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Opinion

The benefit of the doubt

Up to what extent can we give someone the benefit of the doubt? Where do we draw the line in order to ease the pain, anger, and heartbreak?

A couple of years ago, a man told me he loved me. Although I was sure that the word “love” meant almost nothing to him, I made the conscious decision to believe him. Despite having been an even younger woman back then, I had always been the type to look forward to what comes next, to see relationships in the most direct perspective, which led me to make the choice of loving him. He went on to whisper these three words to me for the next month, unbeknown to me that these words held nothing but emptiness.

Exactly 30 days after I decided to love him back, he made the decision to turn the relationship into a game. It was a game that I thought I would never win. At that point, I felt no more than played with while pain built up in me. Darkness clouded every decision and followed every single move I made. I had become a madwoman at 18 years old.

And it was all because of that one conscious decision—giving him the benefit of the doubt.

With this, I ask once again: up to what extent can we give someone the benefit of the doubt? Where do we draw the line in order to ease the pain, anger, and heartbreak?

We feel happiness, pain, sadness, anger, ecstasy, and heartbreak, all the while calling it human nature. In my case, I felt all of these emotions in the span of a month because I chose to believe someone, despite my conscience telling me that he was dishonest.

I knew I was not supposed to be broken at only 18. At such a young age, I was playing a game where I convinced myself that I received the short end of the stick. I still made the choice to stay and love him, despite knowing that he would hurt me. I believed his empty “I love yous” while I screamed at myself internally, bitterness reaching the very depths of my own heart.

And a miracle happened—or so I thought. He left me for a friend, and although I felt immense heartbreak, I also felt relief. He was finally gone, and I could finally breathe.

Then he came back, knowing well that he was involved with another, once again attempting to whisper sweet nothings into my ear. This is where I drew the line. It was a game, and I needed to win. So I did the best thing I could do: walk away.

Suddenly, everything was better. It was as if someone had personally picked away at the darkness that followed me like a thundercloud. I was no longer dark and twisty. I was finally bright and shiny again.

We have the capacity to make our own conscious decisions, and this includes giving people the benefit of the doubt. For some, giving others such a chance may work out in favor of both parties. However, if you can feel your own conscience screaming at you to not believe them, listen to it. If you can feel the incoming pain and heartbreak in your own gut, walk away from the table. If you feel even the slightest of disbelief, don’t choose to believe. Instead, ask questions, be sure of the choice you are making, and know when to draw the line. We know our own thresholds and just how much we can take until we give up.

It took me a while to realize that I had surpassed my own limits. I played the game for far too long, only realizing in the end that the winning move was something as simple as walking away. Yet, the only thing that matters is the fact that I now know where to draw the line, where I know I should listen to myself when enough has become enough.

How about you, dear reader? Do you know where to draw the line?

Think about it. Feel it. Know it.

By Lauren Sason

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