Relationships are so complicated, aren't they? How often has a friend or loved one told you that something you said or did hurt them? And what was your first reaction? Defensiveness? Or perhaps you're always the first to apologize—and then later, you begin to think of ways you've been hurt by that same person's words and never said anything. And you feel a bit resentful. Does that ever happen? What do you do when it does? Just suck it up?
Apologies are difficult. They're also extremely important. And complex. As the above situation implies, there might be more to a situation than a simple apology can provide. Every situation, every relationship is different. And while apologies are important and can help heal and deepen relationships, you do well to think through all the implications of that apology. Will that move your relationship forward, or are there some other underlying currents that need exploring?
If a simple and clear-cut apology is what you need to do (or perhaps what you need to ask for from another), do that. However, if the relationships needs more work before or after the apology happens, don't ignore the red flags that might go up inside you. If it's an important relationship to you, take a deep breath and dive into a deeper discussion about what you're feeling and ask what the other is feeling. Together, explore how you might heal and grow. The key word there is "together"!