“Love Story” was arguably the greatest, well, love story of all time. The tagline for the movie, though, was way off.
Anyone who thinks that “love means never having to say you’re sorry” is bound for disappointment.
Love means having to say “I’m sorry” bazillions of times… and meaning it. That means that you never intend to commit the offense again.
In the movie, the phrase was uttered by a college student. What do you expect? It has been my experience that college kids don’t think they are wrong about anything, so what do they have to apologize for, anyway?
It isn’t until one has children that it suddenly occurs to you that you might not actually have all the answers.
Phrases like “I’m sorry” come more easily to the tongue along with other phrases you never thought you’d say like:
“Do you have to pee-pee?”
“May we have a booster seat?”
“Don’t sneeze in the buffet!”
When delivering an apology, it is important how you say it. Whether you meant to be sincere or not doesn’t matter if you didn’t sound sincere.
As a general rule, a one-word apology is not considered sincere. It has the same tone you would use when saying “here” during roll call. It is impossible to detect even a smidgeon of sincerity in a one-word apology.
You have to add some more words. “I’m sorry” is infinitely better than the one-word apology. Just knowing that you have made the extra effort to add another word is reassuring to the offended party.
The more words you add to your apology, the more sincere it sounds:
“I’m so sorry.”
“I’m so very sorry.”
“I’m so sorry I said that… I did that… to hear that.”
“I’m so sorry I…
…bought flowers you were allergic to. Forgive me?”
…spilled coffee in your laptop. Are you mad?”
…used all the hot water for my shower. Do you need a towel?”
“I’m the sorriest idiot there is. Can you ever forgive me?”
With the last one, it may be helpful to accompany said apology with flowers (non-allergenic ones) or candy (unless the offendee is on a diet). Even without accompanying gifts, though, it is a stroke of genius to insult yourself while apologizing.
Sometimes the offended party is so mad they feel the need to get in a few licks themselves even after an apology has been issued. By insulting yourself first, you have covered all your bases and theirs. You’ve taken all the wind out of their sails.
My husband and I have racked up millions of apologies in our years together. We’ve become quite adept at it.
“You ate the bag of M&M’s on my desk,” I accused.
“Sorry,” my husband said absently.
“It was your daughter’s candy.”
“Oh man… I’m sorry!”
“You sound a lot sorrier when you knew they weren’t mine,” I retorted.
“Did I? Gosh, I’m really sorry about that. I’m doing some paperwork here and I’m a little distracted.”
“Oh, okay. I’m sorry to disturb you.”
“It’s okay. Should I buy more M&M’s?”
“No, they were mine. I just thought I’d get a better apology if I told you they were someone else’s.”
Laura Snyder is a nationally syndicated columnist, author & speaker. You can reach Laura at firstname.lastname@example.org Or visit her website www.lauraonlife.com for more info.
Laura is a syndicated columnist, author, & speaker. You can reach Laura at email@example.com Or visit her website <a
for more info.