Second Chances vs. Dating Backsliding — Which is Which?

Vanessa Torre

It’s actually pretty easy to tell

I always thought I was the queen of second chances. Turns out what I have is a tremendous ability to backslide.

There is a difference between giving someone a second chance and backsliding. I have caused myself a great amount of hurt in confusing one for the other.

Backsliding is the unglorified act of re-engaging with somebody that wasn’t good to you. In fact, they were awful. We do this for a multitude of reasons. We’re bored. We’re lonely. We have over romanticized the good moments and glossed over the bad. We have convinced ourselves that this time it will be different.

We all know the reality of backsliding, though. It’s never different. It’s just the same bullshit at a higher dosage.

In the last year and a half I have performed the backsliding ritual twice, with two different guys. It looks like this: I become enamored with the guy. He treats me in a unacceptable manner. I get angry. He gets angry that I get angry. Gaslighting frequently occurs. We part ways. We come back together. Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

The gaslighting is the critical piece to backsliding. I returned to these two relationships for one reason: I was convinced it was MY fault we parted ways. There was something that I did, said or didn’t do that caused the strife and ended everything. I was the one that needed a second chance and to be forgiven. This is ridiculous.

Contrary to backsliding, second chances are a whole other ball of wax. Second chances are a gift. Second chances should be reserved for people that are good. The ones that make mistakes but honest ones.

I got a very surprising message a couple days ago from a guy I went out with twice. He had brushed me off for date number three and it didn’t sit well with me. I had learned enough about myself to no longer say, “That’s okay.”

I calmly and respectfully let him know that not contacting me to properly cancel a date was not acceptable and I wouldn’t stand for it. We went our separate ways politely.

So when I got a message from him a couple months later asking if I was feeling like a second chance I had to think about that.

To tell you the truth, my initial gut reaction was to say yes. I liked him. But, as a notorious backslider I had to take a second.

Backsliding has left me with is an overwhelming distrust of my own judgment.

I seek to find the best in people and it often comes back to bite me in the ass. It’s easy to see someone’s intentions as we want to see them, not how they are. I’m working exceptionally hard on not doing this. It ain’t easy.

What makes me feel safe in giving this guy another chance is that I set my boundaries a couple months ago. I communicated them clearly. He knows my ability to stand strong in those and he’s on board with it. He knows he’s got a strong woman on his hands and he’s not scared.

Look back at the cycle I noted before. The cycle does not exist here.

There was no anger when I communicated my expectations that were not being met. There was no blame placed on me. There was no gaslighting. He owned that he made a mistake. This guy deserves the benefit of the doubt because he’s never done a damn thing to make me question his intentions.

Second chances feel good to me. When given to the right people, they don’t make me nervous. They don’t leave me guarded. Letting myself give this one and knowing it was for the right reason was a gift I gave myself, not him.

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Flaming pinball, nerd, music lover, wine snob, horrible violin player. No, she won’t stop taking pictures of her drinks. IG: vanessaltorre Twitter: @vanessaltorre

Phoenix, AZ

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