How to apologize: 5 expert tips to make it easier

Find out why you should never say you’re sorry if you don’t mean it and learn when the perfect moment to do so is.

How to apologize the right way.

Find out what it really means to say you’re sorry (Photo iStock).

Remember that time you invited all of your girlfriends over to watch the collected works of Woody Allen and forgot to mention it to your partner who was looking forward to watching the game? Or the time you happened to exploit the fact that he used your computer and forgot to sign out of his email? I’m not saying it’s always YOUR fault, but there are certain moments in a relationship when it might be helpful to apologize. So just how important are apologies and what’s the best way to go about making them?

Dr. Guy Grenier, a psychologist and marital therapist, says apologies serve a lot of important purposes. First, they’re an indication that someone isn’t right all of the time and that they acknowledge that. Second, apologizing can make clear that you’re concerned about your partner’s welfare, which is a basic, but fundamental, point that needs to be made over and over in a relationship. Third, apologies can help to de-escalate conflict.

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A key part of apologizing is a full acknowledgement of what you did wrong, and why your partner is upset. “We act the way we act, but it lands on our partners in different ways and it’s important to understand how our partner receives our actions,” says Catherine Morris, a psychotherapist. “When we do something, there’s an immediate reaction from our partner related to their sense of feeling loved and okay. We can have an almost visceral alarm that goes off – even if our partner has no idea that this is happening.”

Though most of us are eager to ease the tension (read: let’s stop this fussing and fighting and get back to eating this leftover pie), that doesn’t mean that an apology is always warranted. “It’s not appropriate just keep saying ‘I’m sorry’ for everything,” says Morris.

“It’s appropriate when you become aware that your partner is truly wounded. If you’re not sincerely sorry, it should invite some dialogue.” Morris adds that you should, at least, be interested in understanding why your partner is wounded. Too many arguments are focused on each partner breathlessly trying to get his or her own point across without actually listening to the other person.

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It’s also worth noting that not every conflict requires an apology — especially if it’s not sincere. People who live together can expect their needs to clash on occasion, and that doesn’t mean you should apologize for having your own set of needs. “Apologizing can be really bad communication,” says Dr. Grenier. “There are people who apologize for everything, and it can be related to assertiveness and self-esteem issues. It can send subtle messages that my needs are not as important as yours.”

And what about when it comes to accepting an apology? While most of us are eager to move beyond conflict, that’s hard to do if you feel that the apology isn’t sincere and that your partner is simply trying to placate you. Dr. Grenier suggests that it can be helpful if we abandon our obsession with forgiveness.

“Forgiveness says you did something wrong but that’s okay,” he says. “And it’s not. It requires the forgiver to lie to both themselves and the other person. The reality is that people who love us will hurt us — but we don’t have to say that it’s okay. Reconciliation is possible, and acceptance of imperfection and that our needs are at odds with other people. We shouldn’t apologize for our own needs, but we should apologize for being thoughtless or careless.”

In the end, as Morris points out, being sorry for something isn’t just about words; it’s also reflected in your behaviour. “When my daughter was young, she would do something and then very quickly say sorry,” says Morris. “I would say that I’m more interested in seeing your behaviour change. It’s easy to say sorry, it’s harder to spend the time to understand why you’ve hurt someone and to work on not hurting them again.”

Saying sorry isn’t always easy, so here are some tips:

1. The best way to apologize is “quick and intense,” according to Dr. Grenier. The longer you wait to apologize, the longer you prolong a conflict.

2. Don’t say you’re sorry if you don’t mean it. “Apologies have to be real,” says Morris. They have to be from the heart and the person being apologized to has to feel like the person apologizing gets it.”

3. It can help to show genuine interest in why your partner is hurt; try asking some questions about why they feel the way they feel and what would make them feel better.

4. Take full responsibility for hurting your partner’s feelings, and explain what you might do differently to avoid doing the same thing in the future.

