5 Ways to Sincerely Apologize To Your Partner in Relationships

Synthia Stark

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You’d be surprised at how powerful and true apology can be. You’ve probably read a lot of other articles and watched so many videos on how to tell a proper apology and are looking to seek more answers. 

I mean, we all make mistakes and we can’t be expected to be perfect. That being said, it’s because of this imperfection that we can always grow and learn from our experiences, for better or for worse. 

Apologies are a great way for us to improve our relationships. In real life, we sometimes have to apologize to others, such as customers, managers, suppliers, friends, and even family. It’s hard to apologize, but someone’s got to do it. 

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If you’ve never apologized in your life, then you need to get into the practice of using them more effectively, especially if you are doing things that hurt others and those others are telling you clearly that you have hurt them.

According to the book The Five Languages of Apology by Dr. Gary Chapman and Jennifer Thomas, there are five ways to issue an apology. Each way represents its own language, and each language improves the state of our relationships.

If we appreciate one another and aim to work together, then it becomes easier to try out these five different strategies. 

They represent:

  1. Expressing Regret
  2. Accepting Responsibility for Our Mistakes 
  3. Making Restitution (Restoration)
  4. Authentically Repenting for What We Did 
  5. Asking for Forgiveness

The key here is to be genuine about what you are saying. If you’re always giving away apologies, then it loses meaning. If you’re always apologizing right before or after you ask for a big favour, then it also loses meaning.

Thus, we will break down these five styles in more detail.

1. Express Regret 

Most people say things like “I’m sorry”, dust their hands, and walk away. However, this is not an effective way of apologizing. To truly forgive those who have harmed us, then others really need to show their regret in their behaviour and actions. 

If you’re saying apologies just for the sake of saying it, the other person is going to know. It might be good to say something like: 

“Hey, I’m sorry for what I did earlier. How can I make it up to you?”
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2. Accept Responsibility For Our Mistakes

It’s pretty straightforward to accept responsibility for our mistakes, but some people say that they’re sorry and follow it up with a terrible excuse such as:

“Oh, I was just late. It happens.”
“Oh, I’m sorry for doing this thing to you BUT then this other thing happened, which was why I did it.”

Instead, it’s better to take accountability and responsibility. Even if there was a so-called reason for each mistake you made, you still need to admit that you made some kind of a mistake.

No one is perfect and that’s okay. Instead, you can say,

“I’m sorry to have hurt you so terribly. I hadn’t realized that I had done this bad thing. Now I know — I’ll keep this in mind.”

3. Make Restitution

Sometimes when we express regret, it’s not good enough for the partner, so we have to amp it up with an accompanied action to make it better. However, even then, we need to do something to make it up to them. 

For example, if you had a child, and the child stole a toy from someone else, apologizing isn’t enough to remedy the situation — you need to also encourage the child to return the toy back to the other child. 

With adults, similar rules can apply. Sometimes, what that person needs is a little extra space to be alone or sometimes a little extra space for affection and gentleness.

“I’m sorry that I hurt you earlier today. I decided to go back and try to fix the situation from earlier. I’m here for you as moral support. When you’re ready, let’s talk some more. I promise to give you some cuddles afterward.”
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4. Authentically Repent

Repenting for apologies helps show the other person that you meant what you said. Instead of turning around and not doing anything, you’re taking accountability for the situation and actively making sure that the bad situation doesn’t happen again.

For example, you might say:

“I’ll make an active effort to not make those rude comments anymore.”

Afterward, you might find yourself keeping track of the bad comments you made, and the partner will see that you’ve actually stopped saying bad things. They’ll be happier knowing that you are able to acknowledge your faults.

As mentioned throughout this article, no one is perfect.

5. Ask For Forgiveness

When it comes to apologies, this part is often the hardest but is also the most important. When you ask for forgiveness, both you and the other person get closure and often both of you can move on. Even if the situation has changed, at least you’re both facing a more optimistic direction.

Asking for forgiveness can be difficult because we often lose control when we do so, and we don’t like losing control. Losing control means that we acknowledged that we messed up. 

It’s also hard to forgive others because we often lose our sense of justice. It becomes deflated, like a balloon. However, our long-term emotions outweigh our immediate feelings, regardless of which side we are on.

For example, someone who committed a mistake can ask:

“Will you forgive me?”

This question often heals both parties, especially with time and effort. Even if it takes one person a long time to accept an apology, at least you know you did the best that you could.

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Writer & Researcher | Therapist-in-Training | Crisis Responder | Writing wholesome stories for the masses.

New York City, NY
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