Relationship experts and marital counselors agree that humility is always an essential ingredient in a successful relationship. When we’ve hurt our partners, it’s only right to apologize for our mistakes.
However, sometimes in our efforts to keep the peace, we might just be saying “sorry” too much. Even for the things that should be non-issues.
Here are ten things you should never apologize for if you’re in a relationship.
1) Your feelings
Have you ever caught yourself saying any of these (or something similar)?
- “I’m sorry, I just feel like I’m not being heard.”
- “Sorry for being so sensitive, but what you said about my mom hurt me.”
- “I apologize if I seem upset, it’s just that I had a tough day at work.”
- “I’m sorry, but I feel really uncomfortable when you talk about my weight.”
- “I don’t mean to be a downer and sorry if I seem needy, but I really wish you’d stay with me tonight.”
I’ve been there. I would often have an apologetic tone when expressing myself because I didn’t want to cause major drama. So, I would tend to minimize my own thoughts and feelings.
Over the years, though, I’ve realized this…why am I saying sorry for what I feel? It’s not like I set out to feel that way.
I can’t help but feel the way I do; I’m a human being, after all. If an event or a person upsets me, so be it. I’ll deal with it as maturely as I can, but as for my feelings, of course, I will naturally feel upset.
Remember this: your feelings are valid – no further need to justify them. And you definitely shouldn’t have to feel guilty about it!
2) Your personal space
What about your personal space? Your me-time? Should you apologize for that?
I love my husband, don’t get me wrong, but there are times when I just need to be alone. Add to that the fact that I’m an introvert, so if I go for too long without my alone time, I get really drained and cranky.
But whether you’re an introvert or not, you’re entitled to however much personal space you feel you need. It’s important to maintain your sense of individuality no matter how in love you are with your partner.
So, if you’d rather zone out on the couch or immerse yourself in a good book instead of going out on a date, your partner should be able to respect that.
3) Your dreams and ambitions
The same goes for your dreams and ambitions. No one has the right to make you feel bad about having big dreams. So be careful about apologizing for those.
If you want to start a business, no matter how quirky your idea is, go forth and fire it up!
If you want to run a marathon, even if it sounds laughable to other people, who cares? You’re the one running, not them.
Your dreams and ambitions are a part of you, and you shouldn’t have to apologize for wanting to reach for the stars.
And on that note, your partner should be your cheerleader, not someone who belittles or discourages you.
4) Your success
So, you’ve gone after your dream job or goal and made it! What next?
Do you feel the need to downplay your success?
It may sound strange, but that actually happens more often than you think. Many of us have a tendency to downplay our successes, to not make others feel uncomfortable.
I was no exception. I used to feel bad about celebrating my achievements, so I wouldn’t hurt my ex-boyfriend’s feelings. I didn’t want him to feel like I was one-upping him.
But not anymore. Thankfully, I married a man who’s just as ecstatic about my successes as he is about his.
The truth is, your success is something you’ve worked hard for and you should be proud of it.
And here’s another thing to think about: If your partner is threatened or uncomfortable by your success, it’s more about their insecurities than your achievement. It’s a “them” problem, not yours.
If that’s the case with you, you might want to rethink if you truly want a partner who makes you feel like you have to shrink yourself to accommodate them. This leads me to my next point…
5) Your standards
If you’re like me, you probably have a set of reasonable standards for any relationship. That might include a partner who’s trustworthy, supportive, respectful, and many other qualities.
Naturally, we go into a relationship with all of these expectations that we ourselves are also prepared to give.
The problem is, when the other person falls short of these expectations, it can be tempting to start lowering your standards just to keep the relationship.
Or when you make your expectations known, you might insert an apology in there:
“Sorry if I’m being too demanding, but I really need open communication in our relationship. I don’t like it when you brush off my concerns or keep things from me.”
Look, you have those standards for a reason – they are a reflection of your self-worth and beliefs. So, apologizing for them is tantamount to apologizing for the high esteem you hold for yourself.
6) Your personal beliefs
As I mentioned earlier, your standards come from your self-belief. A good partner shouldn’t make you feel like you need to apologize for that.
And it’s not just limited to self-belief. Your other personal beliefs and life choices should also be met with respect.
Whether it’s religious, political, or even just about your favorite TV show, these are things that are important to you. You shouldn’t have to apologize for them.
Case in point: I’m a firm believer in holistic and alternative medicine. My husband, on the other hand, trusts conventional medicine more.
But I’ve never felt the need to apologize for my preferred treatment modes (or any other preferences, for that matter) because we respect each other’s beliefs.
Your partner may not always agree with you, and that’s fine. What’s not fine is making you feel guilty or wrong for having those beliefs. A healthy relationship is about mutual respect, even when you see things differently.
7) Saying “no”
Another area you should never apologize for is your boundaries. Especially not for saying “no.”
For example, if your partner wants to go hiking on a weekend where you’d planned to kick back and binge-watch your favorite show, you shouldn’t have to apologize for that.
A loving partner will respect your boundaries and understand when you need to say “no”.
If they repeatedly don’t, then, as much as I hate to say it, that should be a sign that maybe they’re not the partner for you.
8) Your appearance
Ah, this one’s quite fertile ground for “apologies that shouldn’t be”, especially for women.
Hairstyles. Weight. Fashion sense. Heck, even skin color! These are some examples of things we might apologize for to our partners.
Look, however you look like, whether you’re trying out purple hair or dressing in bold colors, that’s your choice. It’s an expression of your personal style and preferences.
If your partner can’t get on board with it, resist the urge to say, “Sorry if you don’t like my new haircut/dress/shape, etc…”
I’ll state it plainly – your body, your rules.
You’ll know you’re in a healthy relationship if you don’t feel compelled to apologize for that. You’re secure that your partner loves you for who you are, not what you look like.
9) Your past
Relationship baggage is one of the top things people apologize for when entering a new relationship.
“I’m sorry I’ve had a lot of partners before I met you. I hope it doesn’t change the way you see me.”
I totally get it. Our history can sometimes be so checkered and colorful that we still feel embarrassed about it.
News flash – it doesn’t matter.
There’s nothing you can do about it, and like it or not, it has helped shape who you are today.
You’re not the person you used to be in those relationships. You’re not even the same person you were yesterday!
The only thing you should be concerned about is what kind of person you’ll be in your current relationship.
10) Your family and friends
Just like your past has shaped you, so have your family and friends. They’re just as much a part of you as your partner’s circle is of him.
My husband and I grew up in completely different atmospheres. His family is quiet and reserved, while mine is the laugh-out-loud, boisterous type.
So, he was kind of taken aback when he met them, as he wasn’t used to all the noise. I had that same reaction when I met his, as I wasn’t used to such calmness and quiet conversations.
But we didn’t have to apologize for our families because we knew how important they were to both of us.
11) Standing up for yourself
Finally, never apologize for standing up for yourself. Whether it’s a small disagreement or a more serious conflict, your voice matters.
So, stop prefacing your opinions with “Sorry, but I…” Your thoughts and concerns deserve just as much space as your partner’s, especially when you’ve been wronged.
This goes back to maintaining your standards. Demanding respect and fair treatment is never something to apologize for.
At the end of the day, a strong, healthy relationship is a space where both partners should feel comfortable being their true selves.
Hopefully, this article will lead you to examine the way you express yourself in your relationship. If you’re over-apologizing, especially for those things that are central to who you are, then it might be worth looking at why.
And if you aren’t, then that’s great! That means you’re with a partner who makes you feel secure enough to be unapologetically yourself.