In all relationships with women – mom, sister, daughter, partner/spouse, friend, or colleague – conflict will occur at some point and asking for forgiveness will not be too far behind. Even if you are sincerely sorry for the fight and desperately want to make things better, don’t expect that forgiveness will automatically be given to you. Instead, control only what you can and try to create an environment that is open for reconciliation. If you are sincere, the woman in your life will come around and eventually forgive you – maybe.
Apologize with sincerity.
Reconciliation begins with asking for forgiveness. Apologize with sincerity and start the healing process. This is often the hardest step because it means that you have to take responsibility for your actions and face the issue.
A sincere apology means that your head and heart are aligned to make a focused intellectual and emotional decision to accept responsibility, even if it was unintentional.
Sometimes it’s a good idea to write down your apology. First, because it will give you a chance to choose and practice saying the right words. Second, it will give you time to think about if you are seriously sorry or not for what has happened. After that, you can decide whether or not you want to offer a sincere apology.
Say something like, “I understand that I hurt you and I want you to know how truly sorry I am for what happened between us.”
Be present in the moment. In other words, apologize somewhere appropriate, put all electronic devices away, and make eye contact. Keep your apology short, simple, and sincere.
Taking responsibility for your actions is an important step in starting the process for forgiveness. Accept your role in the issue and imagine how you would feel if the same thing happened to you.
A sincere apology is a selfless act that demands that nothing be expected in return. Remember, you are not “giving” an apology; rather, you are seeking forgiveness.
Avoid apologies that blame the other person. For example, “I am sorry you feel that way,” or “I regret that you got so angry about…” These kinds of apologies do not take responsibility and actually place some responsibility on the person you are apologizing to.
Taking responsibility also demonstrates your maturity, something a woman would admire in a man. Instead, of blaming or minimizing your role, say “I messed up and I am so sorry that I hurt you.”
An apology such as “In the future I will…” demonstrates that you will continue to work on making things better between you. In this case, it will enable you to make a meaningful gesture without the perception of buying forgiveness.
Make a meaningful gesture.
It is best to follow an apology with a gesture, not before. This is a tricky proposition because a woman might think her forgiveness is being bought. Therefore, make a sincere apology first and then make sure the gesture conveys that you learned your lesson and won’t repeat the issue.
Your intentions should always remain clear with a meaningful gesture. Regardless of the gesture you choose – making a card, buying her favorite coffee, or sending her a song or flowers that conveys an apology – make sure you highlight your intentions.
This is a no strings attached apology. In other words, nothing should be expected in return nor should you expect to be forgiven completely.
Listen to her.
Listening is often a powerful action that can help you resolve any kind of conflict. When the woman in your life is upset, keep your mouth closed and be prepared to listen to all of her continued attacks without defending yourself or counterattacking.
Listening means listening, not calming, reasoning, or sympathizing – just listening. Don’t interrupt and let her get everything out that she needs to say.
When she is finished, let her know that you heard everything she has to say about the problem while you think about carefully responding to her words.
Think about what she has said to you and try to find some agreement even if you find what most of what she said as not true. Once you find a point you can agree on, say something like: “I agree, sometimes I can be that way” or “If I was in your shoes, I would come to the same conclusion.” Every time you agree, you will lessen her anger and create a space for cooperation.
Give her space.
When people are upset, it is best to give them time and space to cool down. Bombarding her with emails, text messages, or phone calls will only make the situation worse because it shows no sensitivity on your part.
Let her vent her frustration with friends and family first. This will allow both of you to gain some perspective on the relationship.
Being annoying and trying to get some response from her will only drive her further away. She doesn’t want to be controlled. Instead, remain calm and her agitation will die down and she will become more reasonable. A heated discussion rarely ends on a positive note.
When conflict occurs, forgiveness is not something that will cross her mind. She will need time to cool off. How long depends on her. It could be a few minutes, a couple of days, a month, or forever.
Show her kindness.
Being kind does count for something. Displaying acts of kindness will let your female friend know that you are truly a nice person and that it might not be worth it to hold a grudge for too long against you. Many friendships and relationships have survived simply because nice gestures will soften hearts and minds enough to smooth over any ill will.
Manners are always a good starting place. Holding the door open for her, pushing her chair in, helping grandma cross the street, or buying her a coffee will certainly open her heart when she notices how courteous you can be.
If you find yourself stuck, try texting or tweeting, “I am thinking about you.” By engaging in small acts of affection and kindness, she will realize that you really do care about the relationship.
Prove to her you can change.
Sometimes saying “I’m sorry” is not enough for forgiveness. You might have to take a step further and demonstrate that you are genuinely aware that your actions were hurtful. The best way to do that is to prove that you are making changes so the issue never happens again.
