What To Do When You Messed Up Your Relationship: 12 Helpful Tips!

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You’ve done something bad. We don’t need to know what it is, but, if it’s messed up your relationship, you need to fix it as much and as soon as you can.

Whether it’s a one-off or something you’ve been doing consistently over time (without realizing, maybe), you need to make some changes to your behavior – now.

Here are some tips on how to make amends for whatever it is you have done.

1. Own up to your mistake.

The first thing you need to do is acknowledge that you’ve made a mistake.

You both know it’s happened and you lying or trying to defend yourself probably won’t help in this situation.

Make it clear to your partner that you know you’ve messed up, because the more you try to pretend you’re not in the wrong or try to shirk responsibility, the more frustrated and upset they’re going to become with you.

You might not want to accept it, but arguing over something that is clear for you both to see is not a great idea, trust us.

2. Tell the whole truth.

If you’ve messed up and you’re talking to your partner about it, don’t hide anything from them.

The only thing worse than finding out you’ve been betrayed is finding out a second time that there was more to it than your partner let on.

If you cheated twice but your partner thinks it only happened once, for example, you need to tell them now.

Do not make them feel like a mug by telling them half the truth now and letting them find the rest out for themselves later down the line – because they almost certainly will.

You need to be honest and admit to everything upfront – if you respect them at all, you’ll understand why that’s so important.

3. Apologize – and mean it.

Of course, make them realize how sorry you are. Find ways to show it, say it, make them believe it as much as you can.

Don’t say it as an off-hand comment or mumble it under your breath.

Take responsibility for what you’ve done, acknowledge that you have hurt someone you love, and make it very, very clear that you are sorry. 

4. Prove that you’re not going to do it again.

If you messed up, make an effort to show you’re not going to make the same mistake again.

Prove to your partner that you are making the changes needed to make this relationship work.

You might feel like things have died down after a couple of days, but you still need to put in the effort to show them that you have changed and are going to do anything to make things work.

5. Be willing to make compromises.

If you cheated on your partner with a close friend, you need to accept that they may never want you to see that friend again.

Some sacrifices will need to be made – and you can only blame yourself for them. Your partner is within their rights to expect some compromises and a change in your behavior.

You hurt them and you need to let them take the lead when it comes to them explaining what they need in order to feel comfortable and secure in the relationship again.

This doesn’t need to feel like punishment, but it should feel like an active change and proof that you won’t do it again.

6. Show them that they’re your priority.

Make sure you’re showing your partner how much you care about them and value your relationship with them.

If you’ve messed up and want to fix things, you need to show them that you love them and want things to work between you.

They might be feeling betrayed or neglected, and you should do your best to remove these thoughts from their mind by making them a priority in your life.

Surprise them with cute gifts or random hugs, go out of your way to let them know you care, and be proud to show the world you love them.

This will help them feel more confident about themselves following an infidelity or betrayal of some sort, and will help repair the damage you’ve done.

7. Show up when it counts.

Be there. If you messed up by never being present enough or by taking your partner for granted, make the effort to be there for the important things.

Don’t cancel date night. Stick to your commitments with your partner.

8. Be consistent.

Anyone can be a good partner for a week. In order to genuinely show that you’re sorry for your actions and want to make the relationship work, you need to commit.

You need to be consistent and make these things a habit, not just a one-off apology.

Your partner will be keener than ever to feel secure and valued, and that won’t happen within a week.

Don’t do things just for the sake of it as you’ll probably just make things worse when they realize you couldn’t be bothered to stick at it.

Commit to proving how much you care and set a new standard for yourself within the relationship. 

9. Communicate honestly and openly.

Whatever it is you did to mess things up in your relationship, things may feel a bit strained or rocky for a while.

This is normal – something big has happened to upset one of you, and there’s also the issue of why you did something bad in the first place!

Your partner is probably feeling quite scared and vulnerable, so you need to really focus on communication at this point.

Start an honest conversation and stay calm – this isn’t the time to start defending yourself, it’s the time to listen to how your partner feels and show that you care. 

10. Understand that your partner may need space.

You might feel like you need to spend loads of quality time together to make up for whatever happened, but your partner may need some space to process.

It’s so tempting to smother them with love and affection straightaway – after all, you probably feel awful for hurting them and the guilt is making you want to be around them and try to cheer them up.

Part of respecting someone is accepting that they probably know what is best for them. If they need some time alone to process and figure out what they want to do going forwards, you need to give it to them. 

11. Accept that it may take time for your partner to forgive you.

However quickly you think you should both move on from the issue and get back to normal, you need to let your partner take the lead with this one.

They might need some time to be able to forgive you.

It’s normal to feel frustrated by this – after all, you’ve said you’re sorry and you’re being a great partner again.

However, if you truly want to move forward together, you need to let them take time to process properly and really work out how they feel.

If this takes longer than you want it to, wait. Don’t rush a decision as you’ll just put even more pressure on them and might end up upsetting them even more.

Let them take the lead, be there when they need you, and stay as genuinely apologetic and loving as they need you to. 

12. Know when to let it go and call it a day.

This one is horrible but, it’s part of being in a relationship.

You need to accept that your partner may not be happy staying with you after you’ve messed up. They may feel like things happen too often, or like you will never really change your ways.

You can talk about this, of course, and do your best to convince them to stay with you, but, ultimately, they are well within their rights to walk away for good.

Sometimes there is nothing you can do to change that. Acceptance is the only way to move forward.

Still not sure what to do to get your relationship back on track after you messed up? Chat online to a relationship expert from Relationship Hero who can help you figure things out. Simply click here to chat.

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About Author

Lucy is a travel and wellness writer currently based in Gili Air, a tiny Indonesian island. After over a year of traveling, she’s settled in paradise and spends her days wandering around barefoot, practicing yoga and exploring new ways to work on her wellbeing.