“I’m Sorry” Letters for Hurt Feelings: How to Write (with 4 Moving Samples)

It is only human nature to make mistakes. Sometimes those mistakes are actions which hurt the people we love so deeply that they threaten to damage or end the relationships we have with them. Have you ever done or said something which was hurtful to your spouse or your significant other without realizing it? It is only after they express their anger that you think about it and realize that it was, indeed, not a very nice thing to say. Maybe you did something hurtful and truth be told, you are not at all surprised that they are angry at you. Even you know you really shouldn’t have done that. So what then? How do you apologize? Write an apology letter. Writing a letter is sometimes better than a verbal apology because it allows you to phrase, rephrase, edit and polish your words until they convey precisely what you would like to communicate. This might not be easy to achieve in a conversation where you can’t take back your words. In other instances, your significant other is so angry at you that they simply cannot sit down to listen to you say anything, leave alone make an apology. Finally, we cannot deny that there is something sweet about letters. The idea that you took the trouble to put your feelings on paper makes it all seem a lot more sincere than a verbal apology. Here are a few details to have in mind when writing an apology letter to your significant other.

Why it is So Hard to Write a “I’m Sorry” Letter

Apologizing is never easy, no matter how you do it. Have you ever stopped to think about why this message is so difficult to convey? You never seem to struggle with other messages or regular conversations. I am sure Sigmund Freud would have more elaborate explanations here but here are a few, mostly subconscious, reasons why you struggle to apologize.

The assumption that apologizing confirms that you are a terrible person

If you subconsciously believe that an apology is a confirmation that you are a bad person, you will automatically fight it. You do not want your partner to think of you as such and you certainly will not let yourself think of yourself as such.

It is an act of self defense

When someone else points out your wrong actions, you may subconsciously see it as an attack. The natural thing to do when under attack is to defend yourself, right? For you, apologizing amounts to taking it lying down.

It will open a floodgate of accusations

This one is not necessarily subconscious. It could be true that you are dealing with an individual who will not let you hear the end of it if you admit to being wrong. You fear that admitting your mistake today will become the basis for a host of other accusations tomorrow and forever. However, it is better to take the risk than avoid apologizing. Not doing it breeds resentment which is toxic in a relationship.

It will mean taking responsibility for your actions

Apologizing for your mistakes forces you to take responsibility for them. It means you are not pinning blame on anyone else except for yourself – and this may be no easy feat for a lot of people.

Your pride won’t let you

Some people are so proud, the closest thing the word ‘apology’ could mean to them is perhaps ‘the study of apples.’ They see themselves as superior to others. Apologizing amounts to degrading themselves and their pride will not let that happen.

Basic Elements of a Good Apology

Making an apology to your partner is difficult. Once you master the courage to do it, the last thing you need is to find out that you did it wrong. You said something that added to their hurt or omitted a crucially important element. Here are some guidelines on what a good apology should sound like.
  • First and foremost say you are sorry. There is no room for ‘I’m sorry but…’ or I’d be sorry if it wasn’t for….’ Just plain old ‘I’m sorry.’ Nothing beats that.
  • Take responsibility for your actions. It is important for your spouse to understand that you are not blaming them or anyone else for your actions. You are being man – or woman – enough to admit that there was some sort of failure on your part.
  • Describe the disagreement. Include a brief description of the situation and the specific action which was offensive to them, as well as why it was hurtful to them. This may seem a bit redundant but it is necessary. Here’s why – it is important for the wronged person to know that you understand exactly what was hurtful to them.

This part is critical because sometimes your spouse is upset with you and you are sure it is because of one thing yet what hurt them was actually something totally different. This part of the apology makes sure that you are both on the same page.

  • Admit that what you did was wrong. What good is an apology if you don’t believe that your actions were out of order? It is important for them to hear you say those words.
  • Draw out a plan. Let your significant other know exactly how you intend to make things right. Are there things you need to commit to? Will you promise never to let it happen again?
  • Ask for forgiveness. This is the purpose of the entire letter so you cannot assume that everything else you have said covers it. Go straight to the point and ask for forgiveness for your actions. This is perhaps the most difficult part because it shows vulnerability, but it must be said.
And there you have it – a perfect apology! Sounds simple enough, right? But we all know it is a lot harder if you are on the giving end of it. Let’s look at a few examples of apology letters written in this format.

A Few Examples of Apology Letters

Example 1.

Babe, there really is nothing I can say to make you feel better but I want you to know that I am sorry. I should not have said the things I did. When we got into the argument, I lost my temper when I should have remained calm. I have regretted those words from the second they came out of my mouth. Now that I have had a chance to think it all through, I can only imagine how hurt you must have felt. It was wrong of me to let my anger get the best of me. Please forgive me. I love you and I promise to always keep my cool and take time to talk things through when we disagree.

Example 2.

Darling, let me start by saying how sorry I am for lying to you. I know that honesty is the most important element in any relationship and that my dishonesty about something this important hurts you. I feel bad that I have caused you pain. However, it does not in any way mean that I love you any less. You are still the best thing that ever happened to me and I can’t imagine not being with you. There is no excuse to justify my actions. I have broken your trust and I am ready to do whatever it takes to earn it back. I hope you can find it in your heart to forgive me. I promise to be completely honest with you about everything from now on, no matter how hard it may be. Will you find it in your heart to forgive me and continue trusting me?

Example 3.

My love. A part of me can’t believe I am writing this but I have messed up enough to warrant this. I want you to know how sorry I am for what happened the other night. It would be foolish of me to blame the alcohol or anything else because I should be in control of myself and my actions all the time. Sometimes doesn’t cut it. I really should not have gotten that wasted and I am deeply sorry for what happened with that girl. I regret it more every time I think about it. I promise to always stay in control because I know how failing to do this could end up hurting you…and us. Please forgive me and give me a chance to make it up to you.

Example 4.

My sunshine – that is what you are and always have been to me. You brighten up my life, always. Now, I am not ashamed to admit how dark my days have been without seeing that sunshine smile of yours. I know what I did hurt you but I want you to know how sorry I am. I was a fool not to realize what I was doing to you and to us. To be totally honest, I have you to thank for opening my eyes. It took your walking away for me to see exactly how much pain I was causing you. I promise to be a better partner as well as a better friend. But I can only do that if you give me a chance. Please find it in your heart to forgive me. You will not regret it, I swear!

Some Final Words

Every couple has their bad days. Hurting each other is inevitable and it will happen at some point. Apology letters can go a long way to remind your significant other just how much they mean to you. Do not be afraid to use them when necessary. Keep in mind that an apology is similar to a plea. It may or may not be accepted. Your significant other could refuse to accept your apology. Unfortunately, there is nothing you can do about that apart from trying to apologize even more and hope for the best. In the unfortunate event that your apology is not accepted, do not let it kill you. The fact that you made it and was 100% sincere about it should be sufficient to clear your conscience.

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