Relationship Advice

The Importance of Apologizing

Just when I think I understand men, I get a wake-up call reminding me that men really are from another planet. Recently my boyfriend gave me cause to ponder this age old question Why are some things so obvious to only half of the population at any given time?

Don’t get me wrong. I adore, admire, respect and appreciate the male species, especially my man…except (except in girl talk is a definite substitute for “this time you really messed up and I love you…but) when he does something that seems patently hurtful to me and yet, he’s totally clueless that my feelings have been hurt.

Women Don’t Want Explanations and Excuses

Since I am that kind of girl, I waited until after his important business meeting to tell him how my feelings were hurt. Again I waited, hoping to hear those three magic words. But, he did not pass go, he did not collect $200, he went directly into an explanation that seemed to go on for…maybe ten minutes. I’m sure it wasn’t, but it felt that long because the conversation was no longer about me. It became all about him. I didn’t need a ten minute oration about why he did it, I simply wanted to hear those three little words “I am sorry,” followed by “Shari, I’ll make it up to you.”

Guys: If you only know what saying “I’m sorry” means in girl talk!

Using the Martian Language Translator, “I am sorry and I’ll make it up to you” translates into “I cherish you. I don’t want to do anything that makes you unhappy.” It also says, “I’m sorry I wasn’t sensitive. I’ll make it up to you by being more sensitive in the future.”

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Do you know how powerful the words I am sorry are? They can melt the walls around a woman’s heart. They can put back trust that was lost. They can free a man’s or woman’s mind from guilt. They can tear down a wall and instantly build a bridge. Three little words can do so much good and the absence of them can do so much harm.

When woman trusts a man, he can have just about anything he wants. However, once she feels hurt, distrust suddenly creeps into her sacred trust space, and she backs away, consciously or unconsciously. Either way, she is no longer totally vulnerable, open and receptive to him.

Hurt Leads to Resentment

Then the walls begin to form in the relationship. She feels she can’t trust him. He feels made wrong, and has a gnawing “almost hopeless” feeling that no matter what he does for her he is wrong or will be wrong. Soon the walls becomes the beginning of the end of the relationship. It’s funny how three little words like I am sorry can instantly demolish a wall before it has a chance to become real.

Walls are built through harboring feelings of resentment, guilt, anger, and hurt. But the foundation of the wall is our fears. Fear that you’re not loved, fear that you won’t be loved if you speak up for yourself, fear that because you made a mistake you won’t be loved by your partner anymore. And it is fear that makes us afraid to be vulnerable.

“I’m Sorry” is Just as Important as “I Love You”

Here’s a clue. I am sorry is just as important to say as I love you. And it’s important for both men and women to utter those three little words. For it is that willingness to be vulnerable with the person you care about that creates intimacy. Passion may be the magnet that draws you, but intimacy is the glue that holds the relationship together.

What to Do When You or Your Man Mess Up

As I learned this week from my guy, women tell your man how you feel, but don’t make him wrong. Guys, listen with both your ears and your heart and remember to say those three magic words. Then be sure to keep your word (because as you guys well know, women and elephants never forget). Let her know that you cherish her, that it’s not your intent to hurt her feelings. Remember that a woman feels safe when a man’s words and actions match.

So if you’re a man of many words, make them all count. For you men of few words, you already know that actions speak louder than words…but remember, ooh, those three little words are so nice to hear. And yes, all is well with me and my man. Have a great week.

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Shari Mindlen

Shari Mindlen provides witty, wise, and practical advice for dating, relating, and mating. Learn how to thrive in the dating trenches, get ways to enhance your relationships, and free dating advice. She has been a relationship coach and columnist for 10 years.

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