Love=No Apology Necessary?

As some of you may recall, I went on a bit of a rampage a couple months back about Jerry Maguire’s “You complete me.” This led me to another annoying quote from a 1970 movie, LOVE STORY. In it, Ali MacGraw’s character tells Ryan O’Neal’s character, “Love means never having to say you’re sorry.”


Ugh. Double ugh.

How awful to never expect an apology from someone who has hurt you. And even more infuriating is the message it sends to us as well. If we behave badly, but we really do love the person, we shouldn’t have to utter the words. They aren’t necessary. What a cop-out. So apologies are completely unnecessary in a loving relationship? Why is it okay to lash out at someone you love because they should just KNOW you don’t mean it? That’s ridiculous.

I’ve noticed that children view apologizing as one of the worst forms of punishment, and this makes me wonder why. As a society, do we view apologizing as a weakness? An act of losing dignity or giving in? Do we think of it as giving someone power over us? Why is it supposed to be strong to be stubborn to a point where love no longer has a chance?

A healthy relationship should have a fair share of apologies. The give-and-take of apologies shows the other person that you care enough about the relationship to admit a wrongdoing or even a brief loss of temper. We have to meet people halfway with more than just empty words as well. For some people, mouthing the words “I’m sorry” is all that’s required, without any future changes in behavior. That’s even worse.

Children should learn to ask forgiveness in a manner that doesn’t feel like a punishment or a sign of weakness. As adults, it’s our job to teach them how to do that by example. I’ve apologized many times to my children, and I’ve never felt like I’ve somehow lost my footing as a mom. I think my kids respect me more for admitting when I’m wrong and saying so. It’s easy to pass the buck. To heap our failures at someone else’s door. To load blame onto someone else’s shoulders.

Asking for forgiveness has the potential to show vulnerability, and that very vulnerability leads to deeper understanding. We realize that when writing a scene in a book. We want our characters to go through hell and come out happy on the other side, but they should also be able to apologize with grace and without groveling.

John Wayne once said, “Never apologize, mister, it’s a sign of weakness.” I disagree. I think it shows strength of character to apologize. It’s never okay to hurt someone’s feelings and then shrug it off. If we read a book where a character did this, we wouldn’t have an ounce of respect for him/her.

In the 1972 comedy WHAT’S UP, DOC?, Barbra Streisand’s character says to Ryan O-Neal’s (star from LOVE STORY), “Love means never having to say you’re sorry.” He replies: “That’s the dumbest thing I ever heard.”

On that, I do agree. ☺

Can you think of a movie or book where one character apologizes to another, and it’s a pivotal scene? It doesn’t have to be a romance, but the apology has to be important.

I’ll leave you with a great quote by Ebehi Iyoha: “Sorry is hardest to say when it matters most.”

GH 2014 photo

24 thoughts on “Love=No Apology Necessary?

  1. I totally agree, Kimberly! You tell ’em! I like the scene in 10 Things I Hate About You when Heath Ledger sings “Can’t Take My Eyes off of You.” That gets me every time. He’s been an ass, and he apologizes in a grand (and funny) manner.

    1. I really, REALLY need to see this movie. I love the grand scenes. Groveling in style. 🙂 Thanks for stopping by, Lenora!

  2. I agree too. I don’t understand why this has become a sign of weakness. Everyone is not perfect all of the time. The awareness that you were wrong or that you hurt someone and the willingness to try to help heal–that is the strength. I can’t think of any movie apologies, but I just wish people would be better about apologizing.

    1. Thanks, Piper! I agree 100%. I think it does show strength when you can apologize.

  3. Let me tell you how I feel about people who can’t find the cojones to apologize – LAMESAUCE CITY! I agree with that being the lamest thing ever! 😉 Admitting to being wrong is one of the most confident things you can do, in my opinion anyway.

    Funny post!

    1. Is it your mission in life to get the word “SAUCE” into everything? Lol. I agree though. It truly is LAMESAUCE CITY.

  4. I always took that asinine line to mean that true love was so transformative that a person in love couldn’t be an asshat. If they were, they weren’t really in love. Just stupid.

    Best movie apology for being an asshat? And – btw – he was an asshat BECAUSE he was in love…

    Rick: We’ll always have Paris. We didn’t have, we, we lost it until you came to Casablanca. We got it back last night.

    Best in a book? Darcy. The things he does to show how sorry he is….sigh.

  5. My favorite apology scene in a movie, hands down, is the karaoke phone message “groveling” in When Harry Met Sally. I would have forgiven him instantly! And in real life? Yeah. No apologies ever= very short marriages. Great post!

    1. That’s definitely a great groveling scene. 🙂 And yes. Short marriages can probably be dropped on the doorstep of Never Could Apologize.

  6. A big yes on everything you said, Kim. I was trying to think of one of my favorite apologies, then I read Amy’s answer, and I’m going with that one. 🙂

    1. Thanks so much for stopping by, Sandra. I like Amy’s answer as well. I was drawing a complete blank last night trying to think of examples. Thought I’d throw it out to other people for some. 🙂

    1. I wanted to see that movie, but somehow it never happened. I’ll have to put that one on my list. After a million people have recommended SAY ANYTHING, I finally bought it today. So, I am trying to catch up. 🙂

    1. I miss you, too, Golden Heart winner. 😉 As soon as this never-ending road trip is over, I’ll be better with keeping in touch. Thanks for stopping by! Good luck with school. Hope they are all pure angels for you.

    1. Does that mean you like that or you don’t like that? Lol. Thanks, Tammy! Miss you already!

  7. I read Love Story when I was twelve and was all, “Spare me.” (Can you tell I was child of the 80’s?) I thought that was silliest thing I’d ever read. And I didn’t understand it. If no one is perfect, why shouldn’t they apologize when they screw up, you know?

    1. Mary, Child of the 80s, thanks for stopping by. You’re right. It is the silliest thing. Nobody is perfect, and we all should take our turn apologizing. 🙂

  8. I am dating myself here, but I saw Love Story when it came out. I was a freshman in college. All around me, people were weeping over the ending and the line, “Love means never having to say you’re sorry.” I thought then, and still do, that it was a stupid line – and I am probably the only person on the planet who walked out of the theater dry-eyed. Genuine apology is truly a sign of character. I absolutely LOVE your quote by Ebehi Iyoha: Sorry is hardest to say when it matters the most. Thank you for bringing those words into my life!

    1. Leslie, I’m embarrassed to admit I never saw the movie. I knew the line long before I was old enough to see the movie, and that line always made me cringe. I couldn’t imagine watching the movie because of that. Although I’m kinda curious…lol.
      I love that quote by Ebehi Iyoha as well.

  9. I know you’re not a fan of Jerry Maguire, but I love the scene where he comes back to win his love and uses the “you complete me” line. Not because of the line, but because of Dorothy’s (Renée Zellweger) saying “You had me at ‘hello’.”

    Love means you know the person is sorry even if the apology isn’t eloquent.

    I’ve been catching up on Suits and a line from one of the resent episodes stuck with me. Rachel has been apologizing forever to Mike for kissing an ex boyfriend. Mike’s having a hard time accepting her apology and finally she says: “I need you to decide if you love me more than you hate what I did.”

    I think that’s the key to deciding whether you will forgive a person. Do you love them more than you hate what they did?

    1. Asa, I have no problem with the forgiving part. And that’s a great line about loving them more than you hate what they did. Too true. My problem with the line is that there’s not a reason to say the words if you love a person. That makes no sense. Period. 🙂

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