"You deserved better than that."
January 21, 2008 2:29 PM   Subscribe

I have a date tonight with someone I blew off a long time ago.

Seven or eight years ago I had a couple of dates with a very smart, fun, beautiful woman. Because I was young and pretty much a grade-A dipshit, I blew her off to see more seriously someone I had just met. I wasn't mean or cruel intentionally, just selfish and inconsiderate. The years passed and we've both had plenty of other relationships, and seen each other while out with mutual friends a few times since then. Neither one of us has mentioned what an ass I was. I called her up recently to ask her if she'd like to go out; she accepted. I think she's interested in me still. I'm certainly still interested in her.

So tonight: do I apologize for what she may have forgotten about entirely? Do I not mention it? I'm sure that there are plenty of people who would say "are you so self-obsessed that you think she remembers this," but I remember that kind of thing, and it still stings that I (probably) hurt her feelings. In the true spirit of AskMe relationship questions, I'm going to be 100% honest with you and tell you that unless I hear a huge chorus of "keep your dumb mouth shut," I'll probably go ahead and awkwardly apologize, starting with "uh, you know, I don't know if you remember this, but, um . . ."
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (40 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Save it for a second or third date.
posted by Ironmouth at 2:32 PM on January 21, 2008 [1 favorite]

Don't mention it. She's over it, or she wouldn't have said "yes".
posted by kuujjuarapik at 2:34 PM on January 21, 2008 [2 favorites]

I agree with Ironmouth. Save it for later. Do you really want her thinking of the time you blew her off when you're trying to make a good impression? Plus, if you apologize right off the bat, she might think you're only going out with her now out of pity.
posted by katillathehun at 2:35 PM on January 21, 2008

Don't mention it. She's over it, or she wouldn't have said "yes".

Not necessarily. If she's the grudge-holding type, she could be setting you up for reciprocation.

That said, you have little to lose by casually saying something along the lines of "Hey, by the way, sorry I was kind of a dick a couple of years ago."
posted by dersins at 2:41 PM on January 21, 2008 [2 favorites]

Even an useless apology can be flattering if done in the right way so I'd say go for it.

I wouldn't take the awkward route though. You should just be confident in yourself and tell her how you feel about the whole thing in the form of an apology.
posted by uandt at 2:42 PM on January 21, 2008

Apologize! You did something wrong, you feel bad about it, you think she may remember it, and you don't want it hanging over you. If she doesn't remember it or wasn't offended, she'll be like "What? Chuh! Don't be silly!" and think you're sweet for worrying about it, and if she does remember it, she'll think you're a good guy for feeling bad about it and apologizing. Either way it will be good.
posted by Enroute at 2:43 PM on January 21, 2008

There's always the possiblity that she's preparing to exact her revenge on you somehow. Hell hath no fury and all that shit.
posted by jonmc at 2:48 PM on January 21, 2008 [2 favorites]

I bet she already knows you're sorry- you did ask her out again, after all, which I would take as you coming crawling back, if I were her (and I have been). I don't know that you need to apologize, but if you're going to do it, don't be ackward and weird about it. Something along the lines of, wow, what was I thinking a few years ago. Of course, you're going to want to wait until you've gone on a few dates- do this on date one, disappear after date two, and you're right back where you started.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 2:49 PM on January 21, 2008 [1 favorite]

The proof is in the pudding. Make a joke if you like, "Alas, a second date!" but you don't have to prostrate yourself.
posted by rhizome at 2:57 PM on January 21, 2008

Hmmm. Could you do something in between? I mean, reference the prior negligence, but without it obligating her to review the past if she's not into it. Sort of, "You know, when we were hanging out a few years ago, I was not as [responsible/communicative/whatever] as I wish I had been." So that it's an acknowledgement from you, but she's not put on the spot in any way to respond as to whether she remembers, whether her feelings were hurt, etc.
posted by ClaudiaCenter at 2:59 PM on January 21, 2008 [1 favorite]

Don't bring it up on the first date, even if she handles it really gracefully, it'll put a damper on the evening. But definitely apologize by a couple dates in. You don't have to grovel, but you should at least acknowledge that you were an idiot and that you don't consider your behavior then acceptable. You need to do this because she may not ever take dating you seriously (as you may just disappear again) unless you deal with it, but that doesn't need to be done on the first date.
posted by whoaali at 3:00 PM on January 21, 2008 [1 favorite]

you can apologize for it obliquely without actually mentioning it. "you know, suzie, it took me a long time to realize what a terrific woman you are, glad you didn't think of me as hopeless."
posted by bruce at 3:07 PM on January 21, 2008 [5 favorites]

First dates need a little momentum and positivity going in, show her you're happy to be spending time with her first. Share a funny story or two. Listen to what she says. Hate to pull out the old cliches but actions do in fact speak louder. Some nice, not overly lavish flowers might be nice.

