Both you and your partner will likely make your share of mistakes, and if you want your relationship to keep moving forward, it’s important to master the art of forgiveness. But what happens when that second chance becomes a third or a fourth? How many chances should you be giving your significant other? According to experts, there are a few things you should keep in mind before you decide to give your partner another chance.
“Figuring out if and when to move on from a relationship is hard,” Melissa Hobley, dating and relationship expert and global chief marketing officer at OkCupid, tells Bustle. There isn’t an exact magic number to how many chances you should give someone. Every situation is different. For instance, some people can forgive cheating one time, while others can’t. But at the very least, Ashleigh Edelstein, licensed marriage and family therapist, tells Bustle that many people deserve a second chance.
“We’re all doing our best at any given time, and we can do better,” Edelstein says. “If you want your partner to forgive mistakes and give you opportunities to do better, extend that courtesy to them.”
Anything beyond a second chance is worth thinking over. There are a few things you should think about before deciding whether giving your partner another chance will be worth it. So here are some questions you should ask yourself, according to experts.
1. Have I Communicated My Needs In A Way That’s Easy To Understand?
The key to a successful relationship is open and honest communication. As Emily Pfannenstiel, LPC, a psychotherapist who specializes in therapy for women, tells phicklephilly, it’s important to communicate your expectations early on in the relationship. “We live in a society that chastises [people who identify as women] for being too ‘aggressive,’ therefore, many women are scared that if they ask their partners for what they want, they’ll be viewed as unattractive,” Pfannenstiel says. “Yet, at the same time, it’s not fair to ask our partners to meet expectations that they know nothing about.”
For instance, everyone has their idea of what counts as cheating. Your partner’s idea of cheating might only be physical cheating, while your idea of cheating includes emotional cheating and texting other people. If your partner doesn’t fully understand that you don’t want them texting their ex because you think it’s cheating, they may not think it’s a big deal and will continue to keep doing it. So it’s important to state your expectations in a clear and direct way. According to Pfannenstiel, when you’re able to voice your expectations without fear, everyone wins.
2. Am I Receiving Just As Much As I Give?
Whether you give your partner a second chance depends on your negotiables and non-negotiables. “Be honest about how it makes you feel when those non-negotiables are tested or violated,” Tara Genovese, licensed clinical social worker who specializes in relationships, tells Bustle. If you find that your partner keeps doing the same thing over and over again after you’ve had conversations about it, you may have to evaluate your relationship. “Are you in a reciprocal relationship based on respect and care for one another, or is this the same cycle repeating itself?” Genovese says. Sometimes you have to take a step back and look at your relationship as a whole. If your partner isn’t pulling their weight or giving you enough of what you want, giving them another chance might not be worth it.
3. Is My Partner’s Behavior Something I Can Live With?
It’s easy to take your partner’s behavior personally. But according to Edelstein, their behavior may be explained by their own personal issues. For instance, how someone was raised or their attachment style can affect how they act towards you. If this is the case, getting them to change will require a lot of time and patience on your part. If your partner really has issues to work through that stem from childhood, it’s not something they can easily fix.
“If they continue to repeat problematic behavior without any acknowledgement or change, it may be time to take a look at whether it’s a deal breaker or requires the help of a professional,” Edelstein says. “Do some self-reflection and check in whether your relationship is aligned with your values and what direction you’d like it to go.”
4. Does My Partner Actually Listen And Understand My Point Of View?
Sometimes it does take people a few chances to finally get it right. If you notice that your partner actually listens to your needs and is making an effort to change, it’s worth giving them multiple chances. But if your partner is stubborn and is unwilling to see things from your perspective, Pfannenstiel says they’re showing you that they don’t respect you enough to hear you out. “When this happens, you need to seriously question whether you should be moving forward in the relationship or moving on,” she says. “I would say this holds true across most topics of concern.”
It’s important to note that if you are dealing with abuse or blatant disrespect, those don’t require second chances. “In fact, if your partner is abusive, I would say, get help, cut the cord and do not look back,” Pfannenstiel says.
5. What’s Holding Me Back From Leaving The Relationship?
Long-term healthy relationships require a lot of forgiveness. As Genesis Games, LMHC, a Gottman-trained couples therapist, tells Bustle, “Forgiveness doesn’t need to always equate to another chance. Forgiveness can be something you do for yourself and not anything to do with rebuilding your relationship.” If you find yourself in a situation where you keep giving your partner chances, it’s important to figure out why. What’s holding you back from moving on? “Being brutally honest with yourself is essential to avoid getting into a breaking up and getting back together cycle, which is toxic and painful,” she says. Sometimes having the relationship you actually want may involve leaving a partner you already have.
Some people deserve second chances. After that, it’s up to you to decide if giving your partner another chance will be worth it.
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