxes just like FWs seem able to do, and I go about my life not thinking about him. It took me a long time to get here though but now I neither forgive him nor wish him ill. As long as he stays out of my life, I’m fine with it!

  • I am at ease with the knowledge that Ex-Mrs LFTT will never admit to what she did, will never acknowledge the impact that it had on our 3 kids and I, will never apologise and will never attempt to make amends for the pain that she caused … and still on occasions causes. So, to be honest, forgiveness was never really on the table and I am OK with that too; now that the kids are adults, she is utterly irrelevant to me. What does grip my sh*t, however, is when she bleats to the children (directly or via my MIL) that she is “still being punished for wanting to be happy.” What she really means is “why do our children impose consequences on me when I continue to hurt them through my actions or my words?”

    I guess that her problem is not so much that she wants to be forgiven (she doesn’t have it in her to do the groundwork to earn it), more that she is frustrated that our children impose consequences on her for her unilateral and self-interested choices.

    I mean, how f*cking dare they; do they not know who she is?


    • “…she is ‘still being punished for wanting to be happy’.”

      This is exactly how my own FW feels about this, I’m sure. #DARVO

      My adult children and I have been virtually NC since D-Day (3+ years ago). As a victim, FW is probably wondering whether HE can forgive US.

      His thinking goes something like this: “Sure I made some mistakes and lied about ONE THING (for almost 3 years, maybe more, but I’ll only cop to what I’ve already told her). I shouldn’t have done it, but Spinach is a vindictive bitch. I’ll never forgive HER for her for not forgiving ME. She’s punishing me too much. It’s cruel.”

      No doubt that’s what’s going through his narcissistic noggin.

      • correction: As a self-proclaimed victim, FW is probably wondering whether HE can forgive US.

        He’s the biggest victim in his own mind. Always has been. I’m so glad to be free of a covert narc who feels so sorry for himself but at the same time acts in shitty, mean, entitled ways. It’s a weird combo.

        • S@35,

          Self-imposed victimhood really is a cloak that Cheaters love to draw around themselves and then parade for all and sundry to see, so that they can then bathe in the pity that it generates. And I personally doubt that forgiving you is on your Cheater’s agenda; more likely trying to punish you for having the temerity to impose consequences and boundaries.

          F*ck ’em all I say.


      • Spinach & LFTT, this! It’s maddening trying to forgive a FW that considers him/her/itself a victim.

        Not only did my FW dash off to church and promptly inform me that he had forgiven himself, he whined, “you can’t punish me forever!” I actually laughed at that sad sausage remix of DARVO. Consequences/protecting myself is NOT punishment. Just shows their utter lack of comprehension of empathy (everything is about them, so if you’re not forgiving them you must be intentionally punishing them) and the depth
        of their “sorry.”

  • I love this column by Tracy — it’s spot on for me. I hate that I have to repeatedly explain to people that I don’t need to forgive FW. I have moved on. What is there to forgive? FW doesn’t think he did anything wrong. He is not asking forgiveness.

    But then I get the religious types that try to enforce that “forgiveness is for YOU. You HAVE to forgive” (usually tied to something about Jesus).

    Look, whatever your religion dictates for you, that’s great. You do that. But for me (and apparently also for Archbishop Tutu) just forgiving without FW admitting he did something wrong, is not how forgiveness works.

  • Whenever we talk forgiveness, I share a thing that has worked for me. It doesn’t work for everyone, but when someone said it to me it helped me so much, I share it.

    I don’t forgive him specifically, The Cowardly Liar. I don’t forgive his harm or cruelty. I don’t forgive his terrible behaviors.

    What I do forgive is any debts to me. In the same way a creditor might forgive a portion of debt in order to cleanly close an account, I forgive anything I felt he still owed me — goodness owed that’s never going to come — so I can close the emotional account of the relationship.

    And like a creditor that forgives such a debt, I write off the bad debt and must never extend credit to that borrower again. Even if his “credit report” cleans up and looks good, he’s a bad risk for ME, so he never gets a new account.

    He’ll be accountable in my mind for the abuse forever, whether he holds himself accountable or not, and whether others hold him accountable or not. He will never, ever, EVER, be allowed in my life again.

    At the same time, by forgiving all the relationship debts in this “writeoff” analogy, I release all expectations to receive what I was due as a partner. I recognize the futility. And if he tries to offer goodness later, I won’t receive it, because there’s no account open for deposit. No place to put anything he may offer. Permanently closed. Period.

    Reframing forgiveness in this way allowed me to perceive the critical importance of closing the account and relieving myself of having to manage the account ever again. That truly was a huge source of healing. It empowered me to clearly see the relationship as entirely my choice. Getting into a relationship is a multi-person choice. But at an emotional level (even if a legal battle is occurring), leaving a relationship can be entirely my choice. Doesn’t matter what he thinks, or says he needs, or wants. In my life, what I want goes.

    And I don’t ever want him in my soulspace again.

    • “Relieving myself of having to manage the account ever again.” I love this. Exactly.

    • ALL of this!

      Also just want to say Bible-based Christianity actually does require REPENTANCE before forgiveness (even God requires us to repent before He adopts is into His family as His followers). And cheaters usually don’t repent (there is no remorse). So this idea that you should close your eyes and just accept more abuse is ludicrous and not even aligned with Bible-based Christianity.

      And even after “repentance,” forgiveness does NOT require reconciliation. It’s truly about meh and not allowing them to rob you of more peace (the peace you lose when ruminating about them).

