What To Do When You Want To Make Someone Forget Something

Updated April 8, 2024by Regain Editorial Team

For many of us, there may be times in life where we say or do the wrong thing and wish it had never happened. We regret what was said and want to take it back. In those moments, we might wish that we could make other people completely forget what was said or done—like it never happened at all. While this wish is understandable, this is largely out of our control. But there are things you can do to help mend the situation, repair any hurt that was caused, and encourage the relationship to move forward. In this article, we’ll outline a few tips to consider when you’re feeling this way.

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What to do when you want someone to forget about something

When we figuratively put our foot in our mouths, we may wish we could make someone forget what just happened. While you’re unlikely to make them completely forget about what just happened, there may be things you can do to lessen the blow and to help make that memory less unpleasant and less prominent in their mind. Read on for a few tips. 


Do something kind

In situations where feelings are hurt, doing something extra nice can be beneficial. It can show your remorse for the wrongdoing, and it may help soften the memory or help the past memories to be less negative when they think back on it. 

Remove any reminders

You can also try removing any objects or reminders of the unpleasant topic. If there are reminders in the periphery, that person may be more likely to recall that negative memory on a far more frequent basis. They may never forget that negative experience entirely, but removing any reminders of it may help them to think of it less often. 

Bring up a pleasant memory

Perhaps try to remind that person of a more enjoyable part of the memory or try to analyze the situation to lessen its impact. If you can get them to associate that memory with something more positive, it may help to balance out the impact of the more negative part.


In most cases, the person won’t forget this thing completely. For better or worse, they may hang on to the situation, analyzing what you did or didn’t do and how you could have acted differently. This can really hinder a relationship. Often, one of the best ways forward is to simply apologize. You can’t take away what happened in the past, but you can show your remorse for it now and your sincere commitment to doing better in the future. As you apologize, you may also consider offering an explanation for why you acted how you did or why the mistake was made. It may not make the situation go away, but they may better understand why it happened. A heartfelt, meaningful apology is often a necessary part of someone putting that negative experience behind them and being able to move forward.

Seek help with the relationship in therapy

Figuring out how to move past a moment you regret and that caused another person pain can be difficult to do on your own. If you and your partner would like support in this process, online therapy can help. Research shows that online therapy can be effective at improving relationship satisfaction

And, if you and your partner are experiencing significant strain, you may decide that you’d like to take some physical space apart from each other while still working on the relationship. With online therapy through Regain, you and your partner can join the same therapy session from separate locations. 

Give them time and try to move on

Oftentimes, the person who is hurt may need some time to heal, forgive, and move on. Try to give them the time and space they need. As much as we might wish otherwise, we can’t control how someone else feels about something. They may need to process things on their own time. Try to allow them to do what they need to do, and perhaps you can revisit the subject later. After some time, it may be okay to approach the subject further and try to reconcile the situation if possible. 

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What about making someone forget about positive things?

While we have been focused on the negative situations so far, there can also be some positive situations in which you may wish you could get someone to forget about something. 

For instance, let’s say that something is exciting coming up. Maybe a person is making plans for their birthday, but you have a surprise in store. To keep that surprise intact, you want to get that person to forget about the thing they are excited about. Maybe they are really excited about that special date, and you need them not to be so excited to preserve your surprise.

Again, just like with the negative situations, there is no magic way you can get someone to forget about something completely, but there may be some things you can try that may help distract them or get them to focus on other things. For instance, perhaps you can subtly take away reminders of the upcoming event, like a note on a calendar or objects relating to the event. And if they bring it up to you, you may try to subtly change the subject or excuse yourself from the conversation. You may also try changing locations as a distraction. 

Lastly, you can also simply be honest. There may be instances where you can’t dodge the conversation regarding that event or situation. When this happens, you can ask politely to move on to something else. You don’t have to divulge that you have a surprise planned, but you could let them know that there are things that you want to keep to yourself so that both parties can continue to enjoy the excitement and anticipation that day offers.


We are only human, and we all make mistakes. At times, we may say or do the wrong thing and wish we could take it back. While this is out of our control, there are things we can do to help repair the relationship and make amends for the hurt that was caused. For further support in coping with difficult situations and strengthening relationships, an online counselor can help. 

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