Forgiveness…Should We Forgive?

Forgiveness…Should We Forgive?

We often read that we should forgive the narcissist in order to be free and move on with our lives.   I’m not so sure that I agree with this.  Forgiveness is a personal thing.  It’s one thing to forgive someone who shows remorse for their words or behaviour, is genuinely regretful and makes an effort to make amends and change their behaviour.  It’s a different story altogether when someone intentionally hurts you, even takes great delight in doing so and doesn’t give a damn how they make you feel.  Narcissists know exactly what they’re doing.  Why would someone with such evil intent deserve our forgiveness?   In their twisted logic, they maintain control and a sense of pride in their despicable behaviour.  They may force themselves to apologise for their behaviour if it’s to their own advantage but there will be zero sincerity.


Without any semblance of remorse from someone who has wronged us and hurt us deeply, feelings of bitterness, hatred and sometimes revenge often bubble to the surface even within a person who is generally of a forgiving nature.  I believe that in most cases, these feelings will pass in time.

I know that this is such a debatable topic but when we forgive someone who is not sorry for their behaviour, are we not giving them the green light for more of the same?

I know that many people will say that forgiveness is necessary so that we do not become weighed down by bitterness and hatred.  I am often asked if I have forgiven my ex partner.  The answer to that has to be no, and to be completely honest, I don’t think that I ever will.  He doesn’t deserve my forgiveness and I know that I am not burdened with bitterness or thoughts of revenge.   I am relieved that he is no longer a part of my life.  There is a special place in hell for people like this.  The devil is looking forward to the day that he joins him.

I know there will be those who will disagree with me and say that the Bible tells us to forgive and that may be so, but then there are verses such as this one…

Luke 17.3

Take heed to yourselves. If your brother sins against you, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him.

I think we all need to do what’s right for ourselves.  Some people will say that forgiveness does more for the forgiver than the forgiven.  I think the jury is out on that one.

Written by Anne McCrea

Narcissistic and Emotional Abuse, Shattering the Illusion, now available on Amazon

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34 thoughts on “Forgiveness…Should We Forgive?

  1. I don’t believe there should ever be any pressure to forgive, accept, move-on, or get over, what we have been through. These expectations will only serve as means to feel inadequate and lower our self-esteem when we fail to fully meet the goals or suggestions. No one, no matter who, should have any say or influence, on our healing process. Suggestions might be made with good intentions, but if we are not ready for to take that step, it can only cause shame and self-doubt.

    Haven’t we been through enough? We have to set our own pace, whether that means immediate forgiveness or never forgiving.

    1. I agree!Finally learning to practice good Self care and take care of me. When I’m better I’ll think of him!

  2. I see forgiveness for this in terms of me understanding his lack. Why he treated me so badly and therefore helping me to heal some of the hurt by realising it isn’t personal. It’s the way he is.
    At present I am still in shock and have circular thoughts so forgiveness is not anywhere near. But I do want to let go of these awful feelings/memories whatever way serves me best.. I will never forget, and I think I will forgive only as far as is off benefit to me and my children’s lives moving forward.

    I am glad to be me finally. I would hate to be him with his lack of all integrity, honesty and ability to love and care about other people. I think that’s as far as I will go in forgiveness. If that’s what it is!

  3. To not offer “forgiveness” is not the same as holding a grudge. Or “keeping the poison inside of you”.
    In fact to rebuke the wrongdoer will free you more than anything. I have been severely abused by people who should have been protecting me or who claimed to “love” me since the day I was born. (of their own admission on that, btw)

    I eventually removed them all from my life and I have never been happier or more content. I can’t change them. I can only get rid of them.

    I am at peace finally, surrounded by good people who don’t feel the need to abuse me.

    I actually think that letting go of people helps you let go of the memories of what they have done. You can proceed in your life without all of that constant pain, knowing that they never deserved to be in your life to begin with. And yes, I mean family, too. Especially family, perhaps. It does not make you a “bad” person to jettison them, no matter what anyone says. It makes you a happier, saner person.

