Forgiveness may be a virtue. But some experts say that being too forgiving isn’t good for you! Plenty of studies show that people who forgive others are generally happier and healthier than those who hold a grudge. Because it helps them let go of anger, resentment, and a desire for revenge. But experts say that being too quick to forgive someone may actually encourage that person to hurt you again!
They call it “doormat syndrome.” When you forgive someone, you let them off the hook. And since they’re no longer being held accountable, they’re less likely to feel bad or guilty about it - and more likely to hurt you again. In fact, in one study, spouses that were forgiven were 7 times more likely to do something negative the next day. That’s compared to those who hadn’t been forgiven.
So how do you know when forgiveness is appropriate? Psychology experts say that 3 conditions have to be present:
- You know you want to keep having a relationship with that person.
- They rarely behave in a hurtful way.
- They’re not likely to repeat what they just did.
If you decide to forgive, here’s how to proceed:
- Figure out why you’re hurt. Is it the specific incident that’s hurtful? Or is it a “last straw” kind of thing, and you’re reacting to something that normally wouldn’t bother you.
- Consider giving them the benefit of the doubt. They may not have deliberately tried to hurt you.
- Explain why you’re hurt. Like, “You kept interrupting when I was trying to tell you something that was important to me. That made me feel like I don’t matter to you.” Experts say that before you forgive someone, they should understand what they did wrong, why you’re upset, and truly regret their actions.