Home / Relationships /

Here’s How to Apologize to Your Girlfriend

Brian, my buddy, got into a situation with his girlfriend the other day. And he really felt bad about what happened. So he asked me, “Ryan, how do I apologize to my girlfriend? What’s the best way to do it and how do I really do it?” Well, that’s such a good question! Here’s how to apologize to your girlfriend in the most EFFECTIVE way!

Studies have shown that forgiving someone literally has a health benefit. A study performed by Stephanie LichtenfeldVanessa L. BuechnerMarkus A. Maier, and Maria Fernández-Capo—there are two types of forgiveness that are important to look at, emotional and decisional forgiveness. When it comes to relationships—you’re going to want to look at the emotional forgiveness.

a sign that says sorry

The Right Way to Ask for Forgiveness (Apologize)—How to Apologize to Your Girlfriend

—How to apologize to your girlfriend

1: Tell someone what you did

The first step in properly apologizing to someone is to use empathy. Empathy is the act of understanding that you’re not the only person in the world. This is actually much harder than most people think it is! I wouldn’t say many people really have the best ability to be empathetic.

But if you really want someone to forgive you, then you’ll need to first tell them exactly what you did that hurt that person.

This is an of really thinking selflessly and then understanding what it is that you do that hurts people. Or that hurt your girlfriend.

Here’s what you should be saying:

  • I understand what I did. I decided to go onto a dating app and didn’t tell you that. And I know that hurt you.

2: Make sure you tell them you know what it made you feel—a key way to apologize to your girlfriend!

The second step in empathy is really understanding the emotion that you caused. For example, did you cause frustration? Or confusion? Maybe it was just simply sadness? Whatever the emotion, you’ll need to express to that person that you’re aware of how they felt.

If you’re not sure, then you need to ask them. Say something like, “This is what I did. How did it make you feel?” And then go through the active-listening process.

Here is what you should be saying:

  • I realize that when I went on that dating app without telling you—it made you lose trust for me. It made you sad.

Related: I’m sorry paragraphs for her

3: Say what you’re going to do to fix the issue

Taking accountability is one of the best ways to EARN your forgiveness. If you’re saying you’re sorry to your girlfriend, words will only go so far. They won’t really accept your apology (a true one) unless you make change.

I’d like to say that change is often disregarded as something you should never do. Have you ever heard of evolution? Change is a natural progression of maturing and growing older. Fixing mistakes means making changes. Don’t be afraid of change!

Here’s what you should be saying:

  • I realize that when I went on that dating app without telling you—it made you lose trust for me. It made you sad. I’m going to show you that I’m committed to you by letting you see my phone anytime you want and showing you week over week that I’m showing up for you. If you ever feel insecure, just let me know when you are and I’ll fix it.

At this point it really shows that you understand the problem, understand the feeling the other person is having, and have a game plan for what you’re going to do to rectify the situation.

Related: I’m sorry I hurt you my love

4: Ask for the actual forgiveness act

The very last thing to do is to literally ASK for forgiveness. By doing this, what it does is allow the other person to disagree with your plan. This is your way of proposing how you’re going to actually earn the forgiveness, right?

Now that you know you have the opportunity to extend the olive branch, ask the person if that olive branch is okay for them.

When you do it, say this:

  • Will you forgive me? Do you forgive me?

And give that person the opportunity to say yes or no. If they say no, then try to ask more questions to learn about what you COULD be doing to figure out how to earn it.

two people that look like they're arguing - how to apologize to your girlfriend

Ways to Apologize to Your Girlfriend (Through Acts)

Here are some simple ways that you can apologize to your girlfriend outside of simply saying words. If you are going to say “sorry,” make sure that you follow the instructions above. It is the best way to actually SAY “sorry.”

But when you want to go the extra mile, try out a few of these:

A gift or two

  • Buy her some flowers
  • Write her a card and ask for forgiveness
  • Send a good morning text and good night text

Showing up for her

  • Do something that’s special to her
  • Take her out on a date and say you’re sorry
  • Make sure that all of her values are getting met

Making her feel important

  • Reiterate what qualities that you see in her and why you want to be with her
  • Tell her that you see what’s important to her and how you’re going to show up to that
  • Be the best version of yourself and make sure you’re consistent with that
letters that say sorry

My Own Experience Apologizing to a Girlfriend

Based on my own experience, what I can say is that learning how to properly apologize goes a very long way. There’s really only so many times that you can say the words, “I’m sorry.” They start to lose meaning when you do the same things over again.

When I hurt someone, I didn’t really want to hurt them again. But when sometimes, it’s out of my control a little bit, I had to learn that just saying “sorry” over and over wasn’t going to cut it. I had to learn that if I made the mistake twice, that I was aware of the mistake and made it a priority to me.


Fact checked:
Board reviewed by Marianne Tomlinson, LCSW (Couples and Family Therapy). Content is rigorously reviewed by a team of qualified and experienced fact checkers. Learn more.

About the author

Ryan Sanderson (LCSW) Ryan is a game and relationship enthusiast who enjoys all things quizzes, games, fun, love, relationships, and family. He's a licensed social worker and helps families, couples, and children in need. He's spoken about love and relationships on Salon.com, Forbes, and Mirror, to name a few.

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.