Ever made a deliberate, permanent decision that you later regretted?

There’s a current thread going on about vasectomies, and some posters have been warning that attempts to reserve the process may fail, making the decision to get snipped one that may be permanent.

This got me thinking about other decisions we make in life that we know at the time are irreversible, and how troubled we are (or not) by them later. Shredding a sentimental photo, skipping your prom, burning down your childhood home, selling your spleen to a stranger in a dark alley…but enough about MY regrettable decisions.

What sorts of actions have you taken in life that you couldn’t undo, and that you later wished you hadn’t?

I can’t believe you didn’t mention that second marriage of yours. What a mistake THAT was for you.
I can’t think of anything I’ve done that would fall into this category. I regret (very very slightly) not getting a science degree in college instead of liberal arts, but that’s only “permanent” to the extent that my first college degree can’t be a science degree.

Otherwise, I’m pretty happy with my decisions. And I think most people’s defense mechanisms will kick in to defend their decisions, too. We don’t like to think about how stupid we are, so I think we’ll tend to think we had good outcomes, or that our bad outcomes weren’t the fault of the decision. Once we’re in, we’re all in!

I started dating this guy and we had gone on a couple dates, and he invited me to a show his band was having. I think on Valentine’s day. I chickened out and didn’t go and then the band broke up and I never got to see him play.

This was like 5 years ago and I don’t know why but I just seriously, seriously regret it.

What actions have you taken that you really could undo? In the nature of things, even if you change your mind and try to do something different, conditions have changed so that the outcome is different in some degree from what it would have been.

So in my life I have made lots of bad decisions, some good ones, and in some cases I have drifted into things without really deciding one way or the other.* I certainly do regret some of the decisions, but I have seldom ever tried to re-do them even where something might have been possible.

*This is, of course, a decision in itself, perhaps it could be called a decision not to decide.

I got a tramp stamp at 17. I’ve regretted it since.

Point taken, but I was really going for things that you can’t change the outcome of at all. One can (usually) get out of a bad marriage, even if you can’t get back the time lost while in it. Even a tattoo is “fixable” to a certain degree. But if, in a fit of anger, you take the ring your now-dead grandmother gave you and launch it into space, you aren’t going to be able to “fix” that. You acted on the decision, and there is no taking it back or replacing it.

Just about every single one.

True, but if you really get it into space it shows you have a great arm and should probably be in sports in some way. :smiley:

Pissed because an EX burned my baby book for spite.

Sold some things I did not have to that are not replaceable because they have since been destroyed.

Lots of things over my 70years.

But I have done many things also.
If I had nor done all I have, I would not be where I am now which is a good place.

A few years ago, on vacation, I glanced at my lousy paycheck when I was feeling particularly depressed. It made me so angry I typed in my resignation, right then and there, and sent it to my boss and the HR. I was hoping they would talk me into withdrawing it, but they didn’t. :o And thus I relieved myself off my job and remained unemployed for months thereafter.

Needless to say, that was not a smart move. Thankfully, though, I landed myself a better one in many respects, so it was not an unmitigated disaster, but it easily could have been.

It amazes me when I hear people say they have no regrets. I could get writer’s cramp by listing all of mine. Especially career choices, relationships, all the usual ones. But I also made some very good choices along the way.

My biggest early regret was not taking art classes in high school. I didn’t really need them, since I was already a fine artist. Both of my parents were artists, and I have a natural talent. But when applying to colleges to study architecture, they all questioned why I never took art classes. With that, I could have gone to Yale, and probably had gotten a scholarship.

My life is full of regrets. All of them have been deliberate.


Almost every man (and several women) in our family have been in the military. I wanted to join up but I had an academic scholarship and everyone said I’d be nuts to postpone college to be a Marine. I wish I’d ignored them.

A gf called me up at work once wanting me to cut out early and see a band I’d never heard of playing a club downtown, and I passed. Turns out I came to like the Red Hot Chili Peppers - wish I’d seen them live early on.

When I moved to Chicago I had a Honda CB400T motorcycle and a Honda Prelude. I sold the bike before I got here, thinking a car made more sense for the big city. A bike makes so much more sense for the North Side than a car - I really wish I’d spent my 20s here riding. When I returned to riding in my late 30s, I bought the exact same model and still have it.

I have done things that I wish I could go back and change, just to see how doing so would have been a difference. But it is hard for me to list regrets because every decision I have made previous to this point has resulted in me being where I am in life. And I’m in pretty good shape now.

This is pretty much how I feel about it, but I’m looking at the question from a big picture perspective. There are major life events that I question if I made the right choice, but if I had made a different decision I’m not so sure I’d actually prefer the outcome. There are plenty of little things that wouldn’t really change much that I guess I regret, but they’re not important enough for me to be able to remember them right now.

I think a lot of people say they don’t have any regrets as a way of convincing themselves. Nobody wants to admit that they were wrong.

How many marriages do you want to hear about?

Not sure if it really counts as much, but I missed out on auditioning for my school’s musical Aida back in freshman year of high school. A few weeks later after auditions closed, turns out everyone that auditioned made the cut, even the ones that couldn’t sing. I still regret it to this day :smack:

Another similar thing was chickening out of joining marching band in high school…mainly because I wasn’t down for Saturday morning practices at the time. If I could turn back time and do high school over again just for doing band, I definitely would. My experience would be completely different then.

Someone mentioned motorcycles. In 1984, I passed on buying a Norton Atlas and bought a Vespa Rally 200 scooter instead (I was in a mod band at the time.) I still kick myself for that.

Beyond that, I don’t regret the big decisions, like marriage or school. I do somewhat regret staying in a stable job for this long but hey, stability isn’t an entirely bad thing. Maybe my biggest regret is that I’ve been cautious and haven’t made more regrettable decisions.

I find it impossible to regret past decisions. In retrospect some may seem like poor choices, but then where would I have arrived by making an alternate decision?

My marriage wasn’t good, but I can’t imagine not having or knowing my two kids.

I maybe should never have left my favourite job in 1996 to embark on a different career path, but where would I be today if I stayed in my comfort zone back then?

I haven’t spent time in jail, killed anyone or made a decision so ridiculously bad that I’ll spend my life fretting over it. Life isn’t about regretting what already has happened; it’s about playing the hand of cards you’ve been dealt and moving forward.

It’s insanely unproductive to dwell on what might have been. I never entertain those kind of thoughts. It makes no sense to do so.

I got a BA in Music, rather than in something that might have gotten me a job or a career.

I got married because all my ex-girlfriends were getting married.

I had kids because I wanted to find out whether or not I wanted kids.

We moved from California to Minnesota just to buy a house, which we refinanced twice and are now underwater like the Titanic. For what we now owe on the house, we could have bought a house in California.

I’ve quit two jobs in the past five years without having another one lined up.