The other day I was talking to my daughter and my son-in-law. Trying to make a point, I paraphrased the line “love means never having to say you're sorry." They stared at me blankly, they had never read the book Love Story, or watched the movie. I am not saying that this was a masterpiece, but culturally speaking, the novel was a building block of my adolescence. I believe that most people of my generation, even in Israel, had heard those lines before.
I remembered that the line was said by the heroine, but checked in Wikipedia and found that “the line is spoken twice in the film: once in the middle of the film, by Jennifer Cavilleri (MacGraw's character), when Oliver Barrett (O'Neal) is about to apologize to her for his anger; and as the last line of the film, by Oliver, when his father says "I'm sorry" after learning of Jennifer's death. In the script the line is phrased slightly differently: "Love means not ever having to say you're sorry."
Clearly we don’t need to discuss the veracity of this line, but since the quote and the book/film behind it are forgotten, perhaps it is an opportunity to say something about the importance of saying “I am sorry” to our loved ones. I feel that perhaps we don’t apologize to our loved ones often enough.
Moreover, since it is so difficult sometimes to apologize, a new type of pretend apology was invented. For me, saying “I am sorry that you feel that way,” is one of the most infuriating forms of communication --- it is better not to apologize and to say nothing. By saying that, you distance yourself from the act and shed any responsibility for its consequences. An example: once I invited some family members over for dinner, one of whom was vegetarian. As I wanted that guest to feel welcome I worked hard on cooking appropriate dishes. When it was time for dinner she did not show up, her partner came on his own. When I commented that I wished I had known ahead of time, and saved myself all the trouble of cooking, her partner said: “I am sorry that you feel hurt.” Now I was angry; what was missing here was taking responsibility for the action. It was as though all that had happened was inside my head, and the other person had nothing to do with it. However, a simple “I am sorry that we didn’t let you know and you worked so hard" would have made all the difference
You don't have to say that you are sorry if you never hurt, criticize, get angry, or slight your loved ones, but I would like to meet that saint. Often we are careful not to hurt strangers but take for granted those who are the closest to us. Since no one really believes that in true love apologies are unnecessary, I would recommend that when in doubt, apologize. You and those around you will feel better. I doubt that they think that “saying sorry means that you don’t love them.”