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What happens to you if you start a relationship apologizing? (guest post)

May 5, 2021

This is a post written by my friend Shea Emma Fett on her personal blog on June 30, 2015. She has given me permission to repost some of her essays here as guest posts.

Part of the process of recovering from an abusive relationship, is deconstructing the beliefs you had about the world and yourself that helped you to accept the situation. This is really important, because it puts power back into your hands, and gives you the tools to create a better life for yourself. But I don’t think you can effectively do this unless you look at the bigger forces at work. For instance, I will never take any book on abuse seriously unless it recognizes the role that misogyny plays in so much abuse. I had a therapist ask me once: why did you hate yourself when you began that relationship? And, in earnest, I tried to think of all the reasons why I hated myself. Much later, I realized that she was a terrible, terrible therapist, but that’s another story.

I want to ask a question. A question directed directly at the polyamory community.

What happens to you when you start a relationship apologizing? Apologizing for taking up space, apologizing for wanting things, apologizing for feeling passion and love? What happens when you go into a relationship accepting the premise that you’re doing something wrong?

I haven’t been to a poly meeting in quite some time, but what I remember about them, is that there were often an abundance of couples talking about all the horrible things that had happened to them by secondary partners and “thirds.” She wanted him to herself, she was unstable, she was needy, she was cRaZy. And I nodded, sympathetically, and put these imaginary women into the little slot I had in my brain for the home wrecker. That sociopathic siren who just wanted to come in and set things on fire and see what she could walk off with. We just need to learn to spot her sooner…

And it’s interesting what happens when you believe in her, and decide to show everyone that you’re not her. And you apologize from day one, and you do everything you can to accommodate. And you become a part of their lives and don’t ask them to change to accommodate yours. But you still have self respect, and so you still ask for things, and you speak up and you bring up problems, and you suggest changes that could help. And sometimes you’re wrong and emotional and so very very human. And every time that happens, it goes into a book somewhere. And when you leave, because you cannot bear the pain you seem to be causing, they pull the book out and shake their heads and say we should have seen it… she wanted him to herself, she was selfish and unstable and needy and crazy.

Why did I hate myself? Well, that’s an interesting question to me, because it suggests that you think that hating myself was necessary. Maybe I’ll answer your question with a question, and we can reconvene later.

What happens to you when you start a relationship apologizing?

“Trapped – The Tragedy That Should Not Be Staged” © Karl Rudhyn 2013, CC BY-NC 2.0.

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