    • I really like your analogy of writing off a bad debt. That’s exactly what it felt like to me once I got past the raw emotions and pain.

    • Amisfree: This is one of the best posts I have read on this site and I have read too many to count. Great way to forgive by forgiving the debt and not expecting anything to be repaid. Account closed!!!

    • Thank you for this analogy. It’s such a wonderful way to reframe this stuff! I’m already adopting this mindset. The debt is written off, that account is closed.

    • I absolutely love this. It’s such a great framework for everything I’ve been struggling with – not wanting to forgive the behavior but also not wanting to be bitter, coming to terms with the fact I’ll never get an apology, etc. Bravo and thank you!

    • Fantastic analogy! This is so helpful that I’m going to copy it and put it in my journal to read over and over. Thank you for sharing this!

    • This is a fantastic idea. The process of closing our joint bank account after splitting it up was such a huge relief to me, so to do this mentally and emotionally makes complete sense. I think with time passing, the “account” has been on a slow close, but it is essentially what happens with time and distance. To picture an abstract concept as something concrete might actually help with rounding up the dregs and totally writing off the loss as what it was.

      • And like my actual bank account, my emotional bank account grew greater once he could no longer drain my resources.

    • Glad this is helpful to so many. I never would have thought it up myself — and I think that’s one of the great strengths of this forum, that we keep paying forward what works for us so others who find it helpful can add it to our toolboxes. Appreciate all of you!!!!!

    • Thank you, Amiisfree!! This is perfect for me! I could not have put this into words as you have but this is how I think of it. Thank you for sharing this!

    • I get it about writing off the bad debt. But I feel better just letting go and not forgiving or writing off anything. I’m not writing off his debts. He didn’t ask to be freed of anything. He doesn’t believe he owes anything anyway. He still owes to his son… and that should hang over FW’s head until he dies or pays that debt (which he won’t). I can’t forgive him of that. I’m just letting him go. No forgiveness. No write offs. Nada. And yet I’m at peace. And meh.

    • Wow,Amiisfree, thanks for sharing that! It’s brilliant! I put your whole post in my notes and will be revisiting that one.
      Get the hell out of my soulspace you lying cheater! Your account no longer exists in my life. Love the whole idea of seeing that mentally.

  • Why put energy into it. What I am saying is in most cases the FW doesn’t really care about you and justified in their own twisted way why they did it blaming you. I would like to pole how many Chumps here have had an FW be sincerely remorseful? I think that number is very low. Why put effort into forgiveness for someone who doesn’t care? Direct that energy elsewhere. I don’t believe it makes one a bad person nor do I believe it is looked down upon by God. If you do feel guilt about not forgiving do charitable work or pray for that person.

      • 😆sorry, I used the dictation mode for that. I need to proof read these before I post.

    • “Why put effort into forgiveness for someone who doesn’t care? Direct that energy elsewhere.”


    • I also think the number of sincerely remorseful FWs is low. My FW and AP, specifically, aren’t empathetic, humane or mature enough to admit to the lasting psychological damage to the kids, myself or larger family. Their only concern is self-preservation of their image; to live their lives with absolutely zero consequences (publicly, professionally or privately) for their entirely selfish choices.

    • My STBXFW is one of the few who is sincerely remorseful. But I don’t care. It’s too little too late. And on top of that, though he is in therapy and in 12 step groups, his behavior hasn’t changed, only shifted. He now, instead of obsessing about other women, obsesses about me. The compulsive, obsessive, manipulative behavior is still there, it’s just presenting differently. So even though he’s truly remorseful he is still very dangerous to me. He’s an unsafe person for me to be around.

    • Poll: Like MrsChump I think my FW was sincerely sorry (mostly for himself, but also for the harm he caused), yet lacks the empathy to fully understand that harm, or the depth of character to change the causes of his behavior in any way that would be meaningful to me.

      • Er, like MollyWobbles. But MrsChump also brought up the lack of sufficient empathy for true remorse.

  • Forgiveness means I will not do anything that qualifies me for jail in the pursuit of justice for harm done to me and my child. It means I stay on the high road and I will not prevent the consequences of someone’s harmful actions.


    When a bank forgives a loan, they will not pursue repayment of the money they loaned you. And they end their relationship with you.

    So in this sense, I have forgiven.

    • In my own experience, attempts at denying/ repressing/ avoiding/ speeding through anger and pain caused massive problems (drinking, using, smoking, insert-addiction-here.

      Maladaptive coping strategies are not safe coping skills. I grew up in a violent home with two untreated alcoholic ACA etc parents, an older untreated alcoholic sister, and safe coping skills were not known or taught, and were even undermined once I found my way into recovery.

      The maladaptive coping strategies started piling up for me because punishment for expressing anger, and crying, telling the truth, and
      being ordered to tolerate intolerable people and behavior, no boundaries allowed, abuse on all levels was the order of the day in my family of origin.

      I chose Traitor Ex because I thought he was a cycle-breaker too. That is what he claimed to be. I was deceived and the blind spots from my upbringing perpetuated my blindness.
      Until the frypan upside the head (secret sexual double life revealed) shattered the mirage. A marriage (mirage) between a cycle-breaker and a cycle-perpetuator is doomed from the start.


      Affairs are a cause of intergenerational trauma. And there will often (if not always) be cheating in the family histories.

