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Author Topic: Bringing up past wrongs, is it ok?  (Read 14236 times)

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Bringing up past wrongs, is it ok?
« on: January 15, 2013, 04:37:04 PM »
A few years ago one of my friends was moving interstate and at a farewell drinks he talked to me outside away from the others and brought up a lot of the things I had said to him over the years and asked me why I said them to him.

I was shocked and upset that he'd hold onto things for so long and not forgive and forget as I had and told him so. Was I right in this?


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Re: Bringing up past wrongs, is it ok?
« Reply #1 on: January 15, 2013, 04:50:20 PM »
“Right” and “wrong” aren’t really relevant here. He had feelings about the things you said in the past. You had feelings about him dragging those things up. You are both entitled to your feelings. How you both handled the feelings is what counts.

I can understand that if he was still feeling bad over things you had said, it would not go over well with him your saying that he should forget about it. It is not clear from your account whether he had made his feelings known back in the past at the times when you said those things, and whether you had apologized for saying them.


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Re: Bringing up past wrongs, is it ok?
« Reply #2 on: January 15, 2013, 05:10:31 PM »
From the way I understand it we had dealt with it then and moved on from that. Obviously he hadn't but I had no idea, until that moment, that he felt that way.

I wouldn't have minded discussing it with him if he felt so strongly about it and he had prepared me. But the fact he did it then and there was a real shock. I'd come to say goodbye to him and give him good wishes for e future, not to be confronted by past wrongs.

I had actually sort of cut ties with him a few years back as we started to move in different social circles. I tried to invite him to things we were doing, but after he didn't tell me he was working on the day we met up (and I woke up his mum early on a weekend) we kind of stopped seeing each other. And I didn't entirely regret it.


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Re: Bringing up past wrongs, is it ok?
« Reply #3 on: January 15, 2013, 07:22:38 PM »
Ah, the surprise attack when you least expect it.  Hard to handle well.

I'm still trying to figure out what exactly he expected to happen with this talk.  If he truly needed closure, why did he pick a time when the two of you were not really alone and able to talk in depth?

I probably would have been blindsided and responded like you that I thought the issues resolved and forgiven.


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Re: Bringing up past wrongs, is it ok?
« Reply #4 on: January 15, 2013, 07:27:16 PM »
It sounds like you had already addressed the wrongs.  The older I get, the more strongly I feel that if a person cannot forgive and (mostly) forget a perceived or actual wrong, it is best to sever the relationship.  Otherwise, the "wrong" becomes a weapon, which may be justified, but if it is, that is not the type of relationship I would want.   Hugs to the OP because I believe the friend was way out of line.


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Re: Bringing up past wrongs, is it ok?
« Reply #5 on: January 15, 2013, 07:51:19 PM »
I don't know in what way Katana's friend did it, but I can imagine myself asking "why" someone did something, not out of any desire to get them to apologize or feel bad or anything, but because I just really want to understand it. I have done this with my DH, working very hard to keep emotion out of my question and then thanking him profusely if he can come up with an answer (sometimes people really don't know why they do or say what they did).

 As a writer, I'm in such a habit of creating narratives, I think I can imagine almost any kind of human behavior, so if something doesn't fit, I do have an itch to understand it. But, I've never tried doing it after a lot of time has passed----it's so likely the person wouldn't begin to really remember the circumstances very well anyway at that point.

Just wanted to point out there *could* be a non-attacking reason to ask "why," although I don't know at all if that's why  ::) Katana's friend went there (FTR, a going away party seems an inopportune time, but not everyone has a good sense of time and place).


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Re: Bringing up past wrongs, is it ok?
« Reply #6 on: January 15, 2013, 08:23:06 PM »
I'm not sure what he was expecting to happen either. I guess he wanted to 'tie up loose ends', but a lot of the things he mentioned happened years ago. Should not there be some sort of statute of limitations on past grievances.

He's not very socially aware, much more than me which why I stopped ganging out with him. I saw my own failings that I'd gotten over in him.

But this is the last time we saw each other, and it sort if colours everything else the time I knew him. And I don't think he realised that.


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Re: Bringing up past wrongs, is it ok?
« Reply #7 on: January 15, 2013, 08:30:52 PM »
Maybe, since he was leaving, he intended to make a break with you by letting you know he had not forgiven/forgotten.


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Re: Bringing up past wrongs, is it ok?
« Reply #8 on: January 15, 2013, 08:41:29 PM »
This sounds like a totally brattish move to me.

I'll bet $50 that, if pressed, the guy would say something about wanting 'closure' on the relationship before he moved. In other words, he took it as an opportunity to lob a grenade composed of all the lingering irritations of years of contact at you, and run.  Without giving you the same courtesy, of course, and making sure that he wouldn't be around to deal with your reaction. 

