Why do some men find it so hard to forgive? 23



View Profile

There’s no doubt that forgiving someone can be difficult, but some people find it harder than others – especially older men. Why is this the case?

According to a new study by the University of Missouri, forgiveness can backfire for some men. In fact, it suggests these men can actually be more depressed than men who are less forgiving.

Researchers say this might come down to our cultural views about forgiveness and masculinity.

“Forgiveness may be viewed as a more traditionally feminine behaviour to some men and therefore forgiving may not align with a more traditional masculine gender role,” the study’s co-author said.


Commenting on the findings, Kira Newman of the Greater Good Science Centre, at Berkley University, theorised that forgiveness might make some men feel vulnerable and weak.

“For some, perhaps forgiveness is spurred by the recognition of their own past mistakes, which are never pleasant to contemplate, or perhaps they feel a sense of injustice because they are so generously forgiving while others are not,” she said.

“Whatever the explanation, the fact that forgiveness can backfire for some men might help explain why men are less forgiving in general.”

The study examined more than 1000 US adults over 67 years old, asking about their mental health, forgiveness habits and feelings of being unforgiven by others.

The report suggests that a forgiveness program for men might include contemplating examples of powerful, forgiving men, or reflecting on how forgiveness is actually a form of strength.

But they concluded the process of forgiveness isn’t fully understood and more studies are required.

Does a man in your life have trouble forgiving people?  Do you have any theories of your own about the reason?

Starts at 60 Writers

The Starts at 60 writers team seek out interesting topics and write them especially for you.

  1. oh dear, I am having problems with a neighbor, he moved in 3 or 4 years ago and got a live in girlfriend and now has one child 18 months old and the other 6 months old. They fight constantly and normally it is done outside at about 2 am !! The Police are regularly called.. not by me. He is not hitting her but from what I can tell, he seems to hold a grudge for small things she has done in the day , he does not seem to be forgiving at all. They have been yelling and screaming again this morning..it gets on my nerves.

    5 REPLY
    • How awful for you, that would be really impossible for your well being. I hope somehow that changes for you very soon.

    • My sympathies Libbi. We had similar neighbours a few years ago. It started the night they moved in. It made me sick to my stomach, and I always wanted to tell the woman that she didn’t have to live like that, but I was afraid to because he regularly had punch ups in the street. They only stayed about 6 months, but I often wonder how she and the baby got on. I’ll always feel some shame about not intervening.

  2. It’s not only men, I find it very hard to forgive something that has been devastating to me in life. These days I’ve learnt to accept that’s how I am and just put those things behind me. My life these days is with those I love and that love me back, with life nearly over I’m lucky to be able to enjoy what time is left.

    4 REPLY
  3. No, I’m the one who finds it hard to forgive once things have upset me to a serious degree. Husband forgives and then tries to bring people back into our lives I have no wish to be around. When people care for you so little that they can hurt you badly enough to invoke that kind of pain, I do not want their company anyway. There are enough good people in most people’s lives to love and cherish.

    2 REPLY
  4. Forgive but dont forget if you have been hurt or badly treated by somebody that is supposed to love and cherish you …

  5. Mine is very tolerant, he never brings up past deeds, he puts it in the past and gets on with it. Mild mannered, easy to lean on if needs be, I can’t really argue with him. Not at all moody, just as well cos he’s got me lol, one of my family was the opposite to this and a difficult person, so I’ve tried really hard to let stuff go. Not easy but I really hate animosity. It makes me feel ill.

  6. I feel for anyone who has an incapacity to forgive. The article says 1,000 but then fails to say how many women, how many men, what percentage of each, so the whole thing becomes meaningless, anyway, other than as an uncorroborated generalisation.

  7. guess this article was written by a woman.

    in my experience, women hold onto bad memories for decades – something about protecting their young – while men tend to forget bad time and remember the good times.

    so this article is a little opposite most experience – men cannot forgive ? – usually it’s the female who holds onto the bad memories.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *