The Art of Apologising in Relationships: How to Make Amends and Strengthen Your Bond

The Art of Apologising in Relationships: How to Make Amends and Strengthen Your Bond

Apologising can be difficult, especially when we feel we were right or when we are afraid of the reaction we might get. However, in relationships, apologising is a crucial skill to have. It helps us take responsibility for our actions, repair damage, and strengthen our bond with our partner. Here are 10 research-backed tips for how to apologise effectively in a relationship:

  1. Be sincere. A sincere apology is one that comes from the heart. It shows that you are genuinely sorry for your actions and that you understand the impact they had on your partner. To apologise sincerely, you need to be able to put yourself in your partner’s shoes and understand how your actions affected them. It’s also important to avoid making excuses or shifting the blame to someone else.
  2. Take responsibility. An effective apology involves taking full responsibility for your actions. This means admitting that you were wrong and that you made a mistake. It’s important to avoid minimising your actions or trying to justify them. Instead, acknowledge the harm you caused and express remorse for it.
  3. Offer a specific apology. A specific apology is one that addresses the specific behaviour or action that caused harm. It’s important to be specific in your apology because it shows that you understand exactly what you did wrong and that you are taking responsibility for it. For example, instead of saying “I’m sorry for what I did,” try saying “I’m sorry for yelling at you and not listening to your perspective.”
  4. Make amends. Making amends is an important part of the apology process. It involves taking concrete steps to repair the damage that was caused by your actions. This might involve apologising in person, sending a letter or gift, or doing something to make up for what happened. It’s important to discuss with your partner what they feel would be an appropriate way to make amends and to follow through on those actions.
  5. Don’t repeat the same mistake. An apology is only effective if it is followed by a change in behaviour. This means that you need to take steps to ensure that you don’t repeat the same mistake again in the future. This might involve seeking help or support, professional guidance, setting boundaries, or changing your behaviour in some way.
  6. Be timely. It’s important to apologise as soon as possible after the event. This shows that you are taking responsibility for your actions and that you are committed to repairing the damage. If you wait too long, your partner may feel that you are not taking the situation seriously or that you don’t care about their feelings.
  7. Use “I” statements. Using “I” statements can help you take responsibility for your actions without blaming your partner. For example, instead of saying “You made me angry,” try saying “I was upset when I heard what you said because I felt like you were dismissing my feelings.” Using “I” statements can also help your partner feel like you are taking ownership of your actions and that you are not trying to deflect blame onto them.
  8. Listen to your partner’s perspective. Apologising is not just about expressing remorse for your actions; it’s also about understanding how your actions affected your partner. This means that it’s important to listen to their perspective and to validate their feelings. This can help your partner feel heard and understood, and can also help you understand the full impact of your actions.
  9. Don’t make empty apologies. An empty apology is one that is not backed up by actions. It’s important to follow through on what you say you will do and to make a genuine effort to change your behaviour. If you make an apology but continue to repeat the same mistake, your partner is likely to feel that you are not sincere and that you are not taking the situation seriously.
  10. Practice self-reflection. Apologising is not just about making things right with your partner; it’s also about taking the time to reflect on your own behaviour and identify any patterns or issues that may be contributing to your mistakes. By engaging in self-reflection, you can better understand your own triggers and learn how to manage them in a healthy way.

    In conclusion, apologising is an important skill to have in any relationship. It helps us take responsibility for our actions, repair damage, and strengthen our bond with our partner. By following these 10 research-backed tips, you can learn how to apologise effectively and improve your relationship.

    If you need to speak to a couple’s counsellor in Sydney for relationship advice, or wish to speak to our couple’s therapist in Melbourne, then we’re here to help. You can find more info in the menu.


    Jenkin, M. (2013). The psychology of apology. Australian Psychological Society.
    Kuppens, P., Realo, A., Allik, J., & Allik, J. (2008). Individual and national differences in dispositional expressiveness: The role of individual and national values. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 95(2), 438-448.
    Leary, M. R., & Tangney, J. P. (2003). Handbook of self and identity. Guilford Press.
    Toussaint, L., & Webb, J. (2001). Forgiveness and reconciliation: Theory and application. Clinical Psychology Review, 21(7), 1137-1156.

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