How Many People In Relationships Are Willing To Forgive Big Lies?

How Many People In Relationships Are Willing To Forgive Big Lies?

And how many times would you forgive someone? You'd be surprised. 

By Marianne Garvey

Forgiving someone is often easier said than done. Everyone at one time or another has been asked for forgiveness and to be forgiven as well. But what are the odds we will be lucky enough actually to be forgiven? And what determines if we will forgive others?

One survey looked into what it takes, with 1,000 people polled on their “I’m sorry” habits.

Forgiveness is most likely to come from someone close who knows you well and can see past your mistakes, said those surveyed. The most common source of forgiveness was from a family member, at 68 percent. Forgiveness from a close friend came in at 59 percent, and forgiveness from a significant other ranked at 56 percent.

For some, forgiveness comes easily because of their personal beliefs. In fact, 71 percent of respondents said people can really change, while 94 percent said people learned from their mistakes and should treat others as they’d like to be treated.

Interestingly enough, some U.S. regions tend to be more forgiving than others. Nearly 86 percent of respondents from New England (including Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont) identified as being forgiving. The least forgiving region? They’re from Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, and North Dakota. In South Dakota, 26 percent of those surveyed said they were unforgiving in nature.

Forgiveness also increased with age. Millennials were the least forgiving at 79 percent, Gen Xers forgive at a rate of 83 percent, and baby boomers are the most forgiving at 87 percent. With age comes wisdom.

With women and men, it was pretty close. Eighty-two percent of women said they were forgiving, while 80 percent of men said the same.

Religion also brought some differences to the forgiveness game. Christians (which include Protestants, Methodists, Lutherans, and Baptists) ranked highest, with 86 percent also identifying as forgiving. Of respondents who identified as Jewish, 81 percent considered themselves forgiving. Of those those with no religious affiliation, 76 percent identified as forgiving, and of those classified as atheist or agnostic, 75 percent were OK with forgiving and forgetting.

Forgiveness is great, but what are we forgiving, exactly?

Ninety-five percent would forgive a family member for telling a white lie, 87 percent would forgive a friend, and 52 percent would forgive an acquaintance for the same offense. There was an even greater jump when it came to having a possession stolen. Family members still got the most leniency, with 71 percent of respondents forgiving a family member, but only 46 percent offering forgiveness to a friend and 14 percent forgiving an acquaintance.

Our survey also showed a high tolerance for rude comments from family and friends (89 percent and 78 percent would brush it off, respectively), but only 42 percent would forgive an acquaintance for the same gesture.

For example, while a white lie from a family member would be forgiven by 95 percent of those surveyed, a major lie dropped forgiveness to 79 percent, and only 46 percent forgave multiple lies. However, 52 percent of men said they primarily felt anger when hurt by a family member, while 52 percent of women said they primarily felt sadness.

When it came to forgiving a significant other, 88 percent of respondents would forgive their partner for a white lie, while 58 percent would tolerate a major lie, and 32 percent would pardon multiple lies.


When it came to infidelity, women were far more forgiving after being cheated on (71 percent of women versus 57 percent of men would give their partner another chance). After a second affair, 44 percent of women would offer forgiveness yet again, compared to only 33 percent of men.

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