Forgive Him or Forget Him: When You Should Stay and When You Should Leave

A tiger can change its stripes. A leopard can change its spots. You can teach an old dog new tricks. The question you need to ask yourself is whether or not you can accept that change and move on or whether you’ll always see your tiger or your leopard or your dog for what it was instead of what it’s become.

Wedding Rings (photo by Grand Velas Riviera Maya)

Fixing a broken relationship isn’t easy. It takes some measure of trust which is definitely not easy to give once that trust has been betrayed. It takes work on your part and on the part of the person who has betrayed or hurt you. Sometimes that work is worth it. Other times it is not. It’s up to you to decide whether or not you should forgive him or forget him, but here are ten basic guidelines to help you make that difficult decision.

Not Listening (photo by Brian)

10: If he refuses to listen to you…

Communication is hugely important and you need to know that your voice is being heard in your relationship. Remember though, it is just as important that you listen to him as well. If you and your man are constantly fighting and you don’t feel like he’s listening to what you’re saying, you need to make sure he knows that. Give him a chance to hear what you’re saying. If you don’t see a change, you have to leave. The relationship is heading for a messy end anyway. Just make sure you don’t think your man listening to your opinion means he has to follow it. Your man has a mind of his own. Respect goes both ways so don’t lose sight of that.

Money (photo by Dustin Moore)

09: If he wastes your money…

Money causes a lot of problems in most relationships. Any major financial decisions should be made together as a couple if they impact both of you. With that said, smaller financial issues can pose problems too. If your man is constantly blowing your money, that can add up, even if he’s not spending large amounts of money at a time. If money is causing problems for you and your man, talk about them. Don’t just let them slide until you explode. If your man carries on with his frivolous spending even after you’ve let him know it’s a problem then he isn’t willing to change and you need to head for the door. Anything less is just masochistic.

Handcuffs (photo by The Comedian)

08: If he controls you…

If your man wants to tell you what to wear, how to do your hair, what kind of makeup you should where, what friends you should keep and what you should do, you’re likely not going to be very happy in your relationship. There are some women out there who thrive in this sort of relationship. If you aren’t one of those women, you need to make sure he knows that. If he still insists on trying to dictate your every move, walk out the door and let him find someone who is interested in being dominated.

Jealousy (photo by André Walter)

07: If he is far too jealous of what you do…

Every woman she be able to have friends – whether those friends are male or female. I am a girl that just gets along better with guys. My husband knows that, understands that and accepts that. Some level of jealousy is okay. It shows you that your man cares, but when you start fighting with your man about wanting to hang out with your friends, you need to have a little conversation with him.

Approach this one carefully though, ladies. You need to ask yourself if your man has reason to worry. Are you being cold and distant? Are you letting him know that you love him and are happy with him? If not, you need to smarten up. No wonder he’s jealous! Sit down and tell him exactly how you feel. Let him know your friends are not a threat. Introduce your man to your friends and encourage them to get to know each other. Maybe your friends will become his friends and everything will work out great.

If the jealousy continues and you’re positive it’s not your fault, your man doesn’t trust you. Without trust, your relationship will never work. Stop wasting each others’ time and leave. Keep in mind though, you have no right to get angry at him about jealousy if you’re jealous yourself. Ask yourself if you would get jealous over what your man is getting jealous over. If the answer is yes, then don’t do it. Finally, if your man actually has something to worry about then don’t be selfish and get out of the relationship. You clearly don’t want to be in it anyway.

Lying (photo by Jerry Reynolds)

06: If he lies to you…

This one probably isn’t going to win me many fans, but in truth, I don’t think lying is that big of a deal in general. Lies become a problem when they directly impact you and the security of your relationship. If he is lying to you about where he goes you have something to worry about because you then have to wonder why he lied. The trust you have for your man is then diminished and, as I said at the top of this article, lost trust is very hard to get back. One lie is a problem. Multiple lies is a pattern and you need to get out. You’ll never be able to trust a word he says and that’s definitely going to lead to trouble.

