Relationships can be messy because being human is inherently messy. Relationships are one of the most fertile grounds for personal growth. You can understand the holy concepts of love, but it’s a totally different thing to embody and live that love in action with another.  If we choose to accept the mission, relationships are the best school for embodied love. What comes with learning, though, is making mistakes. No one is perfect, and the art of forgiveness is a very normal part of any relationship, even a conscious one.

Forgiveness is also something that can’t just be conceptually understood. Remember the early days in school when your teacher would make you say you’re sorry and makeup? Standing there waiting until you said those magic words. You’d say them reluctantly without meaning it just so you could get on with your recess. The same sort of phenomena still happens in adulthood.

You say you forgive your partner because you think you “should” because forgiveness is “righteous”, or because it’s been “long” enough. Especially in spiritual communities, you can bypass the hard feelings and go right to forgiveness because you want to stay in the “love and light” vibe. It can be easy to gloss over the feelings, not really mean it, and say it anyways.

The problem with this is that the unaddressed feelings underneath the fake forgiveness will fester, change form, and show up in a not so fun way at some point; resentment, defensiveness, acting out, or a general sense of being guarded around your partner.

Here are my essential 5 steps toward experiencing real forgiveness in your relationship

1. Ask Your Body

As you consider the thing that is asking for forgiveness, notice what happens in your body. Where does it feel tight, contracted, hard, or tense? There’s no wrong here, just notice what shows up and where.

Now that you’re aware of your body and have a conversation with the places of contraction. Ask it what it needs, what it wants to tell you. It might seem weird to have an inner dialogue with your body, but it has wisdom for you. The body holds the emotion, so having this conversation is an entry point to discovering what’s here and what needs to be felt instead of protected or held.

2. Have a Conversation with Your Heart

ForgivenessNow that you’ve dropped into your body, the next step is to have a conversation with your heart. Place a hand on your heart, and breathe here for a minute. Imagine that your heart is actually inhaling and exhaling. Next, ask your heart what it wants to tell you. What does it need regarding the situation you are healing?

So much shifts when your heart knows you are there for it, acknowledging and honoring it. Sometimes emotion or pain can arise here. Know that this is so very normal. Welcome the tears or emotion if they come and be gentle with yourself.

Now that you’ve acknowledged yourself, as ask yourself if you and your heart feel heard, seen, and understood by your partner. Is there a place that could use from empathy or acknowledgment from your partner? Is there something clear and simple your partner could say or do that could help soften your heart?

3. Conversation with Your Partner

ForgivenessGiven your body and heart insights, open up the discussion with your partner. Share with them how your heart is feeling with as much vulnerability as you can muster. Take the time to make heartfelt requests from them. Mention the things that would support you in feeling safe and open.

Share your truth, even if that includes what didn’t feel okay or felt hurtful from the past. You can forgive the person, without having to pretend what happened was okay. There’s a difference between forgiving vs. being complacent.

The key here is to share from a place of being on the same team as your partner, NOT sharing as a method of punishment. Be as transparent as you can. It’s ok to name if you aren’t quite at the place of forgiveness yet, but want to be soon. This lets your partner in instead of blocked out.

This also may be a great time to make agreements together. Given what’s happened and what is present now, are there agreements, even if just temporary, that could support you in moving forward together in a good way? Remember that “on the same team” spirit – you both want connection and closeness!

4. Breathe into Your Heart

Return back to breathing into heart. It can be a lot to dive into forgiveness work, so take a moment to return home. This helps your heart know you aren’t abandoning it, and are honoring your organic timing and process.

Even if you aren’t in a place of full forgiveness, breathing into your heart will keep your heart open. Even the smallest crack opens and helps the process.

5. Compassion

Take a moment to cultivate a little compassion. Think of a time you totally screwed up, when you made a mistake that affected someone else you cared about. Feel this compassion toward your partner as much as feels authentic to you. No need to force, but try it on. See if you can cultivate some empathy for them and tune into where they are now.

Rinse and repeat these steps as much as you need!

Remember that forgiving is a gift that you give yourself. You don’t have to forgive anyone for anything. It is a choice, and it can be chosen simply because it feels better, sets YOU free, and supports a relationship you’d like to continue.

Give yourself permission to feel exactly how you feel, and give yourself what you need. Keep breathing deep and let yourself be surprised by how and when true forgiveness arrives in your heart.

About the Author

Mackenzie Eason

Mackenzie is a love and relationship coach and hostess of the Embodied Empowered Engaged Podcast. She specializes in helping women understand their emotions, find their truth, and cultivate real self-love so they can experience connected, drama-free, and nourishing relationships. She offers online courses and 1-1 coaching to women worldwide. Learn more at