He did you wrong ... so how do you know if taking him back is the right thing?
Have you ever dated someone who broke your heart over and over again, and then had the nerve to beg for your forgiveness? Sure you have! If you're like most people, you've probably even had a seat at that table more than once.
Every time this happens you're trapped somewhere between feeling like a damn fool while still wondering if he's truly learned his lesson.
Herein lies the problem in contemplating getting back together: If you don't forgive him and he really did learn his lesson, some other woman benefits from all the hurt, pain, agonizing sleepless nights, and mangled emotions that you invested.
So, do you risk looking like a fool by potentially false promises and insincere apologies? Or, do you have faith that sooner or later he'll realize you're the best thing that ever happened to him and that he changed his ways?
Well, you can breath easier. I'm going to give you seven tell-tale signs that confirm he's truly learned his lesson.
1. His actions speak louder than his words. Put plainly—he really changes. Things are actually different, and not just for a week or two. An example of this is ceasing to conceal things like his cell phone, emails, and social media accounts. When a man is willing to open his life up to you, that's a strong indication that his heart is open, too.
2. He confesses the details. Without prompting from you, he talks about what he's done, with whom, where, why, and how he did it. In other words, he gives you a straightforward, complete confession. This includes names of co-conspirators, accomplices, timelines, and locations.
3. He allows you to ask questions. One thing I tell my clients often, especially when they are trying to regain the trust of a spouse or significant other, is: "The truth can withstand inquiry." If you want someone to trust you fully, you must show a willingness to do what it takes to make that happen. One word of caution: don't ask questions if you know you can't handle the truth. Some things are simply better left in the past, especially if knowing the truth won't change anything.
4. The pitch, tone and inflection in his voice is 100% sincere. When a man is truly ashamed, remorseful, or embarrassed, he can still sound like he's lying. But there is a strong possibility he's being honest, especially if he's introverted or truly feels humiliated by his actions. That's when it's far better for you to pay attention to the context of what's being said more than the words he's saying. Put mildly, fumbled words can sound deceiving, but heartfelt emotions don't lie.
5. He truly gets it. Ask him, "How do you think what you did made me feel, and how did it make me look to my friends and family?" If your man articulates something very close to how you actually feel, chances are that he gets it. And only a sociopath, understanding the depth and breadth of your pain, would hurt you the same way again. Hint: I wrote my book Break Up, Don't Break Down to help you ensure repeat offenses NEVER happen again.
6. He owns his actions, without excuses. In my 10-plus years as a relationship expert, the most consistent sign I've seen in people truly ready to change is they DO NOT make excuses for their actions. They take full responsibility for their choices, the impact of those actions on others, and they learn a real lesson.
7. He allows room for your hurt. This is the most difficult thing to deal with. Remember, many men are like little boys—you'll have to act like the adult here. Inherently, most men don't deal with the emotions of women well, if at all. Yes, I know this is unfair, especially when he's the one that caused your hurt and upset in the first place. But the sooner you accept his sincere repentance, the better you'll both feel. By praising him for coming clean and making a change, the odds of his shift being a permanent transformation increases ten-fold.
So, now that you know the seven ways that reveal if HE truly changed ... I must ask—are YOU truly ready to step back into the relationship again? Have you explored the ways you possibly contributed to the problem in your relationship? This first step in preventing toxic patterns from needlessly recycling over and over in your life and relationships again is checking in with yourself. Here are a few crucial things to consider before you get back together with this man:
- Are you part of the problem? Is he cheating on you and you're only holding on to him because you fear being alone, you don't want anyone else to date him, or because you fear change?
- Are you taking him back just to get even? Either consciously or subconsciously, it's common for people to allow folks back into their life just to get even. The issue here is that you will reap what you sow. This will only spawn a cycle of tit-for-tat dysfunction. In the end, someone is going to get hurt. When people play games in love, both parties lose.
- Are you concealing anything he doesn't know about yet? Don't out his crimes and hide your own. Also, don't act ready to reconcile if you're not. If he's changed his ways and is really ready to do the right thing—but you're not—"forgiving" him is a waste of time ... especially if you're demanding things from him that you're not doing yourself, like giving full disclosure about your escapades and indiscretions.
- Are you truly able to forgive him and move on? As crazy as it sounds, sometimes it's easier to confuse "working things out" with "wanting to win." Don't take him back if your only goal is to have a relationship. Not only is that really stupid, it's self-destructive for both parties. In almost every case, you'll end up making both of you miserable simply because you can't let go of him hurting you in the first place. In this case, it's better to forgive but then call it a day.
- Are you trying to save face? Are you doing this because you want to prove to your friend and family that you're right about him and they weren't? Being too concerned about how things look to others gets you nowhere quick. At the end of the day, you must forgive him for the right reasons ... reasons that don't include the opinions of others.
Now, if you meet those conditions AND he's showing signs that he truly learned his lesson—it's safe for you to forgive him and proceed with this relationship:
Forgiveness is never easy when you're the one doing the forgiving. The good news is that when a man grows up, he becomes a rare find ... a find that you don't want to quickly toss aside.
My advice to you is to do two things: Trust your instincts and Be wise as a serpent and harmless as a dove. In other words, listen to your inner voice and judge him through the eyes of time. Make sure his words and actions match. Real men mean what they say and say what they mean. Where he puts his treasure is where his heart is.