5. Sometimes, sorry isn’t enough. Work on truly understanding why your partner feels hurt and trying to change any hurtful patterns.

Get more on how to apologize here.

26 comments on “How to apologize: 5 expert tips to make it easier

  1. This list is missing the most important rule about apologizing. An real apology cannot include the word “but”. If it does, it is not an apology, it is a statement of defence.


    • VERY VERY TRUE….. I like to spend time with you babe BUT I’m about to cross into level 300 on GTA5. I feel so bad I used that but word in 30 percent of all of my apologies. Reading this helps people that had no moral support growing up lol. Sorry Chantel!!!!


    • Yes, don’t use the word, but or if.. For instance using but makes you look like you’re justifying your behavior to the other person. For example, “I wouldn’t have acted that way, if you didn’t act the way that you did”.
      If sounds like your blaming the other person for kind of feelings that they have after you have hurt them by your words and actions. For example you should never say, “Im sorry that you feel that way”. Making that kind of apology is not sincere, and looks like you are blaming the other person for feeling the way that they do….

      Neither of these examples are showing a sincere apololigy with complete responsibility for your words and actions. In orderr to make a sincere apology you have to know exactly what you are sorry for, and promise to never repeat the words and actions…


    • Oh crazy


  2. Nice expert tips! I really enjoyed reading this piece of writing.

    I was reading this one- before I stumbled upon your website. This one was also impressive. Actually, today after a while I will say him sorry finaly after 6 months of breakup!

    Wish me good luck :)




  4. Fuck u


    • Do you feel better after posting this….well, stupid comment? You need severe counseling and are long overdue!


      • Lets try using fuck in the apology to my ex gf…. Im so so fucking sorry babe but I want to play the game. WHY!!!!! People actually speak like this to women lol. I respected my mom haha even know I didn’t have her growing up.


        • RANDDDDOOOOOMMMMM thoughts and words


        • You’re disturbed!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


  5. This is nothing and helps with nothing


    • I am not getting anything out of this


  6. thank you sorry


  7. I find the best “apology” is to genuinely consider your misdeed, and make appropriate changes in behavior or attitude as necessary.
    As the man said, “sorry don’t feed the bulldog”


  8. There’s something useful about your post and its topical journalist tone. Just like the advice it gives, it is quick, intense, and impressive. Under the umbrella of ‘relationship fights’ exists a tinier, more important umbrella of saying sorry and meaning it. The tips provided can help fix any fight, regardless of the circumstances. of the relationship, and whatever the underlying problem is.


  9. This is just a dream.


  10. Very true. May of us don’t trully say I’m sorry. As I have seen you can share your apology to the one you want or just say in


  11. When an apology is expected from me I don’t like it.


  12. Leave a tender moment alone… Life is short… and “HAPPINESS 24/7” should be the goal. Am I right? I am an entertainer and I see a lot of people struggle in their relationships. My job, is simply to make em’ smile and dig the cool music for a few hours and that’s it. But to create Happiness 24/7 is something entirely different; and that’s why I wanted to create an online community to review and discuss great relationship content here with others. Discover how you can indeed attract the right person and finally find that great relationship you’ve always dreamed of. Now go get yours before it’s too late and the party is over:


  13. I’m Going to try one


  14. 5 reliable ways to apologize to a girl

    1. Banal.
    Buy a huge bouquet of her favorite flowers, a box of tasty sweets and a bottle of campaign.
    This method will be suitable, if the quarrel isn’t very serious.
    For better efficiency you may go to the loan of nature, to a beautiful spot she has never visited before.

    2. Romantic.
    Make a romantic dinner, but only at home. Cook the meal on your own and shape it in the form of a heart. Candles, music, balloons and sincerity will do their thing.

    3. Creative.
    If you can do poetry, that’s really great. Describe all your feelings on your own. Don’t take the “dry” poems from the Internet.
    …more details here:


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