      Affairs are seriously dysfunctional relationships. You can’t get the dysfunction out any more than you can get the eggs out of the cake batter. You can’t see the eggs once they’re in the batter. You have to trust they didn’t get away with anything until you internalize it, which for me
      took a long time.

      The way to get me to go nuclear is to tell me how to feel, and how long I should feel it, according to you.

      • Thank you, Velvet. I can’t imagine the scale of the trauma you were dealing with, but I think what you say (about avoiding pain/not being allowed to express it) is really insightful for my situation too. And don’t tell me what to feel!!

  • Forgiveness means different things to different people. To me forgiveness means it’s ok what you did. Nope, no it’s not ok. It’s not ok that you abused me in any sort of way. It’s not ok that you stole from me, it’s not ok that you murdered a loved one and so on. Intentional acts are not mistakes or accidents. So no I will not forgive the scum of the earth for their intentional acts.

    • I’m honestly perplexed by your definition of forgiveness because no intentionally harmful acts are ever “ok.” So what are circumstances where you would forgive someone? Just truly accidental transgressions?

    • You’re right, it DOES mean different things to different people. I’ve seen people get super argumentative on this topic (in this very forum) before because they’re so unable to let others have their own definitions and ways of approaching an idea. You and I apply very different definitions of the word, but I can appreciate yours and totally see where you’re coming from. And in the end, we agree that the abuse isn’t ok, will never be ok (which is really the core point anyway).

  • I think forgiveness is a religious thing, and I’m not religious. I remember my narc mom telling me I should forgive a man who had raped me (I hadn’t told her about the rape, but she definitely KNEW). I never “forgave” that man, I never “forgave” my mom, but I got both of those assholes completely out of my life and haven’t thought about that man in ages, and I’ve been no contact with my mom for so long I’m not even sure if she’s still alive- I just don’t think about her. (she did send me some weird email last year about my high school classmate dying so I guess she’s still kicking- I maintain no contact). I’m definitely at “meh” with both of these idiots. I don’t plan on forgiving the FW mostly because I have to continue to watch him manipulate his children. My energy will be spent trying to gracefully explain “how to deal with your FW father” to my children. We are in the throws of deciding our final divorce decree right now so I’ve been ruminating more than usual, but after the papers are signed I plan on NOT THINKING ABOUT HIM AT ALL and continuing my pursuit of a nursing degree and launching my kids into college. I expect anger to flit in and out of my life as my kids still have to deal with him and we will struggle a lot financially, but that anger will be used as fuel to get me through the next 3 years. Once I’m financially sound I can put my energy into being a cheerleader for my children’s lives and never give that sociopath a second thought, aka “forgiveness”. or “Tuesday” or “meh”.

    • I’m sorry for the trauma you went through. That was a terrible thing for your mother to say. You made the right decision about NC with her.

      Yes, forgiveness does tend to be a religious thing. Religion requires adherents to forgive, even to forgive rapists. Good thing I’m agnostic, because I sure as hell couldn’t pull that off and wouldn’t want to.

  • Don’t be influenced by well-meaning individuals who weigh in on your circumstances without the first clue. Too many people believe or endorse the idea that true forgiveness includes maintaining some sort of relationship with the person who wronged you. No, this is emphatically not a requirement. Forgiveness is for you, to allow you to let go of the encumbrance of them on your psyche. Therefore, should you forgive, then forgive without exonerating as it isn’t necessary. Set and maintain strong boundaries that limit or prevent their future access to you, much as you would deadbolt a door.

  • They do not have real remorse because no empathy. So do the perpetrators really care about forgiveness? I doubt it. If they do its for impression management. Its more the people around you who seem to care and push the issue. You can forgive and not forget, and not be their friend or interact with them. When people say forgive them they seem to mean you need to stay friends with them and be genuinely happy to see them. If you wish them no ill will and have moved on I call that forgiveness.

  • I’ve heard people say that they need to forgive for their own sakes, because otherwise the bitterness consumes them. I understand that, but for me, bitterness and righteous anger are therapeutic. I use them as stress relievers, and I often express it with humor. Making mean jokes about fuckwits makes me feel better. I do the same about others I can’t stand, like certain political figures and celebrities.
    So I don’t think bitterness has to consume you. It just needs to be channeled in healthy way. It is, after all, a healthy response to being betrayed, so I don’t hold with the pathologizing of it. People who do that and insist you should “get over it” don’t actually want you to feel better, they want you to put on an act so *they* will feel better. It makes them uncomfortable to be exposed to your pain. We have no obligation to make others feel more comfortable about what we went through, except for our kids if they aren’t old enough to understand. With grown kids, there’s no need to pretend you aren’t hurt and angry, though I would certainly put limits on expressing it in order not to overwhelm them.

    I have found that forgiveness trolls become nonplussed when you ask them why you should forgive, because they haven’t given serious thought to it. Sometimes they’ll use that line about it being for your own good, but if you point out that you’re fine with not forgiving, and it is only they who seem to have a problem with your refusal to do so, that tends to shut them up.

    I understand forgiveness to be extending grace to somebody who may or may not deserve it. I think it makes all the difference whether or not they deserve it. I’m not giving it to the unrepentant and unreformed. Meh, otoh, I can get behind.

  • I have forgiven ex for what he did to me but I haven’t forgiven him for the way he still sometimes treats the two children who haven’t always gotten along with Schmoopie. Apparently ex and Schmoopie can’t forgive them for having issues with Schmoopie in the past even after they made the effort to do better and be civil to her. Not good enough, apparently. Well, I can’t forgive him for not forgiving them for a perfectly natural reaction to their dad running off with strange.

