Get past those awkward moments and save your relationship in 3 easy steps. Learn how to apologize.
About what seems to be a million years ago, there was an ultra-romantic movie called "Love Story". Posters and ads for the film were everywhere. They depicted an obviously-in-love couple in the throes of dealing with her death from cancer, and each one carried a touching caption: "Love means never having to say you're sorry."
Oh? If you’ve ever been in love, and especially if you’ve been in a long-term relationship, you might have a different opinion. Sure, it’s true that the one you spend your life with should love you "no matter what."
Yet, there are times when it is not only "okay" but necessary to say you’re sorry. Making an apology is a way of saying you know you did or said something that hurt the other person, and that you regret it. And, if you truly are sorry, you’ll want to show you mean it by making up for what you did or said.
If you really love someone, would you not want them to be sorry when they hurt or insult you? Even if they don’t know it at the time, when you show you need an apology, you deserve one… and should insist on getting it.
Before you can even begin to ask this from your partner, though, it is a good idea to figure out how you can learn how to apologize — and mean it. We say the words "I’m sorry" all the time. You’ll hear it when someone nudges you by accident, drops something, or inadvertently interrupts you.
Words such of these are always a good start, but here are three steps to a real apology, and how you can use them to make sure your relationship stays on track, and you can truly love one another "no matter what":
1. Identify the offense.
This is not always so easy! There are some people who will keep you guessing. They want you to figure out what you did wrong because if you can’t, that's further evidence that you don’t care as much as you "should."
Of course, this isn’t fair to you. But nonetheless, you will be better off if you give it a solid try. If you can’t get to it within a reasonable period of time, come out and ask what it was that you did that made them so angry our upset. Eventually, you will be told!
If the offense is obvious to both of you, you already have everything you need to start with the First Thing To Say: "I know I was flirting with someone else/forgot to pick up your favorite brand of ice cream/called your mother a cruel name/forgot our anniversary."
2. Express your regret.
This is the part where you say that you’re sorry. Of course, you can use those simple words, but you might want to make them more meaningful by remembering the Second Thing To Say: "I’m so sorry that I said (or did) that. I love you very much and would never want you to feel upset or hurt. I hope you will forgive me."
Asking for forgiveness is the key part of expressing how sorry you are. When you do that, you acknowledge that you made a mistake, and the other person will be willing to forgive you because you own up to that.
3. Say what you will do to make up for the mistake.
Finally, after you have asked forgiveness and whether you get it or not, ask what you can do to make up for what you’ve done. If you don’t get any suggestions, offer some. You might say you will be more attentive, less flirtatious, more restrained, less forgetful.
This is for you as much as it is for the one you love. You have everything to gain by learning from your mistakes and taking new opportunities to be the best person possible.
Love, the real kind that keeps relationships together for more than a few seasons, does mean you have to say you’re sorry. When you do it sincerely and completely, you'll be glad you took the time to learn how to say you’re sorry in a way that actually means something.