Stealing (photo by Nisha A)

05: If he steals from you or your family…

It’s really, really hard to find any circumstance under which it is okay to forgive a man who has stolen from you. It isn’t really even an issue of what is stolen. Stealing is a huge breach of trust and, not to beat a dead horse, without trust, your relationship is doomed. If there is a substance abuse problem at play and you really love your man, you can insist he gets help. Until he gets that help, though, it’s best to steer clear. This leads us to number four…

Refuses Help (photo by Mario Antonio Pena Zapateria)

04: If he refuses to seek help for his problems…

If your man needs help then he needs help. That’s all there is to it. If you stay with someone who has an addiction, be it to alcohol, pills, gambling or controlled substances, you need to get out. You can support him while he gets help. You can let him know that you’re there for him as a friend and that once he gets help, you may be willing to revisit the idea of a relationship, but until you’re sure he has gotten help and is ready to leave a healthier life, accepting his self destructive behavior makes you an enabler.

He needs to want to change for himself. This isn’t something he can do just to keep you in his life. While your leaving may be the event that makes him realize he needs help, he needs to want to make the change for himself. If you promise him you’ll come back once he gets help, he’ll still be doing it for you. If he refuses to get help then you have no choice but to leave. Staying will be far worse for both of you and may eventually become dangerous.

Cheating (photo by Ed Yourdon)

03: If he cheats on you…

Cheating is a complicated issue. If your man has cheated on you, it’s going to be extremely difficult to repair the relationship. If your man has been having an affair for a long period of time, chances are it’s no longer just about sex. If that’s the case – if he has feelings for the person he cheated with – you have to take that into consideration. Is having a long standing affair worse than making one drunken mistake? I would say yes, but I’m not you. That is the question you need to ask yourself. One thing is for certain, you absolutely cannot try to continue on with a relationship if you don’t feel you can forgive the person you’re with. If you decide the relationship is worth fighting for, then you need to, as hard as it is to do, let go of the hurt and the pain and focus on the future. This one is entirely up to you, ladies.

Danger (photo by The Comedian)

02: If he knowingly puts you or your family in danger…

Leave! If your man is involved in activities that could put you or your family in harm’s way, you need to leave the situation as soon as possible. Those activities could be any number of things. If he’s involved in illegal activity and you fear the police will raid your home, you should make sure you’re no longer in that home. This is especially true if you have children. The last thing your children need is to have Mommy and Daddy wind up in jail. You are just as guilty as your man if you remain in a home where illegal activity is taking place.

Alternatively, your man may be involved in something that puts you in danger of physical harm. If you get involved with him knowing that is the case, then that is your decision and you are accepting that risk. With that said, if this activity only begins after you are in a relationship and comes to light, you need to get out. You may be in love with your man, but you have to question how much he loves you if he’s putting you or your family in harm’s way.

Abuse (photo by Morgan)

01: If he abuses you in any way…

Leave! There is never a reason good enough to stay in an abusive relationship. If you fear for your safety or the safety of your family, get your family to a safe location (a shelter is always a great option and is an option that is available in most towns and cities) and then go to the police. Keep a journal of all of the acts of violence you have endured and any hospital records you have and turn them over to the authorities.

The only time when staying with someone who has been abusive is okay is if there was an underlying issue causing the violence (substance abuse issues or anger issues) and the abuser has shown that they’ve changed. This doesn’t happen very often, ladies so don’t fool yourself. Don’t just listen to words. Wait for the actions to back up those words and don’t stick around to wait for that to happen. Sometimes leaving is exactly what an abuser needs to see the light and change.

Most importantly, if you have pressed charges against your man, follow through with those charges. If you ever get back with the man, he has to know you aren’t afraid to make him face the consequences of his actions. If you have to watch him go to jail, then that’s what needs to happen.