We’ve all been there: sobbing into our best friend’s cashmere sweater, snot rolling down our face and gasping for a breath. It’s not always the same event that breaks our heart — it could be serious, like him cheating, but it could also be something more innocuous like him forgetting you hate raspberries, or him blowing you off to play video games with his friends, or him doing anything that fits into your particular expectations of how a lover should act and be.
The smaller issues are usually easier to get over and simpler to remedy if you’re open to communicating your hurt to him. You realize maybe you overreacted to something relatively silly because you hadn’t expressed smaller hurts and it all just built up until that final straw was dropped upon your shoulders.
You realize your heart wasn’t broken, just a little dented. But then, something huge happens that you never thought would happen to you, and it brings you to your knees. Suddenly, you find yourself grasping for remedies for how to get over a broken heart.
Maybe he cheated on you with your friend. Maybe you caught him sharing a nude photo of you with one of his buddies. Maybe he broke an explicit agreement that the two of you had made about something important.
Your heart is shattered and you don’t want to see his face or answer his texts or meet him to discuss the situation. You are so done. You never want to see him again.
Except, you can feel your mind trying to speak to you. A whisper is running around in your head saying, “Stop. You love him. He loves you. You know he does. Maybe I should learn how to forgive him. Maybe we can work it out. Maybe he just made a mistake. Even though my heart feels broken.”
Look, if you really feel your heart is broken, then that means that you love him. If you didn’t love him, it wouldn’t be such a big deal. Your heart needs to be listened to. Love deserves a second chance.
But take your time feeling hurt, angry, sad and every other extreme emotion that’s racing through you as you first begin to assess the damage. Your feelings are yours and you need to give them their space, acknowledge them, and let them work through you.
You may want to do this with close friends or by yourself, or even write out the emotions in a journal. You may want some time apart from your guy to come to a calmer space where you can really hear him out and see if he’s authentically remorseful and open to talking.
Now, if he genuinely loves you and comes to you with open arms and a remorseful heart — with his own heart broken because of what he did to you and ready to do whatever it will take to prove to you that it will never happen again — you should forgive him.
Honestly, even if he doesn’t do any of that and you never see him again, you should also forgive him. Forgiveness isn’t about him, it’s about you.
In the situation where you truly believe him and are willing to take him back, with forgiveness you’re actually allowing the relationship to have a chance. Some women take a guy back but don’t allow forgiveness, and are forever bringing it back up and using the situation as a weapon.
Forgiving him means taking him back with an open heart. No, you are probably not going to trust him 100 percent right away, which is totally understandable, but you can allow the past to stay in the past and only move forward with love and hope. If you feel lingering anger come up, express it and talk it out as soon as you feel it, so you can both keep processing the relationship and your status.
If the relationship is not salvageable, it’s time to let go of the anger and resentment you feel toward him and forgive him. You do not want to drag your old angers and mistrust into a new relationship. You need to start fresh.
So, right about now, you may be thinking you’ve tried forgiving someone before, and maybe even thought that you had done it successfully. But then, before you knew it, you realized it was easier said than done.
How do you actually forgive, rather than just say it and hope it sticks? Simple. It takes self-reflection.
At first, you may need to reflect on your emotions and thoughts hourly, but as time goes by and you see his earnestness, you will find yourself not needing to check in with yourself as often. Continually bring yourself back to your deep commitment to forgiveness even though you still have reservations. Make it important. Make it matter. A lot.
Because it does matter a lot. Without forgiveness, you will always harbor some ill-will, which can seep into other relationships and areas of your life. Keep telling yourself that it gets easier with time and practice.
Hold true to the importance of your own internal well-being by continuing to practice forgiveness daily, which, in the end, is something only you can give to yourself — with him or without him.