I Didn't Mean To Hurt You: 10 Ways To Say You're Sorry

By Lindsay Hamilton|Updated June 17, 2022
CheckedMedically Reviewed By Aaron Horn, LMFT

When you are in a committed relationship, arguments happen. You say things you don’t mean, or make a mistake that leads to hurt feelings or missed opportunities. Human beings aren’t perfect, so learning how to apologize and mean it is a helpful skill to have. You will make mistakes, that is guaranteed. But how you handle the situation after you make a mistake will show your partner the type of person you are. Take a look at these ten ways that you can say you’re sorry after you hurt your partner. Really think about them as you read and decide to implement them the next time you make a mistake.

1. Give A Sincere Apology And Express Regret

Start with heartfelt words. Say how sorry you are for what you did wrong. It’s also a good idea to express regret for what you did. Whether you regret your actions or regret that you hurt your partner or both, you should let them know. Saying you’re sorry without showing regret probably won’t get you very far, as your partner won’t think you are sincere in your apology. Without regret, you might be inclined to do it again or are just giving your partner lip service. When you say you’re sorry, make sure you mean in.

Finding The Best Way To Apologize Can Be Difficult
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2. Explain Why You Did What You Did

Included with your apology can be an explanation of your actions. Maybe you thought what you were doing was helpful, or you didn’t realize that your words or actions would hurt your partner as much as it did. Explain your thought process or what you were trying to do. It’s okay to talk about your intentions and open up a dialogue about it. Give your partner a chance to express their feelings about your actions as well. Really listen to what they have to say and be open to feedback.

3. But Don’t Give Any Excuses

When you are giving your explanation, be careful of giving any excuses. Refrain from using words like “but” or placing blame on your partner for your behavior. This can lead to your partner thinking your apology is insincere. Excuses rarely come off well, and their only use is to place blame elsewhere, which you shouldn’t want to do.

4. Take Responsibility For Your Actions

Since you’re not giving any excuses, you should take responsibility for your actions or words. Take all of the blame, the hurt feelings, and admit that it was your fault, that you caused whatever happened to hurt your partner. Even if it was an accident, or you misspoke, taking responsibility for your actions shows courage and true character. It’s the best way to seek forgiveness and start to move on from big hurt. Your partner will appreciate your honesty and your willingness to accept blame.

5. Give An Apology Gift

While you can’t buy yourself forgiveness, a nice gesture in the form of a gift might help soften the blow you dealt. Picking up some flowers, making a playlist, or finding a funny gift that reminds you of an inside joke is a nice and innocent way to try to make up for your actions and words. It won’t solve the problems and definitely cannot be replaced with a worded apology, but your partner will feel touched by this nice action.

6. Do Something Nice For Your Partner

Offer to do something nice for your partner. Do the laundry, take them out to dinner, give them a massage, run errands for them, something that you don’t normally do but want to make things easier on them for a day. Offering to do chores or other nice things for your partner can show that you are sorry for your actions, that you regret hurting your partner, and now you want to help them in any way you can. Don’t wait for them to ask for you to do something, offer a specific instance in which you can help. If they are hesitant in accepting, keep trying until they let their guard down enough to let you help.

7. Ask For Forgiveness

After you are done apologizing, ask your partner for forgiveness. They don’t automatically owe you that forgiveness, so asking for it shows that you want to be on better terms with them. Along with your partner, ask forgiveness of yourself. Feeling regret for doing something wrong is natural, but don’t beat yourself up over a mistake. Once you have apologized and taken responsibility, it’s okay to let go of the regret and start looking forward. Remember that your partner was the one who was hurt, so they may need time to get to a place of forgiveness. Give them that time. It’s okay to give them the space to heal.

8. Allow Time For Your Partner To Process Their Hurt

If your partner asks for space, for time, for help in moving past the hurtful incident, be sure to give it to them. Be available for whatever they need, and try to be as helpful as possible while your partner processes your apology. Sometimes an apology can be accepted right away, but other times distance needs to be put behind the incident first. Just because your partner might not be ready now, doesn’t mean they won’t be down the road. Be patient and understanding while you wait.

9. Commit To Doing Better

Based on what your wrong action or words were, commit to being a better person. Take steps towards making sure you don’t make the same mistake twice. Maybe that means counseling, maybe that means changing your schedule, or maybe it means something else. You know what went wrong and how you got there, now you have the chance to fix it. Tell your partner you are committed to doing better, then take actionable steps to show them how you are doing just that. They will probably want proof before they believe you, but you can give them that proof. Stick to your new decision to be better. Then you will do better.

10. Ask How You Can Make It Up to Your Partner

Finding The Best Way To Apologize Can Be Difficult

There may be some things you can do to make up for your actions. Your partner will know what those things are. Ask for tasks to do offer yourself as a means to make up for your wrongdoing. They may ask for gifts or for you to do something nice for them as we mentioned above, but they also might ask for a promise, or a new commitment, or a show of growth. Open yourself up to whatever it is you need to do to make things right. Talk with your partner about the changes that need to be made, allow yourself to take criticism and apply it towards your new choices. This is how you will start to move on.

While we wish we could be perfect and never make mistakes, never hurt the people that we love, sometimes it just happens. It’s up to us to figure out the type of people we want to be after the hurt has already occurred. Avoiding blame or making excuses makes things harder in a relationship. A sincere apology with honest conversation is the biggest key to saving marriages, deepening relationships and keeping peace inside the home. It’s not easy to accept responsibility, and it’s also not easy to forgive when you’ve been hurt. But when you can work together as a partnership and try to repair the damage through teamwork, you will find that getting to a better place becomes much Think.

If you are having trouble with forgiveness or having trouble saying you’re sorry, know that there is help available for you. Consider talking with a counselor through ReGain, an online counseling platform that allows you to communicate securely with a counselor through text, video chat, or phone chat all at your convenience and in your own home. You can use the service yourself to help with relationship issues or invite your partner to join for marriage counseling or other forms of therapy. You never have to worry about your schedule because the text therapy option doesn’t have to happen in real-time. Talk to your counselor through a secure chatroom at your own pace, and your counselor will respond to you at predetermined times. You and your partner can sign up together, or you can sign up on your own and add your partner at a later date, it’s really easy. All you need to do is fill out a short survey about yourself and your relationship to determine the best counselor available for you. If you decide you want a different counselor at some point, it’s also very easy to switch.

If you would like more information about ReGain or you are all ready to sign up, please visit the https://www.regain.us/start to get matched with the counselor that’s right for you today.

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