Do you struggle with how to respond when you've hurt your partner's feelings?

A woman who is saying,

You'e not alone! These 4 steps you can take when you've hurt your partner's feelings will help strengthen your relationship.

1. Acknowledge Their Feelings

A woman saying,

When acknowledging your partner's feelings...

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  • Be sure to listen to understand

  • Use empathy

  • Be open and flexible

  • Repeat back what they have shared

  • Show that you are listening with your body language

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  • Don't turn the focus onto yourself

  • Avoid telling your partner how to feel or that their feelings are wrong

  • Don't try to make a joke about your partner's feelings or the situation

  • Avoid becoming defensive


Jeanette felt hurt because her partner forgot about their anniversary. Jeanette's partner listened attentively and used eye contact to show that he was listening. What else can he do to acknowledge Jeanette's feelings?

2. Take Responsibility and Apologize

When you've hurt your partner, it is always best to own up to it and apologize.

A woman saying,

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An apology should include...

  1. Genuine sincerity — show your partner you're truly sorry

  2. Willingness to make things right — show them you're ready to be more attentive to their feelings

  3. Patience — don't force forgiveness

3. Learn From What Happened

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Reflect Upon Your Own Actions

Ask yourself...

  • What exactly hurt my partner?

  • What role did I play?

  • What could I have done differently?

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Grow From The Experience

Ask yourself...

  • What type of partner do I want to be?

  • What areas of my relationship do I need to invest in to change my behaviors?

  • How will I change my behaviors?

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Implement Changes

Use your reflections and growth to show your partner that you won't repeat the same mistakes. Some ways to do that include:

  • Communicating with your partner

  • Actively listening to your partner

  • Seeking professional help for any root cause issues that may lead you to make the same mistakes again

  • Sharing what you are working on (within yourself) with your partner so that they feel a part of the process

  • If you do make a mistake, recognizing it out loud (to yourself and your partner) and apologizing for it

4. Get Professional Help

Sometimes, a couple needs the help of a professional to work through hurt feelings.

A woman telling someone

Seek the help of a professional if:

  1. Arguments are becoming more frequent

  2. You and your partner are having trouble communicating

  3. You feel that you (or your partner) continue making bad choices

  4. Either partner has trust concerns

Sheila and Robbie

A couple posing for a picture Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

Robbie recently discovered that Sheila has been sharing flirtatious texts with her ex. Robbie feels betrayed and his feelings are hurt.

Sheila loves Robbie, and knows that she shouldn't have been responding to her ex's texts. When Robbie confronted Sheila, she became angry and defensive. Robbie ended up walking away and nothing was resolved.

Sheila has several options moving forward:

  1. Call Robbie and ask him if he'd be willing to go to a professional therapist with her.

  2. Text Robbie and tell him all the things he's done wrong that led to her texting her ex.

  3. Meet with Robbie and listen to how he's feeling. Tell him she's sorry for texting with her ex and that it won't happen again.

  4. Move on because Robbie obviously doesn't care about her feelings since he walked away during their conversation.


Which option(s) would be the most appropriate way(s) for Sheila to respond after having hurt Robbie?

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