Let’s not get into what you did, why you did it, or even how bad it was— if you’ve googled ‘how to apologize to your partner,’ it’s because you know what you did was wrong, and you’re determined to make it right. That’s a great first step. So, how do you apologize to your partner in a meaningful way? Here are some tips for you to follow to ensure your apology is received as sincere. There’s no guarantee that you’ll be forgiven, but at least you’ll have given it your best shot.

Take some time to calm down

An apology made in a hurry runs the risk of your emotions continuing to run high and the feelings of the person who is receiving your apology. Everyone needs to be as calm as possible for your apology to be heard, understood, and well-received.

Use ‘I’ statements

“I made a mistake, and I know I hurt you” will go a lot further than centering the apology on the other person, with words like “when you overreacted, it was clear you thought I had made a mistake.” Keep it centered on you and your own culpability. You’re apologizing for a reason, so this should be why you feel sorry for what you did.

Don’t cop out with ‘I’m sorry you feel that way.’

“I’m sorry you feel that way” is the worst apology in the world because it completely invalidates the other person’s need for your apology. When you place the agency on the other person’s feelings, it implies that you aren’t sorry for what you did, but rather you are only sorry that they have reacted unpleasantly. If you feel this way, reflection is needed as to why this apology is warranted in the first place. Own it!

Leave ‘but’ out of it

No ‘if.’ No ‘but.’ “If I hadn’t been so stressed out, I wouldn’t have…” or “I’m sorry I said that, but you didn’t have to make it such a big thing….” The second that contrasting conjunctions enter the mix, your apology will fall flat. An apology should not have terms and conditions that apply to it. It needs to be whole, which means all the reasons and excuses that detract from the apology need to be left out of it for the apology to come across as sincere.

A sincere apology can do a world of good when mending broken ties, but the above steps must be followed when apologizing to your partner. Careless actions and words can damage loving relationships, so a genuinely heartfelt apology can assist in repairing the emotional hurt caused. That said, be cautious about overusing apologies. When you are constantly hurting your partner, your apologies will cease to seem heartfelt…and then you need to take a closer look at whether this relationship is working out after all.

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