Adapted from a recent online discussion.
Carolyn: Im hoping you can help. A friend and I were discussing the merits (or lack thereof) of apologizing to someone for long-ago wrongs namely significant others.
I argue its a bad idea. If I got an apology from a certain jerky ex, Id think it was pretty arrogant of him to think Im still thinking about him and he only wants his conscience absolved both of which arent about me. You shouldnt do that to someone else and your guilt IS your punishment to carry.
My friend argues that some might be happy or feel more closure, and that its good to hear it and it might not always be a wound that reopens.
I dont know. It depends on the person, but if my ex did that, Id probably respond with, Yeah you just miss the cooking, sex and a date to parties. If you appreciated ME you wouldnt have left. My friend says shed be thrilled if her crappy ex did that. Thoughts?
FORGIVE VS. NOT FORGIVE
It depends, meaning, how bitter you still feel?
I can see thinking (without actually saying), Yeah you just miss the cooking, sex and a date to parties, etc. if he tried to reconcile or proposed being friends, wink-wink. But just apologizing?
Sure, apologies can be selfish all about conscience-clearing but they dont have to be. They can also be about attempting to right a wrong, or to assure you that you werent undesirable or at fault or a rube for caring.
Sometimes the passage of time brings maturity to an ex, and even an unwelcome apology can be made and received graciously.
The assurance-type apology can be extraordinarily liberating for people.
For those considering making such an apology, all I can advise is to weigh the potential costs and benefits. Many people do urgently want to be left alone, just as some want to hear they werent wrong or unworthy of love, so theres no sure way to get it right. You can take your best guess at which, in the eyes of the other person, would be seen as the kindest thing.
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