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Should You Forgive and Forget? 15 Guidelines to Follow

You might just want to get rid of everyone who has ever wronged you. But when it comes to forgiving and forgetting, this is the right way to go ahead.

forgive and forget

So, someone has done you wrong and you just don’t know how to handle it. Should you forgive them and act as if nothing has ever happened? Or should you shun them and cast them away from your life with no hope of ever returning?

When someone has hurt you, you might have a wide range of responses. You might be furious right away, extremely sad, or just so *over it* you don’t even want to deal with them at all. These are all logical reactions to someone doing you wrong, but they don’t exactly answer the question if you should forgive and forget.

Do they deserve forgiveness?

There have been people in my life driving me to spend months contemplating this very question. At first, I wasn’t sure who had hurt me badly enough to warrant me banishing them from my life for good. However, as time went on I learned a lot about forgiveness.

These are the guidelines I, and many other people, follow when deciding if I should forgive and also if I should forget.


Forgiveness is something that can take a lifetime for a person to accomplish. It doesn’t come naturally to most of us. But if these describe your wrongdoing person and what they did, forgiveness should definitely be on the table.

#1 They apologize right away. People who deserve forgiveness know their fault and acknowledge it right away. If they did something wrong and recognized it and showed you as much, then they should be forgiven-assuming their wrongdoing wasn’t super bad. “Sorry” just can’t undo some things.

#2 You found out from them. Not only is it important they apologize right away, but if they did something without your knowledge and are the first to tell you about it-instead of some coworker or Facebook friend-you know they are really sorry.

They realized their mistake a little too late, but they still realized it and wanted to make it right as soon as possible. So if this is the case, I say forgive them!

#3 It was a minor mistake. Little things are much easier to forgive than major ones. If they’ve done something petty or just small enough that, yeah, it hurt, but in the big scheme of things, it’s not a big deal, then forgiving them might even be the easiest option.

By not letting the little things go, you turn them into huge issues causing a lot more harm than they originally were. So forgive the small stuff.

#4 They’ve never done anything like it before. If this is a first offense for them and you know they’re sorry, just let it go. Make sure to communicate how much it hurt you, but forgive them. Everyone deserves a second chance.

#5 You feel like you can still trust them. This is a point easily forgotten. If someone has lied or hurt you in any way, but, overall, you still feel like you can trust them 100%, you should forgive them. Your gut instinct is usually right and maybe this person just slipped up.

#6 You genuinely feel they’re sorry. Just saying the words, “I’m sorry,” doesn’t do anything if you don’t feel like they mean it. If you really believe they put forth the effort to apologize and make sure you know how sorry they are, then that’s worth forgiveness.

#7 What they did doesn’t change your perception of them. It’s hard to forgive someone for something they did especially when it completely changes the way you view them as a person. Sometimes people do stuff so wrong and horrible in your mind you can’t even imagine remaining in a good place with them.

But if what they did doesn’t change your view and opinion of them as a person, it’s safe to forgive them. As long as their actions still follow the rest of these guidelines, that is.

#8 You know right away you’ll get over it eventually. It’s okay to be angry with them. It’s okay to tell them off and have a few choice words with them. But if you know after the anger passes that it’s something you’ll get over fairly easily, it’s worth forgiving them for.

#9 They’ve made it up to you somehow. It doesn’t have to be something outlandish and fancy. But if they have somehow made an effort to make it up to you, they deserve your forgiveness. It shows they are sorry enough to do something about it to make sure you forgive them. And for that, it’s worth it.


Forgetting when someone has wronged you is a whole different thing than simply forgiving them. Since we can’t actually control what we remember, the term “forgetting” isn’t exactly true. A more accurate phrase would be “letting go” because if you forgive and forget, you are basically vowing to never reopen the incident for discussion. Here’s how to know if you should not only forgive, but also forget.

#1 You weren’t that mad about it. I think there have been more situations where I wouldn’t let it go because I thought I was supposed to be madder about it. Society as a whole would agree that what that person did was really bad.

But the truth is I just wasn’t that angry. Maybe it’s because I had already forgiven them. Or maybe it was because I just knew they didn’t mean it. But either way, if it doesn’t anger you that much, it’s not worth holding onto.

#2 It wasn’t something horrible. Just like you should easily forgive the small stuff, forget the small stuff, too. There’s no point in holding onto the little negative things in life. There are far too many bigger issues you should make space for in your mind.

#3 You know they’ll never do it again. If you know deep down there’s no possibility of something like this repeating, just forget it. However, if it happens again even when you thought it wouldn’t, hold onto that.

Only forget if you’re 100% sure they would never ever do something like that again. It’ll make your interactions with them much easier if you wipe the slate completely clean.

#4 They’ve never done anything like this in the past. It being a first offense and them being overly sorry about it makes it likely it won’t happen again. It doesn’t seem like it’s a habit, and you’ll be safe just forgetting the whole thing ever happened.

#5 You want to give them a second chance. It’s almost impossible to give anyone a fair second chance when you didn’t forget what they did in the first place. It isn’t fair because you’re not giving them a clean slate.

If you actually want them to have a second chance at proving themselves to you, then you owe it to them to forget their previous incident and truly give them that clean slate. So in this instance, forgive and forget.

#6 You know that you can. For some people, it’s just too hard to forget about something when it hurt them. While this is understandable, it can really throw a wrench into someone when they really do want to forget.

So before you tell this person you forgive them and will forget about it, just make sure you can really forget it. Otherwise, you’ll both run into issues when it’s brought up in conversation down the road.

The road to forgiveness can be a long and lonely one for some people. Make it easier on them and yourself by using this guide to learn when it’s okay to forgive and when it’s time to finally forget about the whole thing.

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Bella Pope LovePanky
Annabel Rodgers
Annabel is a lifestyle writer, cheese enthusiast (Wisconsin native over here) and fantasy adventure author-in-progress who enjoys all things love, dog,...