Dear Amy: A couple of months ago, my girlfriend broke up with me.
She was right to do this.
I was unemployed at the time and took out my frustration on her, sometimes in psychologically cruel ways.
I have no excuses for that and have since come to feel profoundly remorseful for my behavior.
I desperately want — need — to make amends and earn her forgiveness.
The problem is, I don’t know how to do that, because she told me to never contact her again.
I have to respect her wishes, but my guilt is killing me.
I’ve been worrying about making amends and trying to find ways to repent.
So, I guess my question is, how do you go about doing that? Can you?
– Trying to Repent
Dear Trying: You can – and do – feel genuine remorse for your behavior. Repentance is the act of recognizing, accepting, and feeling remorse or contrition, making a commitment to change, and then … changing.
According to you, you’ve done all of these things. If so, you have both repented and also earned your former girlfriend’s forgiveness.
(Is she now required to grant you forgiveness? No.)
The way to make amends is to change your behavior in ways that would demonstrate that you are a changed person, in order to behave differently in the future.
If you have done these things, then you’re good.
What you should NOT do is to contact this person and report on all of your life and character improvements. She has asked you not to contact her, and part of your repentance should be to demonstrate that you can respect her wishes. For some people after insisting on no contact, even receiving an apology can seem like a further offense; if she reaches out to you, you should be sincere.
Go forth and do differently. Let that be your reward.
Dear Amy: We recently received a “save the date” card (with invitation to follow) for a 50th wedding anniversary party for my son-in-law’s parents. This party is being hosted by two of their three children, leaving our son-in-law out. (Our daughter and son-in-law will be attending, however.)
My husband and I find this rude and downright mean that they did not include our son-in-law in the planning and on the invitation.
We have no idea why, and really do not feel like attending this party, as it involves airfare, traveling out of state and two hotel nights for us (plus a gift).
Our son-in-law is fine with it if we choose not to attend.
We are casually friendly with the in-laws, but feel like this is an unusual set of circumstances and an unnecessary expense for us.
I think the invitation was sent more as a gesture rather than an expectation, as there was a hand-written note by one of the siblings to us on our save-the-date card, indicating they do understand if we do not attend, which I also found strange.
We are not planning to attend, how would you suggest we respond when the actual invitation arrives?
– Keeping the Peace
Dear Keeping the Peace: I don’t find it strange – but gracious – for a host to indicate that your attendance at this out-of-state event is not at all mandatory and that you are off the hook if you choose to stay home.
An invitation sent as a “gesture” rather than an expectation is just that – a gesture. And it is a benign social convention that should be appreciated, especially in this case, since you don’t want to go, anyway!
You do not know why your son-in-law’s name was left off of this invitation, but it might have been at his own suggestion and again – lucky you – you don’t need to investigate further.
RSVP your regrets promptly to the hosts and send a card directly to the in-law couple, congratulating them and wishing them the very best for a happy celebration.
Dear Amy: Like other readers, I am very disappointed that you shamed the mom who signed her letter “Blank Slate” for being an “inadequate parent.”
This woman was obviously in a tough situation, and you made things worse for her.
Dear Disappointed: This mother abandoned her child, moved to another state, and was now surrendering her parental rights.
“Inadequate” seemed like a fairly benign term to describe her choices.
Many readers were hopping mad that I called her inadequate, but I wonder if people would be as upset if I had used the same terminology to describe a father who had abandoned his child.
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