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| By Wellvyl Media Editorial

To apologize or not to apologize, that is the question. And it usually veers its head in relationships with those who are closest to us. Us humans, we’re relational.  We were built to live in community with one another and develop connections and bonds.  Yet there still seems to be confusion around when we should be apologizing in relationships.

With social media has come the expansion of friends and networks to a globalized level.  While this is amazing for the human connection it also is proving to be a bit detrimental towards how we interact in the real day to day. Nowadays we can literally filter our experiences through swipes of a finger and tune out someone who rubbed us the wrong way by an unfollow. So when we find ourselves in a relationship that is a bit deeper than “Netflix and chill” (you know, one where you have to think about actually apologizing for shit.) It seems that this is becoming more and more complicated. Especially considering the influx of instant gratification, and the recent culturally acceptable act of ghosting people. (This one still baffles me, just end a relationship properly people, PLEASE!)  

All relationships have a honeymoon phase.  You know, that stint in time where the other person can do NO WRONG. You find yourself swooning over their every move, suddenly you're extensively primping yourself, and at every get together your telling your friends about the budding connection.  But let's be real, we all know that doesn’t last forever. In the words of The infamous MTV Real World  ‘What happens when people stop being polite and start acting real?’ I would also add how do you reconcile relationships during these forging phases, specifically when it gets tough.  When should we apologize and when should we not?

Sorry, I ain't sorry

By this point, if you follow my articles you’re pretty aware that I have a love for Beyonce.  Seated in my chakra of strength she gives me thought and strength. Her song ‘Sorry' (Hell, her whole Lemonade album) brought the question of when to apologize and not in a relationship to light.  We get it. Relationships are complicated. So when do we ask for forgiveness and when do we stick to our guns while showing empathy and love towards our counter? To help support this journey for us, let’s look at some reasons to apologize and some reasons to not apologize.  We will also share some tips on how to be an authentic apologizer. Enjoy!

When Not to Apologize

Do we always have to say I'm sorry?  Check out some examples of when you might want to suspend the sorry.

When You Express Yourself!

We love the people who we choose to let into our lives but at times we don’t see eye to eye.  This is OK, hell it's healthy, but at times power dynamics can ensue. I think of the famous Marianne Williamson quote, paraphrased; ‘who are you to act small and downplay yourself in order to appease others’?  Your partner loves you for a reason.  Shine your quirkiness and speak your truth, with empathy and compassion and that brings authenticity and honor into the relationship.   Just also bring empathy to your partner and their day.  

For Trivial Mistakes

Sometimes we get caught up in wanting to make something perfect, especially for the ones we love most- but here’s the thing.  Chances are if you have made yourself vulnerable and open you have also shown your not so charming side in your relationship. Sometimes this can leave us over apologizing for the small trivial things.  (Like OMG my mac and cheese does NOT look like that of your Aunts, or I tried to surprise you and had a huge Pinterest fail) People in close relationships with you are (or should be) your biggest fans. Mistakes are OK- they love that about you.  Stop apologizing, smile with the next ‘oops’ or ask your loved one to hug you through the embarrassment.


For taking “you” time

Alone time is healthy and necessary.  Friendship time is important and necessary.  Space away from your significant other is important and necessary. Sometimes when we get caught up in the newness of relationships we completely forget to take time for our first relationship- the one with ourselves.  This may mean designating times for you to go on dates alone (my favorite is taking myself to a movie), take a long, bath, or find space to stay true to you in your relationship.


When to Apologize

Equally, there are just times when we f-'ed up.   Check out the times you might want to consider throwing on the charm and mustering up an authentic apology.

When you’re just a jerk

We’re all human and the truth is sometimes we just have shitty days that put us in shitty moods.  The deeper truth to this is the people that usually feel the brunt of this are the people that we are closest to. We have a bad meeting, or maybe even a bad commute home. (Can someone say L train during rush hour?!)  and all of a sudden we are snapping at our partner from the moment we walk in the door. If you’re like me. You notice this bad mood and almost become paralyzed in it then next thing you know SOMEONE is sleeping on the couch with the silent treatment.  A simple sorry paired with an explanation of where the mood came from or “I love you but I need 10 minutes alone to decompress my day” does wonders. It also might help give an empathy boost for any residual “snappiness” that might appear. (You could also just take a nap.)


For not making time for a person

I get it.  We’re all busy.  Everyone seems to have a hustle, dream, and steady job that pays the rent.  This city can be hella exhausting. Sometimes we find ourselves giving to so many others as we journey to make it that we forget to pour into the important people in our lives.  Taking steps to intentionally make time for relationships is critical. Calendar it and follow through.

When you hurt someone but didn’t intend to

We’re all different people with different levels of “playing”. (IE some are more sensitive than others and what one might think is a “joke” or “funny” might not translate resulting in hurt feelings. I know this first hand.  My zodiac sign is cancer (aka extremely sensitive).  If something has landed in the wrong way simply apologize.


HOW to apologize

Knowing when you need to apologize and how you should apologize are not the same things. Sometimes people really don’t know how to apologize. We can feel sensitive and defensive to things, especially when we feel bad because we didn’t realize that we have hurt the ones we love most  Here are some quick tips to help you along as you apologize in light of creating stronger relationships.

Have patience

When you are apologizing seek to hear the other person with patience.  It is very tempting to put up defenses when someone is explaining your “wrongdoings” to them.  Hear out their perspective and let them finish their thoughts- chances are you will learn more about them as well as about how to ensure this happens less frequently.

Acknowledge and accept responsibility

Own it!  If you hurt someone even unintentionally you need to accept the responsibility of how it landed.  This isn’t a “they’re right, you’re wrong” thing. It’s giving foundation to an understanding of the interaction that happened. No matter that it didn’t land how you intended.

Be Sincere

There should be no agenda other than to help heal your relationship.  This is no time for “he said, she said, they said”. Leave your ego at the door, the relationship is more important.

Finally, remember absence makes the heart grow fonder.  Call up your friends an plan a night out without bae!  What do you do to apologize in relationships and when do you intentionally not? Let us know!