  • In a “special” twist, my FW won’t forgive me! Because I “made her cheat,” she is a Mauna Loa of angry bile, even years later. So I’ve become comfortable with ignoring as a substitute for forgiving. I ask a logistical question about our offspring, she spews lava for a few minutes, and I say, “okay, cool.” The idea of “forgiving” her doesn’t even occur to me anymore. She’s just a burr under the saddle I have to avoid.

  • When I got engaged, everyone. And I mean EVERYONE told me that my fiance was no good and not marriage material. I would not listen. I thought I could “save” him from all of his problems. Well. He was the problem. After I caught him cheating on me just weeks from our wedding. The big rock hit me in the head and I broke up with him. How could have I been so stupid? The person I need to forgive is me for being so stubborn and stupid.

  • “…the depth of your love is shown by the extent of your anger.” This I really like. People act like anger is bitterness. It’s not. I LOVE our little girls and even as I move forward in accepting what he did to me – I still have A LOT of anger over how he put his genitals ahead of being a good father and role model for our daughters. I grieve for the screeching halt he put on their childhood. And the callous disregard he continues to show to their needs to maintain an image of “twu wuv” with AP.

  • The very fact that there is a “push to forgive” in our society without remorse & amends tells you how unhealthy & narcissistic our society has become.

    • I object to the fact that, as always, the onus is on the victim – to “set things right” by society and forgiveness trolls. To this day, I still cannot reconcile how those who preach “you must forgive…” don’t demand moral accountability from FWs and AP. Adultery and abuse have become too accepted and normalized; that is what I still struggle with.

    • I think some people “push” for others to forgive could be their way of being superior to those who do not rush to forgive. The “pushers” may think they are superior and can lead the others to forgiveness. It does not work that way! For many reasons including there are many ways of looking at forgiveness. I love the close the account way.

  • I want to weigh in on this a little bit. I’m a very Christian person. To the point where I seriously considered being a nun when I was a teenager but I really wanted children. Then when I could only have one child and we both almost died, I felt like God was punishing me for not heeding the call. I lost my faith for a long time and then when I found out my ex husband really wanted to rape little girls during our divorce, I thanked God over and over again that I only had a son who hadn’t been harmed.

    Anyways, my relationship with God has been complicated but I am a person who reads my Bible most days and does Bible study. And I’m not seeing the whole forgive people who abuse you and let them keep abusing you bullshit that some people preach about in that book.

    I see don’t cast your pearls before swine, cheaters are swine. There’s a lot in the Bible about not letting people abuse you and how it’s not ok to abuse your wife. Cheating is very much not ok in the Bible.

    I genuinely think the whole “Christian” push for forgiveness comes from fake Christian charlatans who want to steal people’s money and find ways to justify their abuse of others. The Bible talks about forgiveness and giving it to God. That means dumping them and getting a life, just like this blog says. You give it to God because it’s not your problem anymore. That’s going no contact, not inviting them to dinner because other people think you’re bitter if you don’t. They can go be God’s problem now, not yours. That’s what the Bible says. We don’t take people outside the city and stone them to death anymore but we can sure as hell block their number and all social media and tell people who tell us we need to associate with them to kindly go fuck themselves.

    A lot of Christianity has been bastardized by criminals and lousy people who want to feel smug about saying they go to church on Sunday but have never cracked the book. Forgiveness is one of those things and it’s the one that irritates me the most. The Bible says to forgive so you can move on and heal. You forget them. You cut them out. You not only escape the fire but you don’t even smell of the smoke anymore.

    • There are growing communities of Christians who believe as you do, such as Pastor Crippen’s Unholy Charade site. Especially the part about lots of predatory, unsaved people leading churches.

      • I haven’t heard of that site, I’ll look it up, thanks. It sounds interesting. My father’s family was Catholic and my mother’s family was Lutheran. And they’re so similar and yet so judgmental of each other it is just beyond stupid. I remember being disgusted with at as a child because I went to both churches and even as a kid I could see that the differences were just meaningless BS but they would get so caught up in it. Ugh. I hate it.

        I go to a bible based non denominational church and it’s so nice. We read the bible, talk about it, try to live by it and encourage and support each other to do the same and we do nice things for the community. It’s really refreshing.

  • Tween and FW were in counseling at the same practice with different therapists when I discovered he had and intended to marry an online AP, and quickly proved it was a romance scam. FW, like a number of others mentioned here, was an aspiring singer/songwriter. With great excitement, he wrote and recorded a song, “I’m Sorry.” Like typical cheater apologies, it didn’t take any real responsibility for his actions, and was more sorry for himself. Tween and therapists asked where his apology to me was, and he said it was the song, which he posted online and tried to monetize. Soon after, he changed the note he posted with the song, to say it wasn’t specific to any person or event. In other words, he actually took back his apology. We had a very contentious divorce, and because he repeatedly refused to disclose assets, including money (inheritance and disability settlements that he stole and hid) I had to pay exorbitant legal fees to fight for custody and every penny. I never got back the money he stole because the statute of limitations had run out.

