By now, you’re probably familiar with your Love Language, and how it affects your relationships. These are how you best give and receive love, through gift giving, physical touch, words of affirmation, acts of service, and quality time. ( If you’re not sure which one is yours, I advise you get educated, as it will make a massive difference in your personal life) . But did you know you also have an apology language? neither did I. Let’s learn together:
Author of The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts, Dr. Gary Chapman, teamed up with Dr. Jennifer Thomas to figure out how we each heal hurt, or want others to help us heal. As with our individual love languages, it’s not the same for all of us. By knowing the apology language of your loved ones, you can apologise to them more effectively when you mess up – and in the way that means most to them.
Dr. Chapman and Dr. Thomas’s book, When Sorry Isn’t Enough: Making Things Right With Those You Love, lists the five apology languages as expressing regret, genuinely repenting, accepting responsibility, requesting forgiveness, and making restitution. If you’re a little bewildered by what some of those mean, or how they differ, no worries. Let’s dive in.
If your apology language is requesting forgiveness
The simplest of the apology languages, this involves asking someone to forgive you (sincerely!) when you’ve wronged them. They may need some time. Perhaps some space. But if this is your apology language simply being asked for forgiveness is enough.
You’d probably say something like “I know I screwed up, but I hope you can find it in your heart to forgive me someday”.
It may be simple, but it can be a great challenge to ask and to give forgiveness. Chapman and Thomas explain that asking forgiveness is challenging because it means relinquishing control of the relationship’s future. Not only does it mean admitting wrong, but also accepting the possibility of rejection.
If your apology language is expressing regret
This is your apology language if you feel it’s most important to express the wish that you hadn’t caused hurt.
For example, you might say, “I’m so embarrassed that I made that joke at your expense,” or, “I’m so truly sorry that I lost your favourite sweater”. You might also want others to apologise to you in this way when they screw up.
If you feel really moved and validated when someone expresses regret for something they did to you, and that allows you to move on, this is probably your apology language.
If your apology language is genuinely repenting
For you, repentance is the convincing factor in an apology. Saying sorry means nothing if it isn’t accompanied by a real desire to change in the future.
According to the website, “one important aspect of genuinely repenting is verbalising your desire to change. Your partner cannot read your mind. Though you may be trying to change inside, if you do not verbalise your desire to change to your mate, most likely they will still be hurt”.
This, however, is the easy part. Keep in mind that change is hard work, and that were will be ups and downs along the way.
If your apology language is accepting responsibility
This apology language is something in between expressing regret and genuinely repenting. It involved acknowledging that you’re at fault.
If this is your apology language, you probably find yourself saying something like, “I’m so sorry I spilled my drink in your car. I need to be more careful next time”.
This involves owning your actions and shortcomings as hurtful, and admitting that you could have been better. If hearing someone admitting their responsibility makes you feel able to move on from the hurt they caused, this is your apology language.
If your apology language is making restitution
Sometimes just expressing regret and taking responsibility is not good enough. Often, we need to make restitution to make an apology truly sincere and effective.
Making restitution is actually more about making the hurt party feel seen and loved than about just paying for something that you broke by accident. If your loved one’s apology language is making restitution, they’ll want you to apologise by making the situation right.
Consider their love language here. You could offer to pay for a broken thing, or you could carve out some quality time for them if you’ve been neglecting them. If you lied, work hard to regain their trust.
If you want someone to make it up to you after they’ve wronged you, this is your apology language.
The world is a far more interesting place because we’re all different. My apology language may differ from yours, and yours from your partner’s. Learning to navigate them will play a big role in forming more meaningful relationships. Hopefully, it’ll also increase the time we spend sharing love instead of anger.