How to forgive yourself after hurting your partner

Discover 8 steps to self-forgiveness after hurting your partner, learn to manage guilt, and foster self-compassion.

On this page

The person we often have the hardest time forgiving is ourselves. Feelings of guilt, regret, and self-blame can become overwhelming, making it difficult to move forward. In this article, we’ll help you navigate through this process, providing practical steps toward self-forgiveness.

For additional help on dealing with relational difficulties, check out our guide on dealing with conflicts and challenges in relationships.

What is self-forgiveness?

What is self-forgiveness?

Self-forgiveness is a process of finding peace within ourselves after we’ve made a mistake. It’s about taking responsibility for our actions and releasing feelings of blame and anger toward ourselves. Instead, we choose to be kind and understanding, rebuilding our self-respect and nurturing a positive self-image. 1

It’s important to note that self-forgiveness doesn’t mean we’re making excuses or ignoring what we did wrong. It means we’re choosing to learn from our mistakes without being too hard on ourselves. It’s like giving ourselves a second chance to grow and heal.

Self-forgiveness isn’t just beneficial for our own well-being, but it also has a positive impact on our relationships. When we can forgive ourselves, it often leads to greater satisfaction in both our personal lives and our connections with our partners. 1

To sum it up, self-forgiveness is a process that involves taking responsibility for our actions, letting go of self-blame, and treating ourselves with kindness. It allows us to heal, grow, and foster better relationships. 1

8 steps on how to forgive yourself after hurting your partner

Hurting a loved one is never easy, and the journey toward self-forgiveness can be challenging. But remember, it’s how we learn and grow from them that truly matters.

Here are 8 steps to guide you on your path toward forgiving yourself after causing hurt to your partner.

1. Take responsibility for your actions

The first crucial step towards self-forgiveness after hurting your partner is taking responsibility for your actions. This means pushing past any denial or avoidance and facing up to what you did. By accepting that you had a part to play in what happened, you’re setting the foundation for forgiveness and healing. 2

But remember, taking responsibility isn’t just about admitting you were wrong. It’s about embracing accountability, which opens up the path for personal growth, learning, and positive change.

2. Face uncomfortable emotions

The process of self-forgiveness involves coming to terms with past mistakes and accepting responsibility for one’s actions. While this can be an uncomfortable and difficult experience, it is a crucial step in achieving emotional healing and growth. Experts suggest that truly forgiving yourself requires an honest confrontation with difficult feelings like guilt and shame. 2

Facing these emotions head-on helps you understand the full impact of your actions, both on you and on others. This self-awareness can then guide you in making amends and mending broken relationships.

Ultimately, facing the discomfort associated with accepting responsibility is essential for achieving true self-forgiveness and experiencing emotional freedom.

3. Accept and apologize for the hurt you caused

A vital step in forgiving yourself involves acknowledging the hurt you’ve inflicted on your partner and offering a sincere apology. Research indicates that actions aimed at making things right, or “reparative behaviors,” can effectively help to alleviate feelings of guilt. Ideally, feeling sorry for what you did wrong will encourage you to make things right, and knowing that you’ve managed to repair the damage will decrease your feelings of guilt (and even shame). 2

In simpler terms, saying you’re sorry and doing what you can to fix what you did wrong can significantly help you forgive yourself. By recognizing the pain you caused and sincerely apologizing, you’re taking a big step toward self-forgiveness and healing.

Discover why forgiveness is key to building strong relationships!

4. Practice self-compassion

The fourth step in this journey involves showing yourself some kindness. According to Buddhist teachings, self-compassion can be understood as a blend of three elements: kindness, recognizing that everyone makes mistakes (a sense of common humanity), and mindfulness, which is staying aware and balanced in our thoughts and feelings. 3

Kindness here means being gentle with ourselves when we’re dealing with our own shortcomings, failures, or mistakes. Recognizing our common humanity helps us remember that no one’s perfect - everyone messes up sometimes. And mindfulness involves being present and honest about our feelings without blowing them out of proportion.

