How To Say You’re Sorry After You Mess Up

Are you struggling to apologize for your hurtful words or actions towards your partner?

We never intend to hurt anyone, especially people we care about. Admitting that you are wrong and apologizing may seem simple enough, but it's important to apologize correctly, or your partner will doubt your sincerity. Knowing how to say sorry will make all the difference in the world.

The good news?

Apologizing is a skill you can cultivate. Keep reading for five steps to saying "I'm sorry" to your partner after you mess up.

First, acknowledge the harm you caused.

The first step in apologizing is acknowledging that you messed up.

You don't need to make the situation any more significant than it is but be careful not to make excuses that justify or minimize your behavior.

The key to this first step is remembering that an apology is not about you; it's about empathizing with your partner and understanding the situation from their point of view.

Put yourself in their shoes and validate their feelings. For example, "What I said made you feel disrespected."

And if you're unsure how they feel, ask them.

Second, admit that you were wrong.

After acknowledging that you hurt your partner's feelings, take responsibility for what happened.

Try to articulate why you shouldn't have done what you did. For example, "I was wrong for lashing out like that."

By being honest and making a genuine effort to make amends, you show your partner that you value their feelings and the relationship.

Third, be sincere and speak from your heart.

There's nothing worse than hearing someone say, "I'm sorry," only to realize they are just trying to avoid conflict and move on, and they don't mean it.

A sincere apology is well-thought-out and comes from the heart. It acknowledges your partner's emotional pain and states how you hope to heal the damage your actions have caused.

An example of a sincere, heartfelt apology may sound like this, "Please forgive me for what I said. I respect you, and I feel terrible that my choice of words sent you a different message. It was never my intention to cause you pain."

Fourth, tell your partner how you'll make things right.

The fourth step in delivering an effective apology is to determine what your partner needs from you so that you can begin to work things out. You can establish this by asking, "What can I do to make this right?". Then, show your partner you truly regret your actions by doing what they ask.

When you explain what you will do the next time differently, it helps rebuild trust and repair the relationship.

Finally, remember that actions speak louder than words.

Saying you're sorry repeatedly is not enough to make a good apology.

Regardless of what you say you'll do, if your actions don't change, your words are meaningless, and your partner will not believe you.

Remember, actions speak louder than words. They show your partner who you are, not who you promise to be. If you promise something, follow through with it.

And don't expect that your partner will come around immediately. Forgiveness is a process, and it is not always immediate. It must come after some process you go through together as a couple, and that timeline can vary.

Final thoughts.

If the thought of saying you're sorry for something hurtful you did or said to your partner gives you pause, you are not alone.

It may seem easy to say you're sorry and admit you were wrong, but your partner may not believe you if you don't say it the right way.

So the next time you wrong your partner and want to apologize, try following the five steps we shared with you today.

Want to learn more?

Are you interested in learning more about apologizing to your partner? If so, we invite you to join our one-day journey, “How To Say You’re Sorry After You Mess Up,” a therapist-led, step-by-step video course.”

For a preview of the journey, click here.

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