How to Apologize to a Friend a Year Later

Focus the apology on the other person's needs and feelings.
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Apologies can resolve conflicts, repair hurt feelings and improve relationships, says motivational psychologist Heidi Grant Halvorson in the Huffington Post article "The Science of Apologies: What Is the Best Way to Say Sorry?" Taking the initiative to say you're sorry to a friend after a long period of time can be an intimidating endeavor. There is no statute of limitations on forgiveness, however, and a sincere apology can bring relief and healing to both you and your friend.

1 Be Sincere

A genuine, heartfelt apology goes a long way in healing a broken relationship, even after a year has gone by. Try starting the conversation with "I am so incredibly sorry..." Approaching your friend with a humble and contrite attitude will help her be more receptive and open to what you are about to share. You might also explain why it has taken you time to apologize.

2 Acknowledge Wrongs

The "I'm sorry" statement can be followed by an articulation of what you have done to hurt your friend. Say something like, "When I said to you a year ago that you were stuck-up and rude, I was being really insensitive. I was wrong." Continue by showing empathy for how he is feeling. "I recognize that my words really hurt you." Licensed psychologist Guy Winch notes in the Psychology Today article "The Five Ingredients of an Effective Apology" that the goal of an effective apology should be to ease the other person's emotional burden and foster authentic forgiveness.

3 Promise Change

Another essential aspect of an authentic apology is an offer to change. Offering compensation when you have offended someone is one way to express your desire to do things differently in the future, says Halverson. A proposal to pay a friend back can come in the form of emotional and social support. Try something like, "I know I was a supreme jerk to you last year and our friendship has been rocky, but I really want to show you that you are important to me by speaking only positive words to you from now on."

4 Ask for Forgiveness

The final piece of the apology is asking for forgiveness. You might say, "I know it has taken me a year to say I'm sorry, so I don't expect you to respond right away, but I wanted to ask, 'Will you please forgive me for hurting you?'" Child and adolescent psychologist D'Arcy Lyness suggests that you not be discouraged if forgiveness doesn't happen immediately. Some people are quick to forgive and others need time to regain trust. Simply do your best to apologize sincerely; the rest is up to your friend.

Based in Florida, Courtney Newbery has worked in the mental health field for several years and holds a Master of Arts in counseling from Dallas Theological Seminary. She is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor in her home state.