    He had been contacting Tween secretly trying to get the codes to get into the house and trying to get Tween to take valuables out of the house, threatening to kill Tween’s dog, cat and me if he didn’t comply. Tween was terrified. FW also introduced Tween via phone to a woman he dated for a week, explaining that she was going to be Tween’s new parent, and that Tween would never see me again. He terrorized Tween, now Teen, for more than two years. He also made false reports to CPS, which backfired. His behavior was so outrageous that police, therapists, and CPS advised no contact. So did the Parental Responsibilities Evaluator, so I got sole custody and decision making. Teen is STILL traumatized by what he did.

    Did FW apologize? No. He violated the no-contact order to tell child that God had come to FW, told FW he was forgiven, and told FW that Teen had to forgive FW also.

    What he did to me was terrible. What he did to Teen is unforgivable.

    • GF, he sounds delusional, deranged and dangerous. No way is his behavior forgivable. That is shocking, even for a FW.

      So according to FW, he is so uber important that God made a point of telling him to tell your child to forgive him. It sure must have been a slow day for God. No war, famine or plagues to deal with? So God didn’t just tell tween directly because….? 🙄 What pathetically transparent nonsense they spout.

  • This topic is the most difficult part of the mental gymnastics one has to do to “get along” with others for me. I still struggle with how to carry it out, and my method tends to differ for different offenders at different times. For the ones I loved the most, the closest, the most capable of hurting me deeply, it is the most difficult.

    First the “forgiveness” is for ME. Sorrow I was hurt, plan for what I can change to avoid future hurt, and plan what type of future interaction will be acceptable for me. It definitely is not saying that what they did was ok, or that I will accept it again in the future.

    Second, some of this is only reserved for family, or perhaps a long-term friend who appears to be truly contrite. Family and FW spouses do not seem to be able to carry off being truly contrite. If I feel I must have some type of relationship, like family business or functions, or childcare or child celebrations, I figure out what I can tolerate and I carry that out. I am as civil as possible. If someone is a business only offender, or a public figure offender, I just avoid contact whenever possible, and keep on moving forward with my life. Sometimes I enjoy laughter if they are run over by the karma bus, but I do not drive the karma bus.

    Third, I believe the offender suffers some type of loss for being offensive, even if they are too dense to realize it. I may be wrong, some people may not feel pain or loss, but I cannot stand to think about the total psychopathic coldness of that.

    My father had a lot of pain in his life, and he caused a lot of pain. I know he had regrets and sorrows, but he could never express them unless it was self-pity. I shut him out as much as I could and rarely had to tolerate him at family functions. My ex’s hoovered on occasion. I dealt with them for business or child related functions. My siblings get along for the most part, but currently I am estranged from a sister. She seems incapable of apology, or even acknowledging she hurt me. So currently we are on a business only communication mode. It hurts me that she can continue, and just expects me to “give in” at some point and go back to the way we were. What she does not understand is that I have changed. I have learned from my past chump attitudes, and I will never go back to the way things were with anyone. Ever.

    For me it like having a tumor removed. The cancer is out, the stitches are healing, my life will go on cancer free. But I will always have a scar. I will be vigilant to watch for any precursors that another tumor is developing. I will never forget I had a tumor. I did not cause the tumor, I don’t obsessively worry about another, but I never forget.

    Anyone can make a mistake. If they cannot apologize for the mistake and the pain they caused, sincerely, and offer amends, that is their problem. I love and value myself now, and I won’t tolerate being treated poorly.

  • I got really angry with the people who said “forgive him for yourself.” I put in so much time, energy, blood, sweat and tears into this relationship and you’re heaping another “obligation” on to my list of things to do? No. I’m not accepting that burden. To me forgiveness requires true repentance and cheater ex never exhibited any remorse or repentance. He was the scripture spouting hypocrite to my agnosticism. I chose to accept. Not in the “I’m okay with what you did” version of acceptance. I accept and acknowledge that this bad thing happened to me and I can heal from this. Accepting that it happened has helped me move on.

    There will never be repentance or remorse from the ex since he died shortly after the divorce was final two years ago. His total absence from our lives has made things a lot easier in some respects. I look back on the time and marvel at how far I have come and how much I have healed. I got through it.

  • It’s also good to keep in mind that if a FW knows that you are waiting on them to show remorse or repentance, they will willingly withhold it just to keep you dangling in the wind. You may feel inside that you can’t move on without that, but try not to show it to the FW…some of them are sociopaths who get a kick out of knowing they are still forefront in your mind.

    My own example involved being cheated on in a long-distance relationship and I wasted a year of my life being depressed waiting for the repentance that would never come. I eventually moved on but sometimes kick myself for wasting that year of my life. It only occurred to me years later that this person knew I wanted an apology and therefore didn’t offer one. Well, she got hers years later when her later marriage fell apart from what I understand was her inability to stay faithful.

  • To forgive a FW is just giving them permission to repeat their deceitful behavior in the future. The gift of forgiveness requires the hard work of change on the part of the perpetrator, something this community knows is nearly impossible for a FW. Throw in a narc FW, either overt or covert, and the forgiven abuse just goes into a deeper and more twisted hole of duplicity.

    I forgave Asshat many times. I realize now that I cannot forgive someone for continuing to lie to me. It’s pointless.

  • Thank you for sharing! I think Archbishop Tutu’s definition is perfect.

    I can’t forgive any of what FW did, but I can forgive him for being a deeply flawed human being. That means treating him civilly without having to invite him or his fucked-up energy into my life. It’s not so clear and present anymore, but I’ll always have that righteous anger for how FW treated me and put his family at risk, and it absolutely is a reminder as CL says that keeping him at arm’s length is just protecting myself.