  4. I think it depends on what you personally consider the word “forgive” to mean…
    The only true forgiveness I offer now is to myself.
    Maybe all we can do is accept their insanity because I don’t think I’ll ever forgive the things he did to me or forced me to endure.

  5. My narc ex has put me through the *forgive me* process several times and every time his apology and search for forgiveness was just part of the manipulation to hoover me back in. This time he has discarded me and blamed me for everything. He is convinced he has done no wrong and has made himself victim to my evil. He does not want forgiveness and, though I release him to the consequences of the law of the state and God’s ultimate vengeance, I am not currently going through that forgiveness process again.

  6. Forgive him? Nope. Not in this lifetime. I will find other ways to release my heart from hell. Some people just don’t deserve to be forgiven.

    1. I am Jade, too. How funny! I have said, over and over, that some people just don’t deserve to be forgiven. And I will never, ever forgive him.

  7. Ummm…
    “I know that I am not burdened with bitterness or thoughts of revenge […]. There is a special place in hell for people like this. The devil is looking forward to the day that he joins him.”
    Cognitive dissonance?

    1. Cognitive dissonance refers to a situation involving conflicting attitudes, beliefs or behaviors. This produces a feeling of discomfort leading to an alteration in one of the attitudes, beliefs or behaviors to reduce the discomfort and restore balance etc.

      In my opinion, there are certain people who do not deserve my forgiveness, those who have no remorse whatsoever for their bad behaviour. No, I am not burdened with bitterness or thoughts of revenge. I don’t dwell on what these people have done. Their actions are their problem, not mine. I call it indifference. As for revenge, that is not for me to give. There is a higher judge that they will have to answer to in time. I do not believe that my thoughts are conflicting when I say that I believe there is a special place in hell for these people.

      Luke 17.3
      If your brother sins against you, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him.

      Mathew 25.41
      ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.’

  8. This is an interesting concept. I will consider it. It makes allot of sense. Thanks for sharing.

  9. I forgave mine for a lot of mean things. He blamed others for what happened and I believed him. This time as I tried to get away and found that there was another woman, he has tried everything to bring me down. I now have a protection order against him and he’s been charged with harassment. Bad behavior that hopefully has caught up to him.

  10. Wow, I recently had this discussion with myself, lol still healing! This after I read the verse above which suggests you don’t have to “forgive” unless there is repentance. Here’s where people get bogged down: forgiveness doesn’t mean you have to live, work, attend church, associate etc with them if you choose not to. There is so much manipulation regarding this to cover up the trauma abuses that occurred. I think the main thing is not remaining bitter about it and remembering what you made it through.

  11. I believe in forgiving, but if the person doesn’t believe what they have done is wrong, nothing is going to change, no matter how much you forgive them.

  12. The scripture quoted is conditional – “if he repents…” – the same condition God places on his own forgiveness. We now require the survivor/victim to forgive unconditionally, without repentance. It is a rare narcissist who truly repents for they are never wrong. We miss a very important component when we require forgiveness without true repentance (which is NOT crocodile tears and sorrow at getting caught). I have known two narcissists and one in training and one sociopath in my life. The sociopath cried tears all.the.time. But he is a habitual liar, philanderer, user going back decades. He has never repented, which involves turning completely in the other direction. The narcissists I’ve known are never wrong and don’t need to seek forgiveness.

  13. I think whether or not we forgive should be up to the individual. Some people feel free when they forgive. Personally, I dont. There were too many times I forgave my abuser just to have the crushing weight of anger and depression come back when they got in contact with me again (I don’t have the ability to go NC).
    Not only that, but when people demand I forgive I feel like they’re telling me my anger and hurt isn’t valid, that I must suppress it, even if that wasn’t their intention. I had to fight tooth and nail to get to the point where I can freely, unapologetically, and honestly feel the pain they inflicted without being afraid and abused again. And ever since I got that freedom, that pain has started subsiding. Repression only made it fester.
    Trauma, like grief, will likely stick with you your whole life. I was abused for 20 years. I’m not going to get over it in 2. And it’s frustrating to have people expecting me to “just get over it.” And even if I do get to the point where I mostly get over it, I’m sure the old pain will still crop up sometimes. At least that’s what older survivors have told me.
    Processing my anger is more important than forgiving someone who doesn’t feel like they need forgiving anyway.

