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regret versus remorse-true difference?

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deena04 posted 7/5/2014 12:20 PM

What is the REAL difference between the two? I am not sure I get it. He seems both remorseful and regretful. He tries with his actions and is sorrowful over the pain. However, he still has "poor me, look what I did to you" moments. I am just not sure how to tell the two apart.

Lucky2HaveMe posted 7/5/2014 12:24 PM

Regret = sorry they DID it. It is a feeling of *self*

Remorse - sorry they did it TO someone. It's a feeling of true empathy & understanding of how their actions impacted another.

Schadenfreude posted 7/5/2014 12:25 PM

Deena, go to JFO and look for the bulls eyed thread about half way down the page. It explains this far better than I ever could. The title is Before You Say Reconcile. Read all of it, not just the chart.

plainpain posted 7/5/2014 12:33 PM

I think regret is, "I am sorry I did it, I am sorry I didn't do it." Remorse is, "Oh my God, what have I become?" Remorse involves a change, not just in simple behaviour, but in the foundations of who we are; thought, action, character, etc. I don't think that comes to any WS (or any BS) right away. As a BS, I certainly have my own regret and remorse. It seems that the further my WH gets from the A brain that he had, the further removed he is from the man who made those choices. Regret is, "I am sorry this hurt you." Remorse is, "How did I become a person capable of this, and how can I fix myself?"


deena04 posted 7/5/2014 16:34 PM

Thank you all! He gets very upset with what he did. He says he hates himself for what he did to me. Then he has those moments of feeling sorry for himself where it makes me want to hide and just get away from him. I watch his actions and they appear more remorseful than his words at times.

delia1980 posted 7/5/2014 16:40 PM

Im not sure the difference, they seem one in the same. However, Im having trouble (maybe what youd call remorse) forgiving myself for forgiving her. Make sense to anyone?

badmedicine posted 7/5/2014 19:17 PM

I agree that "regret" often focuses on self-feelings and "remorse" is more aware of what the other person (people!!) are feeing because of the actions. I wanted to add with regard to your WS that it's probably impossible NOT to have feelings of regret as well. I don't think that means he can't have remorse or empathize with you and the pain you are experiencing. I think a remorseful WS has to work through damage done to themselves as well. Maybe that is what your WS is trying to do? However, if he is trying to get any sympathy from you or to overcome the self-hate that is misguided. That healing needs to happen with IC and within himself, not because of something you do or say. Just my opinion, anyway.

painfulpast posted 7/5/2014 22:39 PM

come spend a day with my husband. You'll see real regret, but not an ounce of remorse.

Ostrich80 posted 7/6/2014 02:57 AM

I think regret is, oh no, I made quite a mess and caused you pain and it really sucks for me, how you can't get over it.

Remorse, oh my God what have I done. I will do whatever it takes to make you whole again.
That's my two cents

JerseyCowgirl posted 7/6/2014 08:07 AM

Regret is what you feel when you know you did something wrong before anyone knows about it yet. You question why you did this but the focus is only on yourself.
Remorse comes when your actions are made known to others and now your focus is on the consequences of your actions.
It is at this point the outcome is determined. Sometimes things can be salvaged if during the remorse period you acknowledge what you did, acknowledge you understand any pain you caused someone, apologize AND continue to make amends to those you hurt even if it takes the rest of your life to show that remorse will always be with you for the actions you took.

Howie posted 7/6/2014 08:26 AM

In a nutshell, regret and remorse can be points on a spectrum. But regret is 'I'm sorry it happened" -ok that is something. Remorse is "I am sorry I HURT you."--and meaning it by reformiing action.

DixieD posted 7/6/2014 08:31 AM

This is good, it deserves to be pulled out for it's own quote:


* Actions match words.

* Accepts full responsibility for the affair without blaming the BS, a bad marriage, or other outside factors.

* Expresses sorrow for hurting the BS and the M. 

* Shows compassion and actively assists the BS with handling triggers.

* Does not become defensive or shut down when BS brings up affair-related emotions, issues, or questions. 

* Answers questions honestly and completely.

* Does not avoid the BS or become frustrated that the BS is not “healing fast enough.” 

* Contributes at least 60% of the joint effort at rebuilding the marriage. 

* Actively works to understand why he or she made the choice to have an affair and shares insights with BS.

* Does not think solely about himself or herself. Considers how actions impact the BS.

Remorse is so important to R. It's the conerstone that everything else is built on. Without it, the M can not heal.
Remorse involves far more than just saying "I'm sorry." It's conveyed through consistent actions. The above list is not comprehensive, but it is meant to be an example that the FWS's behavior should be clear sign that he or she understands the pain the A caused and is committed to healing the M. Simply hanging around the house is not remorse. And it is not R.

Also, what are the motivations behind the WS actions? To get brownie points, or to look like a *good guy* or are they attached to an outcome, such as trying to prevent D? This is where CONSISTENT actions comes into play. If a WS has remorse it will stay with them always. It doesn't turn off and on like a faucet. Even if the BS wants to get a divorce the WS will still have remorse for what they've done and how much they've wounded another person, not just feeling sorry for themselves.

When remorse comes to play you see the WS's motivations behind the actions change. They are no longer in it just for themselves and what benefits they are getting out of the deal.

deena04 posted 7/6/2014 12:43 PM

Thank you all very much. He seems very consistent with feeling horrified by what he's done to me and us, but he still pities himself, too. This is why I am confused. I tell him he doesn't understand, but he doesn't get why I say that. I really am losing my give a shit more and more.

DixieD posted 7/6/2014 16:27 PM

FWIW, my husband used to be the same way. He would get full of shame and focus on himself and his feelings. He'd spent a lifetime being self-absorbed, so that wasn't going to change overnight. It took a while for him to develop empathy and realize he was still focusing on himself after dday. I would point it out when I saw it.

I came very close to walking away and D him. I was quickly losing my patience. I demanded he work on himself and then I stepped back and let that happen. I stopped watching for huge changes to appear everyday. And I was not there to pat him on the head and give him a cookie. He needed to do it for himself, and not look for rewards from me.

In my experience, remorse doesn't happen with the flip of a switch. I know there was a time when I thought my husband 'got it' right away, but in reality (with hindsight) it developed bit by bit over time. When it was there, it was really there. It was a remarkable transformation. HTH

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