How to say “I’m sorry”
Apologising isn’t always easy, but it can be important for a healthy relationship
Written by spunout
Fact checked by experts and reviewed by young people.
Being able apologise and to acknowledge when you make a mistake is an important part of a healthy relationship. Although it can sometimes be hard to say sorry, there are a few things that can make it easier. It helps to understand why apologising can be so important.
Why is it important to say you’re sorry?
Whether you meant to hurt someone or not, apologising is a way to show another person that you understand that you did something wrong. Whatever has happened, being able to say you’re sorry gives both of you a chance to let go of any resentment or negative feelings and move on.
Offering an apology can also help to make the relationship with the other person stronger. It shows them that you care about their feelings and recognise that you did something to hurt them. If you not only show that you’re sorry, but explain what you will do in the future to change, it can strengthen trust.
However, it’s not always easy to apologise. You might still feel like you were in the right, or you may want to apologise for some things and not for others. You could even feel like it is them that owes you the apology. An apology can help only if you mean it. If there are still issues, talk them out with the other person.
What if the apology doesn’t go well?
The other person may not be willing or ready to accept your apology. This can be upsetting, especially when you were really sincere or if it took you time to build up the courage to have the conversation.
However, it’s important to give the person time. Whatever has happened may have been very hard on them, and they need room to process. Let them know you are there and willing to work with them to fix things.
Avoid allowing the other person to take advantage of you while you are asking for their forgiveness. While there are some things you may need to do to make it up to them, if it goes on for a long time and you find yourself constantly doing things in an effort to get them to forgive you, there may come a time when you need to step back.
If they continue to refuse to forgive you despite your best efforts, it might be time to move on – once you have shown you are truly sorry, there’s not much more you can do.
How to say sorry
When you’re apologising, make sure you acknowledge the hurt you have caused. Be specific and state exactly what you are sorry for to show them that you understand why they feel the way they do. Take responsibility for your mistake.
Tell them you are sorry and ask for their forgiveness. Tell them you understand that it could take time for them to really forgive you, but that you are willing to work on things for the sake of your relationship. Avoid pointing fingers or trying to blame them – if they have hurt you in some way, it’s okay to tell them that, but avoid using it as an excuse for your own behaviour.
Try to keep this experience in mind in the future. If you have done something to upset someone else, it’s best to avoid doing that same thing again – remember this and try to learn from it.