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How to Apologize for Missing a Birthday

by Mary Strain

For many people, it can be difficult to swallow their pride and apologize. However, doing it quickly and sincerely may make the difference between saving a strained friendship and losing it. Forgetting a friend's birthday is easy to do, but can hurt your friend's feelings. If you've made this mistake, you can atone for the faux pas and redeem yourself by remembering a few simple tips.

Contact your friend as soon as you realize you have missed her birthday. The more time passes, the harder it will be to convince your friend that your apology is authentic. Make your apology face to face, if possible. If a face-to-face apology isn't possible, write a heartfelt note or call your friend.

Resist the temptation to make excuses and never try to shift the blame to someone else. An apology is about taking responsibility for your actions. If you don't shoulder the blame, you'll lose your friend's respect after you're already hurt his feelings.

Acknowledge your friend's feelings. Tell her you understand her birthday was an important occasion, and tell her that you're sorry you missed the chance to celebrate with her.

Assure your friend that his feelings are important to you, and promise that you'll do your best to be a more thoughtful friend in the future.

Consider giving your friend a belated birthday gift. If your friend accepts your apology and the two of you are reconciled, tell her you'd still like to give her a gift, even though you missed her celebration. Your friend's response will tell you whether or not this gesture is appropriate.


  • Don't beat yourself up if your friend doesn't accept your apology, or doesn't accept it immediately. By sincerely apologizing and acknowledging your mistake, you've done all you can to atone. If after a week or so you're still not reconciled, it may be best to find a more reasonable friend.

About the Author

Mary Strain's first byline appeared in "Scholastic Scope Magazine" in 1978. She has written continually since then and has been a professional editor since 1994. Her work has appeared in "Seventeen Magazine," "The War Cry," "Young Salvationist," "Fireside Companion," "Leaders for Today" and "Creation Illustrated." She earned her Bachelor of Arts in English from Oglethorpe University in Atlanta.

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