7 Unexpected Things You Should Never Do When Apologizing To Your Partner
Getting into a fight with your significant other is always difficult, but you don't want to make matters worse by coming up with an apology that doesn't ring with sincerity. Most of us know what not to do when apologizing, but there some other unexpected things you should never do during an apology with your partner if you want to move on from the disagreement. Most of us don't spend too much time thinking about the details of how we say "I'm sorry," but how you apologize matters just as much as the apology itself.
"It is natural and normal to have conflict in a relationship," relationship therapist Rhonda Milrad, LCSW tells Bustle. "A sign of health in the relationship is being able to work through it and make repairs. Apologies are a powerful tool to help mend relationships and, if done correctly, can enhance intimacy by making a partner feel understood, acknowledged, safe and secure in the relationship."
We all will make relationship mistakes eventually, so knowing how to properly mend them — and make our partner feel respected — is key. Here are seven unexpected things you should never do when apologizing to your partner, because just saying "I'm sorry" sometimes isn't enough.
1. Saying "But"
Nobody like to hear “I’m sorry, but…” Even if you're just using the word as a placeholder to connect two ideas, it should be avoided. "This can be a huge problem because the word actually signals a contrast or contradiction: Everything before the 'but' is cancelled by whatever comes after," therapist Shadeen Francis, MFT tells Bustle. "So if you are trying to communicate an apology and have something to add, saying 'but' will be heard as though you are taking back the apology." Instead, try using true connecting words like “and” or “also."
2. Apologizing In Private If Your Conflict Was Public
If you acted badly towards your partner in front of family or friends, you might feel like you want to apologize in private because it seems like a private matter. However, a public apology can show humility and also demonstrate the respect you have for your partner. "You are putting your pride and ego aside to mend the hurt that you caused your partner," says Milrad. And they will appreciate that.
3. Psychoanalyzing Them
An apology isn't the time to tell your partner how their behavior was actually reacting to childhood experiences or projecting their emotions onto you. "When you are apologizing, don’t share your understanding of why your partner is either having this reaction to your behavior or playing a role in provoking you to act the way you do," says Milrad. "Even if correct, an apology is not the place to share this. It will leave your partner feeling like you are more interested in understanding the causes of their behavior rather than looking at your own."
4. Not Allowing Yourself To Be Interrupted
If you are in the middle of the best apology of your life and your partner interrupts you, let them. "Rather than stopping them and saying, 'Let me finish,' one of the smartest things you can do is let them interrupt you and hear what they have to say," relationship expert Jennifer Seiter tells Bustle "Acknowledge that you understand their feelings."
5. Using An Exit Strategy
Don't try to brush aside the apology and move on to another topic. "Try not using the following token apology: A four second exit apology that sounds something like, "'Yes, well, sorry about that! What's for dinner?'" relationship therapist Irina Baechle, LCSW tells Bustle. These might work for small hurts, but for large hurts, they only increase the wounded person's pain.
6. Asking For An Apology Back
Resist the temptation to ask for an apology in return. "Your partner will likely apologize in return if they're ready, and they may need more time to cool off," relationship therapist Deborah Fox, MSW tells Bustle. "Asking will likely preempt that apology and add a note of tension."
7. Leaving Out What You Were Thinking
You don't want to make excuses or try to justify what you did wrong — but you also don't want to leave your partner in the dark. "The act of apologizing infers that you did something wrong," says Seiter. "Your partner probably wants an explanation of those actions and exactly what was going through your head."
There's no perfect way to craft an apology, but avoid these mistakes, and you might it's easier to make amends with your partner.