“A sincere apology has three parts: I am sorry; It is my fault; and What can I do to make it right?”
Start by cleaning up your mindset first; then talk to your partner about it.
First, get clean with yourself.
Don’t talk to him until you really have a clear perspective on your part.
- What is your responsibility?
- Why did you do it?
- What have you learned to be confident it won’t happen again?
- What feelings in you were driving your behavior? Were you being needy? Controlling? Insecure? Demanding? Afraid? Jealous?
- Did you sabotage the relationship because you have some ambivalence about it?
Next, you must be ready and willing to forgive yourself.
Only after you have answered these questions, are you ready to approach him. Assuming you have forgiven yourself, I’m going to also assume that some of your ability to do that comes from accepting that you are human and flawed. Because all human beings have flaws.
So, from that place of self-acceptance, ASK him if he is willing to listen.
If he says no, respect that.
If he says yes, start by taking genuine responsibility for your mistake. DO NOT point out that you were justified in your bad behavior because of something he did. That is not taking responsibility; that is blame. It’s okay if you want to talk about the dynamic between you and something he did that hurt you. But NOW is not the time.
NOW is the time to step up and own what you did.
It’s also helpful to share with him why you think you did it, based on your own humanness. This would include the feelings you uncovered in the exercise above (YOUR OWN feelings of fear, jealousy, insecurity, etc).
Next, tell him why you think you can do better in the future and why you think you deserve another chance.
Then ask him for another chance.
Keep your emotions calm. Don’t get defensive. If he asks you a question that you don’t know how to answer, tell him you need a little time to think about it and will get back to him.
Be sweet, but you don’t need to grovel. Just be yourself. And believe that you are worthy of forgiveness and another chance.
Ellen Hartson, LISW – www.ellenhartson.com
Do you feel like you messed up your relationship? Are you wondering how to fix it?
Below are some tips on how you can restore trust in your relationship with your boyfriend.
One step you can take to get your relationship back on track is to give him a sincere apology.
When you do apologize make it clear what you are apologizing for and what you regret about your actions. By doing this you are taking responsibility for the hurt you caused your boyfriend.
Another important step to repairing your relationship is to have good communication with each other.
By talking about what troubles you are having in your relationship it lets you both know what pages you are on. Whether it is the same page or a different page. When you have an open and honest conversation it can help to have a successful relationship.
You also should not blame your boyfriend for any of this.
By placing blame on him it can often make the situation worse. It also shows that you are not taking responsibility for your actions. When you take responsibility for your actions it shows that you are willing to work on your relationship and put the time and effort into it.
One thing you will need to accept is that you cannot control how your boyfriend will react or feel about the situation.
You can control how well you handle the situation but you cannot control how he will react. One thing to keep in mind is his forgiveness is never guaranteed. You have to let him work through the anger and hurt or any other emotions he is feeling. During this time you will also have to give him time and space.
By allowing him to process his feelings he will be able to better communicate with you.
By apologizing, communicating, not blaming your boyfriend and giving him space are all good steps to take when you feel like you have messed up your relationship.
These will all happen in different stages but are all positive ways to regain trust in your relationship.
Hollis Wall, MA, LMHCA – www.wallehollis.com
It can be so uncomfortable and difficult to feel like you have seriously messed up a relationship that is important to you.
You might feel sad, anxious, angry, or even a sense of shame at the mistake you feel you have made.
While there are no easy solutions in these situations, I would encourage you to reflect more before immediately trying to repair things with your partner.
If you can reflect and let yourself process the situation enough so that you feel you have clarity about the situation, any attempts to repair things might go a bit better.
Spending some time thinking about what happened and why you made the choice you did would be helpful.
Considering all the factors at play is important to your understanding of the situation and your choices as well as to help you feel less shame (if you were indeed feeling shame about something you did).
However, the goal of spending this time thinking about your choices and the situation is not to come up with a clear defense strategy against your partner!
The goal is to understand yourself and your choices and to be able to go into a conversation with them with a clear mind and self-understanding.
Then, I would encourage you to approach your partner with honesty and not excuses, but a sincere apology and plan to repair things between the two of you.
Depending on what happened between you and how serious the situation is, this might be a longer conversation spread out over many moments or it might be one conversation and a quick repair.
The best tips I have are to enter into this conversation with
- Clarity about why you want to repair things
- A plan to repair things
- Openness to hearing your partner’s perspective
- And the least defensiveness possible.
I hope this helps you navigate this bump in the road of your relationship.
Erica Wollerman, PsyD – www.thrivetherapystudio.com
I knew a man who really messed up his relationship—big time.
His partner left him and started a new life, wanting nothing to do with him. But he loved her and wanted to show her he was sorry.
