Should You Give Your Partner A Second Chance?

Legal Lotus - Family and Trial Attorneys

People are only human. Sometimes they do things they shouldn’t. For those that love them, it isn’t always easy to know when to offer a second chance. When we love someone, we can be very tempted to let bad behavior “slide” so as not to cause ripples in the relationship. 

People continue to give their partner chances after chances only to see the pattern of improper behavior continue. How does a person decide when to ignore bad behavior and when to call out one’s partner and insist, “this is enough?”

Does Your Relationship Have A Strong, Solid Foundation?

It’s great to be in love or in lust, but that doesn’t make up for having to endure bad behavior from your partner. If love is what is keeping you together, him or her being consistently late, constantly arguing, etc. will get old very quickly.

A true relationship has a foundation of respect and trust. If that foundation exists, it is much easier to close an eye to annoying habits.

What Is The Objectionable Behavior?

Ask yourself what annoys you. Seeing the toothpaste left uncapped may have you grinding your teeth, but is it worth ending a relationship? However, there is behavior that goes beyond annoyance. Should you put up with excessive drinking, infidelity, or lack of common sense regarding finances? Can you deal with a partner who is consistently late?

There is no going back from certain actions. Only you can decide what behavior deserves a second chance, and that may not always be easy.

The Difference Between Words and Action

When reminded of his or her behavior, your partner undoubtedly expresses remorse. “I’m sorry,” is nice to hear, but if the action does not reflect the words, the words become meaningless. If your partner promises to change but won’t, there is a definite chasm between what is being said and what is being done.

Any action that shows a desire to change could be worth a second chance. If your partner is unwilling to discuss future behavior, perhaps it is time for you to take action.

How Committed Are Both To The Relationship?

Your partner may be sincere in promising a chance, but old patterns of behavior can have deep roots. If both of you are committed to remaining together and working on the relationship, providing a second, perhaps even a third, the chance is reasonable. 

When The Behavior Does Change

When you notice your partner making every effort to change his or her bad habits and mostly being successful, a second chance may be called for. Your partner is showing an understanding and an effort is being made, and that should count for something.

When The Remorse Is Genuine

Apologizing is appropriate, but only if backed up with action to indicate that the remorse is real. Your partner needs to show some understanding of why he or she has hurt the other party. This involves more than an apology. This demands a sincere commitment to change. Your partner must truly want to stop hurting you and not want to jeopardize what you have together. If the remorse is not genuine, the offended party has every reason to be done with the relationship.

If your partner is having difficulty with old habits but is willing to try, he or she deserves a few chances. Seeking counseling is a good sign that he or she is genuinely working on changing.

A Checklist To Test Your Partner’s Sincerity

Knowing when your partner sincerely cares enough to want to change isn’t always easy. Here are a few behavioral tests that can help you arrive at an answer:

  1. Is he or she willing to acknowledge that you have a reason to be upset? This would be a clear indication that your partner cares about your feelings instead of ignoring them.
  2. Has your partner apologized for upsetting you? Again, that is a sign of awareness of your feelings. 
  3. Are both of your working on the relationship or is all the work one-sided – your side. 
  4. Do you see signs of genuine remorse? Saying “I’m sorry,” is not enough. The action must reflect the words.
  5. Do you notice real change in your partner’s behavior? There may be lapses, but you should notice an effort being made to salvage the relationship.
  6. How strong is your partner’s commitment to the relationship? They may change briefly to appease you, only to revert to their old habits. 
  7. Is your partner’s bad habit a pattern or a one-time mistake? Anyone can mess up. That may reasonably call for a second chance. If it defines a pattern of behavior, however, how many changes are you willing to give? How many chances have you already provided?
  8. It takes two people to make a relationship work. Are both of you willing to compromise to keep each other happy? 
  9. Are you able to trust your partner? Trust is the foundation of any relationship, and once lost, it is most difficult to regain. Despite your partner’s efforts, will you be able to trust him or her again? If not, that means that the crack in your foundation is real and might be permanent.
  10. Was the relationship satisfying before it fell off the rails? If so, you may want to give your partner every chance to get back to that point. If the answer is not, then you need to ask yourself what you are holding onto.


Whether your partner deserves a second chance depends on a lot of factors. You don’t want to toss away a relationship that offers you many benefits. On the other hand, if you and your partner are not aligned on the major issues, you have every right to ask yourself why you are remaining with him or her.

There may come a time when you need to distance yourself from the relationship and your partner. That can mean ending a marriage or relationship in which you have invested years of effort. That time cannot be replaced, but you can salvage the future and start fresh. You have nothing to gain by remaining in a relationship that does not offer you what you seek and need. There comes a time when you need to accept that your partner simply will not change.

The legal process can get difficult, which is why we always recommend that you seek the assistance of counsel; or at least have a consultation. Schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys today to review the issues of your case, the legal options you may have, and certain rights that pertain to your unique situation.

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