I have been an apology expert over the course my life. I could express regret for everything under the sun – in and out of my love life. These apologies did not just happen in the moments where I screwed up and needed to say I was sorry; they happened simply because I felt that I wasn’t fitting into the expectations others had of me or maybe I was inconveniencing someone else. I said a lot of things like:
“I’m sorry for bugging you…”
“I’m sorry I have to take care of my job today instead of helping you…”
“I’m sorry for crying…”
“I’m sorry for saying something you disagree with…”
“I’m sorry for not meeting your expectations…”
This was an exhausting way to live. I so quickly internalized those apologies into negative self-talk and overbearing expectations on myself to please everyone around me.
Many women have this apology addiction. While a heartfelt apology can go a long way when you’ve intentionally or unintentionally done something wrong, you should never say sorry for who you are as a person, especially when it comes to your love life.
In fact, doing so is self-sabotoge of the most covert type.
When we apologize for our personalities or for the core of who we are, we are suggesting to ourselves and the other person that something about us is wrong or broken. There is an element of regret to an apology. We should not regret being who we truly are.
You are not a mistake to be apologetic about.
If we enter into a relationship from a place of brokenness and regret instead of a place of worthiness, we will find a recipe for disaster. And when we discuss our love life with other people around us, we don’t need to be anything but ourselves – without apology!
Of course, all good things can be taken to an extreme and become a bad thing. I’m not advocating being a terrible or selfish person. I’m simply saying that you do not need to apologize for who you are in your love life.
Here are a few specific things I had a tendency to apologize for in my own love life. Maybe you struggle with these too. Let’s cut the apology addiction together!
1. Being Single
Before we get into things not to apologize for in your love life, we should discuss if you currently lack a love life.
People have this deep desire to see other people in love. They also tend to like to be in everyone else’s business. This combo leads many friends, family, and co-workers to bug you about why you’re single and try to fix you up.
You do not owe an excuse, explanation, and most certainly never apology for being single. Actually, the people who should apologize are the ones who cannot keep their noses where they belong.
There is nothing wrong with you if you are not currently linked with another person. In fact, it’s oftentimes a moment of fantastic growth and self-awareness. Don’t say sorry for that!
2. Being Sensitive
“Stop being so sensitive” is one of the most common phrases women hear, and to be fair, men hear it a lot too, pressuring them to lose their emotions in the name of “masculinity.”
People act as though sensitivity is the sign of a weak person. While it is important to grow our emotional strength to whether any storm, the fact that we are emotional is a byproduct of simply being a person. If you are a person, you have emotions.
Some people are more sensitive than others; they feel things deeply and show their emotions more easily. If this is you, remember there is so much beauty in showing that sensitivity in your love life. I am one of these deep feelers too.
This doesn’t mean we should have emotional spewing at all times in all circumstances. There is wisdom involved in when to share. But being in tune with how you feel in your love life is actually an amazing gift, one that needs no apology.
3. Having Boundaries
Boundaries are our friends, especially in romantic relationships. Yet, they so often make other people cringe. Undoubtedly, there will be somebody who comes across your boundary who tries to push back. They will often be upset that they cannot receive from you whatever they’re hoping to receive.
This may never be more true than in our relationships. While this can happen a lot in brand new relationships, it can still happen in 30+ year marriages too.
Whether its sexual boundaries, emotional boundaries, family boundaries, or time boundaries – these are important for you as an individual. When they are not respected, your response should not be apologetic; your response should be a reminder that the boundary exists for a reason.
Remember boundaries aren’t walls. Walls keep you isolated, but boundaries keep you healthy. You shouldn’t feel the need to apologize for taking care of yourself.
4. Being Sexual
There is still a common idea in our culture that men are sex obsessed and women sacrifice to meet their needs. So when a woman is in touch with her sexuality, she is often faced with extremely negative comments and stereotypes.
Your sexual identity is a part of you. You are hard-wired to be a sexual being. In the same way that you wouldn’t/shouldn’t apologize for getting thirsty, communicating, or sleeping – you should not apologize for your sexuality. It is an intrinsic and beautiful part of yourself.
