You know plenty of Mark McGwires. They’re everywhere. They’re the guys who cheat on their wives, ditch their kids, or do something so obviously, staggeringly stupid that they owe–and dread–an apology.
Or maybe the crime is minor. Maybe you flubbed her anniversary, let her down, bought a forbidden lapdance, or tiptoed a line without quite crossing it.
The math is inescapable. Even if you’re not injecting growth hormones into your butt, at some point in your relationship, you will need to practice contrition.
5 lessons you can learn from Mark McGwire:
1. Don’t prolong the inevitable
We see it all the time. It’s the looooooonng denial-then-sorta-apology-then-disappear-then-real-apology, which only gobbles up news cycles, increases the pain, and, in the end, makes you look like an even bigger ass-hat. If you screw up, say so, and say it squarely. In March, don’t say that you danced with a girl–but nothing else, honest!–then in July, admit to kissing the girl–but no tongue, really!–then, in December, you admit to having sex with her. (But don’t worry-we didn’t even use a condom!)
2. Avoid “conditional” apologies
Don’t say anything wet-noodely, like, “This doesn’t affect my Home Run records or my achievements.” And the iceberg didn’t affect the Titanic. So don’t say that, “The fact that I had a threesome with your sister and your cousin doesn’t affect how much I luuuuuuuurrve you.” She’s not a seven-year-old. Don’t condescend.
3. Don’t try a clever loophole
In his first attempt, a few years ago, McGwire tried the appallingly-lame tactic of, “I’m not here to talk about the past. I’m here to talk about the future.” Um… can you imagine a defendant going into a courtroom, putting his hand on the Bible, and saying that to a judge with a straight face? Never use a slimy line like, “Sweetheart, let’s put the past behind us, and focus on our children.” Yes, eventually, you will want to focus on your children. No, you can’t getaway with skipping the wrongdoing altogether. Face it. Own it. And then try to move past it. The sequence matters.
4. Know that your legacy is tarnished
Whether it’s naïveté or hubris, the McGwires of the world think that somehow, for reasons very clear only in their own minds, their “legacy” is untarnished. Reality check. If you cheat, if you juice, if you butcher her trust, your relationship will be crippled. It’s possible–possible–to recover after years of hard work, good faith, and putting your head down and doing the right thing, day after day.
5. Stay off the juice
Yes, we know this is blindingly obvious. Thanks to the soaring population of douchebags, however, these things must be said. The simplest way to avoid awkward apologies: don’t do this junk in the first place. If you’re thinking about juicing, don’t. If you’re thinking about cheating, don’t. In the beginning, it might seem like you won’t get caught, it doesn’t really matter, and that no one will get hurt. You will, it does, and everyone gets hurt.