When it comes to love and relationships, a lot is known about the 5 love languages and how they affect our connections with our partners. However, less is known about the 5 apology languages despite the fact that they’re just as important. After all, disagreements are parts of healthy relationships, so knowing how to resolve them and make amends when you’re in the wrong is important. Here’s the rundown on what apology languages are and how to use them effectively.
What are the 5 apology languages?
These are the most popular (and most effective ways to say you’re sorry.
This is always the first step to making amends. In order to apologize, you must want to do so. That means feeling genuinely sorry for your actions. Maybe you said something you didn’t mean or did something that hurt your partner’s feelings. By expressing regret, you let your partner know that you understand your actions and feel genuine remorse. In this apology language, you might say something like, “I’m sorry for [insert action here]. I feel terrible that I upset you.”
Of the 5 apology languages, this is perhaps the most important. When in an argument with a partner, shifting blame is the worst thing you can do. Even if both of you were at fault, you must accept responsibility for your part in the situation. In this case, you tell your partner that you accept that you did something wrong that led to the argument. “You can do this by saying something like, I made a mistake, or I understand that I hurt you. This helps to show that you recognize your part in the situation and are willing to take accountability for it,” advises licensed marriage and family therapist Kalley Hartman, LMFT.
This is when you offer your partner something to make up for something you did wrong. For instance, maybe you broke their favorite coffee mug so you promise to buy them a new one. Or, perhaps you spilled something on their coat so you offer to take it to the dry cleaner to be restored.
This is one of the apology languages that most people will appreciate. It entails truly meaning your apology deep down rather than simply saying it with the aim of ending the argument.
Here, you ask your partner to offer you grace and understanding for what you did wrong. It shows them that you truly want to be forgiven so that you can repair your relationship and move forward in harmony. It’s important to note that your partner may not always be amenable to this, at least not at first. “Asking for forgiveness is important as it helps to restore trust in the relationship. While it may be difficult, asking humbly and honestly can show that you are committed to rebuilding the connection between you and the other person,” Hartman adds.
How do you know which is the right one to use in your relationship?
While most situations will call for a combination (or all 5) of the above apology languages, which ones are right for your relationship will change depending on the situation.
“In any given relationship, the language you use when apologizing will depend on what your partner values most,” Jaclyn Borgia, licensed professional counselor and founder of The Sassy Shrink, tells Bolde. “Some people take more comfort in being told that someone is sorry for their actions. Others may feel better hearing a promise to repair the damage and make amends.”
Borgia adds that you may be uncertain which apology language your partner responds to most. Your best bet is to pay attention to how they respond to your attempts to smooth things over.
“The best way to determine which apology language works for someone else is to observe their reactions. If they don’t seem satisfied, it could mean that you need to switch up your approach. In general, however, it’s always a good idea to focus on making restitution and expressing genuine regret,” she explains.
When is the right time to apologize?
Now that you know the apology languages that should be used when you’re facing conflict in your relationship, it’s important to know when to use them. Do you try and shut down an argument while things are still heated, or should you wait to make amends after things have cooled down?
According to Borgia, the answer is to begin resolving the problem and expressing your apologies “as soon as possible.” That’s because you want to prevent exacerbating the issue. You also want to avoid repeating the issue in future
“If you wait too long to apologize, it could be seen as an attempt to avoid taking responsibility for your actions,” she explains. “In any case, always remember that how well the apology is received depends on your sincerity and willingness to make amends. Apology languages are important for restoring relationships and demonstrating respect for one another.”