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Wellness > Sex + Relationships

Her Gay Best Friend: Apology Expected – Knowing When You Should and Shouldn’t Hear “I’m Sorry”

We need to talk.

I believe that an important part of any relationship – both platonic and romantic – is knowing when an apology is necessary. In fact, I think that one of the main reasons I manage to avoid major drama with my friends is that I immediately realize when I’ve done something wrong and waste no time in making amends.

Take that time I accidentally pulled down your dress at that party. If you’ll recall, I apologized right away (and I definitely gave you more than enough Mardi Gras beads to compensate). And remember when I took those pictures of you passed out, used Photoshop to make them look borderline pornographic, and then posted them online? I told you I was sorry no less than a hundred times. And I still maintain that I had forgotten your mom was your Facebook friend.  

You see, I apologized in these situations because I understood that I was at fault. I recognized that my intense busting of moves or passion for Adobe software had hurt someone I cared about, and I needed that person to know that I regretted my actions and would do my best never to repeat them.

I tell you this not because I have something to apologize for (although we should talk later about why there may or may not be a rumor going around that you have Chlamydia). I tell you this because I’m not entirely sure you understand which situations warrant an apology and which don’t.

Maybe it was the time that you yelled at your boyfriend for taking you to that restaurant where the waiter spilled a drink on you – or that other time you wouldn’t speak to him until he apologized for accidentally farting in your presence – but something tells me that you might need a small lesson in where to place the blame.

Sometimes your boyfriend owes you an apology, and sometimes you just owe him a break. Take a look at a few situations where expecting an apology might be expecting too much. 

Scenario 1: In an uncharacteristic display of human compassion, your psychology professor moves your test back a week. You’re thrilled, mostly because you haven’t seen your man in a few days and your body’s been aching for a healthy dose of testosterone. You call him to work out some dinner plans, and he tells you he’s been planning to go out with his friends since last week. Still in psych mode, you feel like performing a little experiment entitled “The effect of withholding sex on the male psyche.”

Should you expect an apology? Probably not. You can’t expect your man to cancel on his buds. That’s how boyfriends get nicknames like “Whipped” and girlfriends get nicknames like “The reason John doesn’t hang out with us anymore.” 

Unless… it turns out your boyfriend lied about his plans and really just wanted a night to play Call of Duty without your voice in his ear distracting him from his mission operative.

Now should you expect an apology? Hell yes. But not because he’d rather play videogames than play boyfriend for a night. He should apologize because, instead of being honest about his feelings, his knee-jerk reaction was to lie and cover his ass. After he apologizes, tell him to stop taking boyfriend lessons from the Bush administration. 


Scenario 2: You’ve got a feeling that tonight’s gonna be a good night. You slip on your latest investment from Victoria’s Secret and promptly jump on your man when he walks in the door. But as you roll around on the bed, ready to start the party, you realize that the guest of honor still hasn’t shown up. You look at your boyfriend expectantly to express your increasing disappointment, but it seems that the bass will be the only thing thumping tonight.

Should you expect an apology? Only if you have no soul. Don’t think for a second that your boyfriend’s failure to launch is any kind of purposeful dig at your sex appeal. It’s more than likely that he’s feeling very down about his apparent shortcomings. In fact, you should apologize for being cruel enough to kick him while he was down. Or rather, while part of him was down. 

But what if… your man gets a second wind? He’s definitely not feeling down any more. But you realize there’s a little problem: you ran out of party supplies after the last all-night rager, and he didn’t bring any. You figure you’ll just wait until next time, but he’s persistent. “It’s alright baby,” he repeatedly assures you. “We can risk it just this once.”

Now should you expect an apology? Yes. And he should expect to hear a long lecture on the birthing process, the price of prenatal care, and the joys of child support. Maybe he can “risk it” when it’s his own metabolism, future, and stretch-mark-less stomach that he’s risking. 

Scenario 3: Your boyfriend hands you your birthday present with a loving smile and a bold proclamation. “I think you’re really going to like this,” he says, and leaves you to gleefully unwrap your gift. You tear off the wrapping paper and behold the beauty in front of you. It’s adorable! It’s thoughtful! It’s perfect! It’s…still got a sticker on it that says it was on sale for $11.99. You have a sneaking suspicion that he just didn’t want to break a twenty.

Should you expect to hear an apology? Has Lindsey Lohan made a good movie since Mean Girls? Sure it would be nice to feel like you’re worth a million dollars, but if your man managed to find the perfect gift for a bargain, then that really just means he’s got more money to spend on your birthday dinner. And if you still can’t get over the pittance he paid for your present…well I ain’t sayin’ you a gold digger, but frankly you ain’t messing with no broke-broke. 

But let’s say… your birthday present did cost enough to satisfy your inner Hollywood socialite, but this time there’s a different problem – it’s not “you” at all. You wonder why in the world your boyfriend thought you’d be satisfied with a bottle of Jager, and have no idea how he missed all the hints you dropped for the Bedazzler you really wanted.

Should you expect to hear an apology? Is the black underwear scene in Love Actually one of the greatest moments in cinematic history? Your boyfriend should know you well enough to at the very least have a ballpark idea of what you’d like on your special day. And if you really were dropping a bunch of hints, he needs to be scolded for his inattentiveness.

Scenario 4: The two of you are sitting on campus simply enjoying each other’s company – as romantic young couples often do these days – when a hot young thing in heels and hotpants saunters past. As you gaze lovingly into his sparkling eyes, you notice the sparkle shift a little to the left to check out the girl’s ass as it fades into the distance.

Should you expect an apology? Let’s be honest here – just because a person is taken doesn’t mean that they aren’t still turned on by a fine piece of ass (don’t pretend that with all the World Cup coverage last month, the sight of Cristiano Ronaldo didn’t send your body into spasms of ecstasy), but any considerate person can show restraint in front of his or her significant other. As his first act of atonement, I suggest you make him watch Bride Wars to make his eyes sorry for what they’ve done. 

Unless… it turns out the reason he was staring was that he recognized her from a party last weekend, where he may or may not have drunkenly hooked up with her in the coatroom.

Now should you expect an apology? Definitely not. It will be damn near impossible for him to say anything with your shoe shoved so far up his ass that it’s coming out of his mouth. And I assume he’ll be too loopy on painkillers in the following months to form any kind of coherent sentence from his hospital bed. 

Like I said, apologies aren’t appropriate for every situation. 

Scott Rosenfeld is a junior at Carnegie Mellon University pursuing a double major in Professional Writing and Psychology. Originally from the D.C metropolitan area, Scott grew up with a great passion for the written word. From the time he first read Dr. Seuss, he realized the overwhelming power of human language, as well as the limitless joy of making up words for the sake of rhyme. On campus, Scott keeps busy working as the prose editor for the Oakland Review Literary Journal and an editor for the Thought: Undergraduate Research Journal. He was also recently elected to the position of editor-in-chief for The Cut, Carnegie Mellon’s music magazine, for which he has worked as the copy manager for the past year. As editor-in-chief, he hopes to buy all of his staff a thneed. Because a thneed, he feels, is something that everyone needs.