As a child, I learned the idea of the “relationship balance”. I was taught that your relationship with everyone is like a bank account. Being nice to someone was like depositing money into that account. Being mean was like withdrawing.
It's like an app that only has two buttons, “be mean” and “be nice”:
The nice thing about this model is, if you do a bunch of mean things, you can go back and make up for it by doing a bunch of nice things.
But in truth, doing a nice thing doesn't “undo” a mean thing you did before: the memory of the mean thing still lingers. The past cannot be erased. Nice words and mean words, nice actions and mean actions, are not even directly comparable. So really you're not moving back and forth on a line, you're moving through a space, and you can only ever increase the amount of nice and mean you have done for (or to) someone:
This of course is an incomplete model of relationships. But it reminds me why I can't just cover up mean things I've done with nice things. As they say: the bell cannot be unrung.