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The New Love Languages: Discovering Your Apology Language

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Wisconsin chapter.

Knowing Yours and Your Partner’s can Seriously Change Your Relationship

In every relationship, not just romantic but platonic ones, we often make mistakes or hurt the other person. Apologizing is the next step, but how do we do so effectively and in a way which shows our sincerity? I remember telling people that I feel just simply saying “sorry” or “my bad” seems shallow or ingenuine. While some of my friends agreed with me, others didn’t really understand why I felt that way. This is where apology languages come in, and knowing yours can be such a game changer when it comes to conflict or making mistakes. 

Apology languages was coined by counselor and creator of the five love languages Gary Chapman, PhD and psychologist Jennifer Thomas, PhD, who wrote about The Five Languages of Apology. According to Chapman and Thomas, being able to understand what we want when receiving apologies can not only help us restore relationships but foster stronger ones with family, friends and significant others. True healing can only come when we learn how to express our remorse through the following five ways:

Expressing Regret

When someone has this apology language, it doesn’t mean they simply want to hear “I’m sorry.” Instead, these words shouldn’t be spoken alone. To express regret, acknowledge that you know what you did wrong and how you have hurt their feelings through your actions. It doesn’t count if you say “I’m sorry that YOU feel that way,” because then you’re pushing the blame on them. You need to genuinely express remorse in what you did, and put your pride aside to show vulnerability to your significant other. 

Accept Responsibility

This second apology language is important to people who don’t want to hear excuses anymore. Along with acknowledging your fault, it is important to state what you did wrong and (more importantly!) why what you did was wrong. Admitting you made a mistake and recognizing your fault in the problem allows the other person to feel more secure that you understand what you did was wrong and, therefore, you’re less likely to repeat your mistakes. Sometimes we feel that we’re not fully in the wrong, but don’t point fingers and reflect on how your actions contributed to the problem or how the other person may have felt hurt from what you did. 

Make Restitution

This apology language is for someone who wants to see an effort in trying to rectify the situation. By asking what you can do better or offering a solution, you’re letting the person know that you’re taking this issue seriously and you want to genuinely make changes. Asking the person how you can do better also allows them to communicate their feelings and offers them space to describe what best works for them. 

Plan for change

Planning for change is about communicating the desire to make a difference in your behavior and promising that you’re going to do better in the future. This is about problem solving and how you can do better and be better. Don’t just say empty words, but genuinely think about how you should change your actions or behaviors if an issue like this happens again. 

Request forgiveness

This last apology language requires a level of vulnerability as you have to humble yourself to show that you care about their forgiveness and healing the relationship. It gives them the option to choose whether they can forgive you now, and perhaps they can’t right now and that’s okay. Forgiveness does take time but giving them the space to think about what happened and empowering them to do so helps the process with healing. 

One thing that’s common in all the five apology languages is there is a need to take ownership of the mistake and your actions. That’s not going to change regardless of your person’s apology language. Some people may also require several aspects of each apology language. Learning your partner’s apology language can help you prevent further miscommunication and focus on moving forward in your relationship. 

So if you’re interested in learning more about your apology language, you can take a quick quiz right here on Chapman’s website (https://www.5lovelanguages.com/quizzes/apology-language). I’m super excited to use this newfound knowledge to have deeper conversations with my loved ones and understand them better, in hopes of building better and stronger foundations in my relationships. 

Nadya Hayasi

Wisconsin '23

Nadya is a senior in UW-Madison studying History and Political Science, with certificates in Southeast Asian Studies and Public Policy. Outside of Her Campus, she spends her time going out with friends, napping, and justifying why taking the bus up Bascom Hill is much better than climbing it every day at 9am.