It seems you can’t turn on the radio or television without people apologizing for their past behavior or speech – even if they don’t remember doing/saying it or if it was taken out of context – every day. Sometimes this can be a good thing. But, in my opinion, I think people apologize too much. And half the time they weren’t even guilty of doing the act of saying the words they are apologizing for, but someone misunderstood or was offended. But I’m not here to get political or PC about the issue of apologizing. I’m referring to plain old everyday interaction with people. I’m guilty of it, as well. Case in point: I was standing in the checkout aisle of the grocery store, minding my own business, when someone bumped into me with her wagon. “Sorry,” I say. But why am I apologizing? She bumped into me. I was standing motionless next to my cart online. Her cart “collided” with me. I wasn’t running around, with a blindfold on, bumping into people. “It’s okay,” the offender tells me. Wait, what just happened?
There are things in life to apologize for and there are things that don’t need apologizing for. Maybe we have a guilty conscience and that’s why we go around apologizing as often as a clown handing out balloons. But I am adamant that there are just some things in life that a person does not have to apologize for.
One should never apologize for having an opinion. Yes, this is powder keg of a topic, but again, I’m not getting political. I write regarding topics in the shidduch parshah. So, keep your mind on the shidduch parshah track. Everyone was raised in an environment, and nature – or nurture – affected how they think and process information. I strongly feel that even in a heated debate, all points should be said with the utmost respect to the other party. But don’t apologize for your thoughts. We think and make important decisions at work; why should life (and dating) be any different? Won’t your future spouse want you to have an opinion instead of always agreeing with them? I’m not talking about the “What do you want for dinner” discussion, where each spouse says, “Whatever you want.” I’m talking about actual topics of conversation and worldly issues.
Unless you grew up isolated in a bubble, chances are that you have an opinion about everything, if not most things. Disagreeing with someone’s opinion is not being rude; it’s being human, unless done in a rude way, such as screaming your opinion while standing face to face with them. We all think differently! Yes, we all want to make a good impression on a date, especially if we like the person. We may not want to “rock the boat,” but then you aren’t truly being yourself if you hide your opinion/feelings from someone else for fear that they won’t like you. Be proud of who you are and stand up for your beliefs! Which leads me into my other point…
I don’t think anyone should apologize for standing up for themselves. I recently read in an article that women underestimate their abilities and hold themselves back from new opportunities because they don’t want to be seen as too demanding or difficult to work with. This example isn’t just applicable to working in an office environment, but in dating, as well. There have been many times when I was seen as a “dominant force” on a date because I refused to blend in with the wallpaper and I actually took action. I recall, on one date, how after standing for almost 20 minutes in a sports arcade waiting for the air hockey table to become available, how another woman tried to cut in line in front of me and my date. I waited for my date to say something, but he stood in silence staring off into space. The date was going to be a “one and done” date, so I had no trouble telling the woman, “We’ve been waiting here. We’re next.” And when she paid no attention to me and moved to the table when it was available, I kindly told her, “Insert your card and I will remove it for you. The line starts back there.” I kid you not. I wanted out of the date ASAP, and I was not about to have some couple skip the line and detain me even further on this date to nowhere.
Would I have done that in any other setting? What if I was on a date with a fellow whom I liked, or with friends, would I have acted the same? The answer is “yes.” The next day the shadchan (his sister-in-law) told me that the fellow was absolutely “horrified” at what I did, and he was embarrassed to be with me during the “confrontation.” I told the shadchan that there was no “confrontation”; the exchange of words lasted less than 30 seconds and I was horrified that my date didn’t say anything and just let people take advantage of him.
I’ve been on dates when the other person has said inappropriate things: spoke disrespectfully about someone, used foul language when not necessary (because sometimes it is necessary), tried to make themselves appear better by putting another down. I’m not saying I have never done any of these things, but I never said them on a date. (You never know who knows whom in the frum world. Don’t need my words or behavior coming back to bite me.) In every situation, I said something. And yes, if you are all thinking about the date who said horrible things about his family, I did speak up for them, but no matter what I said, the fellow didn’t stop, so I gave up. I have discussed almost every type of topic a couple on a date can discuss from my tenure of dating, and there is no excuse for rude behavior or vulgarity in any way. Goldy will not sit back and let someone act horribly because “If I don’t say anything, then maybe he’ll like me.” Why would I want someone like that to like me? Who knows what he will say to or about me.
The last point I will mention is, not apologizing for your appearance. I remember that when I started working, my co-workers would always point out that I was overdressed for the office. While they showed up in a sweater and skirt or a blouse and skirt, I would put together cute outfits with matching shoes and jewelry. I wasn’t asking them to dress up for the office, so why were they asking me to dress down? I told them that looking this way made me feel good, and I wanted to feel good.
There were many times when a date showed up, in my opinion, underdressed for the date or looking as if he put no thought into getting dressed for the date. Here I was, all sparkly and smelling sweet, and the fellow was wearing a flannel shirt, wrinkled pants, and work boots (true story). I didn’t make one comment about how he looked, and he didn’t comment on how I looked. Although there was that time when the date kept telling me that I “dress like Brooklyn girls.” I don’t know if that was good or bad. He asked me to try to dress down. I felt like he was trying to dim my sparkle. Look beyond my clothes to me. But he was hung up on fashion.
If you are more casual or fussier, then own your look and don’t apologize for it! Of course, I’m not speaking about if you have a huge coffee stain on your shirt because of some incident on your way to the office or anything like that. And yes, there will even be times when you think your spouse is over or underdressed for an occasion. You worry about you and let him/her worry about themselves. Like the saying goes, “You do you!”
In summation, yes, there are things you should apologize for in life; being rude to someone is one of them. But never apologize for being yourself.
Hatzlachah to you all!