How to Apologize to Your Partner

Emilia Rivera
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No matter how hard you try, your relationship with your partner will not always be perfect, and that’s okay. There will be times when you fall into disagreements, and things will be said that you don’t truly mean. Feelings will be hurt, and trust will be broken. It sucks, but it happens. The hurt, however, does not have to last forever. Usually, when you hurt your partner’s feelings, the first reaction may not always be to apologize right away. For this reason, Dr. Jennifer Thomas, co-author of When Sorry Isn’t Enough, and Dr. Gary Chapman, author of The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts, have come together to develop the five apology languages.

We all have those times when we think we are right in what we said, neglecting that sometimes our words can be too much to bear to the person who receives them. Taking time to breathe and recognizing that you could be the one in the wrong is always best. Although, sometimes, just admitting you’re wrong and saying sorry doesn’t cut it.

Similar to how there are multiple love languages, there are five different apology languages. This means that an apology should be tailored to the person you’re apologizing to instead of using the same generic apology for everyone. To ensure that your partner receives your apology well, learn the five apology languages and consider which might apply best for you and your partner.

What are the 5 Apology Languages?

The five apology languages are composed of: expressing regret, accepting responsibility, genuinely repenting, making restitution, and requesting forgiveness. Like love languages, these apology languages help you tell or show your partner how sorry you are and what you are willing to do to repair the damage. It is about ensuring that all parties feel heard and valued.

1. Expressing regret

When you express regret to your partner, you show them that you know what you said or did was wrong. It can be as simple as ‘I feel ashamed for how I hurt you.’

2. Accepting responsibility

This one can be tough, but your apology will be null and void if you don’t accept responsibility for your contribution to the argument. It is best not to blame the other person or say things like ‘I’m sorry you feel that way.’ It’s not very helpful. You want to make sure that you are taking ownership of your actions.  

3. Genuinely repenting

If your main reason for apologizing is to rush back to normalcy and enjoy the perks of being a couple, your apology probably wasn’t sincere and could make things worse. You want to make sure that you are being as genuine as possible; this is not a situation where you can fake it until you make it. Relationships don't work that way.

4. Making restitution

Restitution is best described as making good or giving an equivalent for some injury. In this case, the apologizer must justify or explain their wrongdoing. It’s not about making an excuse for your actions but acknowledging that you hurt your partner’s feelings and opening the door for your partner to express what they will need to find a resolution. This shows your partner that you respect them and that their feelings are important to you.

5. Requesting forgiveness

Requesting forgiveness assures your partner that you want to see the relationship fully restored. They may need time to forgive you, and that’s okay.  It is crucial that you continue to show through your actions that you are willing to invest your time and energy to make things better for your partner. This will lead to you both agreeing and being on track toward forgiveness.

Discover Your Partner’s Apology Language

Now that you know all of the apology languages, you should learn which language your partner responds best to. Amy Olson, a dating and relationship expert, tells Cosmopolitan in one of their articles, Your Everything-to-Know Guide to Apology Languages, that if neither partner understands the other’s apology language, “misunderstandings may creep in...The only way to avoid them is to know each other’s type and act on it whenever the need arises.” 

All you have to do is take the apology language quiz. This is a multiple choice quiz that provides you with options on what type of apology you are looking for from your partner. It is also recommended that you take this with your partner so that you both know your apology languages and how to provide an apology that fits into each other’s languages.

Having arguments in your relationship is bound to happen once in a while. If you and your partner are aware of the best way to apologize to each other, you can come to a resolution quicker. However, this is only the beginning of your journey to turning your ‘I’m sorry’ into a more profound apology. Remember, you need all the puzzle pieces of a relationship to keep your bond with your partner strong. To find and plan new experiences to share together, check out The Official App.

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