Let’s be honest – sometimes an apology seems more like an obligation. When you feel obligated to apologize, it can make you insincere. And while an insincere apology may help to move you past an argument once or twice, eventually your partner will get fed up and start refusing to accept your half-hearted apologies.
This is not good news for the relationship, because you can’t move past a conflict until you have closed the issue with an apology, compromise, or solution. And in many situations, those latter two possibilities just don’t work – you need to apologize. Sincerely and completely.
Because so many people have trouble doing this, below we’re going to explore what makes an apology authentic (and inauthentic), and what you can do to make your apologies sincere and acceptable for moving forward.
An Insincere Apology… is given to fix your image. We do not like the idea that our partner is upset with us or thinks less of us because of our actions, so we use an apology to repair their view of us. But using an apology to accomplish these goals ignores the point of what an apology is supposed to do: repair the negative feelings we caused in our partners.
A Sincere Apology… is more than just words. Proper body language and actions must accompany an “I’m sorry” in order to truly show our desire to rebuild our relationship and make an effort to be a better partner. If your partner is mad that you refuse to do the dishes, saying, “I’m sorry” is not going to help. Saying, “I’m sorry,” and starting to take responsibility for the dishes, or another chore that your partner is doing, will show that you want to work with your partner as a team.
An Insincere Apology… has a “but.” Saying something like, “I’m sorry, but you provoked me,” or, “I’m sorry, but you do the same thing,” is not going to get you anywhere. It keeps the relationship conflict alive and does not allow you to reach any real solution.
A Sincere Apology… is made without your ego. We often hold onto one talking point or one action during a relationship conflict (which may not, in the grand scheme of our relationship, even be a big deal) in order to be right. Let go of the idea of being right. Let go of why you’re right and your partner is wrong. We all share blame for hurtful actions in our relationship. Once you decide to let go, you can fully focus on giving yourself and your apology to your partner.
A sincere apology may not be made immediately after a relationship conflict is over, and that is okay. It takes time to see our partner’s point of view and figure out how we can satisfy their needs to avoid this conflict in the future. But with this effort to make a sincere apology comes the ability to move on from this relationship conflict and continue enjoying a happy, loving relationship.
Rooting for you!