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Forgiving an Ex – Should You Do It?

sorry, please forgive meYour ex left you. They hurt you. They let you think that you will be with them for a long time and then shattered all your dreams. They told you they loved you and then dumped you like you didn’t even matter to them. They told you that you meant the world to them and then suddenly they wanted you to be “just friends”. They told you they’d be faithful and then they turned around and cheated on you without even thinking about how much it will be hurtful.

And after all that, you are supposed to move on. You are supposed to mend your heart without any help from your ex. You are left alone with all these hurt and you are supposed to deal with it. And on top of all that, people tell you that you should forgive your ex.

“Really? Forgive my ex? Are you kidding me? Why should I forgive my ex? My ex is the worst person I know. I don’t want to forgive my ex; I just want to move on.”

That’s what you say. That’s what anyone would say. After all, the amount of pain you have to deal with isn’t easy. It’s hard enough as it is, and you are expected to be a saint and forgive them.

Forgiving your ex is a hard concept to grasp for most people after a breakup. And it’s completely justified if you think of forgiveness as something that would help your ex clear his or her conscience.

But forgiveness is not about your ex. Forgiveness is about you. Forgiveness is about you letting go of the resentment and anger that you might have for your ex. There are many reasons to forgive your ex. Here are a few of them.

  1. When you forgive someone, you are healing yourself. The act of truly forgiving is an extremely restorative experience. When you are forgiving someone, you are moving one step closer (or maybe taking the final step) to moving on.
  2. When you forgive, you are not really going to call your ex and tell them you forgive them. Forgiveness is not about making your ex feel better. It’s about making you feel better. When you forgive them truly from your heart, you will not have the urge to call them or even contact them anymore. When you forgive, you will be able to close this chapter of your life and begin a new one.
  3. The fact that you loved your ex once is a good reason to encourage forgiveness. Remember that you loved your ex once. If they had done something wrong to you, you would have considered forgiving them. So why not now? Forgiving them now makes even more sense.
  4. If you don’t forgive someone as important as your ex, you are only building up resentment and anger inside of yourself. Studies have shown that anger and resentment is detrimental to your health. If not for anything else, forgive your ex for your health and well-being.
  5. If you have children, then anger and resentment towards your ex will affect the well-being of your children. If you don’t forgive your ex, you are going to have conflicts and arguments with them. And it will have a negative impact on your children.

Remember, if you concentrate on taking revenge instead of improving your own life, you are just letting your feelings of resentment; anger and blame take over you. It’s like you are digging a pit for your ex but eventually you will find yourself at the bottom of it.

Forgiveness isn’t something that you can force. It will come naturally. You just have to work on getting over the breakup and don’t resist forgiveness.

{ 32 comments… add one }
  • Susy December 28, 2013, 5:49 am

    It’s a very good article. It has good points and I agree that forgiveness is for yourself, instead of your ex. But god! That’s hard to do. I think it takes time, but in the meantime I think I have the license to let my anger and resentment get out and even hit a pillow or something like that.

    • Kevin December 29, 2013, 12:09 pm

      Yes, you do have the license Susy. I hope forgiveness finds you soon.

  • Ola May 10, 2014, 11:34 pm

    This is lovely…i was hoping to find a reason in my heart to forgive her but after reading this i think the love i once had for her is enough reason to forgive her.

    • Kevin May 15, 2014, 5:11 pm

      Thanks for your comment Ola. I am glad that the article helped.

