What If Someone Apologizes, But Keeps Repeating The Action

by Reid on October 13, 2015

Couple Arguing At BreakfastJoin relationship expert Reid Mihalko from ReidAboutSex.com and Cathy Vartuli from TheIntimacyDojo.com

as they discuss what to do if some repeats an out of integrity action over and over.

Cathy: In an earlier video, we talked about the Five Languages of Apology, by Gary Chapman which is a great book. It’s really powerful. It talks about ways we can apologize to our partners so it really lands. Someone wrote in and said “That’s great. I have a partner who apologizes nicely and I get the apology, but then he keeps doing the thing that he apologized for.” She wants to know what to do.

Reid: I’m Reid Mihalko from ReidAboutSex.com.

Cathy: I’m Cathy Vartuli from TheIntimacyDojo.com.

Reid: And here’s our answer. Drop them like a hot potato lady! Get rid of them, they can’t be trusted!

Cathy: (Laughs) But in some cases …

Reid: Are you traumatized?

Cathy: Yes I am (laughs). You really need to apologize.

Reid: I’m sorry I traumatized you. Drop them like a hot potato! Did I traumatize you again?

Cathy: No, I was prepared that time.

Reid: Okay, good.

Cathy: But you did repeat the action.

Reid: I did. So now what are you going to do?

Cathy: Well, for me it depends on how important the issue is. How much value that person adds to me life in general. Someone who is perpetually late. I have a couple friends that are always late. They always apologize, they say “Oh, it won’t happen again.” And they’re late the next time, but they’re really wonderful friends. They’re not … It’s just something I can accommodate for.

Reid: Being late for you isn’t like a deal breaker.

Cathy: Right. If you’re being late for my wedding and you’re the maid of honor, not that I ever want to get married, but that would be a different thing. I probably wouldn’t ask one of them to just pick me up at an airport if I had to be home on a certain time. In terms of going to the movies, I just always tell them a half an hour before we’re supposed to meet. Someone who’s not paying the rent, not paying the mortgage when they promised to pay it and we might lose the house that’s a lot bigger deal.

Reid: Yeah. My advice, there’s two things going on. One, is it the kind of situation where the person just needs more, like better structures. You need to set your clock fifteen minutes ahead so that you arrive on time.

Cathy: Yeah. Basically, what are you going to do to make sure this doesn’t happen again.

Reid: Yeah. You need to do auto bill pay. Can you support those people in a structure, so that their behavior doesn’t … So that that fixes their behavior. The biggest question and the first question you should ask; is their behavior actually crossing a bottom line for you. By bottom line I mean like you are adamant that hitting your children is not acceptable in a relationship.

Cathy: Yeah. Even once.

Reid: They hit your kid, they apologized. For me that’s we’re done.

Cathy: Yeah.

Reid: Then they hit your kid a second time, like that’s it, you’re done. I think you should investigate whether that’s crossing a bottom line. If there’s a bottom line being crossed, you need to have a serious conversation with them and also with yourself. I would say have your conversation with yourself with a friend of yours who’s going to help witness that conversation. My opinion is you should never be crossing bottom lines. You can cross the bottom line the first time to realize “Oh, this is a deal breaker for me.” But if you’re like third and fourth time crossing the bottom line, this is not healthy and you need to get a reality check. If it’s not a bottom line and they’re just slow at learning how to implement it, you can then support them in creating a structure that will solve that situation. If they’re not willing to implement that structure, and they cannot get better, and I will say like wiggle room. Give them like three strikes and you’re out. Third strike, they’re out. If you do the math, you’re only going to get resentful eventually at them and it will deteriorate your quality of life and theirs as well. Again, it’s not all or nothing. It will turn into all or nothing and you will be so on the nothing side of the stick-the relationship will be un-recoverable. I would say when you do the emotional math, cut your losses ahead of time. At some point, somebody not being able to adjust their behavior is unacceptable.

Cathy: A lot of the coaching clients I work with have old traumas and lower self esteem, so in order to help them with a situation like this, I often recommend they make a decision. If you love yourself, how would you react to this? Or if this was happening to your best friend or your sister, how would you react to this? Because it normalizes it for you. If you have low self esteem and you’re so afraid there’s not going to be enough in the world. You might be putting up with something that’s borderline abusive or really abusive. Because you don’t want to be alone or you’re afraid you’ll never get anything else.

Reid: Abusive doesn’t have to be malicious.

Cathy: Right.

Reid: There are a lot of people out there who really are trying and they’re just not making the grade. That’s a tough call, but I like that question. For those of you with kids, like would you want your son or your daughter to go through this.

Cathy: So for me, friends being late to the movies … Well, I just make sure I have another, I go with …

Reid: That’s not a deal breaker for you?

Cathy: Yeah. I go with a couple of friends.

Reid: For me, I’m not missing the trailers, I don’t care who you are.

Cathy: You get to decide what’s right for you. What’s important to you and decide from there. You may not want to engage with that person in that area. We hope this helps.

Reid: Never missing the trailers, never. Leave your comments below. What’s your favorite trailer?

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