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Why Love Means Saying You're Sorry...

By Charles Hopkins Published 04/23/2006 | Dating
We don't like to say it and we don't always mean it, but despite the oft-quoted promise from the movie, love DOES mean saying you're sorry. Unfortunately the idea seems to have hung around long since the movie was put back on the shelf.

Is it a statement about society in general that we question the need to apologize even in our closest relationships? If saying sorry exposes us to confrontation or scrutiny, shouldn't we be willing to accept that from our loved ones?

If people feel that saying sorry diminishes the respect they receive from others, or brings their judgment (and their intelligence) into question - what kind of people CAN apologize freely? Can we expect it?

Perhaps the answer lies deeper than a person's perception of how they'll be viewed. What are the reasons for apologies?

Dr. Aaron Lazare gives his opinion on the motives for apologies in the article 'Go Ahead, Say Your Sorry' published by Psychology Today. He suggests the two positive reasons we apologize include the desire to restore or salvage a relationship and/or a deep seated empathy in which your apology may relieve or diminish the pain you've caused.

The less admirable reasons for an apology he identifies include the desire to escape punishment or the need to clear a guilty conscience - whether the other party was offended or not.

Clearly the first two reasons for apologizing make great claims towards creating happy, healthy relationships. Whether we are brought up to believe in admitting our guilt or not, taking a humble view of ourselves in order to benefit a relationship or an individual whom we've hurt is crucial in maintaining respect for one another.

While some individuals may not demand apologies from their partners, perhaps because they also believe it should not be required, there is a loss of respect between the couple when an apology is left unsaid. The offended has not had their pain acknowledged by the one they love. The offender now lives with the guilt or may start to believe their partner is not worthy of such acknowledgement.

In either case, the relationship suffers. On the other hand, frequent offenders may be too eager to apologize. Their constant display of humility forces the offended partner to accept behavior that should be questioned or challenged regardless of the appearance of repentance.

Accepting each other, faults and all, is a big part of a loving and enjoyable relationship. Not keeping tally of mistakes or judging weaknesses has its place, but a willingness to apologize for lapses of responsibility or good judgment will strengthen, rather than weaken, the bonds of a healthy relationship. We don't like to say it and we don't always mean it, but despite the oft-quoted promise from the movie, love DOES mean saying you're sorry. Unfortunately the idea seems to have hung around long since the movie was put back on the shelf.

Is it a statement about society in general that we question the need to apologize even in our closest relationships? If saying sorry exposes us to confrontation or scrutiny, shouldn't we be willing to accept that from our loved ones?

If people feel that saying sorry diminishes the respect they receive from others, or brings their judgment (and their intelligence) into question - what kind of people CAN apologize freely? Can we expect it?

Perhaps the answer lies deeper than a person's perception of how they'll be viewed. What are the reasons for apologies?

Dr. Aaron Lazare gives his opinion on the motives for apologies in the article 'Go Ahead, Say Your Sorry' published by Psychology Today. He suggests the two positive reasons we apologize include the desire to restore or salvage a relationship and/or a deep seated empathy in which your apology may relieve or diminish the pain you've caused.

The less admirable reasons for an apology he identifies include the desire to escape punishment or the need to clear a guilty conscience - whether the other party was offended or not.

Clearly the first two reasons for apologizing make great claims towards creating happy, healthy relationships. Whether we are brought up to believe in admitting our guilt or not, taking a humble view of ourselves in order to benefit a relationship or an individual whom we've hurt is crucial in maintaining respect for one another.

While some individuals may not demand apologies from their partners, perhaps because they also believe it should not be required, there is a loss of respect between the couple when an apology is left unsaid. The offended has not had their pain acknowledged by the one they love. The offender now lives with the guilt or may start to believe their partner is not worthy of such acknowledgement.

In either case, the relationship suffers. On the other hand, frequent offenders may be too eager to apologize. Their constant display of humility forces the offended partner to accept behavior that should be questioned or challenged regardless of the appearance of repentance.

Accepting each other, faults and all, is a big part of a loving and enjoyable relationship. Not keeping tally of mistakes or judging weaknesses has its place, but a willingness to apologize for lapses of responsibility or good judgment will strengthen, rather than weaken, the bonds of a healthy relationship.