The saying, “Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me” has always stood true in my mind, especially when it comes to relationships. When you’re dealing with love, it’s easy to let things slide and quickly forgive and forget. But how do you know when you should give your partner a second chance, or when it’s time to officially call it quits? The tricky part is that it all depends. It depends on your situation, relationship dynamics, and a million other factors that are unique to only you. However, there are some second chance ground rules that are helpful to follow, no matter what your situation.
I am a relationship expert and life coach and with a background in Counseling Psychology, and I've witnessed numerous couples staying together and giving each other second, third, and even fourth chances. Instead of working on their issues and not letting them happen again, they unfortunately continue on unhealthy behaviors and patterns. Knowing when to say “enough is enough” and when you should actually offer your partner another chance is easier said than done — so how about we examine the times when a second chance might not be so bad after all?
1. When It's More Than Love
It's shouldn't be enough to stay with someone just because you "love" each other. There has to be more than love. Sure, it's one of the most important factors in a relationship, but let's not forget about trust, loyalty and respect. If love is all that is keeping you two together, but you don't have those other aspects, it's not worth giving your partner another shot. If you two have a strong foundation that makes for a happy and healthy relationship, then a second chance may be something you want to consider.
2. When It's Not Serious Enough To Ruin Your Foundation
Deciding whether or not to offer a second chance to your partner truly depends on what he or she did to get in this position in the first place. No judgements here; if you feel whatever he or she did wasn't serious enough to ruin the foundation of your relationship, it's worth taking the time to think about it. There are some offenses that ruin a relationship and there's no turning back. But then there are other things that a couple can move past. If you feel you are the latter, then by all means do what makes your heart (and head) happy.
3. When Actions Speak Louder Than Words
In order to know whether or not you should give your significant other another chance, you need to go off his or her actions. Words are nice, but honestly, sometimes they are meaningless. If your partner is saying he or she will change, but there is no action showing any proof of this, why should you trust it? It's OK to give your other half another shot with you if you feel he or she is showing you with great effort that he or she deserves it.
4. When You Are Both Committed To Making It Work
Giving your partner a second chance means hoping that whatever happened in the first place doesn't happen again, but old patterns and behaviors don't just stop. You two both have to actively work on changing the dynamic. If both of you are committed to making things work, and going to therapy doesn't make you want to jump out the window, you've got another shot at this thing called love.
5. When The Lesson Has Been Learned
If someone does something wrong, how do we know they aren't going to do it again? Usually they don't because they learned a lesson. If your partner has learned from whatever he or she did to you, and now knows how to make things right, it's OK to consider a second chance. If you feel like he or she doesn't understand the repercussions of his or her actions, then nothing has been learned at all — and sadly, nothing will change.
6. When They're Genuinely Sorry
Sorry, not sorry doesn't really work here. To really move forward after having done something wrong, one must recognize his or her part. Then he or she must realize the pain they have caused and genuinely be sorry about it. If your partner isn't truly sorry for what he or she did, then what's stopping him or her from doing it again? There's a difference between apologizing and actually feeling sorry. You'll know if your partner is being authentic with his or her apology. If it's not real, than you should be saying you're "sorry, but I'm done with you."
At the end of the day, the decision to continue your relationship or not is totally up to you, but if you're having trouble deciding what to do, some of these points might help guide you.