“Love means never having to say you’re sorry.”
That catchphrase from the movie Love Story may have worked for Oliver Barrett IV and Jennifer Cavallleri, but in real life, it probably led to more breakups than makeups.
The sappy sentiment’s implication that if you love someone, you will never do anything to hurt them — and would never have to say “I’m sorry,” — was ideal for the tragic romance-novel-turned-Hollywood movie.
But real life doesn’t fit into the neat little boxes Hollywood movies place it in.
Love does not mean never having to say “I’m sorry.” In fact, the deeper we love, the greater our capacity to do something that will hurt someone we love.
And while “I’m sorry” is a first step toward healing the hearts we break, the words alone are not enough.
Repeating “I’m sorry,” “I’m sorry,” “I’m sorry” like a worn mantra loses its meaning.
It’s selfish. It’s an insincere request for forgiveness so we can move on from the uncomfortable situation in which we find ourselves.
It’s a lazy way to assuage whatever guilt we may or may not be feeling.
A sincere apology answers the question:
What are you sorry about?
We must also recognize that forgiveness is not about something we did or something someone did to us. It’s about how it made both of us feel.
The heart of the matter is that in any situation where sorry seems to be the hardest word, we need to forgive and be forgiven in equal parts.
Both of us played a part in creating the situation that led to so much hurt.
Those are just a few things to consider whenever we head into the post-apology chapters of our own stories.
Healing begins with “I’m sorry,” but a happy ending depends on what we say and do after that.