How would you feel if your girlfriend apologized to you for treating you poorly and being in a bad mood?
I know this sounds like it should be a simple answer, but I really do want to approach it in a nuanced way. If you’ll bear with me, I want to propose three hypothetical scenarios. Each scenario will start with the same basic premise: Girlfriend apologizes to me after treating me poorly, and specifically apologizes for being in a bad mood. For the sake of brevity (hypothetical girlfriend is a bit much to have to type multiple times) and to draw Shakespearean parallels let’s call this hypothetical girlfriend Helena. I’ll still be Demetrius, because my name is awesome.
Let’s start with a really simple scenario:
Demetrius plans a date, and up until Helena arrived, they had not had a single argument in recent memory. When Helena arrives for the date, she’s in a bad mood because she’s had a bad day at work. Demetrius is accommodating to her, despite her repeated poor treatment of him which includes being curt with him, snapping at him when he asks simple questions, and cutting him off when he speaks. When they arrive back it his place, she apologizes for treating him poorly, and for being in a bad mood.
How would I feel after her apology? Honestly, pretty good. Everyone gets in a bad mood now and then and sometimes they take it out on the people who are closer to them. It isn’t excusable, but it’s understandable. I can think of very few people who have never been in a situation where they did nothing wrong, their partner was rude to them, to only then have their partner apologize and put it behind them. As well-intentioned as people are, sometimes you just have a bad day where everything bothers you. In this sort of scenario, I’d be happy that she recognized her behavior for what it was and apologized. Owning up to being in the wrong can go a long way in a relationship.
Here’s another scenario:
The same scenario plays out as it did above, but here are some key differences. First, this isn’t the first time they’ve had a fight like this, for the very same reason. They don’t fight on a daily basis, but they probably fight about once a month about this sort of thing. Second, Helena does not apologize for her behavior until a few days later, upon being told by Demetrius that she treated him poorly. At this point, she apologizes for her behavior, and for being in a bad mood.
How would I feel after her apology? I would appreciate the apology for what it was, but I’d also be a little annoyed that it took so long. Personally, I put a big focus on not only owning up to your mistakes, but also in having the clarity to notice your mistakes without prompting in a relationship. If it takes me having to say that what she did was wrong for her to realize that what she did was wrong, that’s an issue. Especially if it’s an issue that happens fairly frequently, because by this point, she should know what her behavior looks like in practice, and why it’s an issue. If the issue had happened once, it’s okay to not recognize your own behavior. Each time after that, not being able to recognize the issue for what it is would indicate to me a certain lack of emotional intelligence and maturity. So while I’d appreciate the apology, I wouldn’t be as thrilled about it as I would in the first scenario.
Okay, final scenario:
The same scenario plays out as it did in the last scenario, with a major difference. Helena eventually apologizes, but tries to deflect blame. She’s sorry that she treated Demetrius poorly, but also believes that it really isn’t her fault, because she was having a bad day.
How would I feel after her apology? Like maybe I need a new hypothetical girlfriend, honestly. What’s the point of an apology if it’s insincere, or your partner wont take accountability for their actions? The words in an apology are cool and all, but they’re just words. If someone apologizes out of obligation, or wont own what they did in any way, the apology holds no weight to me. It’s basically like saying “Sorry that you were offended”, which is a garbage apology, and the worst kind of loophole. I will begrudgingly accept apologies for behaviors that tend to repeat themselves to a certain extent, but not owning up to what you’ve done is something I wont tolerate in a relationship.
So, there you have it. Keep in mind though, this is just how I’ll react, many people will react differently in those situations. Some people take every apology at face value, some people judge them based on the context and content, and some people never truly take an apology. Personally, I would recommend taking apologies and reacting to them based on what is said, and the context of what is said.
If you’re dating someone who constantly has to apologize for having bad moods, or getting way too drunk, or yelling at you for no reason, there might be a bigger issue there.
Good Luck Out There.