Carolyn Hax

Carolyn Hax: Apologies for long-ago wrongs: good or bad idea?

 

Dear Carolyn: A friend and I were discussing the merits (or lack thereof) of apologizing to someone for long-ago wrongs — namely significant others.

I argue it’s a bad idea. If I got an apology from a certain jerky ex, I’d think it was pretty arrogant of him to think I’m still thinking about him and he only wants his conscience absolved.

My friend argues that some might be happy or feel more closure, and that it’s good to hear it and it might not always be a wound that reopens.

Forgive vs. Not Forgive

Sure, apologies can be selfish —- all about conscience-clearing — but they don’t have to be. They can also be about attempting to right a wrong, or to assure you that you weren’t 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.

To me the biggest risk of an apology for long-ago wrongdoing is redundancy. A lot of people don’t need apologies for things they got over years ago.

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 weren’t wrong or stupid or unworthy of love, so there’s no sure way to get it right. You can only take your best guess at which, in the eyes of the other person, would be seen as the kindest thing.

Email Carolyn at tellme@washpost.com, follow her on Facebook at facebook.com/carolyn.hax or chat with her online at noon Eastern time each Friday at washingtonpost.com.

Read more Lifestyle stories from the Miami Herald

  •  
Diver Frank Notte gets ready to go over the side of the St. Nicholas VII and demonstrate old-fashioned sponge harvesting on the Anclote River in Tarpon Springs.

    Tarpon Springs

    Dive into Greek culture on the Florida coast? Opa!

    First we saw a few bubbles. Then so many that the water seemed to boil. Next appeared a bulbous brass helmet, big as a beach ball, trailing a long rubber hose. A human hand clasped the side of the wooden boat. A minute later, the diver had climbed back aboard the St. Nicholas VII. Clad in traditional early-20th-century diving getup, he appeared to have stepped directly from a Jules Verne novel.

  •  
The work 'IMAG_NE' by Australian artist Emma Anna, coming to Boca Raton this fall, on display in Sydney, Australia in 2008.

    Florida notes

    It’s the season to see Key Deer

    Dear to the hearts of many are the miniature deer that exist only in the Florida Keys. Fully grown, these Key Deer stand only two to three feet high, but resemble their bigger siblings in every respect: Stags grow a full set of antlers, does charm with their limpid eyes.

  • Carolyn Hax

    Carolyn Hax: Siblings not pitching in when mother needs them

    Dear Carolyn: I am the youngest of five siblings. We lost my dad almost a year ago. My parents were married for 60 years, and my mom is lost without my dad.

Miami Herald

Join the
Discussion

The Miami Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

The Miami Herald uses Facebook's commenting system. You need to log in with a Facebook account in order to comment. If you have questions about commenting with your Facebook account, click here.

Have a news tip? You can send it anonymously. Click here to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald.

Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK

  • Marketplace

Today's Circulars

  • Quick Job Search

Enter Keyword(s) Enter City Select a State Select a Category