An American Addiction Centers Resource

New to the Forums?Join or

Am I promoting addiction by always forgiving?

Discussion in 'Helping an Addicted Loved One' started by pineywood, Apr 7, 2015.

  1. pineywood

    pineywood Community Champion

    I was kind of talking about this in another thread about late night phone calls, but it is really weighing heavily on my heart.

    Do you think when you keep forgiving someone and let them back into your life when they relapse, you are condoning, or worse yet, promoting their behavior?

    I am wondering, how others have dealt with just closing the door on a loved one or friend. This whole idea of tough love, literally tears at my heart.

    Were you able to justify your decision to completely turning your back on someone? It would be nice to hear about you making this difficult choice and the end result turned out to be good. Like the person, actually recovered.

    Quite frankly, it scares me. I feel like it would be my fault is they could not "make it" and I was somehow to blame because I walked away.
    Pafpartner likes this.
  2. zaerine

    zaerine Community Champion

    Forgiving will be your own decision and you ay have your own reasons doing it. I think as long as you will keep helping the person to change and not to get into addiction, that is not promoting addiction. You most probably just giving more chances.
    pineywood likes this.
  3. pineywood

    pineywood Community Champion

    Oh good point. Reminds me what my grandmother use to say. Bless her heart. She would tell me it is good to forgive, but do not forget. Remain cautious and do not be fooled or foolish in giving people a second chance without remembering and understanding past situations. I guess , she would saying remain forgiving, just not naive. Thanks for triggering that memory! i
  4. lulu

    lulu Active Contributor

    I think you can be there for them and not have to say you forgive. This is something thats hard to deal with. And you can't just let a lived one keep doing it and not help them. You want to be there for them and at least try to help them so if you do so you need to make it clear to them you don't agree with it and they aren't just hurting them selves but you too. They need to know your rules to it that you don't like it.
    pineywood likes this.
  5. pineywood

    pineywood Community Champion

    Aha! Yes. You have described perfectly what I know, but forget, and that is setting up boundaries. This goes back to another thread I started about taking late night phone calls! It is not a question of not being there for my family or a friend in need, it is just making sure there are clear set boundaries in place to avoid misunderstandings. I was not clearly outlining the much needed rules!
  6. JessiFox

    JessiFox Active Contributor

    I don't necessarily think that forgiveness in and of itself is enabling behavior- but I think that forgiveness without boundaries, without conditions on the behavior that you need from people in your life, and without any consequences at all is problematic. Well-intentioned, but problematic.
    pineywood likes this.
  7. xSentaru

    xSentaru Active Contributor

    No, absolutely not, at least from my point of view. I've used to be in a similar situation and forgiving actually made my father "step up his game", if I might say so. It gave him the power to stop all this and come back at his normal life, leaving the alcohol abuse in the past.

    No, no. Forgiving does not equal promoting unethical behavior. I personally can't think of an situation where forgiving somebody would make them "abuse" what you have forgiven.
    JessiFox and pineywood like this.
  8. pineywood

    pineywood Community Champion

    First, let me say, I love your profile picture of the owl!

    Your insight and experience is extremely relevant on the power of forgiveness. Good to hear that your father is living a healthier life now! I think you should be very proud of yourself and your ability to truly forgive.

    I think sometimes, we (well, myself) think we are forgiving someone, but it is conditional forgiveness. When in fact forgiveness should be unconditional. It can free yourself and your loved one. This is something I am going to have to meditate upon more and give more credence to actually forgiving.

    Thank you!
  9. kjonesm1

    kjonesm1 Community Champion

    I absolutely think you are enabling bad behavior and need to cut ties. If you continue to give an addict an inch, they will take a mile. The person you are forgiving is not the same person you once knew.
    pineywood likes this.
  10. Bonzer

    Bonzer Community Champion

    You always got to take the logical route out. Ethical or unethical, good or bad, whether you like it or not. In the beginning, your generosity appeals to them and they keep coming to you with more junk, for they just discovered a way to substantiate their behavior. But, in the long run, you nurture their addiction, by not telling them that what they do is wrong. I'm sorry, but your approach is wrong. It does not solve the problem at all.
    pineywood and jacalynmarie79 like this.
  11. lgdg090596

    lgdg090596 Senior Contributor

    Letting them in your life is one thing — tolerating their addiction is another.
    pineywood likes this.
  12. JessiFox

    JessiFox Active Contributor

    Agreed entirely! So happy to see a testament to the power of forgiveness as an option...sometimes it is the right way to go.
    pineywood likes this.
  13. pineywood

    pineywood Community Champion


    Have you cut ties? How about if the person you are talking about is a family member? Or, what if the person is your own son or daughter?