I can see cases where you've got something festering in a relationship - something that happened, and didn't get dealt with, and still bothers you. And sometimes it can be useful to bring that up with the other person, to try to make the relationship healthier, although a lot of the time you have to suck it up and deal with it yourself. Very occasionally it can be worthwhile to say "I'm sorry - I can't get over X and it's interfering with my ability to be friends with you.

But it's pretty obvious that the guy here had no interest in improving the relationship or fixing thing.


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Re: Bringing up past wrongs, is it ok?
« Reply #9 on: January 15, 2013, 08:44:56 PM »
I have come to dislike the phrase "forgive and forget" because while forgiveness is a good thing and we should forgive others and move on, all mistakes are learning experiences on both sides and we don't really benefit when we forget.

Now that said, it doesn't mean one should hold a grudge and ambush another person with said grudge, especially if it's either a) something that has been brought up and apologized for or b) something that was never addressed before, thus not giving the offender (real or perceived) a chance to set things straight by an apology or what have you when it happened and thus possibly catching off guard when they may not even remember the events of the offense.  Especially if it was something that happened years ago and it was not something most would be offended by.  Ie "Wow, your homemade lasagna is very good!"

I could understand bringing up past wrongs if say, you'd apologized for something you said/done in the past and promised not to do again but then accidentally offended him again in a similar way.   But if it's something you apologized for months or years in advance and had not repeated the offense, then yeah, I think it falls under grudge territory.

So in short? Yeah, I wouldn't blame you if you didn't miss this guy when he left.
Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars.  You have a right to be here. Be cheerful, strive to be happy. -Desiderata


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Re: Bringing up past wrongs, is it ok?
« Reply #10 on: January 15, 2013, 09:58:03 PM »
Now I think back, I can recall one of the things we were talking about.

One was about his honours thesis. He asked me to critique it and after checking with him if he minded if I was honest, I gave him an honest but thorough appraisal. Said nothing about the subject or his argument, just his methods like sentence structure, punctuation, passive voice etc. I wasn't negative, I even gave him quite a bit if praise at how interesting he'd made his subject and pointed out how this could be better done. I was
 Apparently he'd been rather upset about it but I didn't hear it first from him, but from my younger sister.
He asked why I had done at as he'd put so much work into it, and I pointed out that he had wanted me to critique it and I warned him that I was going to be honest about it. Maybe he expected me to coddle him and say it was amazing?


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Re: Bringing up past wrongs, is it ok?
« Reply #11 on: January 16, 2013, 09:52:31 AM »
Sounds like you're well rid of him.

Honestly, once something has been dealt with, I don't think it should be brought up again unless the behavior continues.

And don't ask for criticism if all you want is praise!
"Manners change, principles don't. It's about treating people with consideration, respect and honesty." Peter Post



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Re: Bringing up past wrongs, is it ok?
« Reply #12 on: January 16, 2013, 10:04:16 AM »
I don't really think there is a statue of limitations on when "past wrongs" can be dealt with.  Obviously, it makes more sense (at least to me anyway) to deal with things as they come up, but not everyone has the courage or the ability to do that.

I get that you felt that he had attacked you and you weren't expecting it.  But to give him some credit, he did have a private conversation with you, away from others.  He didn't berate you in front of the rest of the party.  I would assume that because he is moving away, it is easier for him to confront you, because he doesn't have to interact with you again if things didn't go well.  I also imagine the question "why did you say those things?" is so that he can understand what was going on and perhaps improve his relationships at his new location.

So basically, I don't think it's necessarily rude to bring up something that was hurtful just because time has passed.  I think this can be done in a rude way, but that's regardless of how much time has elapsed.  If I were you, I'd take it as a learning moment.  You didn't realize that you had done things to make this guy feel bad and now you know.  It's a good check for when you interact with others in the future.  (Now, if he had confronted you about these before and then brought them up again, I think it would be very different).

And all that being said, I don't blame you for how you feel.  Showing up to say good-bye to someone and having them tell you, suddenly, that you've been hurtful to them in the past is unexpected. 


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Re: Bringing up past wrongs, is it ok?
« Reply #13 on: January 16, 2013, 10:08:01 AM »
Honestly, the guy sounds tedious and immature. 


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Re: Bringing up past wrongs, is it ok?
« Reply #14 on: January 16, 2013, 10:09:35 AM »
This is an example where someone claims to want honesty, but they really don’t (unless it matches what they want to hear). 

I don’t know what else you may have said to him that offended him, but I think the best route is to say “We already discussed that, and I thought we put it behind us.  I see no point in rehashing it.  It’s past time to move on.  I wish you well.”