Let’s Forget It!

Let’s forget everything and start again from scratch!

Sounds tempting, eh?

After a long time of fighting and struggling in a toxic relationship – no matter with whom and for what reason – you often become tired and fed up. It’s the same argument, over and over again. The same lines, the same blame game, the same excuses. The same crocodile tears. The same temporary truce that you know – you both know – it won’t last long. Sooner or later, the quarrel will erupt anew. It’s a way of life… this fight. It has become the main way by which you relate to the other. Some people talk to each other, others write to each other; you, on the other hand… you just yell at each other…

Therefore, it is a strange feeling of relief when the other suddenly offers a way out: let’s bury the hatchet of war… by agreeing to start from zero, by pretending that nothing happened.

A fresh start, that is… A new beginning… A reset.

When the stakes of the argument are low, and you possibly fight out of boredom – seeking emotional variety or some petty objective – restarting from zero might be a good idea. After all, nothing is deep enough and everything was just a pastime. However, when the fight is “for real”, when you are deeply hurt or the conflict has deep roots, restarting “the game” might not be clever, especially when there is a long and painful history behind.

In fact, the opponent – often your partner – is making a twisted offer: forget what happened instead of solving the conflict, pretend that the situation has healed by itself without any effort from both sides, so that pain can be inflicted again next time when any of you is triggered. It’s a seductive proposal: after all, you’re fighting for a long time, it’s dull, why not finish the chapter and move on?!? Why not avoid assuming responsibility for solving the damn problem?!? Why not deny that there truly is a problem?!? Why not distort reality?!? You can always pretend that “it is not that serious”!

Because it’s unwise. It’s denial of responsibility and it will generate further resentment.

Agreeing to start from zero when the stakes of a conflict are high, especially when deep values are involved or when abusive gestures have been made, when the two opponents did not become wiser or have genuinely changed, is a proof of naïveté. The matter is not settled. The proposition is twisted because the other does not want to assume responsibility for their actions, or for the pain that they caused to you. The other only wants to cheat you again, so as to make peace by forgetting the past, a past that is perhaps the best advice-giver when it comes to anticipating what the other is capable of doing to you.

Forget the past – or agree to forget the past – at your own peril!

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