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How to Apologize for Telling a Secret

by Eliza Martinez

Admitting to a mistake and apologizing is very difficult for some people. Yet, if you have betrayed a friend or family member, you need to acknowledge your wrongdoing and tell the person you hurt that you're sorry. This will help preserve your relationship and allow you both to move on. If the transgression is that you let a friend or relative's secret out, an apology tailored to the offense can help you rebuild trust with the injured person.

Take some time to think through your apology. If you offer it as soon as you're called out for telling the secret, your words of regret may seem like you are trying to avoid a confrontation and appease the person you hurt.

Admit that you were wrong to tell the secret. Tell the person you hurt that you were wrong and that you know broke his trust and hurt his feelings by not respecting his request to keep the information to yourself.

Express remorse. Making it clear that you regret telling the secret and you feel bad that you did so makes your apology more sincere, notes Sam Margulies in "Psychology Today." It also tells your friend or family member that you understand that you've hurt her by your actions.

Tell the person you hurt that you'll avoid doing the same thing in the future. Making a plan to avoid telling a secret again will let the person know that he can still trust you with private information, even though you messed up this time.

Ask how you can make up for your mistake. Making amends lets the person you hurt know that you are willing to compensate for telling the secret by doing what you can to solve problems that arise due to your mistake, notes Margulies in "Psychology Today." Offer to do some damage control with the person you let the secret out to.

Offer an explanation. You know you let a secret slip, but you might want to justify your reasons, which can help your friend or family member understand why you did it. Maybe you didn't realize the secret was to be kept from close friends or relatives. Perhaps the secret clued you in to a health problem or mental illness that the person was trying to hide but you felt someone else needed to know about. Whatever made you tell the secret, sharing the reason with your friend or family member can help you get through the betrayal she feels.

Request forgiveness from your friend or family member. Requesting forgiveness is a powerful way to repair your relationship; asking for and receiving forgiveness helps both of you move past the indiscretion and work on rebuilding trust.

About the Author

Eliza Martinez has written for print and online publications. She covers a variety of topics, including parenting, nutrition, mental health, gardening, food and crafts. Martinez holds a master's degree in psychology.

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