“Proper apologies have three parts: 1) What I did was wrong. 2) I feel badly that I hurt you. 3) How do I make this better?”
~ Randy Pausch
There is nothing so powerful as accepting responsibility.
We all blow it. We all have those moments when we aren’t at our best in a relationship, whether it’s a brand new, first date kind of relationship or a long term take-each-other-for-granted kind of relationship. There are few mistakes that cannot be transformed into something positive.
First, acknowledge the mistake to yourself.
Second, figure out how it happened. Be brutally honest with yourself.
- Am I still holding on to old stuff?
- Am I ready to be seeing someone new?
- Have I developed a habit of being reactive versus constructive and wholehearted in my relationship?
If you answer “yes” to any of that, this is about you, not him.
You have some “me” work to do. And your relationship (or potential relationships) will continue to suffer until you do.
We are grown ups. We don’t get to go around wounding others just because we’re having a big emotion.
We have a responsibility to learn to be conscious of our stuff and to learn to self-regulate so that we can express ourselves without thoughtlessness or lashing out.
That is our personal work.
Third, come clean.
Talk to your guy about what happened. Do not turn the conversation into something that he could have done differently or what you feel he did to “trigger” you.
Accept full and unconditional responsibility.
Apologize. Assure him that you intend to work toward being more mindful of your tendency toward that mistake in the future.
As a special warning, when you are taking responsibility for something, beware of the dreaded “but…”
Example: “I totally overreacted and I want you to know that I’m very sorry for it. But…”
That “but” just erased everything that came before it. Be willing to put a finite period at the end of the sentence.
Lastly, there are mistakes that cannot be transformed into something positive for the relationship.
Your guy has his own built-in limits around what he can or cannot tolerate based on his own experiences. Whether it takes a while for him to forgive or whether it means the end of the relationship, it is extremely important that you take full responsibility—for your own personal growth and for his.
Bobbi Jankovich, MA, LMFT – www.bobbijankovich.com
It’s surprisingly common when you like someone at the start of a relationship, to over-react when things don’t go the way you were hoping or expecting.
You may think you said the wrong thing or talked about your past relationship too much. You might have got drunk and been rude and argumentative or talked non-stop or interrogated him.
You then feel that things are difficult and awkward and you don’t know how to proceed or even if he’s still interested in you. However, we all make mistakes sometimes and it’s not the end of the world!
Honesty is always the best policy in my book.
Make contact with him, briefly refer to the incident and say sorry about your behavior. Listen to his reply and then drop it and move forward unless he wants to continue the discussion.
Resist the urge to talk constantly about it as that will definitely push him away. Talk instead to a best friend or a therapist if needed.
We often make things larger in our mind than they actually are.
Don’t obsess about it as we all make mistakes. Don’t make a big drama or keep criticizing yourself.
Ask yourself why you reacted like you did.
Maybe you are still hurt and angry from a past relationship break-up or you were just nervous or had unrealistic expectations about how things would progress. You could also be investing too much in the guy in the early stages of meeting up. It’s good to take time to get to know each other.
Nobody is perfect because we are human beings and pretending to be, at the beginning makes it harder later on. Just be authentic and real and at the same time, keep awareness of what you are saying or texting to him.
Know ways to calm and soothe yourself and take good care of yourself.
You may wish you hadn’t said or done something but now is the perfect opportunity to change how you deal with the possible ‘fall-out.’
Focus back on yourself and your own life, work and friends. If he calls, he calls and if doesn’t, you could call him once, apologize and just see what happens.
If the guy disappears or no longer wants to date you, mark it down to experience and learn from it.
When you date someone else, don’t go down the same path. Learn not to just react but take some time to breathe, become calm and think through how you would like to respond. Behave differently next time you date and you will discover that things will go a lot more smoothly.
Sherry Marshall, BSc, MAA – www.naturaltherapypages.com.au/connect/sydneyprocesscounselling
If only life came with an instruction manual so that we as women would not make some of the emotional choices that we often do, things would be so simple, right?
In the absence of said manual, if we only had a time machine to go back and fix the mistakes of yesterday (or even five minutes ago), things would be even better.
In the latter case, we would not be forced to study for hours on end. The truth of the matter is, there are no simple fixes to what I like to call “hand, foot, and mouth situations.”
These are situations in which either our hands or our feet should keep our mouths from speaking prematurely. In today’s technology world, this also extends to our anxious fingers as we type poorly thought out text and email messages and carelessly press send.
In order to refrain from damaging relationships, use this method “Stop, Think and Write.”
In the first step, women give themselves the time and freedom to explore and process their feelings. When wronged, many women know how to immediately return the gesture, but this is usually done without first acknowledging the feelings behind their subsequent actions.
It’s not enough to just stop. Women have to actually think about a course of action. Sometimes humans learn from their mistakes, but sometimes they don’t. This step forces women to self reflect on the perceived pain that she has experienced and ponder ways to respond appropriately.
For example, I am not suggesting that women ignore disrespectful slights from a significant other or potential partner. This step does just the opposite; women are encouraged to think about effective ways to express themselves without being rude, dramatic, or overly-emotional.
The last step is to write (or speak) in a respectful and appropriate tone. People shut down if they feel disrespected (even if they were perceived as being disrespectful first). I stress mutual respect to my clients and the suggestion here is no different.
Before flying off the handle in an emotional rage, it is important to process one’s feelings, think of an appropriate response and to then (and only then) press send on that text or email!
Dr. Kirsten Person-Ramey – www.linkedin.com/in/kirsten-ramey
You may not, except with express written permission, distribute or commercially exploit the content. Nor may you transmit it or store it in any other website or other form of electronic retrieval system.