Can You Forgive
Your Partner for Lying? Should you?
By Susie and Otto Collins
Anna and her husband Brian have always had a no-porn
When they started dating and Anna realized that Brian
watched pornographic movies and visited adult porn sites on
the internet, she made it very clear to him that she finds
it degrading and offensive.
At the time, Brian hesitantly agreed that he would stop
consuming pornography to respect Anna's wishes.
Now that they've been together for over 7 years and married
for 5 of those years, Anna assumed that Brian has kept his
no-porn promise all this time.
A few days ago, she discovered that her assumption is wrong.
When Anna caught Brian watching a pornographic video on
their home computer late at night, she felt betrayed.
Brian keeps arguing this this isn't like having an affair
with another person. He is simply doing something that he
enjoys-- it's not hurting anyone.
Anna, on the other hand, feels very hurt and upset. She
doesn't want to blow this whole thing out of proportion, but
it seems to her that trust in their marriage has been
She can't help but wonder if there are other agreements that
Brian is not keeping.
When you find out that your partner has been lying to you,
it can feel like a punch to your gut.
What you thought you could depend upon in your relationship
has suddenly been called into question.
It could be that, like Anna, you found out that your mate
has broken an agreement that is very important to you.
While he or she may not be having an affair, the sense of
betrayal and deception is certainly
You might have discovered that your partner's lying was an
attempt to cover up cheating. In cases of infidelity, you
most certainly may
feel betrayed and hurt, as well as other feelings.
Why it's to your benefit to forgive.
The choice is up to you whether or not the lying and
betrayal is something that you will forgive or not forgive.
You are also the one who gets to decide whether or not you
will stay in this relationship.
We suggest that, regardless of whether or not you stay in
your current relationship, you consider taking steps toward
While the idea of forgiving your partner might seem
impossible at this moment, try to keep a door-- even a small
door-- open to eventually forgiving.
When you forgive a lie, even infidelity, you are not doing
it for the other person. It might seem that way, but it
Instead, forgiving is mainly your decision to stop carrying
around the pain and the hurt of the past. You finally come
to some sense of acceptance and relative peace about what
The affair or the lie/s were not okay with you. These
actions or words are still unacceptable.
At the same time, you know that you don't want to focus on
painful past events for the rest of your life.
You reach a point at which you release that past in order to
create space for the present and
future that you truly want for yourself.
This is what forgiveness is about.
You might not be ready or able to forgive right now, but
over time this may seem more possible.
No matter how upset and angry you feel at this moment, keep
the option for forgiveness open.
Take steps toward forgiveness.
Anna does not want to end her marriage to Brian because of
his lying about consuming pornography.
She wants to forgive him and to find a way that they can
both live the way that they want to live-- and be happy
Ultimately, Anna feels regret that Brian felt pressured to
make an agreement to stop watching porn when he was not 100%
on board with
While her feelings about pornography haven't changed, she
wants to open up and really listen to Brian and see if they
can repair trust and make new agreements that they both are
Once you have made a decision that you are willing to
forgive your mate, you might feel at a loss for how exactly
to go about doing it.
As well-intentioned as you may be about forgiving, it's not
always easy to do.
When you are confronted with what happened or when something
triggers mistrust within you, you could find yourself back
in the anger, resentment and blame where you started!
Here are a few simple steps toward forgiveness you
- Acknowledge what happened and remind yourself that it is not
going on right now.
(NOTE: If your partner is continuing to lie and/or to
cheat, it's time for you to set some boundaries. Your focus
at this moment may need to be on whether you want to stay in
this relationship if your mate is unwilling to stop.)
- Allow yourself to feel what you are feeling, but stop
re-playing the events that happened or words that were said
that are causing you pain.
- Make lists of what you appreciate about your life right now.
This can include things about your partner. You can start
with seemingly insignificant things.
- Ask yourself how you want to feel and be in your current
relationship. Shift your awareness to better line up with
You might be surprised to find that some good things are
happening right now.
- Use deep breathing and relaxation techniques to create a
greater sense of calm and ease for yourself.
- Practice saying to yourself and/or writing down the words "I
forgive you." You don't have to link them specifically to
your partner right now, unless you are ready to.
Notice the way that you feel when you do this. Continue this
practice. You might be able to really believe these words
the more that you practice them.