Actually, You Don’t Have To Give Second Chances To People Who Don’t Deserve Them

I am done with excuses.

Don't give second chances to people who don't deserve them. Respect, communication, relationships.
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I think it’s fair to say a lot of us were brought up to believe giving someone a second chance is more than okay. People make mistakes; we learn, we grow, we hurt people without realizing it.

I don’t believe all second chances are created equal, though. Here’s my caveat: I give second chances to friends, co-workers, my kids — hell, the latter gets ten chances.

But there is one group that I’m done being lenient with, as experience has taught me over and over again. And that is straight men. Specifically, men I am involved with, or thinking of becoming involved with romantically. And I say this because I’ve been burned every single time.

After my divorce, I was open-minded when I started dating. I’d blame inconsistent behavior on being nervous, or a rough childhood, or maybe they had a lot on their plate (just like I did as a single mom), so I was pretty lenient when it came to their actions not matching their words, their flakiness, and even when they told me they “thought” they deleted their dating profile after we agreed to be exclusive.

After eight years, I’ve learned from my experience. Don’t bullshit me. Grown men know exactly what they are saying and doing. Whether they’re lying to you or not putting in the effort, they know the risks involved. Don’t fool yourself with their games.

There have been a few times when a man has let me down, like the time I’d just started dating someone and he never called when he said he would. I’m not saying he called later because something came up — that’s understandable. He just thought it was okay not to call at all. When I brought it to his attention, he thought I was being overly sensitive. It was only a phone call, so what was the big deal? I told him that actions not matching words was a huge deal to me, and if we were going to be exclusive, I needed to trust him to do what he said he was going to do.

He told me he’d do better, but — long story short — he absolutely did not. I gave him a second chance, got more attached in the process, and his broken promises became grander, so I ended the relationship.

Then there was the time I was really vibing with a man who traveled a lot for work. He told me he wanted more than just a fling when he came home, and I believed him at first. Then, as time went on and he started traveling again for work, I heard from him a lot less. I told him that I needed more communication if he wanted to date me. He told me that he’d put in more effort, but he didn’t, so I broke it off. Fast forward a few months, he got in contact with me again, apologized all over the place and asked for a second chance, swearing things would be different.

I was cautious, but I really liked this man and thought maybe the time apart made him realize he wanted to be with me enough to show it more. Nope.

Yes, it’s exciting and validating when you hear from an ex or a man you really liked who did you wrong. We want to believe them when they say that things are different now and they’ve changed. Maybe some of them truly can, and giving a man a second chance has worked for some, I’m sure. Not for me, though.

I think all the way back to my high school years and the boyfriend who cheated on me, begged me for forgiveness, and then cheated again. The man I dated in college who snuck off with his ex-girlfriend one night while we were at a party, who told me he’d never do that again and then did.

What I realized is my best relationships (even though they ended for other reasons) have been with men who didn’t do anything to warrant a second chance. They were consistent from the start. They did what they said. They didn’t cheat or give me reasons to doubt them.

I want to be in a relationship with a man who doesn’t take me for granted and certainly not one who pushes me away, then tells me he’ll do things right a second time. Do things right the first time because you don’t want to risk losing me. Why is that so hard?

Diana Park is a writer who finds solitude in a good book, the ocean, and eating fast food with her kids.