  • Vee May 31, 2014, 7:40 pm

    I’ve come to this impasse in my life. My husband cheated, denied it, left me for “other reasons”, told me all those reasons were not true, finally came clean about cheating, said he wasn’t sure about what he wanted, led me to believe he might want to fix our family and then informed me that he was dating the girl he cheated with and this has all been going on for 6 months. Here’s my dilemma. If a person falls and accidentally slams an 8 inch chef knife into your back I’m hoping that he says “oh crap I’m sorry” and then helps you pull the knife out of your back. In my situation I feel like my husband tripped and fell, said “oh sorry let me get that” but instead of pulling the knife out he just continues to twist it. How do you forgive someone that is still performing the act that hurt you? I don’t want to forgive him, I want to put as much distance between us as I can, lock all of his memories into a spare mental closet and never think of it again…. but we have kids. At this point I don’t know if I can even do civil for their benefit so I avoid all possible contact.

    • Ted April 19, 2015, 3:47 am

      I feel your comment. I try to forgive, but I pray to just forget.

      • mke June 2, 2015, 12:36 pm

        I agree with this comment. I think that forgiving is easier than forgetting the emotional pain when you gave your ex your heart and she gave it back to you in pieces. I don’t know if I can ever have the courage to love another woman. This is difficult. I’ve prayed, but can’t seem to let go of the woman I love who doesn’t love me. 🙁

  • rahul October 30, 2014, 5:09 pm

    I forgive my ex girlfriend ,she feel sorry for whatever she’ve done. I come here to find the ans whether i did right or wrong, but it seem m right. Thnks ..it does feel good.

    • pritish June 5, 2016, 7:41 am

      Congrats and all the best

  • J.M November 3, 2014, 5:54 am

    This can help. Love takes no prisoners and once dumped like yesterdays old newspaper you feel like your worthless. That’s hard me to say knowing how awesome I am but, no matter how awesome or amazing you are you just feel like thee utmost worthless sack of steamy Sugar,Honey,Ice,Tea! More hurtful then that is you care you still freaking care. Worst trying not to care makes you care more then HATE, anger and revenge come into play. You now want “justice” you want them to feel your pain, you feel they have truly earned whatever wrath you have set aside for them!

    • Lizzy February 21, 2015, 1:11 am

      Yes, justice! But how?

      • Mike June 2, 2015, 12:39 pm

        I think that we just have to leave the justice part to God. We can’t inflict it. So hard when the pain is so great.

    • Ted April 19, 2015, 3:49 am

      So true!!

    • mike June 2, 2015, 12:37 pm

      Couldn’t agree more.

  • John January 2, 2015, 2:27 pm

    Ive just ended it with my GF, and reading this gives me hope that she will one day forgive me. We were planning to get married so she could come to the UK, but I had doubts and broke it all off. I’ve killed her hopes and dreams of a better life here with me (shes Venezualan). Hopefully time will heal.

  • Rick February 1, 2015, 3:42 pm

    Hello,
    I’ve always stuggled with forgiving and it is a very bad thing. When you dont forgive you bring your baggage to your next relationship and if not for your ex you should forgive her in benefit of your future relationships. I just broke with a long term relationship, at the beginning she cheated on me and i decided we should continue because it was early and things might have not been crystal clear (they were in my head). Obviously the trust was never fully there and 1.5 years after she cheated again, i become trully obsessive and controlling and afternshe cheated with another 2 people i just had to let go. I am hurting a lot, it is very difficult to break all the contact with someone you still have so many feelings for. Your mind keeps wondering to so many dark places: what could i have done to stop it? Did she ever love me? Is she a nymphomaniac? Was i not good enough? Why did we argue so much? Did i mean all the bad things i told her? Etc etc etc its not an easy journey, it is a painful road but i am commited to get over this properly! By forgiving her, by understanding i also had my share of guilt on this, by making sure i move on without this baggage so i can find true happiness in my next relationship. Love and relationships are not power games, they are the opposite, they are about wanting the best for your partner and making each other a better person! My last contact with my ex i told her i was sorry for all the bad things and insults i told her, i told her i wished she could find happiness in her life and that i hoped she wouldnt cheat on her next boyfriend. I then blocked her from being able to contact me. Its been 9 days, i still have a tough journey ahead but this blog is helping me a lot! The daily emails and worksheets i receive do ressonate with me and while a few years back i would have dismissed all of this as lame BS and carry my anger and ressentment inside of me i have matured to realize that will only hurt me and those around me in the future. Thanks