    1. I so agree with you Jess, being told I have to forgive before I can heal only made me angrier and more bitter.

  14. I was married & had 3 Children & our relationship spanned decades. I went no contact immediately after leaving him & along my healing journey I decided to forgive him because hate & anger was destroying me & my peace of mind. I chose to forgive to set myself free. Perhaps forgiveness is not for everyone but for me it lightened my burden.

  15. The best explanation of this I’ve heard is the prison guard analogy. It is right to be angry at the injustice and pain caused. But forgiveness IS NOT Forgetting. It is not removing boundaries or being around that person again. It is not returning to a relationship with a sick person. It is not saying the abuse is somehow OK or doesn’t matter. It is resigning from the job of prison guard. To keep the person who wronged you/ your Ex in the prison of your mind… you think about him a lot. Or he might escape. You have to be on guard against losing count of any of the many wrongs that have caused such damage and hurt. So you guard him. But there is very little difference between the prisoner and the prison guard if they are both in the same sunless prison. Forgiveness doesn’t give him a get out of jail card. It frees you to leave the prison and from guard duty. You still hurt and your pain is very real and important. But you can focus on something else and dream more. It is the best way of taking care of yourself.
    I’m still working on this forgiveness as I grieve. My N husband divorced me last month. But I will forgive. I already decided to. Now it is just a matter of walking in the same direction until I reach my destination. And I’m not spending all my time thinking of him and his evil against me…I can look forward again.

  16. Been verbally abused bullied and harassed for 41 years now by my husbands family. First by his brother in law and his sister. Then her second husband. And now her daughter. only thing I can do is to wait for my husband to die so I won’t have to go there and help him.

  17. The only one we need to forgive is our self. For being gullible, vulnerable, and trying to love them. They deserve zero of our emotions now, any emotion for them is still their gain.

  18. I really wonder that narcissist truly know what he’s doing? It’s really hard to believe those kind of evil human beings are existed. Isn’t it possible that they really couldn’t understand others pain caused by their emotional distinction? Maybe here would be the point that we should forgive them or not. I’m trying to forgive him for myself easier to forget my painful memories.

  19. I think one must do whatever they need to do in order to heal. For myself, at this time I have forgiven myself and have shown myself grace. Sometimes we blame ourselves as to why we didn’t see the signs or did see the signs and stayed in the relationship. These narcissistic/sociopath people are evil and are on a whole different level. I am free at last and moving on!

  20. I think possibly forgiveness needs to be looked at from the perspective of oneself. It’s about forgiving yourself for feeling that you weren’t worthy, that you were unlovable, that you weren’t good enough. All the things the perpetrator made you feel every day of your life.

  21. I do forgive him as I did after he discarded via an sms from his granddaughter….I also asked him for forgiveness for any hurt I may have given to him…I know I was insecure and afraid a lot of the time and eventually the insecurity became intolerable for me……..I am thankful as I met a man who I really fell in love with…I had been widowed for 7 years and never expected to have another relationship so it was – at the time a wonderful experience, until the devaluing came about – pretty soon – although I dismissed the odd “strange” and hurtful comments initially. Looking back – it was a red flag, but as I had never come across a narcisssist before – I had no idea……I do forgive – I cannot switch off remembering how much I loved him- but those feelings like the grief will fade in time……..he too has a burden that is far heavier than mine…

