First, I’m sorry you’re going through a divorce. I can only imagine the emotional turmoil such an event can create in one’s life. I can also imagine there must be room for tremendous self-reflection and growth, both of which will go a long way in helping you find a happy, successful relationship in the future. And the future is exactly where I suggest you keep your focus. Leave this incident that happened 16 years ago when you were still a teenager in the past where it belongs. The woman has surely moved on, as you suggest, and probably doesn’t care to hear from some jerk — sorry, but that’s what you were at the time — from her early years of dating, even if it is in the form of an apology.
The truth is, the apology wouldn’t be for her; it would be for you. And she would know that. Or, if you share the story of your divorce with her, she might imagine that you’re reaching out to her in some hopes of re-kindling what you let die out all those years ago, which — hello — awkward. And what if she is receptive to your apology? Is it really going to change anything? Is it truly going to “right a wrong,” as you say? No. The mistake has already been made — and it was one that most likely didn’t ruin her life or shake her self-confidence too much. If anything, you provided her a common rite of passage for many young women — one that hopefully opened her eyes to the dangers of being too vulnerable with a guy before building trust. And, anyway, it’s done now and no amount of apologies on your part will undo it, and since we can all assume the woman hasn’t spent the better part of the last 16 years pining over you or feeling terrible about your rejection of her, the best way to proceed now is forward. The best way to right that wrong is to never do something like it again. Go forward in your new dating life — once you’ve processed your divorce and feel ready to date, of course — as a gentleman who respects the time and feelings of the women he takes out (as well as the ones he doesn’t!). Treat them as you’d want a man to treat a daughter of yours. Let the maturity you’ve gained as an adult guide you to better decisions and better treatment of women you are both interested in pursuing and those you aren’t.
While I don’t necessarily believe in karma — that is, I don’t think you’ll be “punished” for that mistake you made 16 years ago — I do believe that we have an ability to draw positive energy to our lives by our actions and the way we treat others. Moving forward, cultivate a tradition of compassion in your relationships. Give people the benefit of the doubt, but don’t be naive. Be honest about your feelings, but kind in the way you express them. Don’t lead people on. And don’t get too heartbroken over the endings of relationships that have barely begun. You didn’t ask for them, but those are a few words of wisdom for you as you start a new life and open yourself to new opportunities in love. Good luck.