We have all been there before. That place of knowing that you have done someone wrong and need to apologize. Knowing how to apologize to your boyfriend or girlfriend is an important skill to have for a healthy relationship. It's a difficult place to be in, and it can bring many emotions with it. You may be embarrassed, confused, angry, sad, or any other number of emotions. And, it may leave you wondering how to get someone to forgive you.
And that's one of the hardest parts. You have no control over if someone decides to forgive you or not. What you do have control over is your ability to apologize and the behavior that you show going forward.
Why It's Important To Apologize
Apologizing has many benefits for both the person who is apologizing and the one that's receiving the apology. A heartfelt apology can bring down a situation.
When two people are in an argument, it's easy for things to get heated—Tempers flare, and blood pressure rises. But, when one person apologizes, it instantly starts to deescalate the situation.
If you have hurt another person, apologizing can have the following benefits:
While you can't control if someone's going to forgive you or not, there are some things that you can do to make it easier for them to forgive you. These things can also make it easier for you to overcome any guilt you're feeling to move forward healthily.
We can see this situation played out in children interacting together, especially siblings, regularly. One child will do something that hurts the other and is then told to apologize. However, when they apologize, they say "I'm sorry" in a mean way and are then told by a parent to "say it as you mean it."
This advice is important as an adult as well. People will not forgive you if you do not show them that you are remorseful for what you have done. If you are saying the words "I'm sorry" to get them to forgive you and not because you mean it, they are going to see right through it. If you aren't sorry, then don't apologize. If you are sorry, then make sure you communicate to the other person that you are deeply remorseful and that your apology is sincere.
This is going to vary case-by-case. Some people will want an explanation of what your thought process was in the action or behavior you had. This information is what they feel like they need to be able to move towards forgiving you. However, some people will take your explanation of the situation as you are trying to excuse your behavior.
You must understand the person that you are asking for forgiveness from. If part of the reason they are hurt is that they see something different in the situation than how it was, it is important to explain this. They need to understand the situation. But, some people aren't going to want to hear it, and you can't force them to.
It's important that you own the situation and what you did wrong. Don't try to sugarcoat your behavior or the situation. This makes it difficult for someone to forgive you because they don't feel like you're sincere.
Sometimes when you have wronged someone, there are actions that you can take to improve the situation. Take some time to think through the situation and what you did wrong and think about anything you can do to change it. If you're trying to apologize but not doing things that can make the situation better, your apology will not look sincere.
Being sorry and remorseful is something that you can show with your actions and not just your words.
Sometimes it can make it easier for someone to forgive you if they know that you're proactive in the situation. When you let someone know what your plans are, not to repeat the wrong thing you did, it can go a long way in showing the person you are sincere. It lets them know that you have thought through the situation and what you need to improve.
This can help someone to work towards accepting your apology and forgiving you faster. However, if you take this route and you let them know what you're going to do differently in the future, you need to make sure that you do it. Because if you don't, that person is going to lose all trust in you, and it's not going to be as easy to apologize for you the next time around.
Forgiving yourself is important for both you and the other person if you're still in a relationship with them. If they forgive you and you don't forgive yourself, you will continue to force both of you to live in that situation. Even if the other person has not forgiven you, choosing to forgive yourself is important for your future. It allows you to overcome the guilt you're feeling, which is important for living a healthy life.
You need to acknowledge that you're not perfect and you're not going to do everything right. But, you need to love yourself, and you'd be able to accept yourself even with your imperfections. If you have done everything you can to make the situation better, it's time to forgive yourself and move forward. This is an important decision for you to make regardless of what the other person or people that you have hurt have decided. You don't need to wait for their forgiveness to forgive yourself.
It's important to remember that just because someone forgives you does not mean that they will want to maintain a relationship with you. This could not be easy to understand. If you did something wrong to hurt someone or break their trust and have apologized, you most likely think that things should be able to go back to the way they were before. But that's not always the case.
