Is it silly to reach out after 40 years, out of the blue, to send an apology?

Then the above point is even more relevant.

Allow her the dignity and respect that as an emotionally adjusted adult she’s long since moved on and isn’t even thinking about you or whatever happened a half a lifetime ago.

The OP hits home for me. I struggle with pretty much the same thing, wanting to apologize to a girl who treated me a lot better than I treated her. I think you have to weigh the possible outcomes- will she react negatively, what will the potential outcomes be, could you, her, or either of your relationships be disrupted, all that stuff. I think first do no harm, if there’s any risk to reaching out then don’t.

Okay. And are your motives the same as the OP?:

…Or something different?

Because I think everyone understands regret; wishing that one had said or done something differently. But this sounds very much to me like an exercise in seeking forgiveness for oneself wrapped in the guise of relieving the wronged party of an imagined emotional burden. Barring unforgivable wrongs, the price of having hurt someone is living with those regrets, not unburdening yourself decades later onto the person you hurt in the first place. And again, how do you know they’re even still thinking about you?

Like I said, if you have some guilt for which you want to atone, then make a charitable contribution to a cause connected to the bad behavior. If you (for the sake of an example) kicked her dog, give some money to an animal shelter and move on. Leave her alone.

I have a younger brother who as a little kid (age 12 or so IIRC) was ripped off for $20 by another kid. I forgot the details, but basically the guy owed him $20 and didn’t pay up, despite many attempts to collect, until my brother gave up.

10-15 years later, the guy looked up my brother and wanted to pay up the $20. He was getting married and in an introspective mood and wanted to start married life with a clean slate, or something like that. My brother didn’t want to take the money. (I forget if he didn’t take it, or if he did take it and was annoyed about it.)

His point was that back when this guy ripped him off he was a little kid and $20 meant a lot to him. Now when the guy was coming to pay him back, he was in a completely different situation, and $20 was pocket change. Paying him back now did zilch for him in terms of erasing the pain the guy caused him back then. It was 100% about the guy wanting to have a good feeling about himself. My brother didn’t see that he owed this guy to help him have a good feeling about himself.

ETA: not that my brother was still worked up about the issue or anything. He had long moved past it. But to the extent that the guy wanted to raise the issue again, he was annoyed about it.

Here’s a thread full of stories from people who wish the person making amends had just left them alone. The person wishing to make “amends” is honestly the worst person on Earth to judge if they’d be welcome or not.

This is good advice. To the extent you need to forgive yourself, and move on, this can be very helpful.

And this is also great advice. There are all sorts of things we do that we can’t ever repay. Some are hurts we inflict on others, and some are just gifts we accept from others. When I was married, we were given all sorts of valuable-to-us things from people we knew we would never be in a position to repay. So we decided to pay it forward, and we have been very generous in wedding gifts since we became financially able to do that.

The same is true of emotional wounds. You can’t fix the hurt you did to her. Either she healed on her own or she didn’t, but it’s far too late for you to possibly help her with that. BUT, you may be able to help someone else, who has recently been hurt by someone like you. That imposes no burden on anyone, and may make the world a better place. Maybe you can give money to a shelter, or volunteer in some way, or…

I concur. I found these two pieces of advice the best.

Jeez. Everything really has all been done before.

Thank you again, everyone, and it is clear that I should just leave it in the past. I’ll have to learn not to have the feelings rise up when I hear that song again.

Thanks for all your help!

Exactly. Just be normal. Learn to stuff those feelings down deep inside and develop an ulcer, like everyone else. :wink:

Or let those feelings rise up and …ready for a wild idea?.. deal with them.

I can’t tell you how many times I think of an ex. Luckily, I’m good friends with them, but I still have guilt over how I broke up with one, or why I didn’t treat another better.

I’ve learned to feel those feelings, but deal with them rationally. In other words, I rationally talk to myself and mention the fact that they’re better off with their current spouses, and that it’s a safe bet they aren’t obsessing over this as much as I am (because no one would be… except maybe Bullitt :slight_smile:).

Oh, so you think you’re better than me, is that it? :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

Wedding Crashers :slight_smile:

I think it would feel funny to try to fall asleep without kicking yourself over something for 30 minutes.

I feel the OP is misguided in believing what he needs/wants is her forgiveness for his transgression, whatever it may amount to.

The forgiveness he is really seeking needs to come from himself. But, of course, a surprise apology for a 40yr old error, will most likely produce an instant, ‘no worries’ response, sincere or otherwise. Almost a given whatever her feelings may actually be.

An overtly easier hill to climb, than forgiving himself for whatever ill he perpetrated.

It’s easy for her to forgive because chances are she’s moved on, long, long ago. In retrospect there’s a chance she, like most people, would choose to see him as simply, inept, immature, a poor dating choice, a life lesson to get past, old news.

Whereas he has to struggle with the reality that maybe those are inaccurate, and the truth a little darker in nature. That’s a much harder ‘forgive’, definitely.

For some people, it’s the only daily exercise they get.

Speaking as a therapist, I think y’all underestimate the meaningfulness for both parties of an apology for past wrongs.

An apology not looked for 40 years later?

I’m all for apologies given for a wrong done a few minutes/days ago.

From COLLEGE?? 40 years ago? Hell no. I think your professional opinion is just wrong.

You learn from relationship screw ups. They hurt. But digging them up again after 40 years, hell no.