sometimes i feel like i did something wrong but i am not sure and dont know what might have done. i usually say “i am sorry if i hurt you” because i dont know whether i did or not. but this seems really close to something people are saying is wrong to say. is there a better way of checking if hurt someone i care about and finding out how to make it up to them?
I think that pre-emptively apologizing doesn’t usually help in those situations. Apologies don’t mean very much if you don’t know what you’re apologizing for, and it can look like an attempt to avoid criticism. (Ie: you might seem to be implicitly saying “I already apologized! Why are you still talking about this problem?!”)
Also, if nothing is actually wrong, that kind of apology can make people worry about how you’d react if something *was* wrong.
Instead, it’s better to try to find out whether something’s wrong, and if so, what it is. Then you can figure out what to do with that. I think it works best if you say explicitly that you think you may have hurt them, and then ask if you are right. Eg:
- “I feel like something is wrong. Is there a problem?”
- “I feel like I hurt you. Did I?”
- “I’m worried that I may have hurt you. Is something wrong?”
- “Is there something we need to talk about? I feel like I did something wrong.”
This makes it clear that you think there might be a problem, and that you care about finding out what it is.