Can forgiveness be a bad idea?

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Despite a growing literature on the positive implications of forgiveness and recent efforts to promote forgiveness in marriage, there is reason to believe forgiveness could have yet-unknown negative implications. In particular, forgiveness may increase the likelihood that offenders will offend again by removing unwanted outcomes for those offenders (e.g., criticism, guilt, loneliness) that would otherwise discourage them from reoffending. Consistent with this possibility, the current 7-day-diary study revealed that newlywed spouses were more likely to report that their partners had engaged in a negative behavior on days after they had forgiven those partners for a negative behavior than on days after they had not forgiven those partners for a negative behavior. Interpersonal theories and interventions designed to treat and prevent relationship distress may benefit by acknowledging this potential cost of forgiveness.

Source: “Forgiveness increases the likelihood of subsequent partner transgressions in marriage.” from Journal of Family Psychology

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