Love Advice: A Guide to Admitting When You’re Wrong

September 9, 2015 by

The ability to admit to a mistake is an invaluable skill for everyone from close friends to business executives, but it’s especially important for couples.

Admitting error after you’ve hurt or wronged your partner is often an essential move to avoid causing long-term damage or destroying your relationship entirely. However, it’s not always easy—as humans, most of us are fairly adept at defending ourselves, hiding from the truth, and denying responsibility for the wrongs we’ve done. Defensiveness and denial often arises from a genuine desire to be viewed as intelligent, kind, and caring individuals rather than careless, destructive individuals who cause harm.

While it’s a natural inclination to want to defend our self and save face, admitting when you are wrong can be highly beneficial to both you and your relationship. Admitting to wrongdoing is a sign of strength, and shows your partner that you are a trustworthy person who actually cares about their emotions.

In addition, realizing when you’ve made a mistake can teach you about yourself and the causes or triggers behind some of your behaviors. Finally, admitting to error can be tricky, and practicing this challenging art can help strengthen your communication skills.

How to Admit When You’re Wrong

Admitting when you’re wrong can be nearly impossible for those of us who are unfamiliar or out of practice with this type of discussion. I’ve listed some tips for easing the process of admitting mistakes below:

Start with yourself. Before you can admit your mistake to your partner, you must acknowledge you made a mistake to yourself. If you don’t truly believe that you were wrong, any admission can come off seeming disingenuous. Remind yourself that to error is human, and that your mistakes do not make you a bad person.

Pick the right situation. If you can, start the discussion in a quiet, private space where you will be able to devote your attention to talking and working through the incident.

Don’t play the blame game. You may feel tempted to blame your partner for causing or contributing to the mistake you made or the way you behaved. Take ownership of your actions by focusing on what you did wrong and how it caused harm or had negative consequences.

Offer a plan of prevention. After admitting your error, you should offer your ideas on what you will do differently in the future. This final step can help you ensure the same problem does not occur again in the future.

Bring in a professional. In sensitive discussions, it’s often a good idea to bring in a professional. Consider working with a Portland relationship therapist, who can help mediate your discussion and provide you with love advice and practical tools for apology, forgiveness, and healing in your relationship.