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How you say "I'm sorry"

Updated on October 12, 2010

Who remembers this?

Those of us born within the last 50 years may remember the famous line “Love means never having to say your sorry” from the movie Love Story.  This isn’t exactly true, we do sometimes need to say we are sorry, even to the ones we love.  The question remains “How do we say I’m sorry”?

Children thru adulthood's "I'm sorry's"

As a child when we accidentally hurt someone saying “I’m sorry” was most of the time accepted a quick “It’s OK” from the one we injured. Maybe even broke our friends crayons, with a tearful apology, it was readily accepted.  Over time just saying “I’m sorry” might have become habit and really more of a automatic response to someone we’ve injured.

As we reached teenage hood if and when we said “I’m sorry”, it was done begrudgingly. We forgot to take out the trash and Mom was angry, maybe even yelling, so to placate her we said “Geez, I’m SORRY” possibly even yelling as we said it. As we went on with life, it got more and more like saying “I’m sorry” was a chore rather than something we meant. Just to keep her from being mad or yelling or maybe even to stop a good old fashioned grounding we may have said “I’m sorry” through gritted teeth. It might even have been thrown over our shoulder as we headed out the door, with just a quick ‘sorry’ and knocking off the ‘I’m’.

As we age we may have to break a heart or two, so to get out of it easy, we might say something like this “I’m sorry, but we have just grown apart, and I don’t want to see you anymore, sorry”. You walk away with feeling inside that you did your best, you said you were sorry. Life goes on.

Reason's to say I'm sorry

Now has come the time when you really are sorry and you need to find the words to say so.   You have said ‘sorry’ so many times you may not feel those words are adequate enough.  How do you let the person know you truly mean it?

First you must look into yourself and ask “What am I sorry for?”. 

Have you forgotten an Anniversary?  Sometimes having flowers sent to your loved one with a lovely card may be ‘sorry’ enough.  Throw in a dinner out and you just might be forgiven!

Did you say mean and hateful things?  Maybe you could sit down and write long letter, do not excuse your behavior.  Just apologize for being something lower than ‘pond scum‘, it might even bring a smile.  This person loves you and doesn’t want you to be down upon yourself.

Did you call your loved ones names?  See the above and include flowers or a box of chocolates with your letter.

Did you lie?  Now are you sorry you lied or are you sorry you got caught lying?  Did your lie cause pain?  Of course your lie caused pain, otherwise you wouldn’t feel the need to apologize.  Was it a simple lie, one that could have easily been rectified with the truth? 

Such as saying to had to work late when you really just wanted to hang out with the guys?  Now if this is your thing, saying that you won’t ever see them again would just be another lie, you don’t want to do that.  Tell your loved one that you are TRULY sorry you lied about this, you won’t lie again, but you would like time to hang out.  Arrange a time that works for both of you, maybe a time when your partner can hang out with their friends, it’s called a compromise.  If you have children that need a sitter, you be the one to call for child care arrangements.  That way it’s all taken care of, your loved one can go out and have a good time without worry of the children.


Have you cheated on your loved one?  Have you lied about it?  Did your loved one find out?  Is this why you are sorry?  Define each question, are you sorry you cheated?  Sorry you lied about it?  Sorry they found out?  Most of us will feel some sort of guilt if we should cheat.  Making it hard to face our loved one.  To simply say “I’m sorry” is not going to cut it. 

You may have to discover within yourself why you cheated.  The most common reason for cheating is the way we feel when we are with the one we are cheating with.  The euphoria that person brings into our life.  We like who we are when this ‘other’ person comes around.  Maybe it’s adoration for us they we like, maybe they are really cute and you feel better about yourself being seen with them.  You need to identify why you cheated so it doesn’t happen again.

Before beginning to say “I’m sorry” for something such as this you must have a plan of action.  Once you discover the ‘whys’ you may need to tell your loved one how they can help make you feel good about yourself.  How are you going to avoid it in the future?  If you should feel yourself slipping into old patterns, quickly change them.  Communication with your loved one is the biggest key to a successful relationship.  Being honest with each other can only make your relationship stronger. 

If your loved one wants to know why you cheated, be honest.  Answer all their questions the best way you can, it may take a few days to get it all out, but you both will be better off because of it.  Do not try to protect yourself in this, as hard as it is not to.  Do not be angry at them, it wasn’t their fault, it was 100% your fault, acknowledge this.  Accept responsibility for your actions.  Once you have all of this in place, then you can begin to tell them “I am so sorry I……”


One last thing, if you’ve said “I’m sorry” for the same thing over and over, it is not going to have the same impact as the one time “I’m sorry”.  Keep this in mind when doing something that you will be ‘sorry’ for later.


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    • sofs profile image

      sofs 7 years ago

      Sometimes people find 'sorry' to be the hardest word to say especially if it needs to be said to their spouse or mother or sibs. Sorry is the most mending word, it can mend most relationship if we can bring ourselves to say it meaning fully, but as you say if it is repeated meaninglessly without corrective action then it doesn't mean a thing. Good hub!

    • Sweetsusieg profile image

      Sweetsusieg 7 years ago from Michigan

      Thanks Lilly - This is so, you can say it all you want, but your actions have to show it!

    • LillyGrillzit profile image

      Lori J Latimer 7 years ago from The River Valley, Arkansas

      Yeah, I have family members who make a joke about saying I'm sorry...It means something when their actions say it, more than words...Good Hub and perfect subject

    • Sweetsusieg profile image

      Sweetsusieg 7 years ago from Michigan

      Yes, this has been an issue for me all of my life, first me learning to say I'm sorry then teaching it to my kids but having to teach them to mean it as well! Then dealing with my other half.... He does things for which he knows he will be sorry... To me that is just plain dumb. If it's an accident that is one thing, but to keep repeating it then trying to apologize... It gets old.

    • JillKostow profile image

      Jill Kostowskie 7 years ago from Pennsylvania

      You are right, it gets old to hear I'm Sorry over and over for the same things.

      As far as kids saying I'm Sorry, My daughter who is 9 is hardly ever "sorry" for anything she does, so I know when it comes out of her mouth, it is usually meant!!

    • Sweetsusieg profile image

      Sweetsusieg 7 years ago from Michigan

      Oh yeah... I hate that part... It's only happened to me a couple of times... I was the 'fat girl' in school so I never got to experience that type of heartbreak. GO ME!!!! LOL The last paragraph.... now that is an entirely different story...

    • ahorseback profile image

      ahorseback 7 years ago

      And how many times have we heard 'Im sorry..... but", with the famous disclaimer.