Is it possible to forgive an infidelity? - psychology - 2023



An important aspect of infidelity is the fact that it usually happens in secret. Therefore, usually implies a betrayal of the commitment agreed between the parties involved, the spouses. This is a fundamental element when breaking the trust on which the couple's relationship is established.

When an infidelity occurs, the "victim" suffers a deep wound in their self-esteem that will need to be healed. One of the most difficult challenges you will have to expose yourself to will be forgiving what happened, regardless of whether you want to restore the relationship or not.

What is forgiveness?

Forgiveness is a process that has healthy effects on the person who forgives, thereby promoting their mental health. Nevertheless, forgiveness is a complex matter that will take time, 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 forgiveness process after an infidelity

The first step will be to acknowledge the damage suffered. It is important not to try to deceive yourself by minimizing what happened, on the contrary, it will be from the importance of the event from where the "victim" will be given the opportunity to forgive.

In analyzing what happened, it is necessary to understand the circumstances in which the infidelity occurs. In this way, we know that external attributions (attributing responsibility to circumstances external to the person), unstable (which vary) and specific (concrete and punctual) of infidelity facilitate forgiveness in the face of internal attributions (attributing responsibility to character of the person), stable (that does not change) and global (generalizable) that make it difficult.

It may interest you: "What does science reveal about infidelity?"

The second step is to show interest in forgiving what happened, at least as a possibility.

Misconceptions about the forgiveness process

For this we will have to analyze and recognize what forgiveness means for us to detect possible thoughts or ideas that can negatively interfere with the forgiveness process. Some of these misconceptions can be:

1. "Forgiveness implies forgetting what happened"

Memory is a brain function that is involved in all human learning processes. When we learn something, it is not erased from our "warehouse", we cannot make it disappear. The end is not to forget what happened, the end will be to remember it without hurting us.

2. "Forgiving is synonymous with reconciliation"

This is one of the most widespread ideas in consultation: "If he does not want to return to me it is because he has not forgiven me, if he had, we would be together." Forgiveness does not necessarily include restoring a relationship with someone, it is necessary, but not sufficient.

3. "To forgive is to minimize or justify what happened"

How many times have we heard phrases like: “it's not that bad”, “try to see the positive”, “these things happen”, ...? Forgiving does not imply changing the assessment of the fact; so it is very likely that it is always valued negatively and unjustifiably. However, what will change is that, despite the fact that the assessment of the fact 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 being valued or of weakness"

When they hurt us, 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 part of the lost confidence in oneself).

Changing our thoughts so we can forgive

The third step that leads us to forgive, and this happens by 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 at the “aggressor”, ...) or covert and implicit (wishing the aggressor ill, rummaging about betrayal and damage inflicted ...).

The fourth stage is to establish strategies aimed at self-protection. Forgiving does not mean “blind faith in the other”, it precisely 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 probability that To happen again. It is important not to fall into excessive control that leads us to manifest jealous behavior.

Overcoming a difficult situation

Forgive an infidelity, therefore, it is possible. However, this will not mean resuming the relationship again, it is a necessary but not sufficient requirement.

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 lead to the loss of confidence in both the partner and oneself, given the devastating effects it has on self-esteem.

We help you: "Overcoming an infidelity: the 5 keys to achieve it"