“A second chance doesn’t mean anything if you didn’t learn from your first.”
~ Anurag Prakash Ray
It is important to know what form of indiscretion took place. Does their behavior mean your values are misaligned?
One sign of hope is if the indiscretion led to open and honest conversations about the WHY.
This type of communication requires patience and compassion for yourself and the other person.
Does he truly understand the reason for which he is apologizing?
It is more promising if they took ownership of not only their actions, but doing the inner-work to determine why they acted that way.
This means not being immediately defensive or displacing blame.
- Does he understand why you’re upset about his behavior and what’s beneath that?
- Is he willing to see things from your perspective?
It does not necessarily matter whether you both agree on the nature and the impact of the indiscretion. What is more important than being in agreement, is him providing empathy and validation to you.
Moreover, it is important to see how he treats you as you process and come to your own decision of next steps.
If he is not respecting your need for space and/or time, and is seemingly rushing you, that is not a good sign.
- Is there follow-through?
- Does he follow through on his actions to figure out why he acted the way he did?
- Is he following through on actions meant to help you rebuild your trust in him?
- Does he have a “whatever it takes” attitude?
- In order to bring back trust and peace in the relationship, is he open to doing whatever it takes for however long it takes (i.e. going to therapy, taking temporary separation, etc)?
If you do decide to give him a second chance, schedule bi-weekly “check-in” conversations about the status of your relationship.
This allows for a safe and sacred time and place for the serious discussions about how you both feel about the relationship. This also then gives you time to simple be in the present moment with your partner and not constantly be observing every minute of it, trying to confirm whether this is the right choice.
This vulnerable and intentional action of connecting with each other, even when it is difficult, signifies commitment, collaboration, openness and flexibility.
Cori Dixon-Fyle, LCSW – www.thrivingpath.com
So your man says he has changed for the better and wants you back – what to do?
When we say “giving another chance” it implies that your man had previously attempted something and failed.
This way of thinking is very black and white, all or nothing – not an affective way to conceptualize a relationship. We are all human, filled with imperfections and vacant with areas of space for improvement.
In order for a personal change to have a long-lasting effect, it must come from a place of internal motivation.
Any change on his part must have been because of his desire to be different – not from a desire win you back.
Real change comes from a place that he wished for himself, regardless of your existence.
- If he lessened his consumption of alcohol, it should be because he no longer wanted to be a person who drank so much alcohol.
- If he tamed his expression of anger, it should have been because he did not like himself or his own behavior when he was angry and found other ways to cope.
- If he was once dishonest or unfaithful, then being an honest, loyal person must be traits that he now values as part of his identity. Similar patterns follow with being a more considerate, attentive, and affectionate person.
We all have faults, we have all told a lie to others and have lied to ourselves at times.
We all exhibit behaviors and expressions of emotions that we do not like. When we make real improvements, we do it for ourselves not for others. We change something when we don’t like what we see in the mirror.
So if your man changed for himself – give him another chance. If he changed just for you – it’s time to move on.
Jacqueline C. Duke, Psy.D – www.psychologist.co
This is a really difficult question to answer for yourself.
A lot can depend on your history together.
- Is this the first time you’ve given him another chance or is this the seventeenth?
- How egregious is his behavior?
- How hurt or angry are you?
- How likely is he to do it again?
These are important questions to ask yourself, but they’re also difficult to answer because you can’t know the future.
First of all, it’s important to get accurate information.
Too often you don’t have the facts of the situation unless you were actually there. And the facts may be hard to come by because friends who pass on information may have an agenda, you and he likely interpret things differently, and he may lie. If you’re extremely emotionally upset, you’re going to need some time to calm down to be able to think.
It’s also important to look at the big picture.
- How has the relationship been going during the time you’ve been together?
- Has he been solid, comfortable, relaxed, supportive, compassionate, and accepting?
- Or have there been a lot of ups and downs, criticism, difficulties, insecurities, or previous lack of trust?
When the relationship has been easy and comfortable, then another chance is more likely to pan out, than when it’s added to a long list of things that aren’t making you happy.
