How to apologise and heal in a relationship

A sincere apology can go a long way in mending things.

Harper's Bazaar India

When we are younger and more influenced by the celluloid representation of love, we expect it to be idealistic. We think, if they love us they will behave in a certain way, at all times. But, we are humans—we are imperfect, flawed, complicated, and sometimes we do things that barely make sense. 

As I grew up and went through my share of relationships, I realised that the best way to love someone is to give them the space to be imperfect and vulnerable. While that sounds super sweet, it means they will get on your nerves or worse, hurt you sometimes. But, usually in relationships, clear communication often sorts things out—it’s all about establishing a balance between not hurting each other and leaving room for the other to falter. 

And more importantly, it is about apologising correctly when you’re at fault, as it is key to resolving conflicts and healing in your relationship.

Sit back and listen 

Your partner may have several highly-charged emotions—they may be hurt, sad, or even angry. So, let them express themselves and pour their heart out; it will make them feel lighter and also comfortable enough to be vulnerable with you. They will feel safe and appreciate you heard them out without getting defensive. It will also help you better understand their side of the matter. 

Take accountability 

Sometimes, you may feel tempted to say things like, “I am sorry, but...” No, it has never worked and never will. When you’re apologising, do it sincerely and wholeheartedly. Don’t get defensive and take accountability for your actions. If you don’t think you’re wrong and you still want to apologise, just say something like, “I am sorry I hurt you. I didn’t intend to.”

Offer solutions 

Saying sorry, even in the most heartfelt way, is often not enough. Offer a solution towards improving or changing things that hurt the other person. You can also ask them how you can make them feel better. 

Offer them love and care 

Our partners seek love and warmth from us when they are sad—even though, in that moment, we may have hurt them. It’s the care they need to feel better. So, give them a lot of affection and comfort them. Heal them with hugs and kisses, and if they need space, give them that. 

Don’t act entitled to forgiveness

Yes, you apologised, but depending on the gravity of the situation, your partner may take longer to forgive you. Or they may choose to not forgive you at all if it’s a serious situation. Remember, just because you apologised, you can’t expect them to forgive you instantaneously. Be patient and let them heal before they can shower you with love again.