Apologizing isn’t just saying “I’m sorry” it’s also feeling, emotion, and action. Here are some expert tips to keep in your back pocket for the next time you’re apologizing to your partner.
Apologizing can be a difficult thing for many people to do; often times it takes setting your pride to the side to admit you were at fault. With it though, comes great satisfaction; the feeling that you had the courage to face the wrong you have done and apologize for doing it. It is this power from taking responsibility that creates a sigh of relief and makes you feel good about yourself.
A genuine apology happens when we express empathy and accountability for the hurt feelings caused in another person after something one said or did. It is truly about yourself in the other person’s shoes and trying to understand how one’s actions or words have hurt the other person and then verbalizing that message.
Apologies from anybody can help us to feel validated and reassured. From family members, who we have been born into and close friends, apologies have great value; however, when an apology comes from a significant other or someone with romantic interests these apologies are often more appreciated and have more value. This is because romantic relationships are fragile and take passion, meaning, appreciation, and emotion to keep them from breaking.
In order to keep meaning and validation within an apology, it’s important to do it correctly; genuinely, passionately, and a goal of clarity. Apologizing can be hard, and sometimes we don’t always have the proper tools to know how to apologies correctly, or to mean it—so here are some tips and tools to help guide you along your way.
While this is a time for you to acknowledge and apologize for what you did, it’s important to understand why you are apologizing. A good way to do this is to be empathetic and validated your partner. Recognize how they may be feeling in this situation; even if you don’t agree with how the situation was handled or what may have said. Putting yourself in your partners shoes can help to understand how they may be feeling or could have been hurt in the situation. A few examples of this could be “If I were to put myself in your shoes, I can imagine that being hurtful to hear,’ or ‘I know that based on other things you have told me that XYZ matters to you, so I can see that me saying XYZ may have hurt you,”
RATIONALIZE YOUR FEELINGS FIRST
Coming into an apology; you want to have your emotions and feelings under control, so you are not coming into conversation with the intent to justify your actions or feelings. In trying to justify your actions, the apology is not meaningful and sincere; instead, it feels forced. Coming in with your feelings already rationalized allows you to remain calm and collected when having this difficult conversation with your partner.
YOUR APOLOGY SHOULDN’T BE FORCED
In other words, if you are going to say it—mean it. Apologizing without meaning, even if you check all the boxes of ‘a good apology’ is not a real apology; instead, it is creating a cluster of miscommunications in the air ready to ignite another fight and need for apology. In order to mean your apology, it’s important to get clear on why you are apologizing, and if this apology aligns with your values. If you have rationalized your feelings, put yourself in your partners shoes, and examined your intent and still feel like you are not sorry then an apology isn’t the conversation that needs to be had.
DON’T DISMISS YOUR PARTNERS FEELINGS
An apology comes with understanding, understanding of both yourself and your partner. When apologizing it is important to recognize your partners feelings and to also validate them. Rather than dismissing their feelings, it is important to let your partner know that the feelings they are having are important and that it is okay to feel them. Try to understand where they are coming from, and how these feelings could have formed.
CHECK IN WITH EACH OTHER
We never want to leave a situation with feelings still hurt, or with problems unsolved; this leads to more problems down the road. Instead, it is important to check in with each other to make sure you both are on the same page. We want to make sure that the apology is not only accepted, but it is also understood. To do this you want to wrap up what had been said, and make sure there are not any lingering questions, “Does this help you to understand what happened a little better?” “Is there anything I can clarify further?”
If you enjoyed this article, take a look at 4 WAYS TO END AN ARGUMENT FOR A SUCCESSFUL RELATIONSHIP.
Your therapy friend,
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