    • Mike June 10, 2015, 12:37 pm

      Perhaps struggling to forgive is not always a bad thing. Maybe in those difficult cases, the struggle is that we are coming to terms with what happened and why so that the extra time it may take helps us to work through our feelings in our own way. I agree that it’s important to forgive, but I think that it’s also important to clearly understand what we want to forgive and to work through what we want/need to forgive and why. I say that because I believe that in my case, that sometimes I want to forgive my exgirlfriend for her doing what she felt was right for her. In my case, regardless of the fact that it’s difficult for me, I’m trying to realize that my love for my ex may mean that I want for her what she feels she really wants and if that’s not with me, then to appreciate that love sometimes means that we may experience pain for our former love’s good. That’s how I’ve tried to think of it. TMI, but some of my thoughts for consideration. Finally, I’ve realized after over a year and after doing some foolish and inconsiderate things related to my ex, that perhaps I will never be more than acquaintances with her because my feelings for her are too strong right now. A little jealousy of her boyfriend and her being happy now is part of it also.

  • Tricia Taylor February 18, 2015, 4:07 am

    Thank you for your comments they are the exact thing I needed to hear. I have a long jurney ahead of me and I need to forgive to move onto the next part of my life you are an inspiration. Thank you and I hope that you can find true happiness out there one day. Tricia

    • Eric Taylor May 29, 2015, 8:02 am

      Eric,

      She left me after 9 years. It hurts like hell. And though my esteem should be held high, I feel undervalued and unappreciated. Forgiveness sounds like the morally correct thing to do.

  • vivaan March 28, 2015, 2:56 pm

    It has been over 14 months for my breakup with my ex girlfriend , but still i cant get rid of anger towards her , reason being she did all those things without me after breakup that she denied to do with me … she never watched a single movie with me during our relationship but after breakup she started watching even adult movies with bunch of her friends (mostly boys) .. she denied to go for long drive with me whenever i wished but she went on picniks with bunch of her coaching class boys outside city … she never wear the tops and skirts whenever we went for dating but after breakup she is posting her whatsapp dp by wearing short skirts , transperent tops and even push up bras … i also came to know that , she was dating 3 other guys when she was in relationship with me , now one of my friend has informed me about she was kissing a guy in park , she even had sex with one of her boyfriend … she invites her new friends at her home and have fun with them … all this things i came to know when i was stupid to stalk on her , now it has been 10 months i am following NO CONTACT rule .. i am on my way of Healing but I WONT FORGIVE MY EX , never EVER for what she did , emotional torture and all panic attacks she gave me … i heard KARMA plays its role but in my case , she is just having FUN by crushing my Heart

  • ktee85 April 24, 2015, 10:37 am

    Its been two and a half years. I left my ex he chose drugs over our son and I.I moved away from him. After almost a year and abit I thought I’d be forgiving look past what we went through. And let him see his son. Only to find he had cheated on me with someone he worked with kissed her. And had sex with a prostitute while we were together. Again I’m hurt. He said his dad encouraged him to go to a brothel, because i never let him do what hr wanted. So not true. He had more freedom then me. anyways He tried to commit suicide. After this confession of infedelity. I was there for him and so on. Knew at the back of my mine it was all fake. He said he loved me. That its us forever. But hey one small thing. He hAs herpes virus 1. Omfg couldn’t get any better. What more can this man do to do. I’m done. please help how do I forgive, I have herpes virus type 1 also. I’m so guttered. I can’t be with a new man. I’m stuffed up. Good as dead I say. So please how do I forgive, I hate carrying all the hurt. Pain. Worst part I still love him. I’m an idiot.help

  • mike May 18, 2015, 4:35 am

    Ktee85, You are not an idiot. You are just going through a very difficult time. Be patient with yourself. Your heart has been broken. I know what that feels like. It’s devastating, but you will be okay.

