“It is better to beg for forgiveness than ask for permission.” Grace Murray Hopper

Dating is the discovery stage of relationSHIPS.  It’s the exciting time spent getting to know each other while also assessing compatibility.  It’s when we determine if our morals, values, and goals mesh.  Dating is the time we establish boundaries.  It’s when we clearly communicate our wants, needs, desires, and expectations for the relationSHIP.  While dating, new couples may experience growing pains that they can recover from and some that they can’t. If cheating occurs while dating, is that an offense that a relationSHIP can bounce back from?  Not for me.  Cheating during the dating stage is indicative that there’s a major breakdown somewhere in the relationSHIP. To me, forgiving infidelity while dating is almost like giving them permission to cheat.  So I can’t fathom how anyone can forgive cheating while just dating. Because it’s a dealbreaker for me.  But it did make me ponder the thought, IS FORGIVENESS, PERMISSION?  If a person cheats while dating you, would you continue the relationSHIP?  Why?   When we accept infidelity in the dating stages of our relationSHIPS are we giving them FORGIVENESS or PERMISSION? IS FORGIVENESS, PERMISSION? So for this week’s blog, let’s talk SHIP and answer the question, IS FORGIVENESS, PERMISSION? 

Disclaimer: Cheating is painful in both dating and married relationSHIPS but this post is ONLY referencing dating relationSHIPS.

RelationSHIPS are complex and compromising entities that often involve every emotion that we can conjure up. Emotions are what shape our relationSHIPS. It is through our shared emotional experiences of- joy and love, fear and anger, and shame, and grief– that we learn who, and what matters to us most.  Our reactions to these shared experiences build trust, respect, and understanding in our new relationSHIPS. It provides us with a sense of comfortability. But, cheating evokes very different emotions that are hard to bounce back from- self-doubt, betrayal, heartbrokenness, mistrust. Cheating affects our self-esteem and stifles our “true” voice. Cheating involves emotions that shouldn’t be experienced while dating. So why do it? Why deal with infidelity when you are just dating? Forgiving someone for infidelity while dating sends a mixed signal. Once the infidelity is forgiven, is it perceived as FORGIVENESS or PERMISSION?  By accepting it, are we inferring that there’s still a chance for a trusting, loving relationSHIP? If nothing else, our acceptance and forgiveness let them know that it’s okay to hurt and betray us.

Last week, one of the women on Will Packer’s TV show, “Put A Ring On It”, admitted that during their 14-year dating relationSHIP she accepted her mate’s previous infidelities. She accepted his children born by other women. She forgave him for it all and decided to stay in the relationSHIP. Yet, next week’s episode reveals that he has continued to cheat. Is that because he perceives her previous FORGIVENESS as PERMISSION? Hmmm…  When he initially cheated, his actions spoke volumes but the message was willingly ignored. His actions said, “You forgave me before, you’ll do it again”. “I don’t consider you”. “You are not the one” and after 14 years of continuous cheating, he continues to reinforce that same message. Did her FORGIVENESS give him PERMISSION to cheat? I believe it did! Because she willingly and repeatedly refused to reinforce her own boundaries. She kept lowering her standards and pushing her boundaries further back just so that he could fit. She lost sight of who she was, and what she wanted. Her FORGIVENESS was the PERMISSION he needed to continue cheating.

Dating is filled with discoveries and revelations. But, it should also be an experience filled with growth. Growth in trust, Growth in mutual respect. Growth in consideration. It’s a time when we observe if one’s actions align with their words and if they don’t reflect a partnerSHIP, we have to accept that it probably isn’t. Finding out that someone you are dating has cheated is a painful experience but ignoring that pain will be detrimental to the relationSHIP in the long run. I am a firm believer that we have to teach people how to treat us, especially in relationSHIPS.  We have to enforce our own boundaries. We have to let our mates know what is acceptable behavior and what is not. We have to be willing to put ourselves first. Accepting and forgiving infidelity denies our pain and minimizes how we feel and it may be perceived as permission. But, is it? IS FORGIVENESS, PERMISSION?

Dating someone who is supposed to be getting to know you and who cheats is not worth your time and energy. And accepting that a blatant disrespectful act such as infidelity deserves FORGIVENESS only gives them PERMISSION to do it again. Years ago I was talking to my grandmother on the phone about a boyfriend and she said, “if a man can’t be a good boyfriend, then he won’t be a good husband.”  Do you agree?  I wholeheartedly DO!!  I live by her words. We deserve relationSHIPS that are overflowing with trust, respect, and love and shouldn’t settle for or accept anything less. So if you are dating, or when you start, don’t lose your sense of self. Don’t put others’ feelings and needs before your own. Enforce your own boundaries and if someone you are dating chooses to cheat, don’t forgive them because it’s true, FORGIVENESS IS PERMISSION !!!

SHIP TALK: Do you believe that while dating, forgiving infidelity is giving someone permission to cheat? IS FORGIVENESS, PERMISSION?

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