No apologies

A girlfriend with a rough childhood won’t say she’s sorry

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My girlfriend won’t apologize, not about anything, ever. She grew up in foster care and had it hard. She came out while living with a Christian foster family that verbally abused her for being a lesbian. They eventually kicked her out and she was homeless for a while. I mention this because I get that she’s been abused but her unwillingness to apologize for hurtful things she does feels like abuse, too. Advice?

Your girlfriend is suffering the consequences of trauma—distressing experiences that felt beyond her control. Trauma left a lasting imprint that triggers her at times. So for her, an apology isn't a loving act that resolves interpersonal conflict. It's an admission of full responsibility for an argument or unkind behavior. Her wariness signals a struggle with shame, the belief that she is a bad person. Embarrassment is the response most of us have after realizing we haven't been our best. It's the emotion that acknowledges we have done or said a bad thing. Do you see the difference?

Your girlfriend hasn't learned that in most disagreements both partners play a part in creating the problem. She might also be far more comfortable with her anger than with emotional closeness. Resolving conflict is intimate. It requires personal insight, vulnerability and transparency. It's also essential to possess a desire to grow closer to oneself and the others involved in the conflict.

One way you can initiate your healing is to notice what role you have in the relationship. What are you trying to suss out about yourself by being committed to someone who refuses to say: I'm sorry. As you ponder the answer, talk to your girlfriend about seeing a psychologist. She will need help unpacking her trauma. It's not a job you can do no matter how much you love her. But she can't do it alone, either.

I’m always posting pictures of my boyfriend and me because I love him. This is the best relationship I’ve ever had. The problem is he never posts pics of us or of me. I’ve asked him about it and he never gives a legit reason. It’s starting to make me feel insecure. Now I’m always checking his phone and his Instagram. Why doesn’t my boyfriend post about me?

Because you matter to him? On social media, people post pics of their bruised toes, misspelled names on coffee cups, rants about their bosses and other random stuff. Do you really want to be in that mix?

Believe that you deserve better. Love lived fully offline belongs to you alone. There's no post about you immediately before a savage meme about nasty neighbors. Your relationship is retro. Enjoy it.

Of course, if you think your man doesn't post about you because he's waiting to see how things go, don't take it personally. Maybe he's had a series of short-term relationships and doesn't want to look as though he's flying through girlfriends. Maybe he ended a serious relationship and needs to trust you'll stay. Give him space around this issue. Don't make social media the reason you lose a guy you love.

Meditation of the Week

“When we give cheerfully and accept gratefully, everyone is blessed,” said poet Maya Angelou. Do you know what a blessing you are to the people in your life?