This includes not apologizing for your sexual orientation as well!
There is nothing wrong with being a woman who pursues and enjoys sex. Own it. Speak it. Don’t apologize for it.
5. Having Goals
Many women, even older women, feel some societal pressure to make themselves seem a little less ambitious around men. Even in movies the female ambitious boss character is typically portrayed as a bitch (think Meryl Streep in Devil Wears Prada). We don’t want to be the bitch in our love lives, so we might hide our real goals.
It’s taking time for culture to catch up to the simple truth that being a a driven woman with passions is not something to shrink in order to have a love life. You can be fierce and feminine, goal-driven and flirtatious, ambitious and loving. None of these traits need to be at war.
Author and Ted Talk extraordinaire, Chimamanda Adichie says it best:
“Of course I am not worried about intimidating men. The type of man who will be intimidated by me is exactly the type of man I have no interest in.”
If you have goals for your life, your business, your travels, your spirituality, etc. – don’t hide them in order to grasp at or “strengthen” a love life. That is all part of what makes you terrific, and living a half life in an effort to please a man is no way to live.
6. Having Needs
There’s a big caveat to this type of neediness!
I’m not talking about calling your romantic partner twenty-six times until they answer the phone or expecting your partner to do and be everything for you. Those are examples of unhealthy needy behaviors. But human beings do have needs. If you have a legitimate need and you ask it of your partner, you should not be ashamed about it.
This has been my #1 struggle in my apology addiction. I so terribly did not want to come across as a stereotypical “needy woman” that I would avoid communicating any need at all. When I finally had to share a need, I would apologize profusely for it.
With time, I have learned that part of a relationship is taking care of each other. If I cannot express our needs safely, our relationship cannot grow. If I don’t allow my partner the opportunity to meet my needs, I cut short his ability to give to me and the relationship.
7. Requiring Alone Time
You may be head over heels for your significant other, but even the most in-love people need alone time. We need space to process our thoughts, enjoy our own activities, and be okay with our own company. It’s important.
I’ve been on the receiving end of this desire for alone time, and I was not quick to respect my dear boyfriend’s need for personal time and space. My guy showers me in quality time and genuine attention, yet I would at times take his occasional request for alone time as an insult.
After much discussion, I realized that I need and crave alone time too. This has no reflection upon my love of spending time with my boyfriend. In the same way, his desire for alone time is not a reflection upon me. I’m glad that he did not apologize for expressing this to me. He didn’t need to.
Every person needs time to recharge their batteries, and it’s true that distance does make the heart grow fonder. When you need some quality “me time,” express it kindly without feeling the need to apologize for it.
8. Being Human
I remember being in high school and learning that some of my friends would rather hold it in than use the bathroom when they were at their boyfriend’s homes. They would laugh about how they’d literally run to the bathroom in desperation once they got back to their own houses.
For the first time, the idea that I should be ashamed for my basic humanity entered my consciousness. At the time, this became something else I felt apologetic about too.
My hope is that as adults, we have grown beyond this need to hide these areas of our humanity. Whether it be bathroom visits or health problems, we should not be ashamed nor apologetic for being people. Any decent partner will understand that you are a normal person with everyday normal issues.
This doesn’t mean you have to be loud and proud about every little aspect of your body’s functions and health. But if you’re feeling off because you’re on your period, you don’t have to apologize.
9. Having Opinions
They say never to talk about religion or politics at the dinner table, but eventually, your opinions on these matters will (and should!) come up. If you feel strongly about a certain topic, by all means, speak up!
Women have for so long been told to stay quiet, be pleasing, and act amiable. While tact and respect are always qualities we should hold on to, we should still be confident enough to state our opinions to our romantic partners.
Whether it’s talking with a new partner about your views or discussing your love life with anyone around you, you don’t have to preface sharing your opinion with, “I’m sorry, but my view is…”
State it clearly, stay respectful, and show kindness when others disagree, but never apologize.
Of course, these are only a few examples of things you should not have to apologize for in your love life. A good rule of thumb is to ask yourself if you have actually made a mistake. If the answer is “yes,” by all means, apologize! If the answer is “no,” skip the apology!