Apologies require a certain degree of skill. In fact, there's a science to making an effective apology, according to Guy Winch, who holds a doctorate in clinical psychology from New York University, in "The Science of Effective Apologies," an article in "Psychology Today." If you need to apologize to your boyfriend, invest time and effort into crafting your apology. A poorly constructed or incomplete apology can be worse than none at all, says University of Massachusetts Medical School professor of psychiatry Aaron Lazare, M.D., in "Making Peace Through Apology," published by the Greater Good Science Center at the University of California, Berkeley. A bad apology can even reignite conflict. Trying to apologize without admitting wrong-doing or while blaming your boyfriend or somebody else is not effective.
Elements for Success
Successful apologies share certain basic components. Among these are, according to Winch, your statement of being sorry for the wrong, stating your regret for committing the wrong, and asking the person receiving the apology to forgive you. These components should be balanced appropriately with statements that show true understanding of the impact of the wrong, in both tangible and emotional terms, and that confirm a shared value system or relationship definition while offering restitution of some sort.
The social relationship between the apologizing and wronged parties determines the balance between the various elements of an apology. In a romantic relationship, you will want to cover the fundamental three elements -- a statement of being sorry, acknowledging impact, and expressing regret -- while emphasizing the emotional elements of how the wronged party felt, according to Winch.
Make Your Apology
If you need to apologize to your boyfriend, wait until you're prepared to make a full and honest apology. If you feel the urge to say that your wrong wouldn't have happened if he hadn't done something or said something, you're not quite ready to apologize. Your apology should include no justifications or anything of the sort. When you're ready, tell him exactly what you are sorry for and why. Talk about how your wrong must have made him feel and other ways it impacted him, such as in terms of time or money. Express your regret and ask what you can do to make it right. Explain why it won't happen again or what you'll do differently in the future and ask him directly if he is willing to forgive you.
Forgiveness May Take Time
If you messed up badly, it is important to know that an apology doesn't just evaporate pain or anger. It takes time to heal hurts and rebuild trust. Give your boyfriend the time he needs to forgive you. Let him know you care about him, but don't pressure him. Use that time to demonstrate that you are making the changes you mentioned in your apology, such as controlling your temper better or being more considerate.
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