3 Steps to Forgiveness

You can learn to forgive your betrayer and it will set you free

Loren A Olson MD
Published in
11 min readNov 9, 2020


Tearful young woman being consoled by guilty appearing young man.

I should be an expert on betrayal. I’ve been both the betrayed and the betrayer.

We have no control over how others hurt us. The ones we love — parents, lovers, and children — inflict the worst suffering.

A betrayal of trust by someone you love inflicts excruciating pain on us. It disrupts our inner world, and it bleeds into our outer world as well. It’s difficult to concentrate on anything other than our pain.

We do have control over how we hurt others. Unfortunately, we don’t always exercise that control. But we do have the power to apologize to those we hurt and to forgive those who have hurt us. Moving beyond the pain of betrayal comes from knowing how to apologize and how to forgive.

After I had an affair with a man and came out to my wife, Lynn, I set off an emotional tsunami for her. She hoped to calm the storm by remaining married. But I knew — and she later recognized — love isn’t loving if it’s forced.

We agreed to end a marriage that could not have worked for either of us. But I had been thinking about my future long before she was forced to consider hers.

Throughout the early years following our divorce, we principally fought about money. It was also our most frequent disagreement when we were married. But conflicts about money were a surrogate for perceived differences in power and control.

You may be thinking, You son-of-a-bitch! Why should she forgive you? You inflicted terrible pain upon her. She didn’t do anything wrong. It’s understandable why you might feel that way.

Harmony is only restored with an effective apology and the granting of forgiveness.

A failure to forgive doesn’t hurt the offender. It can, however, interfere with the happiness, health, and future relationships of the one who was betrayed.

A sincere apology usually precedes forgiveness. Some apologies are more effective than others. If you’re the one who betrayed someone’s trust, you can learn how to make an effective apology. If you were the one hurt, forgiveness is a skill that…



Loren A Olson MD

Gay father; Psychiatrist; Award-winning author FINALLY OUT. Chapter excerpt here: Top writer on Medium. Not medical advice.