  • He cheated on me with rent-boys, which is cheating both sexually and financially. He cheated on me by stealing money that was by law community property and therefore half mine, and he got away with it. It was such a crazy story that the VSC judge (Hank Goldberg, in California, avoid him like the plague if you can) wouldn’t even look at the bank statements I’d brought to back up my claim.

    I can get to “meh” about his sex life … I suspect I will never get to “meh” about the money, because it leaves me struggling in my old age. 27% of women who divorce in their 60’s end up living below the poverty line. Something is wrong with that number, and I don’t forgive anybody who thinks the number should go higher. My FW is doing quite well, and so is the judge, and I’m not forgiving either one of them.

  • Dday was 8 years ago and divorce finalized nearly 6 years ago. I was married 25 years- 4 kids. Blindsided by learning XH was a serial cheater, used pot and adderal, did not feel one ounce of remorse about it. His rage and the extent of his lies and his lack of any empathy – even for his own children—revealed that although he was diagnosed as narcissistic with BPD – cluster B, I think he might be a sociopath. After I went no contact and spent a few years reading CL daily and building my new life, I realized I feel nothing but sorrow that XH is the way he is. I feel grateful I got away. I loathe what he did to our kids and to me, but I accept that he DID do those things. That’s who he is. He’s not compatible with me in any role: not as a partner, lover, friend, co-parent. After the mask slipped and his rage channel was firmly set, it was painfully clear that he sucks. I’m not bitter or angry, I’m able to be in the same space as him when it (rarely) arises. I treat him politely but neutrally and keep any discussion to a minimum and very superficial.

  • I feel strongly that a person who purposely chooses to be cruel & cause you pain with no regard for your well-being, does not deserve forgiveness. Choose indifference rather than forgiveness.

  • I chose indifference. Married 21 years now divorced 6-1/2. I owe him NOTHING. I ran into one of my X brother in laws last night in a store. I saw him, he didn’t see me. I went the other way. I have nothing against X family members. I wish them well but I feel there is zero need to interact with any of them. They don’t need to know anything that I am doing and I just don’t care anymore what they are doing. They are now strangers to me. It works for me. As far as XH- I dont care if he wins the lottery or gets run over by a bus

  • I have a friend who has been divorced a little under a year. He felt compelled to forgive her for some reason and was not yet practicing No Contact. He wasn’t healed from the divorce. A few weeks ago his X committed suicide. Not only did he not get a chance to fully heal from the divorce but I’m sure he’s now dealing with all the “what if’s” and why’s of her death. I haven’t talked to him about it yet. I think he needs his space and he’ll contact me when he’s ready. I have no words for how to forgive from all of that.

    • That’s sad. My FW ex husband passed away of a stroke a few months after the divorce. It’s been tough to not feel guilty. FW ex didn’t take care of his health despite me helping him with diet and exercise. Therapy and mindfulness helped heal from it all. Hope your friend finds peace and comfort.

  • Jesus didn’t forgive Judas’ betrayal. That’s something that’s forgotten with all this forgiveness guilt tripping.

    • Judas killed himself right after the betrayal of Christ. Where was the time for Jesus to forgive him even if he had choosen to?
      I don’t know about all this forgiveness stuff either, honestly. I’m very conflicted on it.
      The best I can do right now is I don’t wish him harm and I accept that it all happened.
      When I think of how many countless times throughout the years that I kept loving him and forgiving him over and over and over again. I’m done now, even with forgiveness I’m done. I just want to feel safe and not run over by an 18 wheeler less often.
      But, I’m done giving him anymore passes. It’s impossible to forgive someone when they are still hitting you in the face. And the pain that my family has been through because of their lousy father’s choices, never fully goes away. It just resurfaces in ways you never thought about before.
      We are all still in a great deal of pain from his betrayal. I don’t forgive him for hurting us, but I wish him no harm in his life and I don’t try and sabotage his life. That’s the best I’ve got and I’m not sure if I can do better.

  • I really struggle with this, and have to admit that I am jealous of those of you whose kids either handed out consequences and boundaries or went no contact with FW. I’m not so much hung up on whether or not I can forgive her for the double life and affair with another married man, even if he shares my name, because she’ll never feel remorse or effort towards repentance, and I can easily accept that she is a shitty person. It will always hurt that she destroyed our 19-year marriage and squandered all of the investments in money and relationships that come with that, but I have come a long way in 7 years and have found happiness in lots of ways, not the least of which is my engagement to the most amazing woman I have met. She of course is also a chump, that gets the experience.

    My struggle is with all of the things that happened post-divorce, mostly to my kids. She was of course horrible to me, ended up marrying the affair partner before ink was dry on their respective divorces, and tried to use the court system against me including forcing relocation of my youngest child out of state. There’s a million stories like that, but they all just really reinforce that I would never forgive a horrible person who continues to do horrible things. But on top of all of that she became a strange from my oldest child ( barely 18 at the time) shortly after D-Day when he rejected her affair and a fair partner noting that he was dead to her. When he started dragging her on social media she decided to threaten him using a fake Twitter account posing as a grown man that was willing to come beat his ass because FW was considering suicide. That’s some scary psychotic abusive bullshit right there. She also told my middle son had a few points that he was not welcome in her home, and forced my youngest child to live full time with me because he threatened to beat up the affair partner. There’s a thousand other stories about her parenting and decision making that were completely unacceptable and disturbing to me, but you get the point. I would never forgive somebody for treating my children the way that their own mother has. And I wouldn’t expect anyone else to do that either.

