Why You Should Forgive, But Not Necessarily Forget

Why You Should Forgive, But Not Necessarily Forget ©iStock/Eva-Katalin

It sucks when you’re hurt by someone you care about, but it happens, intentionally or not. Depending on the situation, you may decide to either cut your losses and walk away or forgive the person who hurt you and give them another chance — but can you ever really forget what they’ve done? Should you? There’s value in the advice to “forgive and forget,” but sometimes it’s important to remember what you’ve been through to avoid it happening again.

  1. You need to remember the lesson. There’s a lesson in everything, and if you forget about the crappy thing someone did to you, it’s hard to learn what you’re supposed to from your experiences. Forgiveness is a healthy habit — because let’s face it, everyone makes mistakes sometimes — but remembering what you learned from those screw-ups is essential to your own growth and sense of self-preservation.
  2. It heightens your own awareness. You’ll be more aware of who you trust, because not everyone is worthy of it. Certain circumstances can be complete dealbreakers, of course, but for those more minor or less extreme instances of betrayal, remembering the situation is going to help you to be more aware of possible warning signs should they arise again.
  3. It makes you stronger. You’ll look back and remember how crappy you felt and be proud of how you’ve managed to survive in spite of it. You weren’t born strong — you developed it over time, and painful lessons and experiences are how you’ve grown your own personal strengths. Own it.
  4. It makes your bonds with others stronger, too. If you and your best friend or boyfriend have a blowout and make the decision to accept what happened and move forward with your relationship, leave it at that. Constantly looking back on the disaster you braved together and made it past will remind you how solid your bond is, but it can also allow you to get caught up on the past and become resentful. Forgiveness is another platform to make your relationship healthy.
  5. You’re not a doormat, and you have boundaries. As much as you want to be able to just shrug it off and pretend it never happened, it did. And even though it might have pissed you off or upset you, it taught you that you have limits. Even if those limits aren’t hard ones in which you completely axe the relationship entirely, it definitely shows that person that you can’t be taken for granted. Forgiveness doesn’t mean that you’re condoning the behavior of someone who didn’t treat you fairly, it means you respect yourself enough to not let it weigh you down, but you know better for next time.
  6. Even bad memories can bring good. If someone hasn’t treated you fairly and you try to forget it, it’s just going to eat at you more and bring up those crappy feelings you felt when it first happened. When you accept that it happened and keep it in the back of your mind, you become better equipped for whatever lies ahead. And rest assured, there will be more crappy situations where you need to forgive in the future. In the end, it’s your experiences that make you who you are.