We all get to a point in any relationship where we just mess up. That mistake can come in any variation of ways from just not listening to your partner, to cheating on your partner, and obviously everything in between. We all do something at some point, whether intentional or unintentional that hurts the ones we love or care about. So why not just apologize?
It hurts to admit you were wrong or did something hurtful to someone you care about.
- Who likes to admit that they were wrong? When you admit that you were wrong, you admit that you are not perfect in some way, and in relationships we all like to think we are as close to perfect as possible. It also hurts to think that we hurt someone that we care about. Often times shame, embarrassment, incompetence and pain are emotions entangled by the person offering a sincere apology.
When you give a sincere apology you give up control.
- Once you have given a sincere apology, the only thing you can do is wait for the response. You are in a holding pattern where the person who has received the apology has to evaluate the situation and decide how to continue. Have you ever gotten into an argument and one person apologizes and the other walks on eggshells until they find out if they are forgiven?
A sincere apology is just the start.
- If you have had a few relationships, you know how this goes when one person caused the other pain, and a sincere apology was made. You know that’s when the real work begins. Yes, that’s when the work begins because the follow up to the apology should be the action plan to avoid whatever got you into the mess in the first place. So, I apologize to you and this is how I am going to make it better.
Then you have to make it better.
- This can hands down be the hardest part because it requires you to change your behavior, or the apology was worthless. If this apology is worthless, then why would they believe anything would change especially when you have to apologize for something else in the future (and we always have to apologize for something else).
A great example is from a person in which I just received an email from. He said he was just getting into a relationship with someone. The relationship was moving at the speed of light and she wanted to slow it down a bit. He, however, had done his homework on her and was able to check all the boxes on the love list when it came to her. So he knew he had the winning lottery ticket in her and was already spending the money. By his account, they had a great connection on every level possible, and then she said she needed space. That rocked his world. He replayed the couple months they spent together, read all their text messages, looked at pictures to try and find a clue. Why did she want space? And then he ran across a text that she sent stating, “it makes me squirm when you don’t listen.” The irony, is he said he didn’t even remember reading that text message. But then he started reflecting and realized that although he was ready to sign the check and mail it in, while she wanted to, she still needed more time to check out what she was purchasing. And he ignored that, he didn’t listen to her. He said his feelings haven’t waivered towards her, but then he felt those negative emotions related to having to apologize, humiliation, shame, incompetence, the fact the knew he disappointed her disappointed him, and he didn’t know what to do.
To me it’s simple, and while I will generally never load someone’s lips (tell them exactly what to say), in this case I’ll make an exception. I would find a creative, non invasive entry point where she wouldn’t expect it, but doesn’t invade her space. Then I’d (write on a card or) say: Beautiful (or whatever name you call her), I’ve had some time to reflect on the circumstances that lead us here, and I’d like to apologize because it was my bad. I didn’t realize that I was doing a terrible job listening to you or making you feel like your words didn’t have value. That would never be my intent, especially because you add so much value to my life. I want to make it better because you make me better. The fact is, I might not be as ready for a relationship, especially at the speed we were headed in either. But I want you to be in my space at whatever capacity you feel comfortable with, because I’m comfortable knowing we can get through this. I will do a better job listening because I don’t want us to be here again. It’s not cool for you and it’s not cool for me.
And that’s it. A sincere heartfelt apology. Now you could also go with, Hey love, I’m sorry I F*d up. Now let me ride you like a Solid Gold dancer and let’s get past this. You can try that too, it might work. But the point is you have to be sincere.
Once you have apologized, you have cleared the way for the following events to occur.
- Once you have sincerely apologized, you have created closure for that chapter and the beginning of another.
- Once you have sincerely apologized, you usher in the next stage of relationship resolution no matter what that looks like.
- Once you have sincerely apologized, you have shown your partner that you can put your ego aside and think about them.
Things to remember
Once you have apologized you can’t go back. You can’t go back to the same behavior that got you their in the first place. If you do, be prepared not to have your next apology accepted. Remember why you apologized and how you made them feel so you don’t repeat the behavior, trust me you’ll have plenty of things to apologize for in the future.
We hope this helped. If you have additional questions or other ideas on how to tackle this subject, please leave your feedback below.