Why Apologizing Is So Important – and How to Do It Right

August 17, 2017 by
Delaware therapist says apologizing sincerely is key.

All of us make mistakes, and in romantic relationships, these mistakes often hurt or violate our partners. When we have wronged our partners, the most important thing to do is apologize sincerely as soon as we are able so that you can move forward together as a couple.

Relationship experts agree that apologies are one of the most important elements of a healthy relationship. However, an inauthentic apology can do more harm than good, so it is important to apologize sincerely and meaningfully to your partner.

Why an Inauthentic Apology Is Hurtful

Some of us struggle to apologize, usually because we are burdened with the sense of being flawed or deceptive, and feel overwhelmingly ashamed when we address our wrongdoings. This can lead to an inauthentic apology that can actually hurt your partner, making matters worse.

An inauthentic apology can cause your partner to feel as though you don’t really care, and are apologizing simply to preserve your image as the “good one.” This is counterproductive in building a conscious relationship wherein you feel truly connected to your partner.

So how do you make sure that your apology is sincere?

Delaware Therapist Shares the Elements of a Sincere Apology

To apologize sincerely to your partner, you must practice excellent communication and sincerely admit to your wrongdoing. You must also communicate possible ways to repair your wrongdoing, and actively listen to your partner’s feedback on this element.

Make it about more than just words.

A sincere apology is about more than just what you say - it’s about how you say it. Use your body language to truly connect with your partner. Look into your partner’s eyes, and perhaps hold his or her hand while you’re talking. Use a sincere, non-confrontational tone so that he or she understands that you really mean what you’re saying.

Let go of being right.

One word that rarely belongs in any sincere apology is “but.” To sincerely apologize, you must let go of being in the right in the situation. Attempting to preserve your image or being proud can lead to an inauthentic apology that is hurtful to your partner.

It’s actually most effective not to think about who’s right or wrong in the situation. Instead focus on how your actions made your partner feel, and accept responsibility for this.

Usually we feel inwardly ashamed of our actions, and therefore struggle to admit when we are wrong. Addressing this inner shame can be a long term endeavor, but an effective tactic to move past this is to focus not on how you feel, but on how your partner feels.

Offer to repair.

Your partner will be more able to accept your apology if you move forward by discussing how you can make up for your wrongdoing, or how you can avoid making the same mistake in the future. If you truly feel sorry for wronging your partner, this should include the desire not to do it again.

Ask for your partner’s feedback on how you can make up for your wrongdoing and avoid doing it in the future. Actively listen, and do your best not to get defensive, which is typically counterproductive.

Follow these tips, and you’ll be well on your way to repairing a mistake and moving forward. Still struggling? Call a Delaware therapist for help.


Walt Ciecko, Ph. D., BCB
1301 North Harrison Street, Suite 101
Wilmington, DE 19806
302-429-0195 Ext 1