    No need to be sorry about stating your opinion. I asked for your input. I would just like to make clear that I never condone excessive drinking or even one drink, if the person is an alcoholic. Nor, have I ever told anyone, it is okay to take illegal drugs or abuse prescription medicine.
  14. I honestly believe that as hard as it is to not to eventually forgive a loved one, you have to be conscious of being over forgiving! It does not mean you do not love the person. In fact, you do and that's why its important in that just as you would discipline a child out of love, you have to do the same for your loved one. If you do not they will almost always use your love as a form of weakness, knowing that its OK to hurt and manipulate you over and over. No! This is your loved one and they have to know that enough is enough. Love yourself as much as you love them and put a halt to a pain that can last a lifetime instead of a short time. I can almost assure you that the outcome will be best for both parties if you save both of you repetitive heartache. Either way its up to the abuser if they want to change their life. Let them know that you love them but do not want to be a part of this any longer, when they are ready to make a change you will be their 100 percent in that you want nothing more than to be in their life. I have been in this position before and wish that know one go through the pain of choosing to let go of a loved one. In the end you can forgive but do not forget and be ever cautious of manipulation.
    pineywood likes this.
  15. Faithfulmarie

    Faithfulmarie Member

    I think I completely understand the dilemma. This someone you love, and really love is supposed to be unconditional. However the habit is the "challenge". Personally, I would keep forgiving and taking them back into my life, simply because I would not be able to turn my back. I need to say on the other hand, that if my well being was threatened, then the tough love would have to "kick in".
    pineywood likes this.
  16. Rainman

    Rainman Community Champion

    The only other option you'd have is to not forgive that person. Would that help? Would it make the addict fight harder so they don't relapse next time they try to beat their addiction? I think failing to forgive them would make them lose hope. And the problem might get worse. You need to forgive, and encourage that person to try harder [next time] and they just might.
    pineywood likes this.
  17. jeremy2

    jeremy2 Community Champion

    Forgiveness comes from the heart and we have to be sincere about it. You should be frank about your intentions and approach the issue with a sober mind.
    pineywood likes this.
  18. Winterybella

    Winterybella Community Champion

    I am a firm believer in forgiveness. I know no other way and truth be told I don't want to know another way. If I have to choose anything but forgiveness, it goes against everything thing I stand for. Sadly, a forgiving spirit is often abused or taken for granted and in circumstances like these it is human to want to protect yourself and you should to the extent possible.

    Pineywood, If it is who you are, don't fight it. Like I said elsewhere, do the best you can for as long as you can. Surely if the shoes were on the other feet you'd want to be forgiven.
    pineywood likes this.
  19. chanelskii

    chanelskii Member

    I believe that if you forgive someone you are giving that person hope. and hope is the most vital thing a person needs when he feels like everything is lost. By forgiving someone you are allowing him to realize and see the wrong he has done. But take note that your forgiveness has its limits. If the person has not changed at all and just often seeks your forgiveness, it's a clear sign that he/she is just taking you for granted. When that happens, tell that person you forgive him/her but that you are no longer supporting his/her actions and at that point whatever that person does to his/her life will not be your concern anymore. It should be a great eye-opener.
    pineywood likes this.
  20. janiruchan

    janiruchan Member

    This a subtle question and a complex one. In my experience, it depends upon the situation. There is always a risk of opening the person to abuse you ( in psychology they call it codependency). You may become the codependent of the person. What happens here is that instead of helping the abusive person, by allowing leniency in your relationship you promote the behavior. So it takes a lot of discernment how one should limit the relationship. This is not to stay or to shut the person, but to tell him/her that your relationship is turning abusive. What I do when things turn this way I confront and complex to the abusive person the consequences of tolerating his/her behavior.
    L_B and pineywood like this.