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Saying Sorry Is Not Enough: How to Better Understand Your Partner's Apology Language

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We all know that admitting you are wrong and apologizing for whatever you were wrong about isn’t the easiest thing to do. Be that to a friend, family member, romantic, sexual or platonic partner. For the simple fact that to be able to apologize, you have to also be able to put your emotional sword down and your pride and ego to the side. Which is always easier said than done. But we also know that for any relationship to be successful you have to be able to identify your missteps, and then be able to communicate how you will move forward from them with your partners.

But the reality is, not every apology is going to land or even make the situation better. And what can be helpful in those situations, is for you and your partner to understand each other’s apology languages and how to meet them. What kind of apology does my partner need to feel better about this situation or the actions I have displayed?

So what are the different apology languages, and what is a person looking for when it comes to their own?

Expressing Regret

This act starts off with a simple “I am sorry,” but should then be followed up with listing the hurtful effects of your actions and showing remorse. Being sorry you got caught is not the same as being sorry for your actions/words.

Accepting Responsibility

This is when someone earnestly admits when they are wrong, either in what they did or what they said. There’s a difference between saying “you are right” and saying “you are right AND I am wrong.” This person should be able to identify what they did wrong and explain why they did those things in the first place.

Making Restitution

This apology language helps someone find a way to correct the situation. More than just saying sorry but the act of changing your behavior after realizing what was done was wrong. Or doing whatever it takes to make things right.

Requesting Forgiveness

This type of apology gives the other person/party time to process what happened and how they have been hurt before “going back to normal”; thus giving the power of the situation to the hurt party and leaving room for discussion in the future.

You won’t always get the apology right, but the most important thing is for you and your partner to find what types of apologies work for one another and your relationship.


Disclaimer: The idea of apology languages was introduced by Dr. Gary Chapman in 2006, however despite the title of a doctor and having a PhD degree is not a licensed counselor. He is a man with a PhD in adult education, while still valid in its own right, does not give him the credentials to counsel people on their relationships. And in the past 30 years it has been shown that his ideas and books are geared only towards white, heterosexual, Christian couples--with a strong focus on male dominant language. Additionally, it has been pointed out that is both homophobic and bigoted. Lovedby.her cannot and does not condone any of the claims about Chapman’s ideas about people of color or in the LGBTQ+ community, however his ideas and creation of Apology Languages have become its own entity separate from him and will be explored and embraced by people regardless and despite him.


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