    The problem is, she moved out of state in 2019, leaving my middle son during his senior year and while my youngest son was a sophomore, and none of the kids wanted to go with her. But that move turned out to be the magic pill she needed to somehow get all three kids to not only forgive her, but to completely absolve her of her previous transgressions. It’s important to note that the move out of state was for a job that pays her a shit ton of money, and that money has been funneled to my kids ever since to the tune of tens of thousands of dollars since. I feel like they have been paid off and I am truly disappointed that they have sold their boundaries and moral compass for material things. And now my two oldest sons are having babies of their own and in true narcissistic form, my ex hijacks all grandkid related events by buying elaborate birthday party venues and favors, organizing the baby showers, and flying their young families all over the country for expensive vacations. The latest gut punch is my newest granddaughter being given my ex’s first name as her middle. Now I have a grandchild that bears the name of my abuser and theirs.

    I can’t forgive her because she has repented or is remorseful, because she isn’t and the fact that she married her affair partner means that she feels vindicated for the way that she treated me and the two families that were destroyed. I would never forgive her for the way that she has treated our children. She has spearheaded the attempt to take her affair partner’s chumped ex-wife’s children out of state and has had her in litigation almost non-stop for 8 years. And I can’t even make her irrelevant in my life because my adult children allow her centrality in their lives which means I am constantly faced with having to endure her or risk damaging my relationship with them. It all seems incredibly unfair and it makes me want to tell them all to fuck off if I’m honest. But I’m still fighting the good fight to make sure I have a good relationship with my grand kids. Ugh…

    • 😱What a horror show of a woman, WellChumped! I completely understand your feelings about the kids being bought off. I’d like to be able to suggest that they will come around, but in all honesty I can’t. My eldest has not come around and likely never will. FW is spending Christmas with the grandchildren I never get to see. I haven’t even met the youngest. All I did was confront my daughter for going behind my back to arrange secret visits for FW and for telling him to lie to me and my other child about it, and she blocked me and went NC. That was four years ago. Sadly, she is a lot like the cheater. These are the kind of casualties of cheating that the RIC either never acknowledges or blames the chump for. Apparently, we are supposed to let everyone just steamroll over us and smile while we’re dying inside. Well fuck that.
      My sympathies are with you.

    • A horrible person who continues to do horrible things, indeed. I’m so sorry you and her partner’s ex-wife have to continue to endure this. I hope the children and grandchildren will eventually see past the elaborate celebrations and expensive vacations. Yes, it is incredibly unfair.

  • After reading Facebook comments responding to yesterday’s news about cheating ABC TV personalities, I have sadly accepted that FX and OW have been forgiven. By themselves, their families and society. There’s no shortage of forgiveness.

    • It’s sad that the prevailing wisdom is to indulge yourself and be praised for it. Blecch!

  • There is a MAJOR difference between “forgiveness” and “pardon”. To forgive is to relinquish the need to seek vengeance. To pardon is to “restore to previous status”. You can let go of your rage, AND you can ALSO define how you want to relate to them going forward. You forgive the transgressor (or FW – take your pick) for your sake. You pardon them for their sake. If I was using the Jungian archetypes to illustrate, then I would say that it is the Mother Archetype that forgives, but that it is the Queen Archetype that pardons.

    • It is not unlike getting to “meh” and going grey rock or No Contact on them. There are consequences for being a FW.

  • So many thoughts on this, I forgave FW years ago for the cheating, at his behest, well before CN and in the midst of RIC. It is what it is. What never changed and I don’t think deserves forgiveness is his continued entitlement and shitty treatment of me. But I don’t really care to give it much thought.

    A year ago, in the midst of finalizing the divorce I was filled with so much RAGE at FW, as I peeled back the layers of what I had gone through and began to label it as abuse. I had an epiphany one night when I was trying to figure out why I couldn’t let go at my anger at FW because I was doing all the right things and moving on. My epiphany was that my rage was really anger at myself, for staying, for falling for the bs in the first place, for wasted years…. As soon as I realized I knew I had to forgive myself. And I did. And that felt amazing, a weight was lifted from me.

    I don’t care much about FW anymore except dealing with continued harm he attempts to cause me. I shrug off just about everything, he’ll never change. But forgiving myself for what I did to survive him, THAT was a gift to myself.

    • Thank you Finally Free Chump, I needed this today.I found myself at a Christmas party this weekend casually mentioning how I’d like to dismember FW (I’m at the beginning). My rage is all consuming, can see how it’s an accumulation of the rage I wasn’t able to express for 18 years. Need to forgive myself for staying. I wasn’t strong enough to leave then but here I am walking…

  • Desmond Tutus is right: Forgiveness is “the belief that you can come out the other side a better person”–and one who is not consumed pain and rage. That process can take a long time. It has taken me over 60 years to miss my mother (deceased) rather than to write poems about how hard it was to be her daughter.

    Some things are nearly impossible to forgive: the murder of a child, years of deception, horrific child abuse. As Tutu says, we have a right to be angry, to hate those who hurt you and the ones you love, to feel rage about horrific abuse. But forgiveness is about not being consumed by those emotions, not giving over our own life to reaction to someone who is evil, indifferent, abusive. That’s what Meh is about for me: peace with my past so I can live in the present and hope for the future.

