How To Forgive Your Partner For Lying (& Whether Or Not You Even Should)

Finding out your partner has lied to you has got to be one of the ultimate betrayals. Whether they have come clean about a lie or have been caught in one, it still causes damage in a relationship that's supposed to be built on trust. If your partner is sorry and wants to reestablish your connection — and you're willing to try to move on — there has to be forgiveness on your end.


We know that's a lot easier said than done, but that's not because you're an unforgiving person. Psychology Today notes that forgiveness is so difficult because people are wired to protect themselves from being taken advantage of by others, so we tend to either avoid the manipulator or retaliate. Of course, when you're in a relationship with someone, it's counterproductive to exact revenge on them, even if they did hurt you. Additionally, giving them the silent treatment or icing them out can cause more damage. But taking time to think about things and cool off isn't wrong on your part, and it just might be the first step toward forgiveness — if you decide the relationship is still worth salvaging.


Take time to process your feelings

When you're feeling hurt and betrayed, it's easy to lash out and say the first things that come to your mind. And while it's okay to feel all the tumultuous emotions, this time is better spent processing your feelings alone. Ask your partner to give you some space; then, take a step back and allow yourself to acknowledge everything you're experiencing — hurt, sadness, disappointment, confusion, and even rage. Do whatever helps you come to terms with these emotions: Cry it out or write down all your feelings on a piece of paper and tear it up. Go for a long walk to clear your head.


After you've processed your feelings, they're still going to be there, but you'll be able to talk to your partner in a calmer, more rational way. It may take a day or even a week for you to get to that place, but your partner should respect your boundaries during this difficult time. Remember not to ice out your partner and keep communicating with them. They still deserve to know that you need the space but may be willing to work things out with them once you're ready.

Try to understand why they lied to you

Once you're ready to hear your partner out, let them explain why they lied to you. While it doesn't excuse their actions, it may help if you understand what drove them to it. Sometimes, when we're doing something wrong, we may justify it in our heads — perhaps they didn't want to hurt your feelings or were trying to avoid a fight. Let them speak freely without interruption and take the time to see if they're being sincere. Are they looking directly into your eyes, or do they seem shifty? Are they apologetic without being defensive? Does the conversation feel honest, or do you feel like they're just trying to placate you?


After hearing them out, take the space you need to consider if their reasons for lying are forgivable. If this was a one-time thing and their explanation was understandable — albeit hurtful — then you may be able to work through the betrayal. But if the hurt is too much to get over, you may want to rethink if the relationship is right for you.

Decide whether it's time to walk away

Of course, it's worth noting that forgiveness shouldn't be a given, and it's worth taking time after you've cooled down to determine if walking away might be a better option. Consider whether the lie was an irreconcilable difference — maybe your partner had an affair or lied to you about their finances. Whatever the situation is, if you're having to compromise your values, then it may be time to break things off completely. Additionally, if you've noticed you keep catching them in falsehoods, you won't be able to trust their word — and when you question your partner's character, you'll never be able to look at them the same way again. Everyone has a deal-breaker, and it's up to you to decide what yours is.


However, if the lie was a one-time thing and you think you will eventually be able to get over it, your relationship may be worth saving. It may be easy to hold onto the hurt and anger in the beginning, but if both parties put in the effort, you and your partner might come out stronger on the other side.

Set clear boundaries moving forward

If you've decided to forgive your partner's transgression and they've understood that their lie has hurt you, it's time to move on and set new, healthier boundaries. Tell your partner that you'd rather hear the truth in the future, even if it may cause an argument. Be firm in letting them know that what they did was wrong and that you won't tolerate lying again.


Though it will be hard to trust them moving forward, rebuilding that trust is essential. You may be tempted to snoop through their emails, demand they give you all their passwords, or otherwise constantly prove they are no longer lying. However, that's not a great way to build back trust — that instead reinforces that your partner shouldn't be believed and that they have no right to privacy. This sets the stage for a toxic relationship, and your partner will resent feeling like they have to prove their innocence to you. Yes, they're the ones who lied to you, but it will take effort on both parties to build trust into the relationship again — so let that trust rebuild naturally rather than enforcing demands that violate your partner's boundaries in return.


Don't keep throwing the lie back in their faces

Moving on and forgiving your partner's lie means not dwelling on the past. If you truly believe that they're sorry and won't betray your trust again, then you need to refrain from constantly bringing it up or using it as a weapon during a fight. Doing so will make your partner feel attacked and defensive, and you'll be back to square one. Dredging up old feelings and reopening fresh wounds makes forgiveness next to impossible, so if forgiveness is your goal, keep the incident in the past. Presumably, you had plenty of time to discuss the circumstances with your partner before you decided to forgive them, so don't continue to punish them for their lie even after they've apologized.


Constant beratement is not just damaging to them, but to yourself as well. Remember, forgiveness is often more emotionally healing for the one who is wronged than the person that has done the hurting — and there are physical health benefits as well. According to Johns Hopkins, forgiving someone lowers anxiety and stress while improving your blood pressure and your sleep. The better you feel physically, the more able you'll be able to heal emotionally, so don't sabotage the forgiveness process by continuing to dwell on how you were wronged.

Discuss what you want for the future of your relationship

We've always been taught to forgive and forget, but they don't always go hand-in-hand. You don't have to forget what your partner did, but you should use this experience to think about what you want for the future of your relationship. Think about ways you can both improve communication and get that loving feeling back again. Perhaps it's time to reconnect or start fresh — it's certainly possible, as many couples become even stronger after infidelity, Vice reports. After the initial crisis period is over, you can start talking about the nitty-gritty details of why a betrayal happened and how you can move forward.


A partner lying to you means there are cracks in the foundation that need some tending to, so do a deep dive into your relationship with your partner and talk about what you need from each other. You might just uncover some truths that are hard to swallow, but together, you two can come up with a plan for how to prevent similar situations from happening again and work more toward the relationship you want to have.

Speak to a therapist

It often helps to have a sounding board when you're going through a hard time. Whether it's your BFF or a close family member, venting your feelings to a consenting listener and getting a different take on an issue may help clear things up. But keep in mind that your loved ones will probably be biased to take your side and might not give you an objective opinion — or they might also hurt your feelings if you feel like they're taking your partner's side.


This is where a therapist can help tremendously. A professional can help you sort out your feelings without taking anyone's side; they can also focus on your feelings alone if your only goal is to talk about your wants and needs. If you choose to go to therapy with your partner, a mediator can help draw out the root cause of the lie and provide tools for dealing with conflict in a positive way, per Better Health. Forgiveness is a process, and it may take several tries and different methods to get there, but don't forget to be patient with yourself and any professional who steps in to help.

Don't be too hard on yourself

Even if you've chosen to forgive your partner, you're not a saint, so don't feel like a monster if you're having a hard time letting go. That doesn't mean you're a bad person, just like your partner isn't necessarily a horrible person for lying. Everyone makes mistakes, and being able to forgive should also mean that you give yourself grace as well. You may want to be quick to forgive for the sake of the relationship, but if you haven't truly allowed yourself to accept the situation, then you'll end up harboring a grudge — which will sabotage your desire to forgive anyway.


Give yourself the time you need to heal, and let your partner know that you're trying but it will take some time. Keep a journal of your thoughts so you can vent privately without judgment; refer back to them occasionally to see if you've made progress in your forgiveness journey. Celebrate when you see progress, and don't judge yourself for having an off day or force yourself to adhere to a particular timeline. After some time, you may look at this journey as just a blip in your relationship and be able to leave it behind you.