If your actions have caused someone to believe in your continued interest, then you need to take responsibility for that, not blame the other person for trusting you too soon. You can blame the victim all you want, but that’s just an excuse to be a douchebag. – Paula
You can’t force someone to be accountable for their behavior. Either they care or they don’t. Trying to force feed them accountability rarely works. In theory, people “should” take responsibility for being insensitive or self-serving. But most people don’t, whether it be out of arrogance or shame. I think that’s a high expectation to place on someone, unfortunately. I think the people who do practice introspection and self-awareness and can acknowledge their mistakes AND apologize for them are rare. It’s the belief that this is the “typical” way of behaving is why so many people get frustrated in these situations. It’s not typical. It’s sadly atypical. – Moxie
Nobody has to take responsibility for hurting you. Nobody cares. They don’t care enough to wonder about their actions and how they have affected you. You mean nothing to them. – Vox
I don’t agree that “nobody” cares. Plenty of people do know that they’ve hurt someone or been disingenuous, and they feel like shit for it. I don’t agree that everybody is some soulless douchebag. And it does tend to create this idea amongst those who think this way that it’s perfectly okay to be an asshole. Just because someone might believe they’re not responsible for someone else’s feelings doesn’t mean they can take it a step further and INTENTIONALLY DO OR SAY THINGS that they know will end up hurting someone. Usually those people are damaged or broken in their own way, or pissed off at themselves for being duped, and so they’ve decided that they’re going to continue the cycle of abuse so they can relieve their own pain. – Moxie
I don’t think most people set out to lead someone on or mislead them. Sometimes it happens organically: the intention is there but something or someone else comes along and you get distracted or find yourself losing interest. So you keep putting them off and putting them off, telling yourself you’ll make time for them. There’s a question as to whether we know what we’re doing in those situations. Do we know we’re not interested and are deferring because we just hope the other person will tire of trying eventually? Or do we tell ourselves we are actually interested but just crazy busy or somehow otherwise engaged? Can it be both?
There’s the flip side of the coin. There are the people who hang on to something even though the other person has never promised them anything. There were no expressed intentions. They were just…there. Participating when it worked for them. Abandoning things when it didn’t. In those cases, are they to blame when the person who has latched on to them gets hurt? Do they see what the other person is going through due to this “relationship” and feel bad? Or are they not responsible for how someone else interpreted their actions and words and the importance they placed on them?
How responsible are we for someone else’s feelings? And if we know someone gets hurt by our actions, either because we intentionally mislead them or they chose to believe what they wanted, do we owe them anything?
Do we apologize? Or does that just makes things worse?
I’ve been on both sides of this. I’ve been the one making a sincere apology, and I’ve received a sincere apology. And both times not only did I feel this huge weight lifted from my shoulders for admitting that I was wrong, but I literally saw or felt the transformation that apology had on the other person. Here’s the most powerful thing that can result from a sincere apology. Not only does the guilty party get to unburden themselves, but the person they hurt can be relieved of whatever pain or shame that they have been carrying around with them.
I think when someone disappoints or hurts us, it’s not that we want them just to be responsible for their actions, but we want them to understand how their actions affected us. We want them to feel our pain. We want them to create an itemized list of all the ways and instances where they mislead or hurt us. We don’t just want “I’m sorry.” Those two words, to us in those moments, does not and can not encapsulate everything that had transpired. But be careful what you wish for. Once those words come tumbling out, others that leave much open to interpretation can follow. You want so badly to fix things and want the other person to know how sincere you are. Unfortunately that – ensuring you’re perceived in a certain way – becomes the main focus and , well, that basically nulls and voids the actual apology out. So now you’re apologizing for being self-involved…while being self-involved. Apology Fail.
Like I said above…there are a lot of people who walk around feeling not the slightest bit guilty for how they treat others. They have convinced themselves that they are not responsible for someone else’s feelings. And the thing is? They’re not. Nobody can force us to stay hurt and angry. While the initial pain we feel might not be something we can control, it’s a choice to remain in that space in our head. We might never get that apology we crave. We sometimes have to give ourselves that closure. And that’s going to have to be enough.
But there are others who know, or eventually come around to the fact, that they treated someone badly. The apologies that come from those moments of true introspection are the ones that mean the most. Unfortunately, we rarely get them. Or give them. We convince ourselves that enough time has passed and the person is probably over it. Or we just shove that memory back down our gullet because re-living what we did is just too shameful. We like to believe that we’re good people, kind people, with no intention of hurting anyone. Yet, even with these so-called intentions, we do. So what does that say about us?
Now you see why so many people have trouble issuing a genuine apology. To admit you hurt someone is to admit you’re not the person you’d like to think you are.
So here are my questions:
Have you ever done something you knew was hurtful or misleading or in some way “wrong” to someone and issues an apology? Why or why not?
If you knew an apology could alleviate whatever hurt that person was feeling, even if you’re not 100% responsible for it, would you do it?