May 312015

J and I had problems with apologies. I wrote an entire paper on on “submissive sorry” (it’s been submitted to the Journal of Submissive Studies; I’m still waiting for the double-blindfold peer review reports). That was observation, but this is advice for everyone. Okay, maybe not everyone — maybe just anyone who finds themselves in a situation where they need to apologize to me. 

Apologize and AcknowledgeImage of broken window with bandaid

Apologize for your fuck up, but also, acknowledge whatever inconvenience, annoyance, hurt, or anger your fuck up caused. Apologize for that too.

Be Empathetic (It’s Not About You)

Sure, you feel bad (for fucking up), but your partner feels bad too (because you fucked up). Since you’re the one who did the fucking (up), now is not the time to be a self-centered narcissist.

It never makes me feel better to know that my partner feels really, really bad about whatever it is. That actually makes me feel worse (for a number of reasons). What makes me feel better is acknowledgement of what I’m feeling.

FYI, if you fuck up and your partner is comforting you (instead of the other way around), then you suck at apologies.

Fix It

If you fuck up, fix it. If it’s possible to correct the mistake, then do that. If it isn’t, then focus on making your partner feel better. If you’ve hurt feelings, mend them, or otherwise do due diligence to provide whatever happiness or distraction to pull your partner out of the emo weeds.

Don’t Do It Again

If you’re sorry — actually sorry — don’t do it again. There’s a difference between saying you’re sorry to smooth things over and  being genuinely sorry that you fucked up. Being genuinely sorry means you’ll do your best to avoid fucking up again.

Cicero quote: "Any man can make mistakes but only an idiot persists in his error."Make a Plan

If you’ve fucked up again in the same way you’ve fucked up before, maybe you need to be proactive about avoiding future fuck ups. Make a plan with concrete steps, points for decisions, questions to ask, and/or partner check ins. At least try — make an effort — particularly in situations that feel familiar, in situations where your partner doesn’t quite believe your apologies because your frequent fuck up. Be honest enough with yourself to know where you’re likely to fuck up, and take steps to fix it. Actual steps. Seriously.

Share your plan with your partner. Even if it doesn’t work out, knowing that you’re actively trying to work on things goes a hell of a long way to mend hurt feelings and extend a line of goodwill credit for future fuck ups.


Though it’s not quite a fuck up/angry parter/”I’m sorry” situation, this post by Tom Allen is fucking brilliant on course corrections, especially when it comes to D/s style relationships and mismatched expectations.

What Tom did was pretty fucking cool — he has honest with himself about his own actions and expectations, and realistic about his partner’s. Something wasn’t working, so he tried something else. He didn’t just hope. He acted. He took deliberate steps, and  good on him for it (and bonus, there’s lots of promise for a positive outcome for both he and his wife).

Anyway, go read it. Seriously.

“Visual Representation of the word ‘Sorry'” via Reddit, posted by theseventhredditor, posted on May 30, 2015.
Bastardization of a quote by Marcus Tullius Cicero, design by Dumb Domme (lover of Cicero; who aspires to be a good (wo)man speaking well).

More on Apologies…

I lied

It hurts to feel this and it’s compounded by the fact that I made you a promise and I broke it. I lied. I fucked up. I’m sorry…… [read more]


I was wrong. I called it in sadness and anger, in immaturity, and in an overabundance of emotion. I’m sorry…… [read more]

submissive “sorry”

After a year-long observation of a submissive male, I present my findings on the various stages of submissive “sorry”..… [read more]


  One Response to “you fucked up: how to apologize (and mean it)”

  1. Wow, this Tom sounds like a pretty cool guy.

    Seriously, when couples have mis-matched expectations, it’s often difficult to bridge the gap unless the *both* of you really understand what those expectations are. You’d think that having a history of mis-matched expectations would have made it easier for us (and in some ways it did), but it also made things a little more difficult because I’m always walking a line between backing off to let her think about it, and trying to get her to acknowledge my desires.

    You’d think that 20 odd years of marriage would have made communicating better, but we still have issues at times.

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