Tips for Saying 'I'm Sorry' in a Relationship

There's very little I hate more than apologizing.

No, I take that back. I'm the same person who has, on occasion, apologized to chairs I've run into and people who have stepped on my feet. I'm fine with saying "I'm sorry." Unless, of course, it's an apology that actually matters.

Then I run into all kinds of problems.

Here are some tips I've been using to learn how to say "I'm sorry" to the people (not furniture) who deserve an apology.


Assume responsibility for your mistakes. When you hurt someone you love, you have to recognize that your actions (or inaction) are to blame. There are no excuses or justifications for it -- just take responsibility.

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Tame your ego. A lot of people hate to apologize because it hurts their ego and pride to admit they did something wrong. It's human nature, of course, but it can sorely compromise the gentle art of the apology. If you struggle with your ego, remember this: Your partner is much more important than your pride. Feelings should come before pride, no matter what.

Agree to disagree. Sometimes neither side is right, and there will be no middle ground, no compromise, and no meeting of the minds. Even if you've accepted responsibility for your actions and the hurt they've caused, you might not understand why the other party is hurt. That's okay. You don't have to walk around in their shoes -- just understand that they're hurt. Apologize, don't debate the feelings of the other person involved, and (mentally) agree to disagree.

Write it down. If you're unsure of what to say and how to say it, go back to an old favorite -- write it down. When you write down what you're planning to say before opening your mouth, you have the opportunity to formulate your thoughts into a cohesive whole. Send a carefully crafted email (or snail mail letter) to allow you to clearly show how sincere you are with your apology.

Call the one you love. If you're better on the phone than by letter (or email), call your loved one. It might feel like you're trying to take the easy route, but that's okay. Sometimes it's easier to do it via phone than face-to-face. And the more you can apologize on the phone, the easier it will become to say you're sorry in person.

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Apologizing doesn't mean you have to grovel for forgiveness. In fact, if you're groveling at your partner's feet, begging forgiveness, you should take a step back and look at that relationship. Everyone messes up sometimes. Apologies are simply a way of acknowledging that you made a mistake.

Do you have any tips for mastering the art of "I'm sorry"?


Image via butupa/Flickr

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