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Watching “The Bachelor” and Learning to Forgive

Many fans are unwilling to look past Juan Pablo’s comments about a gay Bachelor. But forgiveness goes deeper than right versus wrong.

Watching The Bachelor and Learning to Forgive

For months, I have looked forward to watching ABC’s newest Bachelor, Juan Pablo Galavis, romance 27 women all over the globe. Yes, I admit to loving the reality series, and let’s face it, this season promised the series’ sexiest bachelor yet. A former soccer player from Venezuela, Juan Pablo is pure eye candy. I’m not alone here. Fans could not get enough of the single dad. With his rugged features, boyish grin and that charming accent, he had us at “hello.”

And now, not a month into the series many of us are saying “good-bye.” After being asked in a TV Page interview if he thought ABC should have a gay bachelor, Juan Pablo broke our hearts by saying no, stating it’s not a good example for kids and (yikes!) saying that gays are “more pervert.”

Of course both he and ABC immediately came out with apology statements. Galavis said that his comments came out wrong due to his language barrier. Lovers and haters alike have questioned the validity and sincerity of this explanation (excuse?), but there’s a bigger question at hand. Should we forgive?

Research shows that forgiveness is good for us. Forgiving can lower your blood pressure, enhance your immune system and improve your sex life. According to a 2012 study by psychologist Loren Toussaint and his colleagues, forgiveness can actually make us live longer.  

Forgiveness is not forgetting. It is a mental shift. It is giving up the desire for revenge. It is having compassion and kindness for the offender.

Certainly, I can have compassion for Galavis’s language woes. Years ago, I spent a month in France and thought I was telling someone about “flying” but instead it came out as “stealing.” But what about when someone you love really hurts you? Can you forgive then? How do you find the compassion to do so?

In high school, I was in an abusive relationship. I fell in love with my best friend, a girl, and when I broke up with her because I wanted to date boys, she began hitting me. Though it took years for me to process what happened, I have now fully forgiven her. I’ve never forgotten her actions, as they have had lasting effects on my ability to trust, love and be vulnerable with another human. However, I can proudly say today that I do forgive her.

Looking back as an adult, I can understand the pain and confusion of a 17-year-old girl whose love left her. Plus, I can empathize with her confusion in sexual identity, as I know that she felt like she couldn’t talk to anyone about it. I get that and I forgive her for taking her unhappiness out on me. I realize now that by holding on to the pain and anger, I was only hurting myself more.

I believe that in order to forgive we need to know the intention of someone’s offense. Did your best friend mean to hurt you? Is your ex simply a cruel jerk? Is the person you’re angry at ignorant about a particular topic, or perhaps suffering his own pain and therefore unaware of what she’s doing?

Simply put, some situations are easier to forgive than others. A television star’s insensitive comments? Perhaps not such a big deal. (Especially when he’s hot. I’ve seen this a lot with clients looking for a reason to go back to a beautiful sinner.) Your partner cheating? That’s much more difficult. What about forgiving Lance Armstrong for lying to us about doping? Or the string of senators who have cheated on their wives?

You have the right to choose whether to forgive those you love and admire. Look inside the other person, and yourself, for the deeper truth and the inner beauty. That is what really matters.

QUIZ: How Attached Do You Get?

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