  • fadf dafs May 29, 2015, 8:04 am

    I have been cheated by my gf, and she lest me, and the funny thing is, i don’t care about her evil cheating, i only want her back, i’m literally can’t live without her, i tried several suicide attempt before.

    • admin May 29, 2015, 4:02 pm

      Hey,

      Please contact a suicide hotline whenever you feel suicidal and get professional help. Your case is extreme and the information on this website is not going to help you. You need professional help. You can find suicide hotline numbers on this page.

  • Toby July 27, 2015, 3:29 pm

    I have been trying relentlessly to get over me feelings of anger. My ex stayed 4 months whilst having the affair just waiting to move his business off my property. at first he blamed me saying I was a porm addict byes I looked at porn he was so frigid. Now he’s with his lover in a business I set him up in and here I sit I’m so angry trying to forgive is so hard. The other guy I just want to beat senseless.

  • Angel October 8, 2015, 10:11 am

    I’m even speechless. I’ve read a lot about forgiving your ex boyfriend, and I’ve come across this.I then seek help from close relative to forgive and forget.The fact is I’ve forgiven him.but sometimes I feel sad and angry and to the extend of swearing that I won’t forgive.All I no that I still love him 100% and can’t let him go though we didn’t agree on breaking up.Just that the pains he caused made me isolated myself from him.Even sickness can’t stop me from loving him. We planned our life together, he’s my first date and I swear to myself to be faithful no matter what.He did same and at the end he cheated.Im damn crazy.But I think im still in love with him that’s why I can’t completely forgive and forget. His thoughts are blowing up my mind day in day out. Im implementing no contact rule in order to get him back, but sometimes I feel like I’ve to take revenge, or kill myself or kill him….im confused, can’t stop thinking about him…
    Please what should I do.Should I continue with the No contact or what, because I still love him before man and God, I’m honest.
    Thank you

    • Tsirc May 17, 2016, 3:18 am

      Hi Angel

      Nobody on this earth is worth killing yourself over.To do such a heinous act will destroy the real people who care about you. The people who give you unconditional love.
      It will take time to get over this person but you will hurt during the process.
      Use the no contact rule is not to get him back but to get your life back to normality.
      Sometimes people you trust can really let you down to a point where your wrongfully blame yourself.
      Take time to look after yourself. Remember you are the most important person in the world and never forget it.

  • Angel October 8, 2015, 10:14 am

    I still love him but can’t forgive, and can’t let him go. I’m confused

  • Phil April 20, 2016, 5:27 pm

    It’s been a few months since I last spoke to my ex and I’ve finally come to terms that I should forgive her as I owe her that much and I’ll be able to finally let go of this hate. But my issue is whether I should meet her face to face or just call/text her.

    • Tsirc May 17, 2016, 12:02 am

      I got a mutual friend to pass the message on of forgiveness.
      I will never contact and avoid her now for the rest of my life.
      Yes I did sometimes have regrets for doing it but now I feel a true catharsis and healing for myself.
      This article makes a lot of sense.

  • amber July 6, 2016, 11:06 pm

    Someone I fell for stopped speaking to me after giving my heart to this person. To anyone going through heartache the pain lessens with time and walking exercise has helped thedepression. I wish there was a way to stop the pain sooner but know your not alone in the journey of letting someone go.

  • Alexander July 27, 2016, 10:53 pm

    Literally the beginning of the article is my love story after 2 years of relationship I can’t forgive her because beyond she chest she ended up pregnant by the same guy who had sex and then she said it was a rape. How I can move on and pretend anything happened? If I still having all those memories stuck in my head. How I ca forgive when I just want revenge? I tried several times I took therapy and still thinking about the past. How she can be happy knowing she hurt someone else? I need a formula to forgive and forget.

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