After a breakup, it’s common to look back over what happened and wonder how to get your ex to forgive you.
Maybe you had something to do with your breakup– maybe you lied or cheated. No matter what happened, getting your ex to forgive you can be a little bit of work, but it’s not usually impossible.
First, a warning. Your exe’s forgiveness is never guaranteed.
Like I explain in this video, you might never get your ex to completely forgive you, but it depends a lot on what happened between you two. I’m going to give you a roadmap to give you the best possible chance to earn back their trust and get back together, but in the end, it’s up to them if they really want to let you make it up to them.
Here are the steps to get your ex to forgive you when you’ve screwed up big time:
1. Decide what you really want.
Sometimes all of this striving won’t really get you the kind of relationship that you want in the end. It’s important to take a step back and think about whether it’s your ex who you miss or it’s the act of being in a relationship with them that is really bothering you.
You can do everything under the sun to get your ex back, but if you shouldn’t be in a relationship with them in the first place, it’s a huge waste of time and energy.
Get clear on whether what you want really resides with your ex or if it’s simply that you miss being in a relationship with them. Once you get clear on this, proceed.
2. Take complete responsibility and apologize sincerely.
So often we think that providing a genuine apology is a weakness, when really it’s the first step in getting things back to where they’re good again. Think of your sincere apology as opening the door and clearing the way to a better future between the two of you.
One caveat. You can’t apologize sloppily. What do I mean by sloppily?
“Oh my goodness dear, wonderful ex, I’m the most wrong person in the history of wrongness and everything I ever did was for us and I somehow lost my path and I love you now and forever, please FORGIVE ME. I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry.”
There are a few problems with this. It comes off ultra pathetic and it’s clear that you’re trying to get something from your ex. Now, you ARE trying to get something from them (their forgiveness) but they can’t lose respect for you during your apology! This is better:
“I wanted to let you know that I’m really sorry for (whatever I did). It wasn’t the right thing to do or fair to you. You deserve better. I’m sorry.”
This is better for several reasons.
First, it is crystal clear what exactly you’re apologizing for. You aren’t groveling for the entire history of your relationship or making yourself look like a pathetic sappy mess. You’re also recognizing and taking responsibility for the hurt that you caused them. Get in, get it done, get out. Don’t get soppy and spew more negativity all over them.
3. Accept that they might punish you for some time to come.
Sometimes we hope that we’ll say the magic apology and our ex will immediately jump back into our arms, ready to forget about everything that happened. Unfortunately this seldom happens. Depending on what you did, your ex might still be angry with you and have a difficult time treating you the way you wish they would treat you.
Now, I never advocate letting anyone abuse you, and it’s up to you to decide how much of an emotional beating you’re willing to take. However, happy times might not be here again right away, and you’ve got to patiently and calmly let your ex work through the anger and hurt, even after your sincere apology.
That leads me to my next point.
4. Give them time and space to forgive you.
Knowing that your ex is still upset or hurt can make you feel guilty and frankly, act badly in your exe’s presence. You may yearn for things between you to go back to how they used to be, and just want to get the whole process over with so things are happy again.
The problem is that often people want all of this happiness and perfection to work in their favor way too soon. It can take a long time for someone to feel better around you and you have to recognize this when looking for your exe’s forgiveness. Let them process their feelings and give them some space to do it.
5. Avoid being defensive.
It’s up to you to maintain a clear head in the face of whatever they might toss your way. There are going to be setbacks where they get upset and even drudge up the past.
Avoid the temptation to roll into an emotional ball, re-apologize (you already did that, right? RIGHT?), and launch into more explanations for your behavior. Stay calm, accept that they’re still emotional about what happened, and make them feel heard.
A good statement like “I completely understand why you’re upset about that,” works well. Let them get it out, and then gently move the conversation on or remove yourself from it. You listing the 24 reasons why you did what you did and apologizing profusely YET AGAIN will just add fuel to the fire.
Instead, keep your eye on your real end goal— a harmonious relationship with your ex. Getting defensive and fighting with your ex doesn’t accomplish that goal.
I realize it’s hard when you feel like you’re being attacked, but it’s so important that you avoid saying that thing that you know will devastate them. Do not fight back. Be cool.
6. Continue trying to make things fun, even though in general, the relationship might be a drag.
The biggest mistake that people make with their exes is that they let negative patterns continue while they’re trying to get their ex back.
What I mean is that instead of using their actions to remind their ex how amazing things used to be in the beginning of their relationship, they go back in and rehash all of the old, negative emotions.
If you really want your ex to forgive you, this is the exact, wrong thing to do because it reinforces the negative pattern between the two of you. If things are going to be forgiven or repaired between you two, breaking that negative cycle is absolutely crucial.