You have upset your boyfriend and you owe him an apology. Women tend to apologize as a way to reconnect after having caused someone pain, says Sam Margulies, Ph.D., in his article, "How to Apologize to a Woman," on Psychology Today. However, it can be difficult to admit that you messed up and hurt your boyfriend. Apologies are not easy, but they can go a long way toward correcting a wrong, if the person who apologizes is sincere in her apology.
Your apology must be sincere and honest. Do not apologize out of guilt. Put yourself in your boyfriend’s shoes and try to understand his feelings. Think through what you want to say. Beverly Engel, author of "The Power of Apology: Healing Steps to Transform All your Relationships," suggests a face-to-face apology since it allows your boyfriend to see your face and better determine your sincerity. Pick a time when you can apologize in private, away from distractions and away from your children. Look him in the eye, as difficult as this may be. Realize that without an apology, the path for you two will probably not continue in a positive direction. Since you feel bad, guilty and ashamed, part of your instinct is to run away from the emotional difficulty of apologizing in person. However, as Martha Beck discusses on Oprah, sincerity helps both people heal the wrongs that one person might have caused the other person, and to heal the relationship.
Recognize that you made a mistake. Be clear and specific about why you are apologizing. You are apologizing for your behavior, not for hurting your boyfriend’s feelings, says Dr. John Grohol, founder and CEO of Psych Central. Acknowledge that you caused your boyfriend pain and express regret. It is easy to say something that you do not mean during an intense argument. You are upset and angry and your emotions get the better of you. When apologizing, say, "I'm sorry for what I said, and that I hurt you." Don't say, "I'm sorry if my comment upset you." If you say that you are sorry your comment upset the other person, you are escaping the responsibility that you hurt the other. A truthful explanation is your best chance to rebuild a strong relationship, says Dr. Martha Beck, a contributor to The Oprah Magazine. Explaining your behavior enables you and your boyfriend to better understand why it happened.
For your apology to be meaningful, you must accept full responsibility for your behavior, says Engel. Do not make excuses and do not blame someone else for your mistake. Assure your boyfriend that the behavior will not happen again. If you said something out of anger, do not blame the anger. As difficult as this can be on your pride, admit that you were wrong. You might say, "I was out of line and it won't happen again" or "I was wrong and I won't do it again." In the future, if you start to feel angry and upset, take a step back. When you are calm, you both can discuss the issue at hand. People want reassurance that the behavior was an isolated incident that can be fixed, says Grohol.
You will need to forgive yourself in order for your apology to be effective, says Engel. Everyone makes mistakes. It doesn't make you a bad person. Learn from it and move on. If you don't forgive yourself, it may be hard for the two of you to move forward. Ask your boyfriend for forgiveness and what you can do to aid the healing process. “The knowledge that one is heard and valued has incredible healing power; it can mend even seemingly irreparable wounds,” says Beck.
Stacey Elkins is a writer based in Chicago. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from Southern Illinois University in Carbondale and a Masters in social work from the University of Illinois in Chicago, where she specialized in mental health.