Ask Amy: Advice for the Real World

Dear Amy: I’m looking for some wisdom: How do you have a meaningful relationship with a family member or friend when that person hurt you, continues to hurt you, doesn’t think he/she has done anything wrong, and refuses to apologize?

Do you simply forgive without an apology, and if that’s the case, how do you open your heart again to that person?

It makes me sad to think of ending a long relationship, but the wrongs done impact me greatly and are so immoral that I can’t imagine being able to have any meaningful relationship with them, especially since the same wrongs continue.

The person’s actions are mean-spirited and disrespectful to me. They offer very selfish justifications.

I can’t even be in the same room with them now because it repulses me. We talked things over, and that made everything worse.

I don’t know how to be the bigger person and forgive everything without an apology and still be able to have a meaningful relationship with them.

The hurt is too deep, and time isn’t healing any of it.

I would appreciate some general guidance.

— Wounded

Dear Wounded: You ask how to have a meaningful relationship with a person who has hurt, and continues to hurt you.

You don’t. A consequence of someone willfully hurting you is that your meaningful relationship is going to take a hit. It is natural to avoid someone who hurts and repulses you. In some contexts, avoidance is also the smartest thing to do.

One path to healing is to work on loving yourself more. The stronger you are, and the better you feel about yourself, the easier it will be to release the pain this person has caused you.

You should table forgiveness for now and work on acceptance of the other person’s flawed humanity and the fact that you cannot change them. Once you truly accept this, you will be able to release your own anger. Forgiveness should follow.