Although breaking a promise to your boyfriend may not spell the end for your relationship, it may leave him hurt, unsatisfied and resentful. Aaron Lazare, professor of psychiatry at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, suggests that there are four vital components of a successful and genuine apology. According to Lazare, an apology must acknowledge the broken promise, provide an explanation for your behavior, express remorse and offer a form of restitution for your actions.
Acknowledge Your Broken Promise
Talk to your boyfriend specifically about the promise that you broke. This does not need to be drawn out or overly complex, but it is important that you identify what you did, or did not do, to deliver a sincere apology. Statements such as "I know that I missed your game on Saturday," or "I know that I promised that you could hang out with your friends on Friday," acknowledge that you are aware of the transgression that you are apologizing for.
Explain Your Behavior
After you acknowledge breaking a promise to your boyfriend, offer an explanation for why you broke your promise. Avoid using statements that place blame back on your boyfriend, such as "You also broke a promise to me" or "You make me so mad when you want to hang out with your friends." Instead, use "I statements" that place emphasis on you and your role in the transgression. For example, stating "I was so tired after work and just wanted to spend time with you," explains your behavior without placing blame on your boyfriend.
Be Sincerely Remorseful
One of the most direct ways to show remorse for your actions is to verbally state "I'm sorry." Saying "I'm sorry" requires tremendous inner strength and also sets the precedent that you are truly remorseful and apologetic for your actions, explains Lazare. Failing to show remorse during an apology sends the image that the apology is forced, half-hearted and insincere.
Plan for the Future
Your apology will not carry much weight if you get into the same altercation every week. Your apology should include a component that addresses the issue of what will happen when the same situation happens in the future. A complete apology to your boyfriend might sound like "I'm sorry that I gave you such a hard time about wanting to hang out with your friends on Friday night. I know that I promised that you could see them and that you made plans in advance, but I had a very stressful day at work and was hoping to spend some time with you alone. I shouldn't have made you stay home, but next time that you make plans I'll make sure not to get upset if you want to keep them. We can always spend time together the next day."
Does It Really Matter?
Crafting a strong apology takes an enormous amount of thought, effort and time to reflect on your actions. Johanna Kirchhoff, Ulrich Wagner and Micha Strack sought to answer the question of whether the composition of apologies resulted in effective anger reduction and forgiveness. In their 2012 study, published in "Peace and Conflict: Journal of Peace Psychology," they concluded that apologies that contained four elements -- the statement of an apology, an attempt at an explanation, admitting fault and conveying sincere emotions -- showed more frequent acts of forgiveness than apologies with fewer elements.
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