The Power of Apologising in Relationships

June 26, 2023

We are not born knowing how and when to apologise, which became a struggle for many of us. Although apologising is a powerful tool for healing a relationship, it is common to experience complicated feelings about it. Some of us would feel ashamed by apologising, while others apologise for the sake of feeling better. The truth is offering an apology can feel like a sign of weakness but in reality, it’s a sign of strength. Let’s find out the power of apologising in relationships.


Why is apologising hard?

1. Worried

Apologising can be difficult due to the uncertainty whether the other person is willing to accept a sincere apology. However, it’s important to understand that their decision is beyond your control. Always remember that you can’t force forgiveness but you still can say sorry when you made a mistake.

2. Feeling guilty

When we feel guilt, we tend to be more emotionally protective of ourselves, making it harder to say sorry. Whenever you feel bad about a situation or action, you should apologise with love. It is a great opportunity to address your behaviour and helps to preserve the relationship.

3. Not feeling at fault

Although apologies hold strong significance, but saying sorry when you don’t mean it could potentially create more problems within a relationship. There were times when you probably made the first move for reconciliation, even if you don’t believe you were at fault. You should try to be open and transparent with your partner to avoid conflicts in the future.


Importance of apologising

Saying sorry doesn’t necessarily imply that one person is right and the other person is wrong. It just shows that you value your relationship more than your ego. In a relationship, it’s “we” not “me”. Even your family or best friends make mistakes, so offering a sincere apology can help to restore back respect, care, and trust.

Advantages of apologising

1. Repairs relationships

Providing an explanation behind your hurtful comment and the reason for apologising can enhance your partner’s understanding. Engaging in such conversations can promote personal growth and strengthen your relationship.

2. Rebuilds trust

A sincere apology lets people know that you’re not proud of your behaviour and that you will not repeat the same mistake. Taking ownership of your shortcomings shows that you prioritise being honest and considerate, as well as, helps to clear your conscience.

3. Restores respect

Acknowledging personal responsibility will allow the one that has been hurt to feel better by letting them know it was not their fault. Sorry are not just words. Apologising will show them respect and validate their feelings. It also indicates you are willing to learn, grow, and reconcile your mistakes.


What NOT TO DO when apologising

1. Can’t keep promises that you make

When someone makes mistakes, they might say anything to try and make amends. The truth is when you fail to keep your promises, it will cause more damage to the relationship and this time your words will mean even less. As simple as it sounds, don’t make unrealistic promises that you can’t keep. Instead, make reasonable promises and follow through to prevent hurting your partner again.

2. Ignoring the problem

If your apology fails to acknowledge what led to the problematic behaviour and does not make any effort to address it, then it is simply empty words. Many people have become accustomed to using “I’m sorry” as a quick fix to move on without learning anything. If you’re truly sorry, it means that you are accepting the accountability of not repeating the same mistake again and understanding the solution.

3. Expecting something in return

When you check the apology box with a hidden agenda to achieve what you want, such as forcing the other person to apologise or accept your apology, it undermines the sincerity of the apology. Although it’s normal hoping to receive an apology, it’s important to be rational from any situations or expectations. If you’re genuinely sorry, then it should not depend on what you will receive in return.


Tips to apologise

1. Be responsible for your action

Holding yourself accountable and empathising with your partner’s perspective is key to a sincere apology. Before apologising, clearly state what you have done. This shows that you fully understand the impact of your actions and why they feel hurt. It’s important to learn to be vulnerable without getting defensive.

2. Don’t make excuses 

An apology shouldn’t sound conditional at all. Refrain from using words like “if” or “but,” which can strip the accountability and assign blame to another party. When these words are used in an apology, the receiver will disregard the first part of the sentence and focus solely on the negative. By adding the word “and” into an apology, you create a space for an open and inclusive discussion, rather than shutting down the conversation.

3. Be sincere 

An effective apology has to be specific and express genuine emotions. Just saying sorry is often not good enough because we have been taught to offer a fake apology when we were young. However, the timing of an apology also matters because if too soon, it might sound like you are just shoving the problem under the rug but if it’s too long, it might seem as if you have forgotten. 



Saying sorry could be hard at times, but think about it, every minute you are angry, you lose 60 

seconds of happiness. Whether the harm caused was unintentional or intentional, apologising is a crucial component of a healthy, long-lasting relationship. Always remember don’t apologise simply for your actions, but because you understand the effects of them fully and empathetically.

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