Don't obsess on apologizing, there'll be a right moment and you'll know when it happens. Don't say anything unless you've been able to establish a rapport and both of you are comfortable and / or she brings it up, at which point you step up and in no uncertain terms point out how wrong you were.
posted by Skygazer at 3:09 PM on January 21, 2008 [1 favorite]

dersins: If she's the grudge-holding type, she could be setting you up for reciprocation.

really? holding a grudge for seven or eight years, like waiting for the day he asks her out again so she can really screw with him? uh…

but back to the question…i think if things go well with you guys and you go out again, mention it then. otherwise no point. i don't think she'd have agreed to a date with you if she wasn't still interested.
posted by violetk at 3:16 PM on January 21, 2008

At the end of the date, if it went well, look deeply into her eyes and say "I'm glad I finally figured out what a mistake I made in not doing this sooner." Then lean in for the kiss.

posted by sondrialiac at 3:16 PM on January 21, 2008

Then lean in for the kiss.

or the slap. In either case, make it easy for her.
posted by jonmc at 3:22 PM on January 21, 2008 [2 favorites]

She remembers...we remember that kind of thing, even if it was 7 or 8 years ago. But we all *hopefully* grow wiser and more mature with age. Mention it, tell her you're sorry and you're delighted she accepted your invitation for another date. And PLEASE OH PLEASE let us know how it goes. Best wishes!
posted by illek at 3:22 PM on January 21, 2008

If you have an opening you could say, "Thanks for giving me another chance after the way I behaved back when we broke up." Follow her lead from there. If she gives it a short, "well, that was a long time ago"-type answer you can assume she forgives you, say "thank you" and leave it at that. On the other hand, if she says, "Yes, it took me a long time to get over that and I appreciate you bringing it up"-type answer, you can ask her if she wants to talk about it and go from there.

You may not have a chance to get into all of it on the first date, though, so step lightly and go with the flow.
posted by MiffyCLB at 3:23 PM on January 21, 2008

I'll probably go ahead and awkwardly apologize, starting with "uh, you know, I don't know if you remember this, but, um . . ."

This is not sexy. It sounds like a 14 year old apologizing. If you insist on apologizing, then at least do something that shows how much you've changed. You were "just selfish and inconsiderate", right? So this time be unselfish and considerate. Respect all her boundaries, show up 2 minutes early with flowers, open all doors for her, etc, etc.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 3:49 PM on January 21, 2008

Apologize. It's clearly bugging you so do it. It'll make you feel better and let you judge her character a bit by her reaction. If you don't you'll be starting out with carry-on baggage.
posted by chairface at 4:14 PM on January 21, 2008

Apologize. I did, several years ago, to a guy I treated like crap simply because his best friend (whom I dated earlier) treated me like crap. Once I grew up a bit, I wrote him a letter telling him how sorry I was. He was very gracious. So apologize. Done right, it'll go a long way.
posted by annieb at 4:24 PM on January 21, 2008

okay, your remorse is actually quite sweet, but it hints at a ginormous ego behind it. it obviously wasn't that significant an event in her life. enjoy your dinner. if the subject comes up, smile sheepishly and say, "yeah, that was not one of my finer moments." then buy her a drink. and yeah, pay for dinner.

oh, i can't imagine what insult you might have committed that would be so egregious that she would agree to have dinner with you seven years later just to get revenge. unless you locked her out of the house naked or something. but i assume you would have mentioned that in your question.
posted by thinkingwoman at 4:42 PM on January 21, 2008 [2 favorites]

All those folks who are saying that she probably doesn't even remember, or if she does, well, she's said yes to the date, so she's already forgiven you?

She remembers. And she hasn't necessarily forgiven you yet. (Though I'm not saying that she's carrying a grudge, either.)

Apologize. Don't be weird/awkward about it; be matter of fact, and sincere, and don't feel the need to go into all sorts of detail about the circumstances back then, or how nervous you were about this date, etc. Just apologize. With luck, she'll say something like "Thank you - I really appreciate that." And then you can both carry on about something else. Be a classy guy.
posted by rtha at 5:02 PM on January 21, 2008 [1 favorite]

Yeah, if living well is the best revenge, acting well will be your best apology.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 5:26 PM on January 21, 2008

She's given you another chance to see if you've changed. Make sure she knows you have: apologise.

As rtha put it, "Be a classy guy."
posted by robcorr at 5:30 PM on January 21, 2008

I would definitely be much more impressed with a guy who apologized straightaway than with a guy who waited until the second or third date to bring it up. Either bring it up on the first date or don't mention it ever again. If you bring it up later it seems like you're only apologizing because you had a good first date, but you did something wrong, so you should apologize for it regardless of whether the date goes well or not.
posted by desjardins at 5:34 PM on January 21, 2008

actually you should apologize regardless of whether you ever even go on a date with this woman.
posted by desjardins at 5:36 PM on January 21, 2008

Two teensy tiny baby step dates? Eight years ago? What on earth did you do to make you think you were "selfish and inconsiderate [...] an ass [&] hurt her feelings"?

