My friend Adrian and I have a rule: we don’t apologise. It helps that we’re actually pretty unlikely to do anything serious enough to warrant an apology but some people feel compelled to apologise profusely over trivial things. Our rule was born out of an incident where we were supposed to arrange to catch up but both of us were overtaken by events and got too busy to follow it up.
Lo and behold, a month passed without us getting in contact. When we finally did catch up we did start out with a little awkward conversation:
“Wow, we suck at following through, don’t we?”
“Yeah, we’re bastards.”
Then we put it behind it and said fuck it, let’s not waste time apologising. In case you’re thinking that’s me being a heartless bastard again, those were actually Adrian’s words. It’s actually remarkably therapeutic – knowing you don’t have to dwell on things and can focus on what’s ahead rather than what’s past.
Like I said, I think the success of this approach is predicated on a level of trust that nothing too horrible is going to happen and I don’t think it’s applicable to all situations. For instance, I wouldn’t try this approach with a lover – the boundaries are different and there’s a different level of intimacy so when you screw up an apology is often called for.
But I really get pissed off at people who apologise all the time. Particularly when it’s done as a reflex and they’re actually not all that sorry about it or at least they don’t plan to expend much energy making sure it doesn’t happen again. They start pouring out their overdone apology as a reflex and they expect me to say “that’s all right” as a reflex. And you know what? Often it really isn’t all right. What I really want to say is:
“That happened because you’re a fuckwit. If you spent less time apologising and more time working on not being a fuckwit, then you’d have less to apologise for.”
I like to be helpful like that.