Originally published by The Big Smoke https://www.thebigsmoke.com.au/2017/10/11/sorry-hardest-word-probably-best-not-say-it/
People in relationships make mistakes. So, should you apologise to your ex, or is it better to never say sorry?
Relationship breakdowns can leave emotional and mental scars. The aftermath of a breakup can leave residue in the form of broken promises, betrayed trust and often, a diminished sense of self-worth.
With such effects being evident after a breakup and lingering for months to years, is it ever a good idea to apologise to your ex for your actions and your role in the relationship breakdown?
Before you begin constructing your apology and attempt to remedy the past, you really should carefully examine your motives. Is your apology to simply alleviate your own guilt? Is it a ploy to win your ex back or to highlight how much you have grown as a person? If so, you should reconsider your apology altogether.
Even if your apology is surrounded with the best of intentions, you may do more harm than good. Exploring the past may open up old and painful wounds. There is a chance that the hurt you caused is greater than the guilt you feel. Just because you are mentally and emotionally able to process the past does not mean that your ex is in a place where they want to, or are able to.
If you feel you must apologise, be realistic about your expectations. In fact, have none. Your ex might react badly or completely ignore your attempts to connect. Perhaps your apology will be met with open ears. If so, still don’t expect to be forgiven.
However, there are times when taking responsibility for your actions and acknowledging the impact they had on others can create an opportunity for healing and closure. When you apologise well, you let the other person know, “I see you are hurting. I know I caused it and I am sorry.”
By letting that person see that you are sorry, your apology may come as a form of absolution. For your ex to see that you have learnt and grown from what you experienced together may in itself, bring a certain amount of peace.
If you feel you must apologise, be realistic about your expectations. In fact, have none. You may find that your ex has completely moved on and couldn’t give a hoot about you or your apology making it completely redundant. Your ex also might react badly or completely ignore your attempts to connect. Perhaps your apology will be met with open ears. If so, still don’t expect to be forgiven. Forgiving someone who has hurt and wronged you is a long and often difficult road to travel. Forgiveness is a personal journey, one that can take many years to conquer.
A guilty conscience is often the price we pay for the wrongs we inflict on others. Sometimes, the best way to heal wounds is to leave them alone. It may be wise to embark on a journey of self-forgiveness and leave your ex in the past, where they belong.