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.”