Welcome to “Ask Ada,” a weekly series in which we answer all those burning questions you’d rather not share aloud. Buckle up for some brutally honest advice! Today, we talk about forgiveness.
I’m a writer. One of my recent pieces was about my past lover and our sex life. My current partner, who reads everything I write and shares most of it online, expressed that they felt really upset about this article and has asked me for some space.
It’s not the first time that I’ve explored personal topics, so I really don’t know what to do. She acts like I’ve messed up big time, so I guess I should act accordingly, but I have no idea how to make this situation right. How do I begin to ask for my partner’s forgiveness?
I told her I get personal
First of all, ouch!
Second of all, you really need to reconsider how you approach your writing career if your response to a lover feeling upset about something you wrote is “Well, I warned her, didn’t I?”
Fact: You can explore deeply personal topics in your writing without being a dick to the people closest to you. Poets and artists have been getting personal in their work for a long time, but just because your partner was OK with your other pieces does not mean that you’ll never write something that hits a little too close to home.
I have written about past relationships, but I don’t send the people I write about a link every time an article comes out. In fact, I try to remove any identifying information from the pieces. If my partner reads my stuff, they do so with the knowledge that the past is in the past and that if I have something to say to them, specifically I’ll come out and say it directly.
It’s one thing to be aware of someone’s sexual past, but it’s entirely different to read a blow-by-blow (figuratively speaking) that you’ve also shared with hundreds of people on the Internet. My take is that your recent article was one of those things that you just didn’t need to share with your lover.
As for how you can begin to make amends, I would suggest the following:
- Your partner asked for space, so give her as much distance as she wants before you ask for forgiveness. If that includes breaking up, accept it and vow never to make the same mistake again.
- Consider removing the offending article if possible.
- If your partner wants to work the situation out, listen and change. She’s mad because you screwed up, so don’t try to minimize your mistakes.
- In the future, carefully choose what you publish for mass consumption.
The latter is a good practice regardless of whether you and your significant other stay together or not. You will sometimes choose topics that are too raw, too real, or too close to home for others. Let those subjects sit in your head for a bit, write them in a journal, let them sit there for a bit longer, read your work again, edit it, take it to a neutral party (who does not know and will never meet the people mentioned), and ask whether or not it should be published.
Even if you’re the nicest, most well-meaning writer in the world, you’ll still screw up sometimes because you’re human. However, you can try to limit the times and ways in which you screw up and control whether or not others get hurt. Choose not to intentionally hurt your loved ones.
Got a question? Send us your burning queries here.