People make mistakes. Sometimes people make big mistakes and sometimes people make mistakes that regrettably follow them for the rest of their lives. This week’s article is about whether when someone has made a mistake it is possible to ever trust them again.
The short answer is because everyone makes mistakes they should be given a second chance to redeem themselves.
This however has qualifiers – sometimes those mistakes are so big that they are unrecoverable.
So where is the cut-off point?
Maybe a more appropriate question would be to learn about the values that underpin a person’s actions. If those values are sound then it might be entirely appropriate to forgive and get on with it. And maybe this can only be discerned by looking at their behaviour overall rather than just one isolated behaviour.
Let me put this into an example.
Dale, not her real name, is engaged to Allan, not his real name either. Dale is committed to Allan and is looking forward to being married and all that comes with the promise of forever. Dale and Allan still live separately from each other though spend most weekends together. One Friday night Dale is out having drinks with some of her work colleagues as it is a regular Friday night activity. They all have had a few drinks and are enjoying each other’s company.
One of Dale’s male work colleagues makes a pass at her and she responds in an innocently flirtatious way. Finally the night comes to an end and everyone goes their separate ways except for Dale and the office flirt. On the pretence of escorting Dale to her car and realizing that maybe neither of them are fit to drive he offers to walk Dale home.
She accepts the offer and once there welcomes him in for a night-cap before he heads on his way. However one thing leads to another and the two end up sleeping together. Afterwards, when they are sober again, they are both remorseful and vow not to let it happen again.
Sometime later Dale tells Allan of the indiscretion. Needless to say Allan is shocked and disappointed and now unsure if Dale might do this again.
So is this enough of a violation for Allan to sever his relationship with Dale and to not go ahead with the marriage?
In truth only Allan can really answer this question as he now needs to decide whether this is too great a violation for him to be able to find forgiveness and move on. The questions that Allan may need to ask himself may include questions about whether this was indeed a single moment of thoughtlessness or is it a pattern that distinguishes Dale’s values from his own.
Allan may also need to determine the degree of the remorse insofar as whether Dale sees what she has done as indeed a slip or whether her value of monogamy is not as strong as Allan’s.
Allan might actually get more clarity about this by observing Dale’s parents and other family members and what their actions say about the value that they may have passed onto Dale regarding fidelity and trustworthiness.
If after discussions with Dale and a clear understanding of what it was that prompted the infidelity Allan can then make a good decision for their future together.
One thing that Allan should remember here is that it is his life he is making a decision on and this decision is for him to make alone with Dale. Everyone will have their own opinion but to ensure that neither Allan nor Dale should have any regrets they need to make any decision about their futures together for themselves and themselves only.
The other action which would be futile and negative to this relationship is to confront the office flirt who may or may not have taken conscious advantage of Dale. I hear so often people saying that the error was someone else’s. The truth is that we, like Dale, must all assume responsibility for our own actions, all of them.
So can we ever trust again after there has been an indiscretion?
After deciding that it was really only an indiscretion and not reflective of a regular pattern of someone’s way of being then maybe Allan should just move on if for no other reason then that people will make mistakes and everyone deserves to be forgiven so that life can be continued.
“Let he who is without sin cast the first stone”