Forgiveness can be divided into several types? Many times our interpretation of forgiveness is to blame and reconcile with the other side. In the face of a lover’s cheating, a friend’s betrayal, or a parent’s betrayal, choosing to forgive seems to be choosing to turn all the wrongs over and be as close to each other as ever. In fact, forgiveness is not the same as repairing a relationship, but a change in the mood and attitude of the traitor. Even if we put aside our resentment and sympathize with each other’s behaviour, we may still decide not to be as close to him as we used to be.
Fincham, Hall, and Beach’s (2005)’s two-dimensional forgiveness model divides forgiveness into negative and positive dimensions. Forgiveness in the negative dimension is reflected in the reduction of resentment and revenge against the betrayer, while forgiveness in the positive dimension is reflected in the sympathy and understanding we have generated for the betrayer. The two dimensions are combined into three types of forgiveness, namely apathetic forgiveness, complete forgiveness, and contradictory forgiveness.
1. Apathetic forgiveness typical state: “Nothing to hate, I just don’t care.” “When we are in a state of indifferent forgiveness, we only reach forgiveness on the negative dimension. When faced with betrayal in past feelings, we are likely to adopt this attitude of forgiveness. The betrayal of the once important man at that time did us great harm, but by the time it passed, we no longer had resentment. Our good feelings and kindness toward each other are gone, knowing that we don’t have to struggle to hate someone who is not worth it.
2. Paradoxical forgiveness typically states: “I still love him, but I can’t help hating him.” “When we are in a state of contradictory forgiveness, we have feelings of attachment and resentment towards our betrayers. On the one hand, we actually forgive each other emotionally because our feelings are still strong; This state of mind is often found in strong emotional intimacy or other difficult-to-disconnect relationships. For example, when we feel betrayal by our husbands, we tend to have mixed feelings of love and hate for our husbands.
3. Complete forgiveness typical state: “I don’t think I hate him anymore, he did something wrong, I can understand.” “The last type of forgiveness is the hardest of the three types. Full forgiveness means that not only do we put aside our resentments and blames, but we are also able to re-examine his betrayal from the other side’s perspective. For example, put aside your resentment of your cheating partner and be able to understand and sympathize with the reasons for your partner’s cheating. It is important to note that while full forgiveness can promote the repair of relationships and the healing of our inner wounds, we do not have to force ourselves to choose such forgiveness, let it is not the sole purpose of the relationship to forgive each other.
What makes people choose to forgive each other completely? In addition to the severity of the betrayer’s own actions and the apologies he exudes, there is also a factor that motivates complete forgiveness to separate the betrayer’s actions from his person, that is, “he betrayed me wrong, but that does not mean that he is a very bad person.” In marriage counselling, for example, some partners talk to each other to come to understand the stresses they are under in their lives and the complex reasons why they end up cheating. In these cases, they slowly cease to be hostile to the cheating party and realize that while the other party is responsible for his own mistakes, that doesn’t mean he’s a hopeless or bad person. This distinction is not only our inner feelings but also the criterion for judging whether the other person deserves our complete forgiveness. If we realize that the other person’s betrayal is only a manifestation of his extreme selfishness, complete forgiveness of such a person may simply be burying the ground for future betrayal. Conversely, if we can share and understand the reasons for the other person’s betrayal, we are more likely to have the motivation to forgive the other person completely.
Besides, our attachment patterns are also associated with the motivation to choose forgiveness. Also deciding to forgive, people with insecure attachment are more likely to forgive each other for maintaining a relationship, tending to make excuses for the traitor and to reach an “understanding” of the traitor by deceiving themselves. Even in the face of their partner’s repeated cheating, they may still deceive themselves into insisting that the other partner is suffering. Thus, while people with unsafe attachments have reached complete forgiveness in terms of results, this forgiveness is likely to make it more difficult for them to escape from a harmful relationship. What should I do if I want to forgive you?
In a relationship of betrayal, the most important thing for us is how to heal the wounds we have suffered. Our anger and pain are justified in our betrayal, and we should not force ourselves to let go of our pain to forgive each other or for moral considerations. Even if you want to forgive the other person, you need to first face up to the damage that betrayal has done to us and figure out why you want to forgive.
This, combined with psychologist Robert Enright’s forgiveness model, provides four steps for practicing forgiveness:
1. Understanding our anger and trauma from the betrayal of those close to us is likely to leave attachment wounds in our hearts, which can make it difficult for us to re-trust and to establish genuine emotional connections. At the same time, we need to accept the anger in our hearts. This does not mean that we can allow anger to control us to retaliate against each other, but rather that by being honest with anger, we can first settle with our wounded self.
2. To decide to forgive, at this stage it is more important to think clearly about your motivation to forgive the other person. Forgiveness should be a by-product of our self-healing process, neither a means of self-healing nor a result. Forgiveness may not be a mature decision if we are motivated by outside pressure, or simply eager to find a relationship through forgiveness.
3. Trying to understand and share the betrayer’s behaviour Some betrayal behaviour has its specific causes. For example, although the partners still love each other, they are unable to feel loved in the relationship because of a lack of communication, and cheating becomes a way to reduce frustration in the relationship.
4. Putting aside the betrayal and hurt between angry people does not mean that one side is a bad person with bad intentions, but we all have private intentions, cowardice, stupidity, these shortcomings make many people care about their own people caused irreparable harm. When we decide to forgive a person, we can focus more on the growth we have gained in our experiences than on the resentments that past experiences bring to us. It can be a long process, and it doesn’t matter if we can’t do it for a time. As long as it is not dominated by our own anger, it does not conflict with our healing process. Will we forgive the man who betrayed us? Everyone has their own decisions about the answer to this question.
Just remember: forgiveness doesn’t mean we decide to compromise; Hope that no matter what choice is made, no one will lose the ability to love and be loved because of betrayal.
References：Chi, P. (2011). Forgiveness following spousal infidelity : a process exploration in the Chinese community. (Thesis). University of Hong Kong, Pokfulam, Hong Kong SAR.Baucom, D. H. H., Pentel, K. Z. Z., Gordon, K. C. C., & Snyder, D. K. K. (2017). An integrative approach to treating infidelity in couples. In J. Fitzgerald (Ed.), Foundations for Couples’ Therapy: Research for the Real World (pp. 206–215).Fincham, F. D., Hall, J. H., & Beach, S. R. H. (2005). “Til lack of forgiveness doth us part”: Forgiveness in marriage (pp. 207-226). In Handbook of Forgiveness. New York: Routledge.Stosny, S. (2013). Forgiveness after betrayal: living and loving again. Psychology Today.