  • No chance!!! I (f47) recently divorced my serial cheating husband (m52) and I will never forgive him for nearly taking my life. I don’t wish him any harm as I’m not a cruel or revengeful person but I will never forgive how his actions nearly killed me. He will answer one day for his non stop cheating, whether it’s karma (if you believe in that) or through loneliness/regret, in the mean time I’m getting my self esteem, confidence and health back on track bit by bit.
    All of us, me, you, make/female, young old etc “MATTER “ and are worth more than we think.

  • I used to think about his betrayal all the time. A cheerful person like me became totally depressed. After a couple years, I feel much better. I still think about it daily, but only briefly. This happened only after I went no contact.
    He knew that we could talk about anything. He could’ve said he wanted to separate. He loved to talk about our great! love all the time, so I would be shocked, but I would also try to understand and give him some time and room.
    When I felt uneasy about his behavior, I asked him many times if everything was okay and if he wanted to talk to me. He said no, and gaslighted me. Instead he enjoyed a double life and hid it from me for one year. He saw that I was scared and confused. I was focusing on him 24/7 to figure out why he was acting weird. I begged him to talk to me, I cried in silence and nothing happened. I know that he enjoyed seeing me in pain.
    I never thought about forgiving, because he had no empathy towards me. He was doing everything to hurt me. He deserves no forgiveness. Yet, I do not let the injustice consume me. I just don’t care about him.

  • I could forgive my ex FW if he was truly sorry and offered a sincere and proper apology. However, to me a sincere and proper apology means a change in behavior and not just words. His apology would have to come in the form of action because an apology without a change in behavior is just a manipulation and I’ve had enough of that from him to last a lifetime.

    The problem with that is that I won’t give him the opportunity to take that action because he’s lost all access to me and that’s never going to change. The only avenue he has at this point is words and those will never, ever be good enough to regain access to me to show whether or not those words are genuine or not. I don’t believe them. He’s lost all credibility and been given more chances than anyone possibly deserves and he’s blown them all. I have no reason to believe giving him another will change anything or end any differently. Fool me once shame on you, fool me a thousand times, I’m a fucking idiot and I’m tired of being an idiot.

    So, that’s where we stand, at an impasse. There will never be an opportunity for him to prove he is sorry, or repent, or earn my forgiveness. He’s had all the opportunities I have to give him and wasted them all. I do not forgive him and never will and I’m okay with that. I’m finally at meh and it all matters less and less every day.

  • “Expecting or pressuring you to forgive is harmful in itself. You don’t have to forgive anyone for anything, it’s not required for you to be a good person or for you to move on.”

    Found this quote recently and loved it. By Dr Jessica Taylor

  • You see this all the time. You must forgive, blah, blah, blah.
    Forgiveness is not something you can do.
    I think it’s when you get to a point where they don’t matter anymore.
    You get there by no contact and time.
    If you have young kids limit contact to text or email kids only.
    There’s nothing else to discuss. If not you’ll keep yourself entangled.
    It’s your life, your choice. No one gets a say in that but you.

    • I agree. My initial forgiveness was not wishing him to be floating face down in the Ohio River. Once I got past that, I knew I was on my way. After that just time and distance.

      Forgiveness does not have to be a big ceremony placing a crown of forgiveness on their heads and proclaiming them forgiven. Just a thought of wow I haven’t thought of FW for a long time, and a shrug of the shoulders is good.

      My biggest moment came when I ran into him at a take out as I was picking up my lunch. I stopped when he said hi, let him ramble on for a few minutes, then I said have to go, don’t want to be late. But on the inside I was thinking, dang he is short. I always thought he looked so much taller. I mean technically he was a couple inches taller than I, but he just looked so dang short and small.

  • u waste u life enough on them when they were cheating, and taking all the fw and ap crap. as they say on the exorcist get behind me satan, incidentally my exs ow must have had her spray tan done by a blind person she wears that much spray tan im not sure why it hasnt affected her brain.

  • I think people should stop trying to re-define forgiveness so that we can say we’ve forgiven someone when we haven’t. That includes the wonderful Rev. Tutu. Forgiveness is restoring the wrongdoer to a state of grace. That is not going to happen with me. Redefining it as letting it go or releasing out own hurt or a thousand other ways of trying to get around it is just silly and I am totally fed up with those — including psychologists — who say forgiveness is vital to our well-being. Hell no. Taking care of ourselves is vital to our well-being. Finding and embracing the people who are good to us is vital to our well-being. On Yom Kippur a year and a half after the ex left me (nearly three years ago) for a woman he’d met six weeks earlier, I broke my grey rock stance to respond to his many emails asking me to talk to him, get together with him, try to build a relationship going forward, that he loved and missed me. Not that it would have made a difference if he’d apologized, but I did note that here it was the Day of Atonement and yet he had not apologized to me or the three adult kids (who cut him off entirely). He responded by saying that surely the Day of Atonement should include forgiveness. i.e., he STILL didn’t apologize and never has. Like I said, it wouldn’t have made any real difference. I was more pointing out that his request for contact was insane on many fronts. But his response did bring even more clarity about the kind of person he is. This year, he wrote to the kids saying that because it was Yom Kippur, it was their duty to forgive him. They simply thought he was an idiot. I did point out to them that it was important for them to remember that the Day of Atonement is about atoning, not forgiveness. Forgiveness might come but it is not an inherent or commanded part of the day. Atonement is.

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