After breaking the collective hearts of most women by getting engaged to Behati Prinsloo, Adam Levine is attempting to make things right with the women he’s actually dated by apologizing for how he treated them. Adam’s long list of supermodel exes have had mixed reactions to this; Anne V wished him all the best, other exes reportedly ‘couldn’t care less he wants to make it right.’ Is Adam doing the right thing by apologizing for his past misdeeds, or is he just selfishly trying to ease his guilty conscience before he gets married?
Conventional wisdom tells you that if you do something wrong, you apologize to the person you hurt, but I’m not sure this always applies in the case of romantic relationships. Rare (I hope) is the person who goes into a relationship hoping to hurt the other person, but human emotions are funny and fickle things, and it’s difficult to exit a relationship without some collateral damage. That said, there are some basic guidelines that generally shouldn’t be violated – don’t cheat, don’t end a year long relationship via text, don’t be mean. If you’ve done something you were sorry for, apologizing to someone after a reasonable amount of time can be a great thing; it helps you grow as a person and put the past behind you, and it lets the person you hurt know that you’re aware you did wrong and that you feel badly about it, and maybe helps both of you get closure.
On the other hand, if you don’t apologize until months or years later, or not until you’ve gotten engaged to someone else, trying to make amends can be more like ripping open an old wound and then pouring salt into it. At some point, we all move on from our exes, no matter how badly they hurt us. To hear from someone months or years after we finally stopped thinking about them can just bring up emotions we’d rather leave in the past, and even more so if hearing from them means finding out “Hey, really sorry I was a jerk, also I’m getting married!” It presumes we still care enough to want the apology, and makes it clear that someone else has made this person want to be better. Apologies like these can also be selfish on the part of the apologizer; it’s more about them needing forgiveness so they can feel better, rather than about making amends with the other person.
It’s fine to want to make things right with an ex you may have hurt or mistreated, but before actually acting on it, try and think about how the other person will receive the apology. Some people might appreciate a heartfelt apology even after the fact, others might really just never want to hear from you again. If the latter is the case, you may just need to accept that you feel bad about what you did, and that’s your burden to bear. Even if you think the person will be receptive to an apology, don’t assume you’ll receive unconditional forgiveness. If you do, wonderful, and if you don’t, give yourself credit for trying to do the right thing and then let yourself move on.