The Mirriam-Webster Dictionary defines forgive as “to cease to feel resentment against (an offender).”
Can there be real forgiveness on the part of the offended in the absence of remorse or regret on the part of the offender? This is a fundamental question I struggle with in the context of certain relationships.
How can there be forgiveness – or trust for that matter – if someone behaves in a manner that causes very real hurt, stress, and anger, but that person refuses or is incapable of seeing and acknowledging that their behavior negatively impacts someone else? If there is no remorse, then there is also no assurance that the offender will not continue to behave obnoxiously, insensitively, rudely, and hurtfully. How does one move on from there?
There is no choice but to accept the person as they are, with no expectation that they will change to suit you. This means accepting that they are unwilling and/or unable to see past their own feelings, and this will very likely result in continued behavior that is offensive and hurtful to the people around them.
With every relationship, there must be a cost-benefit analysis. Does this relationship benefit me more than it harms me? Does it enrich my life more than it costs me? Does it bring me more positivity than negativity?
We are all, as adults with all of our faculties intact, responsible for our own happiness. Part of being responsible for our own happiness is choosing to involve ourselves in healthy relationships that are based on mutual respect, honesty, straightforward dealing, trust, kindness, and mutual valuing of one another’s personhood and feelings. Involving ourselves in relationships that don’t have those elements is akin to choosing to be victims.
I refuse to be a victim.