It is perhaps the most important question on OK Cupid:
Would you rather date someone who almost never made a mistake but doesn’t admit their flaws, or someone who often messes up but takes full responsibility for their mistakes?
This isn’t a dealbreaker question, but if it’s not addressed, it can definitely destroy any kind of relationship – romantic, business, or otherwise. [Edited for clarity: If this question is not addressed, it is a dealbreaker.] It’s about the assumptions that we make both about ourselves and the behaviors of others in the relationship.
It’s a spectrum (isn’t everything, really) between “deliberateness” and “forgiveness”. Someone who’s being deliberate will attempt to have everything they say and do be intentional, and assumes that you are doing the same. Someone high on the forgiveness scale will sometimes say or do things that do not have the repercussions they wanted.
As with all spectrum stuff, being too far on either side is bad. An overly deliberate person will see intentional hurt everywhere, and an overly forgiving person will excuse the person torturing them. An overly deliberate person will not admit their errors, and an overly forgiving person may expect that they do not need to consider consequences due to the likelihood of being forgiven.
Okay, so an example. (My artistic license applies, as always.)
I’m attempting to reconnect with someone who I had a big argument with. It’s a little dicey; in the past, attempts to reconnect ended up with triggering a resumption of the same argument and bad feelings all around.
It wasn’t intentional (as far as I know); one of us just said the wrong thing at the wrong time, or the tone wasn’t “heard” right over text, and so on. The problem – at least on my part – was that I was expecting deliberateness.
And in that kind of a situation, where you’re trying to patch up or rebuild after a problem, deliberateness is important. That kind of intentional empathy is vital after you’ve been hurt.
Yet I wasn’t forgiving enough myself. By expecting deliberateness, I interpreted anything that could be hurtful as being hurtful. And even worse, I didn’t leave room for that person to sometimes fail at their own deliberateness and just react out of their own pain and hurt and frustration.
To the frustration of many an economist, we’ve learned that humans are not “rational actors”. We do not always live up to our own ideals or act in our own best interests.
The only choice I have is to do my damnedest to remember to be forgiving and deliberate with everyone.