Self-compassion is particularly helpful when we’re struggling with feelings of inadequacy, when we’ve made mistakes, or when we’re facing tough life events that are beyond our control. 3

By treating ourselves with kindness, recognizing our shared human experience, and being mindful of our emotions, we can create a compassionate mindset toward ourselves. This not only helps us feel better but also supports us in forgiving ourselves.

5. Break the cycle of overthinking

The fifth step is all about stopping the habit of rumination or overthinking, which often keeps us stuck in a loop of guilt and regret. Studies have found that distraction, as well as mindfulness, can be effective ways to reduce rumination. 4

Distraction works by capturing our attention, preventing our mind from continuously returning to thoughts of what we did wrong. 4

Mindfulness, which involves purposefully focusing on our thoughts and feelings without judgment, allows us to acknowledge our negative emotions without getting swept up in them or trying to push them away. Instead, we learn to see them as passing events in our minds. This focus on the present helps us break free from the cycle of rumination. 4

An easy way to practice mindfulness is to imagine each troubling thought as a bubble. When a thought pops up, instead of getting stuck in it, picture yourself putting the thought in a bubble and then watching it float away. 4

By using distraction and practicing mindfulness, you can help quiet your mind, let go of overthinking, and move a step closer to forgiving yourself.

Sometimes it’s hard to forgive not only yourself but also your partner. Learn how to forgive your partner when you can’t forget!

6. Reframe the situation

Learn and grow from the experience by changing your perspective on what happened. This doesn’t mean you’re trying to downplay your actions or their consequences. Instead, reframing is about understanding the situation in a broader context and finding a new way to view your mistakes.

Ask yourself: What did I learn from this experience? How can I use this mistake to become a better person? What can I do to prevent this from happening again?

The goal here is to look at the experience as an opportunity for growth. This will help you move forward and become a better version of yourself rather than getting stuck in feelings of guilt or regret.

7. Be patient with yourself

Self-forgiveness is a process that does not happen overnight. You may experience days where you feel like you’ve made progress, only to encounter moments where old feelings of guilt and regret resurface. That’s okay. It’s all part of the process.

When you’re feeling stuck, or like you’re not making progress, remind yourself that healing takes time. Be kind to yourself, give yourself credit for the progress you’ve made, and remember that everyone moves at their own pace.

Do you have a hard time forgiving your partner? Here are possible reasons why you can’t forgive your partner.

8. Seek professional help if needed

If your feelings of guilt or shame are overwhelming, it might be a good idea to seek help from a professional. Therapists and counselors are trained to help people navigate their feelings and can provide you with strategies and techniques tailored to your unique situation. They can help you process your emotions, provide new perspectives, and guide you toward self-forgiveness in a safe and supportive environment.

Remember, asking for help isn’t a sign of weakness. In fact, it takes a lot of strength to admit when we’re struggling and to seek support when we need it.

Remember, forgiving yourself after hurting your partner is a journey that takes time, patience, and a lot of self-love. As you continue to navigate your relationship, don’t forget to check out our guide for couples on communication in a relationship for further support and guidance.

  1. Pelucchi, S., Paleari, F. G., Regalia, C., & Fincham, F. D. (2013). Self-forgiveness in romantic relationships: It matters to both of us. Journal of Family Psychology, 27(4), 541–549. ↩︎ ↩︎ ↩︎

  2. Fisher, M. L., & Exline, J. J. (2010). Moving Toward Self-Forgiveness: Removing Barriers Related to Shame, Guilt, and Regret. Social and Personality Psychology Compass, 4(8), 548–558. ↩︎ ↩︎ ↩︎

  3. Germer, C. K., Neff, K., D. (2013). Self-Compassion in Clinical Practice. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 69(8), 856-857. ↩︎ ↩︎

  4. Hilt, L. M., & Pollak, S. D. (2012). Getting Out of Rumination: Comparison of Three Brief Interventions in a Sample of Youth. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 40(7), 1157–1165. ↩︎ ↩︎ ↩︎ ↩︎

Author picture of Amy Clark
Relationship Expert

Amy Clark

Amy Clark is a freelance writer who writes about relationships, marriage, and family. She has been happily married for over ten years and loves her husband and three kids. Before …

Read full bio

Get the official app 😍

PumPum® app icon


For iPhone & Android
Browse all articles