Unless it was something like "Thanks for the breakfast in bed, but I've been thinking...your sister's hella hotter than you, so welcome to dumpsville!", I think you're probably blowing things way out of proportion. If she's as smart as you say, I'm sure she can understand that sometimes things like that just happen. Bad timing, baggage, an immature decision, whatever, but after only two dates it's not as if she should have been expecting an engagement ring, right?
posted by UbuRoivas at 5:38 PM on January 21, 2008 [1 favorite]

Don't not apologize. If you want more with her, not acknowledging being dickish at a point in the past would bring a note of falseness and evasion. But yeah, second date or late in the first, depending, would be better than earlier.

You feel sorry; sooner or later, be honest and communicate about it. It sets a good tone for future honesty to say what you experienced and what you feel.

I have been on the other side and it matters that you describe where you were at then, and now.
posted by Riverine at 5:38 PM on January 21, 2008

You could address this pretty casually, i.e. "I'm glad you gave me another chance, I really flaked out on you when we went out before." If she wants to have her chance to speak to that it gives her the option from a position of strength (you're placing yourself as the transgressor and making it clear that you see it as a mistake and are happy to be out with her). If she's put it behind or just remembers it as one that didn't work out because of whatever, she'll just blow it off.
posted by nanojath at 6:35 PM on January 21, 2008 [1 favorite]

(especially if you date the way americans seem to - assuming you're american. from the sounds of things, they'll date anything that moves, with up to 300 different dates per week. elsewhere, i think you have to be more into somebody already before asking them out one-on-one, but in the US it seems to be more of a scattergun approach)
posted by UbuRoivas at 7:20 PM on January 21, 2008

keep your dumb mouth shut
posted by Argyle at 7:31 PM on January 21, 2008

Apologize! But remember it was a small thing, and it was made smaller by time. If you think it's something, it's something.
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 8:46 PM on January 21, 2008

Unless there's something you're not telling us, it doesn't sound to me like you did anything wrong. You stopped seeing her (after just a couple of dates) so you could see someone else whom you were more interested in. That's allowed.

That being the case, I think apologizing is weird, and I think she might see it that way too.

Focus on the present. At the very least, give her a chance to say something about the past first, so that you get some idea of whether she even thinks there's an issue.

Also, you need to have the admins post an update about what happened. If you don't do that, then you really are a dipshit.
posted by bingo at 9:00 PM on January 21, 2008

I can relate to the guilty conscience. Sounds like you have a big heart. Some people just tend to overthink things. I think this might be one of those things for you.

Let it go until you've been together for a few months, if it goes that far. Then you can feel her out to see what she thought about what happened the first time you started dating. (Maybe she felt nothing. She may have been having her own fun too.)

Maybe then you can slip in a, "Gee, I'm so glad I found you/I let you go once, but never again..."

(You kiss as she swoons and the curtain falls.)
posted by mynameismandab at 9:13 PM on January 21, 2008

Regarding the people that are saying you're blowing this out of proportion: they know nothing about this woman. You are in a better position to judge whether she'd be more sensitive about social interactions going awry than most. Being friends with a few people whose sensitivities are WAY beyond mine (both people who come to mind are also female, as it happens), I've come to realize that I need to tread carefully - not everybody can brush things off.

Even if it were me in her shoes, I'd probably remember, and I'd appreciate the gesture if you apologized in a succinct, sincere, not rambling fashion. If you hesitate and fumble around it's going to make everyone feel awkward. Since it's already slightly awkward to be apologizing for a potentially minor incident several years after the fact, the more simplistic you are about it, the easier it is to appreciate and move on. It'd be even better if you had some related topic readily prepared to segue into.
posted by dorothy humbird at 9:36 AM on January 22, 2008

follow-up from the OP
Update: as promised, I did actually wind up apologizing. And she did remember, and it wasn't a huge deal - but she remembered and I'm glad
most of you encouraged me to suck it up and acknowledge it as
gracefully as it's possible for someone like me to do. But it went
very well, all things considered, and so we have dinner plans
Saturday. I do appreciate all your answers - I don't think it would
have gone as smoothly without marinating over it with your help and
advice. So thanks.
posted by jessamyn at 12:34 PM on January 22, 2008

Yay, good for you. Have fun Saturday.
posted by desjardins at 1:10 PM on January 22, 2008

Super. Good for you, and thanks for updating us. Don't do anything we wouldn't do on Saturday! oh, wait...
posted by rtha at 1:50 PM on January 22, 2008

Great. Good for you.
But do us internet negatives a favor and someday, ask her if the apology mattered.
Report back for science!
posted by kuujjuarapik at 2:56 PM on January 22, 2008

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