Maybe you know a frequent apologizer, or maybe you’ve been surprised, but at some point in your life, you’ve probably had someone tell you, “Hey, I’m sorry!” and your immediate response was, “What on earth are you apologizing for?”
If you’re like me, and you completely lack a brain-to-mouth filter, your reaction probably came tumbling out of your mouth before you could stop it, and then you were suddenly confronted with the rather awkward situation of someone apologizing for apologizing. If you’re slightly more reserved (read: sensible), you might have smiled and nodded, and dismissed the apology altogether.
Whatever your immediate reaction, it’s important that you accept whatever apology comes your way. As I said in my last article: “Receiving an Apology” the last thing that you want to do in a relationship is create a climate where apologizing is looked down on. I’m not necessarily saying that you should make an ordeal out of someone saying, “sorry I’m late,” because that’s about as silly as the person apologizing for being late to begin with; rather, I’m addressing situations where someone is legitimately apologizing for a mistake, but the mistake that was made wasn’t big enough that you felt an apology was necessary.
My Dom likes to read the articles that I write for Submissive Guide before I submit them. It’s not a hard-and-fast rule, per say, but because she doesn’t visit the site, she relies on me to share what I’m writing, and that reliance has grown to be a sort of unstated expectation on both our parts. I don’t always submit things directly after my Dom reads them, however. More often than not, I end up sitting on articles for a few days before giving it a final review and submitting. Sometimes, it’s longer than days, and the delay between her reading an article, and my publication date can occasionally be weeks or months apart. So the other day, when I mentioned that I had an article coming up for publication on Submissive Guide, and it had been more than several weeks since my Dom had read any articles from me, I got a rather surprised, “You’re kind of supposed to send me these things, missus. “
Naturally, I panicked and rushed to see which article was actually being posted. Did I forget to show her the article? Did I not get an okay from her to post the article? It took about three minutes for me to confirm that my Dom had seen the article, but it was one of the articles I’d sat on for a long while before actually putting it up . So I explained, of course, and my Dom apologized.
Now, I know I wasn’t going to have been in any real trouble. There was no rule that said that she HAD to read the articles that I posted, and she wouldn’t have been overly upset if I’d made a mistake and posted an article she hadn’t read, so her apology, while very sweet, wasn’t something that I had been particularly expecting, nor something I felt was necessary. In situations like this, it’s really easy to brush off an apology: “You don’t need to apologize.” “Oh, don’t worry about it.” “Don’t be silly, you don’t need to apologize.” But the fact is that my Dom is one of those people who has mastered not over-apologizing, so when she does, I know she’s backtracking and I know she means it.
To be dismissive in a situation like that, when the person apologizing feels that there’s a reason for him or her to apologize, a flippant statement or a dismissal of their apology is as problematic in the long-run as not accepting someone’s apology after they’ve been rude to you. By not accepting their apology, and by not showing that you appreciate they’ve gone out of their way to acknowledge they might have hurt your feelings, you’re showing them that you really don’t care whether or not they apologize. Do that too many times, and you’ve created a relationship where one person takes for granted that you don’t care whether they consider your feelings.
So how do you accept an apology that didn’t need to be said?
Pretty much about the same way that you accept an apology that you felt was needed. In this instance, I did let my Dom know that I hadn’t been expecting an apology, but I also let her know that I appreciated that she went out of her way to apologize as a way to check on my feelings.
The Art of Apology: Concluded
Apologizing and accepting apologies takes practice of two different kinds. One requires humility and one requires grace—both of which are excellent qualities to attempt to grow into, not just as a sub, but as a well-rounded and eloquent individual. For some people, striking the balance between a well worded apology and over-apologizing is a natural talent. For others, it takes conscious effort and practice. Either way, we should strive to achieve a certain level of competency and understanding both in the giving and receiving of apologies.
Still struggling with the technical aspects of apologizing? Post your questions.
Until next time,
photo by Artethgray (CC BY 2.0)