No matter how strong your relationship is, every relationship has the potential for fights, disagreements or just plain being insensitive to your boyfriend's needs. The key to recovery after being an insensitive jerk to your boyfriend lies in a crafting a strong apology. The topic of apologies has been heavily studied, giving a framework for what components are needed for a strong apology to your boyfriend. Johanna Kirchhoff, Ulrich Wagner and Micha Strack identified ten components of an apology in their 2012 study, published in "Peace and Conflict: Journal of Peace Psychology." In this study, Kirchhoff and her cohorts concluded that the four most essential components of an apology included the statement of an apology, offering an attempt at an explanation, admitting fault and conveying sincerity in an apology. This research falls in line with that of Aaron Lazare, professor of psychiatry at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, who suggests that a sincere, genuine apology requires that you acknowledge your behavior, provide an explanation for your behavior, express remorse and offer a form of restitution for your actions.
Saying "I'm Sorry"
One of the most crucial components of apologizing to your boyfriend is the act of specifically stating that you are sorry. This component alone was ranked as the most vital component of an apology in the study conducted by Kirchhoff et al. Stating that you are sorry acknowledges your role in the conflict while also showing remorse for your actions.
Acknowledge Your Behavior
If you were an insensitive jerk to your boyfriend, your apology should acknowledge that you were an insensitive jerk. You don't have to draw this step out and can accomplish this by stating "I'm sorry, I was an insensitive jerk." When acknowledging your behavior, focus on your behavior versus his. Your apology should focus on your contribution to the situation, not his. You can accomplish this through the use of "I" statements. An "I" statement places the focuses on you, such as "I was rude," "I was insensitive," or "I should have thought things through."
Offer an Explanation
When giving an apology for your behavior, it is appropriate to explain your behavior to your boyfriend. Whether you were having a bad day yourself or simply misunderstood your boyfriend's needs, explaining your behavior, and how this event was an isolated indecent, can set the tone of your apology. Stating "I'm sorry that I was an insensitive jerk to you yesterday. I had a long day at work and was too wrapped up in my day to notice that you needed me to be supportive," both acknowledges your behavior and offers an explanation for your actions. Word your explanation so that you are focusing on yourself, using "I" statements, instead of placing the blame on your boyfriend with statements such as "You were being needy," or "You never listen to my needs when I need you to."
To complete your apology, you should also provide a plan for the future, outlining how you will react when if this situation occurs again. This offering can be as detailed or simplified as you choose. Stating that "I'm sorry for being insensitive to you yesterday. I know that I acted like a jerk. I had a rough day at work, but in the future I'm going to try to de-stress before coming home so that this doesn't happen in the future" covers all of the key components of an apology, including how you will handle the conflict again in the future.
- Peace and Conﬂict: Journal of Peace Psychology: Apologies: Words of Magic? The Role of Verbal Components,Anger Reduction, and Offence Severity
- University of California, Berkeley: What an Apology Must Do
- Psychology Today: Go Ahead, Say You're Sorry
- University of Iowa: I Statements
- Love Your Boyfriend: How to Say Sorry to Your Boyfriend
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