I recently hurt my girlfriend and now I'm not sure what to do. We got into a fight and I said some really hurtful things about her parents and her career choices. They were horrible and unloving words that I instantly regretted saying. Now I feel ashamed and embarrassed. I want to apologize, but I'm afraid that she won't forgive me. What should I do?
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No matter how strong a relationship, arguments can happen. But when the words exchanged become more than a light tiff and instead feel like daggers sunk deep into a partner's spirit, the consequences can feel insurmountable. When you hurt your girlfriend in this way, it's understandable that you may be feeling helpless and unsure of the future of your relationship.
The first, most vital step is to make amends. This can be difficult, as relationships are complex and one sincere apology may or may not resolve the issue. It will be important to take responsibility for your words and reach out with a genuine apology that is heartfelt and earnest. The gesture has to come across as sincere or else your efforts will have been in vain.
Though it seems counter-intuitive, don't try to talk your way out of the situation or explain why you said what you did. No matter the rationale, it led to hurtful words and it's important to acknowledge this truth. The aim here is for her to understand that you understand how much you've hurt her, and that your apology is genuine. Remain focused on the apology and that alone.
The next step is a bit more tricky. While saying you're sorry is imperative, you need to also take action. This isn't just because action speaks louder than words, but also proves to her that you are taking your part in the situation seriously and tackling it head-on. You must show her that you have learned from your mistake and are willing to do whatever you can to gain back her trust and repair the relationship.
A kind gesture will show your sincerity. Depending on the context and the severity of your words, even a small token of appreciation such as a box of her favorite chocolates or a simple handwritten letter professing your love may prove beneficial. Sometimes, all it takes is a reminder of the shared past and affection, as well as reassurance that she is and always will be safe in your arms.
One of the most difficult, yet important, aspects here is recognizing that, even if she does forgive you, it may take time for her to reconcile your actions. Simply because it takes more effort to re-cement trust than it does to break it. But you must remain patient and ensure that your actions show her not just that you are sorry, but that you are actively trying to bridge the gap that has been created due to your mistake.
It is also important to note that any amends made must also work for her, not just for you. In other words, her needs and feelings must be taken into consideration, too. If there is anything that you can do to make her feel better, do it. It might take a long time, but it's worth the effort in the end.
Knowing when to trust and when it is best to simply wait is essential. Patience in this situation is truly key. Apologies can only do so much and while they can be immensely helpful, it is up to the two of you to further rebuild the relationship in a healthy and trusting way. If you can work together to create an atmosphere of safety and a solid foundation for your relationship, then perhaps you may be able to repair your bond and get back to life as usual.