Beliefnet
Make Your Relationship Work

Whether you’re dating, in a relationship, or simply trying to bag a shag, everyone screws up in life. It can be something silly like forgetting to pick up dinner, or it can be something more serious – like having an affair with your lover’s boss. Shit happens. Over the holiday season, I received a ton of  ’I screwed up’ emails (was it the party booze?) And I think it’s time I address them with an article. The advice I’m about to dish is applicable to all screw ups, not just the romantic themed. Apply it accordingly.

So You Screwed Up. Oops.

Shit happens. You will make mistakes in life. What’s important is that you learn from them and try your very best not to repeat them. But once they happen, how do you go about making things right? Below are 4 things you must do in order to begin reconstruction.

  1. Acknowledge it

The number one thing you absolutely have to do is acknowledge the fact you screwed up. Don’t make excuses. Don’t try and get the person to see where you’re coming from. If this has been labeled a screw up, you’re way past the point of no return, anyway. Take responsibility for your actions and admit what you did was wrong, shady, disgraceful, disgusting… whatever.

If you don’t acknowledge your failure, your lovey won’t acknowledge your apology. How can you not even SEE that what you did was wrong? And that’s no longer an attack on your actions, it’s an attack on your character.

  1. Acknowledge the person’s reaction

People have a right to their emotions. If you hurt someone, you’re not allowed to make them feel like shit for feeling a certain way. Sometimes all it takes is saying, “I understand why you’re upset.” Your goal is to make things ok and bring the person closer, not push them further away.

Step 1 is to say, “I know, I failed.” Step 2 is, “You have every right to be angry at me. I completely understand.”

If you don’t do this, you risk making your partner feel too uncomfortable to accept your apology and embrace the healing process (Steps 3 and 4).

  1. Apologize… Really

One of the baddest things anyone can do when they screw up is not apologize. And by that I mean not really apologize. The words not only have to come out, but they have to come out with a purpose; they have to sing remorse. A cold, heartless ‘I’m sorry’ does absolutely nothing but set you up for a loss – and possible ignite another fight.

If you can’t really apologize, steps 1 and 2 will come crumbling down; your credibility will be at stake and you’ll forever be deemed an asshole.

  1. Be vocal about the next step

Ok great. You’re an asshole who screwed up, is sorry, and completely understands the consequences of his or her actions. Fantastic. Now what? You’ve gotta present your plan of action: How do you intend to fix this boo-boo? Your answer can be something as simple as, “I plan on taking you out every Friday night,” to something a little more, ahem, complex like, “I will go to couple’s counseling, work on our communication problems, and I’ll stop having sex with your best friend.” Regardless of the intensity, the plan has to be measurable in some way. That way, you’re actually holding yourself accountable if you don’t follow through. Your partner will also be more likely to accept your apology – and your proposal.

One Doesn’t Work Without the Other 3

I wrote the steps for people who are either dating or in a relationship, but they are applicable to the stupid things you do in front of your crush, too. For example, did you get too sloshed at the holiday party and make a complete asshole of yourself? It’s okay:

  •  Step 1, Acknowledge it – being able to laugh at yourself is pretty awesome
  • Step 2, Acknowledge the person’s reaction – go with it. Attacking him for being grossed out at the table dance you did kind of defeats the purpose.
  • Step 3, Apologize..Really – Cater it to your specific situation. Apologize from it ever happening and if you need to lighten up the mood, apologize for not spending the time with your crush.
  • Step 4, Next Step – Ask for another chance and vow to stick to one Manhattan on your date. See, measurable. 

I know. You’re probably thinking that reading this was a waste of your time.  But while the above 4 steps are totally obvious, they’re often overlooked. You want to get to the make up sex. You want to forget you ever screwed up in the first place. You want to get the fight over with so you skim through the steps. That’s when shit resurfaces and fights are reignited. Just take responsibility for your actions, allow the person to feel what they feel, really apologize, and finally… promise to make it better.

That’s usually all it takes.