When you're in a relationship, no matter how strong it is, there are going to be times when you make mistakes and hurt your girlfriend's feelings. Sometimes it's hard to know how to get back on her good side. You can start by following a few basic guidelines.
Understand Her Feelings
If you have hurt your girlfriend's feelings, your first reaction is probably to apologize. However, a quick, insincere apology does little to persuade your girlfriend to forgive you. Instead, take a few minutes to really think about her feelings. When you do apologize, put your understanding into words. For example, instead of saying, "I'm sorry I forgot your birthday" say, "I'm sorry I forgot your birthday, I know that makes you feel like I don't care about you and I don't want that." Motivational psychologist Heidi Grant Halvorson writes that this will help your girlfriend feel valued and open the door to forgiveness.
Avoid the Pitfalls
When you've done something to hurt your girlfriend, you don't want to make things worse by messing up your apology.Some people ruin an apology by suggesting that it wasn't their behavior but the other person's sensitivity that caused the problem. So, don't say, "I'm sorry if you felt angry that I was late" because that can make your girlfriend feel like you don't think you did anything wrong, Similarly, don't make excuses or shift the blame when you're apologizing.
Act Like You Meant It
Saying you're sorry is important, however, that's not always enough to get your girlfriend to forgive you. Beverly Engel, author of The Power of Apology: Healing Steps to Transform All Your Relationships, points out that it's also important to reassure your girlfriend that you're going to change your behavior. If she's upset that you forgot an important date, assure her that you're going to update your calendar. If she's angry that you were late, make sure you show up on time the next time you're supposed to go out. If you tell her you're going to change and you prove it with your actions, she'll be more likely to forgive you.
Gaining forgiveness isn't easy or quick. Most people need time to work through their anger and move on, especially when they're trying to forgive big mistakes like infidelity. If you really want your girlfriend to forgive you, respect her time frame. This doesn't mean you have to continually apologize or grovel. It means that you need to realize that it may take awhile for her to trust you again. In the meantime, keep showing her that you love her and that you are committed to avoiding the same mistake.
- UMass Amherst Family Business Center: How to Give a Meaningful Apology
- Psychology Today: I'm Sorry: Apologies... The Good, the Bad and the Heartfelt
- Huffington Post: The Science of Apologies: What Is the Best Way to Say Sorry?
- Mayo Clinic: Forgiveness: Letting Go of Gurdges and Bitterness
- Psychology Today: The 9 Rules for True Apologies
- LWA/Dann Tardif/Blend Images/Getty Images