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Love Means You Always Have to Say You're Sorry

...and no excuses or whining...

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Ever heard of the 1970 film, "Love Story"? It was a tearjerker with two worn cliches at the end – the heroine died and the hero delivered a profound “Truth,” which was:


"Love means never having to say you are sorry."

Well, it’s just not true. Love means you must say you are sorry, and you must say it often.

  • A good apology allows us to take responsibility, show remorse and start again fresh.
  • An apology heals us, our partners and the relationship.
  • A good apology gives us so much power; it’s not “I am a sorry person” but “I am a person who feels sorry about something I did.”

A thriving relationship has lots of apologies. There are the little ones, the “I’m sorry I woke you up this morning when I had to get up early.” There are the big ones, the “I’m sorry I made fun of you in front of my family.” There are past apologies, such as, “I’m sorry that I was irresponsible about money when we first got together.” (Not too sure about a “future” apology concept!)

Learning how to apologize is a skill that gets better with practice. It goes like this:

  • First, the statement--I am sorry I made fun of your new haircut in front of my friends.
  • Next, the empathy--That must have made you feel embarrassed and maybe as if I am not proud to be out with you. I know you're shy in social situations and I wasn't sensitive to that. It was never my intention to hurt you. Take your time on this one!
  • Then, the commitment to do better --I am going to be more sensitive to your feelings, especially when we are out in public. Next time when I feel the urge to be flip or funny at your expense, I will stop myself.
  • And last, the amends---is there something I can do to make this better now?

It might be awkward at first and you'll want to give it your own spin. The wonderful thing about a thorough apology is you really clean up the mess and don't leave any bad feelings behind--any of which can trigger a worse fight/hurt in the future.

And, don’t worry: you will slip up--giving you more opportunities to practice your apologies.

A good apology strips away our hollow defenses and reveals our true, loving, vulnerable, human selves. Do this enough times and it will be like good sex—as pleasurable to give as to receive. Saying you are sorry does not make you a "sorry" person. It makes you stronger.

For a great article on apologies:

For some bad relationship advice or at least a pretty bad movie: