You are more likely to ‘forgive and forget’ when you have been hurt by a lover rather than by a friend, says a new study.

The study by Clinical Psychology Doctoral candidate, Jodie Burchell of Australian National University (ANU) is the first who asked people how hurt they have felt when wronged by a romantic partner, a close friend and an acquaintance.

Burchell’s study is investigating whether the closeness of the relationship with the perpetrator of the hurtful event predicts how hurt a person reports feeling.

“The study found that no matter the event - whether it caused low or high hurt - people felt most hurt by those they were in close relationships with,” said Burchell.

“However, over time, people felt less hurt from events occurring in a highly intimate relationship, such as with a romantic partner, than they did in a moderately close relationship, such as with a close friend.” Added Burchell.

“That suggests that highly intimate relationships can both facilitate the greatest feelings of hurt, and best encourage their healing,” adds Burchell.

The results are drawn from two questionnaires. In the first, participants read stories representing either low or high hurt situations across a range of relationships.

In the second, participants recalled the most hurtful thing that their current romantic partner, close friend or acquaintance had done to them, says an ANU release.

“The results taken together suggest that people that are closer to the victim of the hurtful event are more able to inflict hurt upon them, regardless of the type of hurtful act they commit,” said Burchell.

“However, people may be more willing to forgive their current romantic partners for hurtful acts, if they choose to stay with them. This is in contrast to close friends, where many people reported being unable to regain trust and quality of relationship after very hurtful acts.” Burchell added.

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