  22. I do not think I can really forgive the deception and game-playing that went on for years, because when I discovered how skillfully I was played, I felt so stupid misguided and inadequate and ended up with a breakdown. The worst part is, I should never have allowed this person into my life in the first place, and I lost my own sense of perspective and failed to keep living by own values and beliefs. Before I have any chance of forgiviing him, I first need to forgive myself. Instead of “forgiving” him so I can move on, I prefer the idea of “disempowering” him. That is saying what he did is NOT normal acceptable behaviour, it was not caused by me, and I need to stop the stress and pain that it caused me to be relegated to the past, so it stops affecting my present and is not part of my future. I know people have different ideas, but I find “forgiveness” very difficult, because it is so often tied up with people making excuses for the person who has chosen to do the wrong thing. It seems these days we are not allowed to say that anyone has done something WRONG. I believe there is WRONG and RIGHT choices, and if that makes me judgemental, then I will happily wear that label

  23. I’m not sure if I can ever fully forgive my husband of 13years & known him for 17years. He has abused me for years mentally , & physically & emotionly, & I would always forgive him. He has even went to prison for the abuse to me & my son then 2years old back then in 2006 & I stood right beside him thru it all while he was in prison & even brought him back home to my house when he hit out. Of course he promised never again would it happen again & I believed him. He slowly started his same trend over again with the abuse & drugs & alcohol & lieing. Even escalating to physical abuse to me w busted lips & black eyes that I covered up. To this point of his latest w him choking me on a Saturday morning around breakfast time just because I was making my son now age 13 yrs a grilled cheese sandwich for breakfast before he was going to play w friends. I told my husband he would have to wait till I finished well he went into a rage & started cussing me with horrible names & said he would walk to store I said go ahead just like your dad did. I was drying frying pan off after cleaning it preparing grilled cheese that when all of a sudden he walks up behind me & starts choking me… it felt like 5 mins but I’m sure it was a few mins. After he let go of me I screamed & started crying & went behind him & told him to get out of my house & I was calling the law. He said call them you law calling b**** so I did. Now the state attorney has picked it up & they are charging him w domestic violence w Strangulation & I pray he gets prison time for this. He tells everyone he did not do this he only grab my neck & he thought about it & let go which is a total lie. He blames me for this & says I’m lieing which everyone knows that’s not who I am. But he seems to be mad at me for what he done & that makes no sense to me … which leaves me with so many emotions & it hurts so bad that he can just lie this way but the truth remains it happened & he did it. Do I don’t think I will ever forgive him- since for me believing in him again & him repeating this all over again! I pray god has this & justice will be served for domestic violence that he did to me & has done for so many years behind closed doors & I covered it up. I mad at myself cuz I still love him & I hate him for all of the lies & deceit!

  24. What also hurts is when the abusive behavior is all behind closed doors and you are judged as the one behaving badly. Lies told to others, fights picked just before socializing so that you look like a bitch when you meet up with friends, constant degrading comments making you feel not worthy of even having friends. Since it is all “your fault” why is it necessary to forgive him, he’s such a nice guy!

  25. Forgive what? The abuser hasn’t asked for forgiveness…too busy placing blame, instead of taking responsibility. I won’t waste my time or energy on giving anything to my abuser, especially forgiveness. My time and energy is now focused where it should be: ON ME, and my recovery from his abuse. LOL “I forgive you.” would be met with a hearty, “Whatever for???” That whole thing of it being better for the abused….please. Fantasy like that
    is what got me into this mess.

  26. Abusers were often abused. It is a cycle. That being said, they still had a choice and they chose to repeat pain. For me, forgiveness isn’t about them. I forgive not because they deserve it, but because I want a heart that is at peace. Forgiving is not the same as forgetting. You can forgive and still hold strong boundaries.

  27. I don’t think I can ever forgive for the betrayal of my trust, for the betrayal of my love & for the betrayal of me as a human being who did nothing to warrant what was done bar love & try to help & support him.
    Yes on days days there is pure hate & rage for what he did & the state he left me in. But on far more days than those there is calm & a pure joy not to be around him & his toxicity. To not have to deal with his flying monkeys.
    I use my forgiveness on me, to allow me to forgive myself for not walking away when I should be cause I, as the person I am, saw another in such a dark place & wanted to make it better. My love & forgiveness if for me in this situation, I’m on a learning curve, I’m self reflecting & growing. I’m not going to waste such a precious resource on someone who reveals in hurting others.

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