Here’s what he did: Every Sunday afternoon he would go to her house with a bag of groceries for her. The first time he rang her doorbell, she didn’t even open the door, just yelled, “Go away.” He left the food at her door.
The next week he did the same but got the same result. This went on for weeks. Then one Sunday, she cracked the door open just enough to tell him, “Go away.”
But he persevered, he never gave up. He continued to show up every Sunday with a bag of groceries. Eventually she opened the door and they had a conversation. She didn’t let him in, but he was encouraged.
After several months, she finally invited him in and they made a meal together with the groceries he brought.
All along he told her how sorry he was for his behavior, but more importantly, she saw his consistent behavior as a true expression of his regret.
That was the factor that changed her mind. After many more Sunday dinners together, they reconciled.
Have you messed up your relationship? Do you want to fix it?
I suggest you find a way to “show up with groceries.”
Do something meaningful for your partner that will demonstrate your remorse.
Be consistent with whatever that gesture is.
And don’t expect a quick fix. Be patient. Your ongoing effort will speak louder than your words.
Susan Tschudi, MA, LMFT – www.therapybysusan.com
We all mess up sometimes. There are small, medium and large mess ups. However, any mess up deserves an apology.
Apologies can be a simple, “I’m sorry.”
Just saying “sorry” doesn’t do the whole job. You need the “I” in there to be clear that you’re the one who made the mistake.
We do these kinds of apologies every day for small mishaps—bumping into someone, causing a spill, misunderstanding a casual comment, and so forth.
Messing up a relationship falls more into the medium and large categories.
Betrayal is in the large category, while hurtful comments and lying by omission are more likely in the medium category. In either case, you need a heartfelt apology and a guarantee of better actions in the future to heal the damage.
To fix these larger mess ups, however, you’ll need to examine your actions, figure out what you were really feeling and wanting at the time, and understand what you want going forward.
This requires you to examine your own standards and values.
Ask yourself, Am I the kind of person who…..? and see what you come up with. If the behavior doesn’t measure up to who you want to be, then an apology and a plan for changing that behavior is called for.
If you find you unconsciously meant what you said and did, then you need to look at whether this relationship is really one you want to be in. Your heart and your mind may not be going in the same direction.
Really bad mess ups usually revolve around sex or money and include lies, cover ups, and betrayal of trust.
They aren’t just one mistake but a whole series of mistakes.
Having an affair, for example, includes lies about where you are, who you’re with, what you’re doing, as well as lies about your feelings, hopes and dreams with your loved one. There are also lies to the “lover” about your primary relationship, and so forth.
Affairs always indicate a certain level of dissatisfaction in your primary relationship that you haven’t been talking about or fixing, which is another mess up.
The most important thing to do first when you’ve messed things up is to look deeply into your motivation, your feelings, and any inner conflicts you’ve been having about your relationship.
You can’t truly fix anything until you know what you really want. It can be overwhelming to be feeling the horrible results of your actions, however, you can’t move forward with a true apology and possible resolution until you know what’s going on for you.
Saying, “I never meant for this to happen,” or “I don’t know why I did this,” will never be truly good enough to repair the damage.
In order to repair a relationship, you have to know what needs to be changed in both of you. Whatever is not working needs to be discussed and resolved in order to move forward.
After you come to understand what was not working and how you messed up, it’s time to make a heartfelt apology.
Besides the words, I’m sorry, a good apology includes:
Admit what was wrong about your behavior. Specify the behavior that you did that was hurtful.
Concern for the other person. Identify clearly the hurt and pain you caused the other person.
Take responsibility for your actions. This is not the time to discuss the other person’s actions, failings, or reactions. Take responsibility for what you did.
How you plan to fix the wrong that your behavior caused. Saying you’ll never do the behavior again will not be reassuring. You need to offer exact ways that the other person can verify your actions and rebuild trust.
Follow through. Rebuilding trust takes time—sometimes lots of time. Be prepared for the other person to be anxious and worried about your commitment to change. Follow through without over-reacting to times when they don’t trust you.
Not an Apology: I’m sorry that your feelings got hurt by what I said, but you just make me so mad when you act all superior and criticize me in front of my friends.
A Real Apology: I was rude and mean to you the other night. I know it hurt your feelings. I was embarrassed in front of my friends, but that was no excuse for me to say those hurtful things to you.
I sometimes feel inferior and stupid when you correct what I say. I’d really like to discuss how we can help each other be more comfortable when we’re out with friends.
It takes more time and thought to really apologize, but when it’s done from the heart, it can be enormously healing and could save your relationship.
Margalis Fjelstad, Ph.D., LMFT – www.margalistherapy.com
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