Entries in forgiveness (9)


“Please Forgive Me”: The Upside of Guilt

Along with all the great things that result from close relationships, the bond between two people also makes partners vulnerable to each other. Even in the closest of relationships, people may accidentally or intentionally do things that hurt each other’s feelings, whether it’s forgetting a birthday, making a snide remark, or committing a more serious transgression like infidelity.

If a relationship is going to persist following a hurtful act, it’s important that the victim forgive the transgressor. One way of repairing relationships is for transgressors to seek forgiveness by saying they are sorry, admitting their wrongdoings, or giving an explanation for their transgressions. But what prompts someone to seek out forgiveness in the first place? It turns out that guilt is an effective motivator.

Click to read more ...


How Relationships Change Us Over Time: Relationship Matters Podcast 40

A new edition of SAGE’s “Relationship Matters” podcast is out! In this edition, hosted by Dr. Bjarne Holmes of Champlain College, Dr. Kevin McIntyre (Trinity University) discusses research regarding how being in a relationship changes who we are as a person.  

Together with Dr. Bent Mattingly (Ursinus College) and Dr. Gary Lewandowski (Monmouth University), McIntyre studied the different ways people change when in a relationship. Specifically, they looked at four different types of changes we experience: (a) Self-expansion refers to people gaining positive personal traits from being in a relationship (e.g., gaining a new hobby one is pleased about), (s) self-adulteration refers to gaining negative personal traits (e.g., gaining a new bad habit one doesnt want), (3) self-contraction refers to losing positive personal traits (e.g., discontinuing a favorite activity), and (4) self-pruning reflects losing negative personal traits (e.g., losing a bad habit one is pleased to be rid of). 

Click to read more ...


When Does Forgiving Make Us Feel Like A Doormat?

Forgiveness can be really good for our relationships. To name just a few benefits, forgiving a transgression reduces blood pressure for both victims and their wrongdoing partners,1 and increases the victim’s life satisfaction and positive mood.2 Researchers are also beginning to understand what it takes to forgive; for example, we are more likely to forgive our partners when they apologize (i.e., make amends) for bad behavior. But what happens when we forgive someone who hasn’t attempted to make up for their transgression? In a series of four studies, Laura Luchies and her colleagues found that forgiving a partner who does not make amends after wrongdoing erodes the victim’s self-respect and self-concept clarity (the extent to which we have a clear sense of ourselves).3 In other words, we seem to lose respect for ourselves and feel more confused about who we are if we forgive a partner who hasn’t apologized.

Click to read more ...


Transcending Shame and Seeking Forgiveness: Relationship Matters Podcast 29

In the 29th installment of SAGE's Relationship Matters podcast, hosted by Dr. Bjarne Holmes of Champlain College, Dr. Blake Riek (Calvin College) discusses the important distinction between guilt and shame and gives advice on how to transcend both feelings and move toward forgiveness.

The research, conducted with Lindsey Root Luna (Hope College) and Chelsea Schnabelrauch (Kansas State University) is unique in that the research team studied forgiveness from the perspective of the person who engages in wrongdoing (i.e., the transgressor). In other words, the researchers wanted to know what happens when one individual wrongs another, but rather than focus on the ‘victim,’ the researchers focused on the transgressor. To do so, the researchers followed 166 individuals over time, collecting feelings of guilt and shame, and forgiveness-seeking behaviors. As a result, the researchers were able to test whether guilt and/or shame affected the likelihood of transgressors to seek forgiveness from their victims.

Click to read more ...


When “Sorry” Just Isn’t Enough

“Three words, eight letters. Say it and I’m yours.” This was Blair Waldorf’s plea to her on-again, off-again lover Chuck Bass on the television drama Gossip Girl when Chuck wouldn’t admit to anyone his obvious devotion to her. Blair was presumably after the words “I love you,” but considering their long history of slights against each other, she could just as easily have been waiting for the words “I am sorry” to spill from bad-boy Chuck’s lips. As it turns out, the overall well-being of romantic relationships may hang as much on apologies as they do on confessions of love.

Click to read more ...


'Fessing Up to Infidelity: Yes or No?

If someone cheats on their partner (boyfriend/girlfriend or husband/wife) should they tell their partner? I have had this debate with many friends and we can never come to an agreement. Some say the right thing to do is to be honest and fess up. Others use the argument "ignorance is bliss" and that as long as they never repeat the offense the damage is better left untold. What do you think?

One way of approaching this question is to gauge how the partner would feel if he or she found out about the offense.

Click to read more ...


Relationship Aggression is Not Forgivable

Forgiving partners when they make benign mistakes like forgetting to pick up the dry cleaning is good. Forgiving serious negative behaviors, such as relationship aggression, can have unfortunate consequences. In a recent study, newlyweds were tracked for four years. Men and women who were more forgiving, in general, experienced continued physical and psychological aggression across the course of their marriage whereas less forgiving partners experienced reduced aggression. Forgiveness may reinforce negative relationship behaviors like violence. 

McKnulty, J. K. (2011). The dark side of forgiveness: The tendency to forgive predicts continued psychological and physical aggression in marriage. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 37, 770-783.


Could You Forgive a Cheater? 

Everyone seems to agree that infidelity is just about the worst thing that can happen in a romantic relationship. In many societies across the world, adultery is more likely to end a relationship than infertility, personality conflicts, inadequate money, and conflicts with in-laws.1 Perhaps that’s also the reason why infidelity is a common reason for taking revenge against romantic partners.2

But not everyone’s experience with infidelity is the same. Some cheaters are forgiven, and some relationships actually survive.

Click to read more ...


What Payback Comes from Revenge?

Relationships are full of slings and arrows that can sometimes spark a deep desire to “pay back” perceived offenses. Whether someone has been betrayed by a friend or romantic partner, been offended by a boss or coworker, or been a victim of a crime, the desire for revenge can be very strong. Until recently, however, researchers have known very little about this powerful, volatile experience.

Click to read more ...