Is “I’m sorry” a good thing or a bad one?

by Dating Goddess on February 1, 2012

I strongly believe if you know you’ve done something to cause another inconvenience or pain, you should acknowledge that with an apology.

What if there are too many apologies from someone you’re going out with? Or too few?

When I was married, I noticed my ex nearly never (I’d say never but there were probably a few in the 20 years) said “I’m sorry.” Yet he was continually inconveniencing me (he was awfully self-focused). His common response when I pointed out he did something that affected me negatively was “Oops.” When he frequently forgot to do something he’d promised, he’d say, “Oops. You know I have a bad memory.” Thus acknowledging he’d screwed up, but taking no responsibility for how his screw up caused me extra work or angst.

Only deep into our second decade did I realize his “Oops” didn’t equate to an apology.

The other end of the spectrum is equally troubling. If a man is constantly apologizing, he’s behaving in ways that have a negative impact on you, yet doesn’t think of this until after he’s done it. In other words, he doesn’t think through his actions and their affect on you or others. He thinks he can do whatever strikes him in the moment and get off the hook later by apologizing.

Neither spawns a healthy relationship. If he is constantly apologizing to you, he is not thinking clearly about the consequences of his actions on others. Or if he is disappointing only you and no one else seems to mind, then you aren’t on the same page about values and commitments.

If he doesn’t think the negative affect of his behavior on you deserves an apology, then he is insensitive, immature and self-absorbed.

So while one would think an apology is a good thing, too much of a “good” thing can be bad if the core behavior causing the frequent apologies doesn’t change.

What’s your experience with too few or too many apologies in a relationship?
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