NEVER THAT: The Psychology of Second Chances

Header created in collaboration with Alexis Morillo, Graphic designed by Nicki Diacik

As firm believers of constructive discord and self-proclaimed “pot stirrers,” we are taking this week’s column as an opportunity to unpack one of our age old quarrels — second chances. We have some differing opinions on this which makes it a little interesting, and we hope to steadily debate this topic in the best way we know how: journalistically.

Of course there are multiple dimensions that must be considered when it comes to thinking about if a second chance is well deserved. Who the person is and what your relationship with them was are just a fraction of the things that must be considered before making the decision to cut them—or keep them.

But overall, nuanced circumstances aside, when it comes to second chances Alexis says: Never that! While Alyssa thinks otherwise. When it comes to cutting people out completely from your life? Alyssa says: Never that.

Psychology of Forgiveness

Relationships are hard - whether that’s friendships, romantic relationships, or family. People will mess up. People will get mad. You will get into fights. At some point there will have to be forgiveness. But it’s not always as easy as “forgive and forget.” As hard as it may seem sometimes though, it is possible. Frederic Luskin, director of the Forgiveness Project at Stanford University says, “if you practice forgiveness, you get better at it.”

Some actions are easier to forgive than others — and trust us, we’ve collectively been through enough to know which situations are which. Is there a distinct threshold though? Some actions— cheating —are a hard Never That in terms of forgiveness. Others though, Alyssa says yes while Alexis just shakes her head. Each person must decide for themselves what their own threshold is.

That may change from relationship to relationship and it may change over time —it definitely has for us. Twenty one year old Alyssa and Alexis will not take the same crap that nineteen year old us put up with. The first step is to cognitively make the decision to forgive. Father Richard Rohr, founder of the Center for Action and Contemplation says, “forgiveness is a decision but making that decision doesn’t override the emotional residue that often takes much longer to release.”

Forgiveness doesn’t always mean to take back and excuse actions. Some situations warrant mending the relationship, while others you have to end. It also doesn’t mean that you can’t still get upset. Thomas G. Plante, psychologist and professor of psychology, says, just because you forgive “doesn’t mean you’re minimizing your victimization experience.” It’s always good to remember the person doing the forgiving is always in control of the timeline and manner.

Despite what comes after, forgiveness should always be a goal. What’s the point if you’re ending the relationship anyways? Do it for you. “Forgiveness has been shown to reduce anger, hurt, depression and stress and lead to greater feelings of optimism, hope, compassion and self confidence,” says Luskin.

Ghosting Culture

Of course, as much as we would like to ignore the implications of dating or hooking up in the age of social media, we must do so in order to really understand second chances and why they can be so hard (or so easy).

It’s the trope that almost all of us have gone through. Sometimes it feels as if everyone has taken a page out of the same self help book when it comes to ghosting each other.

  1. You hook up with someone a few times or maybe even go on a few actual dates

  2. They never hit you up again

  3. They proceed to watch every single Snapchat or Instagram story, like every Facebook status, tweet, photo, and yes… even LinkedIn update

This pseudo-interaction via social media has been recently coined as “orbiting,” which, according a The New York Times article by Rainseford Stauffer, is only possible to do because of our online presence.

“Unlike ghosting, which is a fancy word for disappearing from a lover’s life without notice, orbiting could not have existed before the dawn of social media. It is a behavior bound to the medium, and to an age in which people can be hyper-connected without ever speaking,” wrote Stauffer. “Distant methods of digital observation — likes, views, etc. — are what binds the orbiter and the orbited.”

“Orbiting” is so relatable that the word was first laid out by Man Repeller writer Anna Iovine after she talked to her friends and realized this social media experience was a common trend. She explained, in reference to a friend dealing with uncalled for social media engagement from an ex here and there: “This man is in her orbit, seemingly keeping tabs on her with with no intention of engaging her in meaningful conversation or, you know, dating her.”

It links the two people together even after their relationship is seemingly over. Ambiguous liking or commenting can naturally lead to over-analysis of why they’re doing what they’re doing.

Can People Change?

Alyssa has a little more faith in people than Alexis when it comes to the age-old debate of whether or not people can change. The brain is plastic, allowing for change throughout someone's life, but when you’re with someone you’re not always willing to wait a lifetime for that to happen. As much and as often as you can get angry at someone for doing something, they have to want to change in order for you to see any difference. The question then becomes, does your partner want to change rather than can they change.

When it comes to accepting less than what you deserve in your relationships? Never That.

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