However, it’s been my experience, that too often the woman most likely to give him another chance is the one who feels the relationship is insecure and she just doesn’t want to give up.
Why would you keep hanging onto a relationship that isn’t working?
1. You may think that you’ve invested so much, you hate to waste all that time and energy.
But the investment analogy doesn’t really stand up. If you had bought a stock on the market and it was tanking, it’s not likely that buying more of the same stock would be your best choice.
2. You don’t want to feel like a failure.
When you’re looking at his poor behavior and somehow seeing it as your failure, you’re thinking is clearly not working correctly. You are not to blame for his anger, his choices, his disappointment, his lies, his cheating, etc. He may try to get you to take responsibility, but it would not be sensible.
3. You have children, a house, and a life together that would be devastatingly impacted by ending the relationship.
You will want to think about the lives and finances that will be impacted. There is a lot more to consider the more entanglements you have together, and the more chances you will be willing to give, but also the more demands you should be making for change.
4. You believe that you’ll never find someone who will love you as much as he does.
This is a good one to check out with your friends.
- Is he really that loving?
- Are you really so unloveable that no man would want you?
- Are you looking only at his positive or only his negative qualities?
- Are your emotions getting in the way of seeing the relationship accurately?
5. You’ve paid for a round the world trip together, and you don’t want to cancel.
This comes up more than most people would think. That is, a vacation or special event is coming up that you don’t want to miss. In addition, most relationships are pretty fun when the day to day pressures are off.
You might even find that you reconnect in a good way during the event. The question is will it last when you get back to real life? On the other hand, the event may really blow up the relationship all together.
Only you can decide if you want to, or believe you should, or feel you have to give him another chance.
If you do, don’t just think that everything will be wonderful.
Pay attention to his behavior and how you feel.
- Do you feel more secure or less?
- Is he showing you new behaviors that you appreciate?
- How long does the new behavior last?
Once or twice certainly isn’t enough.
- How remorseful is he?
- How important are your feelings to him?
- What is he able to do to help you forgive him?
- Do you believe the issue is resolved and what proof do you have?
Whether or not you give him another chance, I believe it’s important that you take responsibility for your choice.
You make a decision. Right or wrong. You don’t blame him for making you do it. You don’t blame him if you guessed wrong. You move on.
If you think it’s necessary to keep punishing him, then you really are hanging onto a relationship that has already departed.
Margalis Fjelstad, Ph.D., LMFT – www.margalistherapy.com
Sometimes a relationship breakup is like a broken window; you might be tempted to pick up the pieces but it is impossible to gather them all and you may even get more hurt in the process.
However, it is understandable that there are times where our feelings, history together, and desire for connection leave us wondering, ‘should we try again?’
Matters of the heart are rarely black and white.
When emotions are involved we should step back to give ourselves a chance to consider things from an objective perspective.
Before considering taking him back spend some time reflecting on these questions:
- Has he apologized? The words ‘I’m sorry’ can have an almost hollow feeling especially if we have heard them before. An apology should have these three parts; an understanding of what they did wrong, understanding of the impact their actions had on others, and a genuine commitment to not do it again.
- Do you trust him? Often times we hand over our trust like we swipe our credit card; too often and not mindful of the withdrawal we are making! Trust should be earned and re-earned if you give him a second chance. Remember this equation for building trust:
Words + Actions = TRUST
- What do his actions tell you? Taking responsibility and validating your concerns about the relationship, show emotional maturity. If you are able to talk openly about what went wrong, there may be ground to create something new and beautiful together. Be careful not to take the same bricks from past into the relationship we are building now or we will end up building the same house.
The Beatles may have sung, “All you need is love” but that’s not entirely accurate…
Compromising your values and your sense of self for someone else is the hallmark of an unhealthy relationship.
The fact that you are asking whether YOU should take HIM back might be a red flag unto itself. Relationships should be mutual and compromises should be balanced with both partners wanting to accommodate each other’s needs. ‘If you wouldn’t want it for your own son or daughter, why would you tolerate it for yourself?’
