Are Second Chances Overrated?

March 28, 2015  |  

I’m sure many of us wish we had a second chance to go back in time and make something right, do something better or take something back. With hindsight being 20/20, it’s easy to want a “do over.” Whether is was going abroad when you were in college or regretting breaking someone’s heart, I’m sure we all wish we had a second chance to do something we feel would’ve changed the trajectory of our life. But are second chanced required…or even deserved?

Just because we all would appreciate one doesn’t mean we are entitled to it. I say all of this because I recently found out that a friend of mine had decided to forgive her cheating, lying former ex and take him back. She said that he “deserved” a second chance…and that we all do. But I don’t know that I necessarily believe that.

Now, this isn’t about the choice that she made because I’ve made the same choice in my life to forgive someone who has wronged me…especially men. But as that was my choice that many women can relate to, I did it mainly because I wanted to believe they’d do something with that second…or third…or tenth chance they were given. And most of the time, I was proven wrong. That isn’t to say that my experience is indicative of every circumstance, but it does beg the question of why we make the decision to give someone a second chance to hurt us or repeat their offense again. While giving second chances is our way of forgiving, do we really truly forget?

Every time I chose to give a cheating ex a second chance, I regretted it. It was like I was either giving them a free pass to cheat again, or I was deciding to purposely make myself crazy. Once trust is broken, it’s hard to get back; and some would even argue that once trust is broken, it’s best to move on because things will never be the same again. If you’re going to give someone a second chance, you have to be willing to let the past go. If you can’t do that, then the second chance is really just to test the person to see if they’ll really change. And most fail miserably.

What I have found is that people treat you the way you allow them to treat you. If you decide to forgive and give the infamous second chance too soon – without giving the offending person a chance to truly reflect and feel the consequences of his actions – then that “go back” could simply lead to more heartache. But in some instances, maybe we need to give someone a chance in order to see that they truly will NEVER change, and therefore you’ll be more secure in your decision to leave the second…or fifth time. It’s all a matter of how much you’re willing to take or to risk.

That said, giving second chances is a controversial topic because they’re hard to give. It means both parties have to trust that things will be different the second time around, and be willing to cancel out the past like the terrible memories never happened. Pushing those thoughts to the back of your mind is damned near impossible for most people, and if things ended badly, why open yourself up to the possibility of facing that hurt again?

If you decide to give someone a second chance, don’t do it because that person feels entitled to it, or demands it. My friend said that her ex told her that “she owed him at least that much” – but that is not true. Second chances are not a right; however it’s a wonderful opportunity to right your wrongs and do better the next time around. When you start over, things will never be the same – they’ll either get better or get worse. But something has got to give.

If you are contemplating giving someone a second chance, be aware that you may be more guarded from the past experiences you both shared and that trusting someone again after they’ve hurt you will be a monumental task. If you are the one receiving a second chance, don’t squander it. If you waste this second chance, it could be the final deal breaker, and you’ll never get that chance again. Don’t ever give someone a reason to ask “why did I ever give him/her a second chance?” If you’re lucky enough to get one, use it wisely.

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