For example, in the case of infidelity in a marriage, it may be possible for one spouse to forgive the other person for cheating, but it doesn't mean that they trust that person. You can't have a healthy relationship without trust. So, they may decide, even though they have forgiven, not to restore the relationship to what it once was.
This decision is not within your control. If a relationship is lost because of something you have done, it is a natural consequence of your behavior. There is nothing that you can do to force the other person to maintain a relationship with you. You can work to show them that you are remorseful, that you have changed, and work on rebuilding trust with them. In time, this can help to restore the relationship. But, it's not something that you can automatically expect or demand.
When Therapy Is Right
Many ways are talking to a therapist can be beneficial if you're in a place, you need to apologize for something you've done wrong. A therapist can help you learn how to overcome the guilt you are feeling due to the situation. They can help you learn how to apologize and try to reconcile any relationships. And they can help you learn what changes you need to make, so you don't repeat the behavior.
If you are looking for someone to talk to, contact a therapist from ReGain to get started on your healing process today.
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Frequently Asked Questions
What should you say to someone who won't forgive you?
Say something to the person you hurt that shows your empathy, remorse, and willingness to do things differently.
Say that you see they're upset, that you can understand why they are so upset, and that you can imagine feeling just as bad if someone did the same thing to you. Tell them you are deeply sorry for what you did and regret how it has changed the relationship. Then, let them know the things you are willing to change so that they do not have to go through this again.
In the end, if the person you harmed doesn't forgive you, there are only a few kind things left to say. Tell the person you hurt that the time you spent with them meant a lot to you, and you're sorry it will end or won't be the same after this. And let them know you hope they can forgive you someday, and you will welcome any opportunity to mend your relationship.
How do you deal with someone who won't forgive you?
That depends. How is their inability to forgive you affecting your life? How is it affecting the person you hurt?
If a person you harmed won't forgive you, but they still want to be in a relationship with you, this presents a problem. It's very hard to have a close, intimate relationship with someone who hasn't forgiven you. If the thing they are upset about is a serious matter, your best option might be to go into couples' counseling with them. Then, the two of you can discover ways to overcome this issue and rebuild your relationship.
However, if the person you hurt doesn't forgive you or want to be in the relationship anymore, you may need to step back and let them have their space. It's hard to face the fact that your actions have caused a rift in the relationship. But if you have deeply hurt someone, you can't demand that they will forgive you. And if they don't forgive you, you can't expect that they will interact with you in positive ways. It might be time to let go of the relationship, at least for the time being.
How do you ask someone to forgive?
Ask the person you hurt something like this, "I know I hurt you when I did this thing (name it specifically), and I can't express how sorry I am that I hurt you. Can you forgive me?"
This little statement is not really a full apology, but it might be enough to get the ball rolling. If the person you harmed has questions about why you did it or what you will change, listen to them and offer your best answers. Then, follow through with everything after the apology is over.
What should you say when someone apologizes, and you don't forgive them?
If someone apologizes and you can't forgive them right now, let them know you aren't ready yet. Tell them how you see this impacting your relationship with them. Then, tell them about anything they could do to help you forgive them more easily.
But if you feel you will never be able to forgive them, let them know you can't imagine ever changing your mind.
By telling them where they stand, you give them the information they need to know what to do next.
What is a good apology?
Instead of rattling off a hurried "I'm sorry," ask them to sit down with you and discuss it. Then, follow this step-by-step plan for apologizing.
How do you respond to an apology when still hurt?
You might have to say, "I need time to consider your apology. I'm too hurt to deal with it right now."
Sometimes, when you hurt someone, the person you hurt isn't as anxious as you are to put it behind them. The person you hurt might need some time to experience their emotional pain, express it, and come to terms with the damage you've done.
So, if someone apologizes to you and you are still hurt, it's okay to ask them to give you some space before you comment on their apology. This could prevent you from saying things you don't mean or saying you accept an apology when that's not really what you want.