Is it possible to forgive the past and a person, but not still like them?

HomeForumsEmotional MasteryIs it possible to forgive the past and a person, but not still like them?

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    I am asking because I am trying to forgive my father for the abandonment I felt for the first 16 years of my life and the disappointments I have experienced between and during our reconciliations. I have not been perfect in our relationship either, and I am working on owning my contribution to our dysfunctional relationship, but what I am coming to find out though is … I want to forgive him (to release us both), but I don’t like him.

    I have given this much thought, questioned myself extensively, and it always comes down to … I love him as a human being, but I don’t like him as a person.

    We have had contact for the last 7 years and this is what I have experienced. I will say this, he has helped me (watched my daughter for 3 years so my husband and I could go bowling, helped me fix up my house and pack up the moving truck) and been nice in some ways. I believe he cares about me, but … he is, for me, turning out to be the person I don’t want to become. He is not in touch with his feelings and doesn’t like talking about them, especially when it deals with me and my brother; he doesn’t take an initiative to be in people’s lives – he will respond to most requests, but they are on his timetable = 7 days, but if I don’t call him back in 2, he’s mad – a double standard; he gossips; he spends more time with people he doesn’t like (which he has told me), than ones he says he does (my brother, me and my daughter); he is not consistent in his word or keeping promises; responds in anger and assumptions, instead of asking questions of why something was said or done; he requests my brother and I to call our step-mom, which we do, but she has yet to call one of us of her own volition (or under his pressure/request); he makes fun of people and calls them names; he holds my brother’s past and choices against him, but complains that people keep treating him like an a**hole or the bad guy; he will help my half-sister out – feeds her, doesn’t charge her rent so she pay her bills (and go drinking or traveling for over 7 years), but when my brother was without water and electric, because he lost his job, my brother was told to sell his stuff and deal with it; complains about money all the time, I borrowed him money once and he kept telling me he couldn’t pay me for 6 months, because of “bills”, then found out later, he bought a computer and pool.

    My desire is to be at peace and let the past be the past, and accept that I feel the way that I do about the man who gave me life is ok. I know I can’t change him, and I accept that; I can only change myself, and have been coming to the conclusion, that he is my teacher in this life, and I am learning a lot of lessons about myself and life.

    I will be honest, I am open to him being in my life right now is because of my daughter. She likes him, he likes her, and I am willing to try for her.


    Hi Jenn-ay,
    I think it can be disappointing not the parent you feel that you needed to have. I admire you for your willingness to forgive, to know that you cannot change him, how you acknowledge what good he has done.

    I wonder if that is enough to love him as a human being and not like him as a person. If you let go of expectations on what he should be, know who he is as a flawed person, and let go of the past then isn’t that enough to have some sort of relationship so he can be in your daughter’s life?

    Letting go of past disappointments, betrayals, and hurts can be tough and not an overnight process. I believe if you continue to focus on the current good things day-by-day then the past will let itself go.

    Best of luck,


    How beautiful word “forgive” you said! You’ve just taken the first step to have happy life.

    I have Posted a Zen story, in the end the Zen master said

    The extreme kind or evil people is always very few. The most people like these villagers is ordinary, they have both small kindness and evil, if you give them an good opportunity, they will be kindness , conversely, they will be bad, so you should forgive the evil and lead the kindness.

    That’s why I said you have taken the correct step, because you’ve gave him a good opportunity, no matter whether you like him or not, he will be good in the future, you just need to have a peaceful heart to wait for.

    Good luck!

    • This reply was modified 10 years, 1 month ago by ZenSpeaking.
    • This reply was modified 10 years, 1 month ago by ZenSpeaking.

    Thank you Mark and Zenspeaking for your kind words.

    I have been giving your words some serious thought. I am willing and in the process of forgiving my father, I have been for a while now. And it has been a difficult journey, letting go of the expectation, disappointment and accepting him and the choices he has made and continues to make in regards to our relationship. To keep trying to be open to him, and be met with his own expectations too.

    I think maybe I have come to a point on my journey with him, where emotionally I need to let him go. It has been hard to accept that I have never really had a chance with him, when I have meditated, this is what my soul has said to me, so I am accepting that. I have apologized to him for all of the things I have done that hurt him. I have tried to be open, communicative and I am tired. He doesn’t fill my soul. And maybe that is what this boils down to, this is as good as it gets. What we resist persists. And I am exhausted fighting my reality, he is there, he tries, he cares to the extent he will allow himself to for me, he is a hurt individual himself, and doesn’t see me fully, which is his loss.

    I think I can love him as a human being, which really is that I don’t wish him harm, I wish him well on his journey, and I really do just want him to be happy.

    Maybe, I can say, at this point, he is not a positive force in my life. And I know for sure, I want more people in my life who are and need to focus on that. I want deep, fulfilling connections with people.

    The door will always be open for him, he can come in and stay, or come and go as he sees fit. I won’t force him. I think I just need to stop forcing myself to wait patiently for someone, who may never change.


    Life is an every changing and growing process isn’t it? I admire you for your willingness to forgive your father and being open. I would think that is very hard to do.

    Good for you for looking to those people who are a positive force.


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