The following are a few ways to know if what you have is too toxic to mend:
- We don’t talk about feelings. In a relationship when communication starts to fade so does everything else. So many people want to be a relationship but aren’t ready to peel back the layers and become vulnerable with someone. Consider there might be a reason you don’t feel safe.
- I don’t feel like myself. It’s common for abusers to combine love with abusive behaviors in order to support hurting the people around them. An abusive relationship describes a relationship where one person consistently and constantly uses tactics to psychologically, physically, financially, emotionally, and sexually control and have power over another person. Contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 for more information.
- I don’t seem to matter. You shouldn’t have to fight for a space in your partner’s life. If he makes you lose your family, your friends, your sense of self-worth, your safety, or your confidence then it’s time to lose him.
Walking away from something unhealthy doesn’t mean you are weak; choosing yourself is one of the greatest signs of strength.
Dana Hall, LCPC, MA, TF-CBT – www.danahalltherapy.com
When you are in a relationship, things may not go as smoothly as you hope.
Arguments happen, people say mean and cruel things and you feel hurt and even betrayed. Is the relationship worth mending? Is the foundation strong enough so that you feel you can grow from the experience?
There are a few things to consider when deciding to give him another chance:
1. Are you holding on to the relationship because you don’t want to be alone, or are afraid to start all over again with someone new?
If you really want it to work, but you see that it’s never going to be the “real deal,” maybe it’s time to move on.
2. Are you noticing that this time, being with him is not as enjoyable as it used to be?
You sense that there aren’t any butterflies in your stomach when you speak of him. You are not as concerned any more if you see him and you’re just tired of the on again/off again scenarios. Then, maybe giving a second chance is not going to work.
3. Are you afraid that the arguments keep spiraling into brutal, nasty fights?
And, nothing you do or say changes things? Then staying together is destructive.
4. Are you so mad, annoyed, hurt or disgusted that you can’t get past the resentment to forgive?
Was his “crime” that bad to be the turning point in the relationship?
Can you consider counseling to see if the relationship has enough strong foundation to mend and grow? Also, are you willing to make personal changes to improve the relationship through compromise and mutual understanding?
These are the challenges to consider when you are confused about where you stand in your relationship.
If you answered yes to the above questions, then giving him another chance is pointless.
Amy Sherman, M.A., LMHC – www.yourbabyboomersnetwork.com
In general I am not a big fan of second chances (and certainly not third or fourth chances!).
While this may sound a bit rigid and I recognize there can be extenuating circumstances, I think that people generally show you their character from the beginning.
Nobody is perfect; we all make mistakes, but issues of character don’t fall into that category.
While the definition of mistakes can run the gamut, bad character behavior is in a different category.
Chronic lateness or changing plans at the last minute show a lack of respect for your time. It’s selfish. Looking at or flirting with other women shows a lack of respect for you as a person and as a woman. Intolerable.
Any behavior that suggests that he finds you less important than himself is a big red flag. When it’s an issue of character second chances only prolong your pain.
Character doesn’t change no matter how many chances are given. You definitely need to move on from these kinds of men.
On the other hand occasionally being late could just be that you’ve got one of those absent-minded guys. A messy guy is just that-messy. While annoying, these generally don’t really speak to a lack of good character. We will all come across behaviors that we find annoying and we all have to decide what we can live with and what we can’t.
I think our own responses to a man’s faux pas can tell you what you are dealing with.
When someone is disrespecting you, you will feel it in your gut. There is a huge difference between feeling annoyed and feeling hurt. You don’t give second chances to men who hurt you.
I think in general women tend to be forgiving and that’s not a bad thing.
But we are also socialized to be care-takers and unfortunately to put others’ needs ahead of our own. This is a tendency that must be fought.
You are as important as anybody and if you don’t feel entitled to take care of yourself you will find yourself in relationships where you are used or even worse abused.
It might sound generous to give someone a second chance. But if a man is showing you bad character, why wait until he does it again?
Sally LeBoy, MFT – www.sallyleboymft.com
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