Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. Being hurt by people we love, especially family or loved ones, cuts deep. Very deep.

It’s hard to forgive when the pain is caused by people we expect better from. The same people we share intimate parts of ourselves with and for whom we care deeply. This kind of deception is generous in its exposure to vulnerability.

This kind of deception makes us prone to distrust and to exercise additional caution in any future interaction.

A friend recently asked me: “what would it take before you gave someone a second chance?”

My friend's moral dilemma stemmed from a strained relationship with a step-child that had brought much heartache and many tears.

"Should you ever let someone back into your circle of trust once they’ve broken that trust?" my friend questioned, amid much soul searching.

I would once have steered towards the moral high ground of "forgiveness-is-vital" and "love-is-key" to a unified existence with our fellow humans.

This philosophical viewpoint makes us all feel warm and fuzzy. Granted it may make us emotionally better equipped to live together in a world where as mere mortals we are likely to f*** up every day of the week.

Everyone makes mistakes - some more than others.

But is extending the olive branch the sensible option? Is acting in good faith and trusting a guilty party simply putting our vulnerable selves back in the firing line for a little more target practice?

Upon reflection, and having engaged in the art of loyalty to one's friends, family and lovers without hesitation, I'm not so sure that steadfast allegiance amid repetitive deception is such a good thing.

The very nature of deception is the deceiver's ability to fool or mislead the other party. Deception is born of a greater evil – an intention to betray. A mistake is a lapse in judgement.

Forgiveness may be vital, but only in so much that it is necessary in order to move on. Allowing a loved one to take you for a fool is not healthy for either party involved.

It is important for strangers, as well as those we are intimate with, to know there is a difference between being loyal and being naive.  

Forgiving someone for the hurt they caused is part of one's ability to let go. And letting go of this hurt does not necessarily mean the aggrieved needs to be best friends with the aggriever, especially if the aggriever is still the same arsehole they were when they committed the aggrieving act.

My friend is understandably very protective of his heart and his family, having allowed the step-child to penetrate that inner-sanctum previously only to have that trust betrayed with lies and deception.

"Three strikes and you're out" only applies to baseball. My motto is – one and you're done.

Always forgive your enemies. Nothing annoys them so much. - Oscar Wilde.

----------------------------------------

You can join Dirty Laundry on Facebook or follow the discussion on Twitter.