Don’t try to seek forgiveness until you have convinced yourself first that you can truly change your habits. Find the source of the problem, address it, and then work on making positive changes. Don’t be too hard on yourself, but verifiable proof will be needed to demonstrate new habits to the woman in your life.
Think about not only correcting the one problem that is causing the conflict but also other potential issues that could undermine your attempts at change. In other words, fixing the problem does not permit you to lapse in other areas or she might think that you are not taking the issue seriously.
Consider making an agreement with her. Narrowing in on the issue and making specific changes will give you an opportunity to prove you are changing. If there is a disagreement over what actions to take or what is acceptable, then you need to sit down and discuss it with her. Are you able to honestly agree and make the changes, or are you saying yes only to get her to come back to you? You have to decide whether or not the changes are something you can achieve.
Follow through on your promises. If you are forgetful, write yourself notes, think about it when you wake up in the morning, and review your actions before you go to bed. If you really want her to forgive you then you need to do everything in your power to make sure your actions support what you promised to change.
Try to be honest.
It is dangerous to tell half or partial truths just to alleviate the conflict and gain forgiveness. She might find out later and, if she does, there will be little hope for reconciliation, only increased anger. It is true that full disclosure is not always necessary, but don’t minimize what you did or hide the most important details. Even if being honest hurts or embarrasses you, remember that being up front about everything will be better in the long run.
Most importantly, make sure that honesty is important to both of you. Communicate openly by saying “I want us to be able to talk about what is important in our friendship without lies.” This will begin to set the ground rules for moving on in your understanding of each other.
An honest person is a mature person. Demonstrating that you are above lying, cheating, or hiding the truth will prove to her that you are mature and that the issue that caused conflict was unintentional or a one-time occurrence.
Honesty does not mean perfection. White lies don’t hurt as long as it is not necessary to be completely honest (e.g. “No, that outfit does not make you look fat”).
Set boundaries for what topics are okay and off limits for discussion so that you are not pressured into lying and then having to ask for forgiveness. If a topic cannot be agreed upon, such as watching porn on the computer, then you have to seriously consider if your friendship should continue.
Take it slow.
Even after forgiveness, the rawness of the conflict might still linger and issues of trust are still not strong. Don’t rush back too soon. Instead take the time and necessary steps to rebuild your trust by showing maturity, patience, and understanding.
Don’t assume that once you are forgiven that everything will go back to the way it was. It will take time to establish the same level of understanding you had before the disagreement.
Remember who you are giving valuable time and attention to and try to get her to reciprocate. That way, the slower you go the faster you will get to forgiveness. Finding out if she is on the same page as you can help you formulate reasonable and realistic expectations moving forward.
Take time to make sure you are on the same page. Taking things slowly will put her mind at ease and encourage her to communicate more clearly about future expectations. It will also give you time to bond all over again.
Build stronger communication.
Good communication is the key to any kind of healthy relationship. If she accepts your sincere apology, start building better lines of communication so that you talk through any issues in the future. Being open to communication might mean discussing things that you never have before and trusting her to empathize with you.
Pay closer attention to nonverbal signs that you did in the past. For example, look for signs in body language, tone of voice, or eye contact. These nonverbal signs are important, but you have to be patient and learn how to read them. These can be either positive or negative.
Always stay focused on the present moment. Try not to give off disinterested signs or be thinking about something else when she is talking to you. Be interested in talking and listening to her while you are together.
Minimize your emotions when discussing serious topics like money, sex, politics, or religious beliefs. These are topics are lightning rods for emotional responses. Remain rational and understanding, even bite your tongue if necessary, or even cede the conversation in their favor to avoid an emotional outburst.
Remember communication is not just talking face-to-face but other ways exist: nonverbal, phone, texting, email, and Facebook or Twitter. Always be cautious of the words you type, but keep in mind that a friendly message once in a while to let them know you are thinking about them is a good idea.
Do something together.
Although we find comfort in routine, try to find something new to do together to build a connection. Think about things you both enjoy like sports, amusement parks, theater, cooking, or relaxing in the park. If you spend all your time analyzing each other and trying to find solutions, you will forget to have fun and the reasons why you care about her in the first place.
It can also be with friends. Make sure it is a time you can relax without tension and simply enjoy the moment together or with friends.
Don’t try too hard. Getting too elaborate might seem too formal or serious. Keep your focus on fun and enjoying the experience.
Take it slow. Don’t try to do something special every night. Instead, plan something for day during the weekend. Let the memories sink in during the week so that she will realize how much you really care about her.