How To Apologize The Right Way
People in relationships make mistakes. We’ve all done something we’ve later regretted and said something we wish we could take back.
Here are four ways to apologize to your significant other, and four ways that are sure to land you in the dog house.
THE RIGHT WAY
1. SPEAK THE SPEECH
If you feel like you need to apologize to your significant other, chances are, they want you to apologize as well. And the most straight forward way to do it is to just say it. A common mistake when apologizing is trying to qualify it – “In my defense…” or “Well it’s because you did x-y-z…” When apologizing, just say “I’m sorry” and clearly state what you did wrong. THEN you can qualify in terms of your own feelings. Once you start using their actions as rationalization, it can go downhill fast.
2. ACTIONS SPEAK LOUDER THAN WORDS
Sometimes simply speaking an apology isn’t enough. It’s no surprise that one love language is through acts of service. An apology can be expressed by doing recreational activities that your partner enjoys, or chores that your partner would rather not have to be responsible for. Showing that you’re willing to do something to ease your partner’s responsibilities and well-being is an earnest way to show one’s remorse. Whether that’s taking your partner out to dinner, or walking the dog before you go to work, bequeathing them recreational time while you pick up the slack is a great way to say I’m sorry.
3. WRAPPED UP IN YOUR LOVE
Another love language is physical touch. Some animals can sense fear, anxiety, or even apology in their species’ behavior, and being the top of the food chain, we are no different. Sometimes creating a consensual physical moment between two parties is an effective way to communicate an apology. Whether this is a prolonged hug, or a kiss, or even make-up sex, make sure that you are getting consent from your partner before physically showing them you’re sorry. Going a step further, sometimes doing something that’s outside your sexual norm is a way to say ‘I won’t do it again.’ It might even turn into a barter system – you don’t have to apologize if you do that thing with your tongue.
4. LISTEN TO YOUR HEART
Keep in mind that knowing your partner will dictate which way is best. Sometimes a partner doesn’t like to talk things out, or sometimes a partner uses post-fight coitus to push real issues under the rug. But an earnest combination of these methods of contrition helps build a stronger more communicated relationship. The best thing to do in this situation is not only the apology, but the act of listening afterwards. How did your actions make your partner feel? Why did they react in the way they did? What can you do in the future to navigate their physical and emotional needs?
THE WRONG WAY
1. APOLOGIZE, DON’T ACCUSE
Sometimes it’s difficult when both partners feel like they are in the right. Although it is unhealthy to always defer to your partner, it’s okay for some differences to come to a head. However, it’s not okay to use the apology to open up another argument. An apology should be about resolving an issue and moving on from it. If one begins to use an apology as a means to dig up other skeletons, then the apology begins to lose its meaning.
2. GRAVE DIGGING
Speaking of digging up skeletons, when apologizing, don’t attack what the other person has done in the past to justify your actions. The great thing about being human is we grow and change, and blindsiding your significant other with habits or actions they did in the past during an apology can come off of more as a justification for your actions. It’s important to make it clear that the apology is specifically for the situation at hand, not something they did two years ago.
3. GROWING, NOT SHOWING
One of the worst kind of apologies is apologizing for apology’s sake. If you don’t feel like you should apologize, but know it will mitigate the current situation, apologize whole-heartedly. There’s nothing that reignites a fight more than an insincere apology. If you simply don’t believe in apologizing at the moment, it may be important to kindly say ‘I unfortunately cannot apologize for that because I don’t think that what I did was wrong.’ In order to pull this conversation off, it’s of utmost importance that one leads with empathy.
Another terrible way to apologize is to put it off. By deflecting or beating around the bush, it alerts your partner to the possibility that the apology may not be sincere.
No matter the situation, it may seem like the latter four options are easier, but in fact, although the ‘positive’ apologies may see more difficult, they in fact will lead to stronger bonds within simpatico relationships.
Lumi Park is a writer, foodie, and Capricorn, from the cornfields of Ohio. He once won a NYC bartending award, a Brooklyn-wide comic book Trivia Bowl, and went to nationals two years in a year for the sport of jump roping. He is oddly not competitive.