azurelunatic: A baji-naji symbol.  (baji-naji)
Azure Jane Lunatic (Azz) 🌺 ([personal profile] azurelunatic) wrote2017-05-20 04:10 pm

The language of apology

For reasons that don't need exploring at this juncture, I started contemplating the components that make up an effective apology to me. There are the "five apology languages", which are siblings of the "five love languages", or something. That's interesting, but it isn't quite what I'm looking for.

What am I looking for?

a) Acknowledgment of the effect, and regret. (Regret is one of the apology languages.) Something happened and I was hurt; in an intimate and trustworthy relationship, I want them to know how I was hurt, and why it was hurtful. (Late to an event, hurt feelings, stubbed toe, irritated, etc.) Since they need to care for my well-being, I feel that it's appropriate that they regret my well-being was affected.
(In an untrustworthy relationship, giving them more information on how they have hurt me just gives them ammunition to hurt me further. If you find in your life that there are people where you don't want to let them know that you are hurt or how, contemplate your options for reducing those people's access to you.)

b) Root-cause analysis. What are the factors that led to this happening? Some are the responsibility of the person. (Accepting responsibility is one of the apology languages.) Sometimes there are factors that are nobody's responsibility, or are the responsibility of entities who are in no position to have things changed as a result of the incident. (A terrible day at the DMV is not likely to be solved by anyone saying "Hey, this was terrible.")

c) Making restitution, if appropriate. (Making restitution is one of the apology languages.) A date can often be rescheduled. Doing something nice and out of the ordinary is a mood-lifter. Fixing or replacing the broken thing. Sometimes there isn't really anything that can be done to make it better, and that probably should be acknowledged.

d) Failure prevention. (In the listed apology languages, "genuinely repenting" seems to fit this the closest.) With root-cause analysis and knowledge of the effects, we can use those to plan to avoid circumstances where this comes up again, and make a plan for mitigating the effects if it does come up again.


In my present primary relationship, my partner always genuinely regrets the hurt. They don't always understand why it was hurtful, so that portion often involves a lot of discussion. (And I can contribute to things going better by being more flexible in when and how that discussion happens.) The root cause often involves things that have grown out of traumatic experiences and situations in our past, which is ... fun. Restitution hasn't been a huge factor.

Root cause analysis and failure prevention tend to slide together, even though I have them listed as separate steps. It's at the failure prevention step where, like magic, I start calming down and feeling incredibly secure and loved. Since some of the factors involve trauma, the failure prevention often involves the slow process of healing (with and without the assistance of professionals), and my understanding and forgiveness of those things.

We're learning how to fight well and safely, and I love them so much.

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