I am in a close relationship with someone I hurt. I have asked for forgiveness from her but I keep getting ignored. Does it ever get to a point that I can demand forgiveness when I know that the other person is just being stubborn?
I sympathize with your frustration. You are ready to be forgiven and the other is not ready to give it to you. You should realize that forgiveness is not something that you can demand from someone. That person is not obligated in an ethical sense to give forgiveness until she is ready. Some religions ask a person to forgive under certain circumstances (such as happens in some of the rituals at Yom Kippur in the Jewish faith, for example). If the one from whom you are seeking forgiveness is under no religious obligation to forgive, I suggest three things: patience, patience, and patience. A little encouragement from you for her to forgive probably would be a good idea, but done sparingly and gently.
If a person continuously forgives an insensitive partner, does this enable the partner’s bad behavior?
No, forgiving does not enable bad behavior. A lack of justice-seeking can enable that behavior. As a person forgives, it is important to bring justice alongside the forgiveness and ask for fairness. In this way, the partner has the opportunity to examine and change the behavior that is causing the problem.
My partner says that he forgives me, but he seems kind of smug about it. His attitude seems to be “I am better than you.” Is this really an act of forgiving?
In 1978 the psychiatrist R.C.A. Hunter made the important point in a journal article that most of us can tell if an act of forgiving is legitimate or not based on the sincerity of the words and actions. If the other seems to be using forgiving as a way to dominate, to feel superior toward you, then this likely is not genuine forgiveness. You could try having a conversation with him about this and gently state that his actions do not seem to suggest a true sense of forgiving in which you meet person-to-person in a genuine spirit of respect and love.
I have a problem. I am out of an unhealthy relationship. My ex-boyfriend now is in a new relationship with another woman. He seems to want me to forgive him so he can be free of his own guilt because he broke his own moral standard. In other words, he is not asking for forgiveness for my sake, for my well-being, but only for his. So, do I even tell him that I have forgiven when I have gone down that path?
Forgiving is your choice when you are ready. There are many reasons why you might forgive: a) to aid his recovery of his well-being; b) to aid your own recovery; and c) as an end in and of itself, among other reasons. So, you can forgive, for example, because it is good in and of itself. If you decide to forgive also as a way to aid his recovery, even when he is uninterested in your recovery, this would be a very deep sense of forgiving, doing so through pain for his sake. This kind of goal can take time and so please be gentle with yourself as you discern the answer to your goal regarding why you are forgiving. If you are not ready to forgive in particular for his sake, you can start by forgiving so that you are free of resentment and can move forward well in life. The other reason might develop in you later.
I sometimes lose my temper with my partner. Lately when I ask for forgiveness, he is unwilling to grant it. I have been patient, giving him time to forgive, and then I ask again with no effect. This leaves me with both shame and guilt. What do you recommend to me so that I can be freed from the shame and guilt?
Have you been working on your temper so that it does not get in the way of the relationship? Seeking forgiveness and changing behavior go together. If you are changing that behavior and because you have asked for forgiveness and have been patient, I think you can go in peace knowing that you have done your best for now. Give your partner time for him to work through his own forgiving.