There’s nothing quite like that pit-in-your-stomach feeling that comes with knowing you really messed up with someone you care about. It’s that sinking sense you get when you’ve crossed a line, said something hurtful, or behaved in a way that’s betrayed their trust. If there’s any silver lining to this situation, it’s that we can apologize and grow from the experience so it doesn’t happen again. So, if your stomach is currently twisted in knots over a mistake you’ve made with someone you love and you’re ready to send an apology text to your partner, it’s important to know that there’s a right and a wrong way to go about it.

The right way to apologize to someone, either over text or face-to-face, has a few essential ingredients. First of all, you have to be both humble and remorseful, because you messed up and you need to own it. Secondly, it’s important to validate what the person you offended is feeling. A good apology will acknowledge and reaffirm their feelings. Finally, there has to be concrete action on your part towards altering the behavior that led to the apology. You might not be able to take back what you did or said, but you can pledge to do better in the future. All of this might seem like a lot to get into one text, but it is doable. Here are some examples of what that looks like.

1. I’ve been thinking a lot about what I said last night and I really crossed the line. You have every right to be offended and hurt, and I’m truly sorry. I’m going to spend some serious time working on understanding why I lash out and change my behavior.

2. Hey babe. I’m totally ashamed of how I behaved yesterday. The worst part about it all is how I made you feel. You don’t deserve that kind of treatment. I promise you it won’t happen again.

3. Hey. First and foremost, I just wanted to text you to tell you I know I really blew it. I heard what you said and how it made you feel. I apologize from the bottom of my heart.

4. I’ve had some time to cool down and really consider my behavior and I now realize I was totally out of line. I hurt you and feel sick about it. Take whatever time you need to process your feelings, and when you’re ready I’d love to apologize again face-to-face.

5. I feel absolutely terrible about our fight. I really let you down. You deserve better and if you are willing to forgive me I’m ready to be better for you.

6. Hey. I should never have done/said that. It was totally out of line. I’m so sorry that I hurt you and I’m going to work hard to never be so careless again.

7. You are such an incredible partner and I love you so much. I feel sick that I ever let you down like this. I’m asking your forgiveness and I promise to do better going forward.

8. Hey babe, I totally lost my temper last night and I’m so sorry. It doesn’t justify what I said or did. I just want you to know that I know I messed up and I’m going to talk to someone professional about it so it never happens again.

9. Man, I woke up feeling absolutely sick about our fight last night. I’m so sorry for [your part] and I feel terrible for hurting you. Can we please meet up later to talk about it?

10. Ugh, I really blew it. I owe you a thousand apologies. Here’s the first one: I’m so sorry for how I acted yesterday. You didn’t deserve it and I wish I could take it back. I can’t, so instead I’m promising it will never happen again. One apology down, 999 to go!

11. I’m so sorry for blowing up like that. It’s not OK and you deserve better. Here’s my promise to you: I’m going to get professional help to learn how to process my anger and frustration better so I don’t end up taking it out on you.

12. Ugh, I feel like such a fool today. I’m so sorry for what I said. I should have heard you out instead of losing my temper. I promise to do better.

13. I really messed up. Whenever you feel ready I’d love to meet face-to-face. I promise to just listen this time.

14. Sooooo, yeah, that sucked. I hate fighting with you in general, but especially when I know my actions caused it, and caused you pain. It’s not OK and I’m so sorry.

15. Hey. I just want to let you know how much you mean to me. I’m so ashamed of how I behaved and the way it made you feel. Please forgive me. I promise I’ll do whatever it takes to never do that again.

Apologizing can be tough, even when you know you were in the wrong, because it means both swallowing your pride and facing up to hurting someone you care about. But there’s an upside to truly showing remorse: A sincere apology can also be a real opportunity for personal growth. It can also be a chance to forge better communication between you and your partner that builds trust and honesty. A truly good apology can go a long way, so don’t be afraid to say you’re sorry.

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