It’s a human tendency to want to explain, defend oneself and set the record straight. We somehow believe that by “clarifying” things, we can get the other person to see things our way, understand why we did what we did, and hopefully want to give the relationship another chance.
In a perfect world and in some instances, explanations do have an impact. In the real world of break-ups, and especially in the initial stages of the break-up when emotions are still raw and blame is the menu of the day, explanations often come across as excuses, accusations, wanting to win the argument or have the last word. It doesn’t communicate emotional safety, and doesn’t rebuild trust. In fact it often makes things worse.
I’ve said it in my eBook and on many articles, bringing up the old relationship in the very initial stages of the process often works to your disadvantage. It tends to focus the attention on hurt feelings making it hard to move on from “what is wrong” to “what can be right”.
My advice is, re-establish contact, rebuild trust and goodwill, and only then do you bring up the issues in the old relationship.
The reason being that, people generally tend to be more emotionally open when they feel that you genuinely care about them, and not just trying to push through your agenda.
That said, it doesn’t mean that you can’t take responsibility for your part in the demise of the relationship. A straightforward and heartfelt admission of the role you played without all the lengthy explanations of why you did what you did, pointing fingers or labelling your ex “unavailable”, “a commitment phobe” or “damaged” in any way can be your most effective move in terms of rebuilding trust.
People who understand the value of personal responsibility in rebuilding trust and can demonstrate that they have learned from their mistakes often have a better chance of getting their ex to feel that it’s safe to emotionally open up again. From here things quickly warm up and start moving forward towards reconciliation.
When it comes to an apology — which in my opinion is more effective after things have warmed up a little and the other person is willing to listen — a brief and to the point apology expressed with emotion, regret and deep insight into one’s actions goes a very long way.
No explanations, no excuses, accusation or defensiveness. Giving reasons, explanations and trying to “share the blame” equally, not only cancels the apology, it often infuriates the other person even more.
The best apologies are those expressed in person, simply because emotions are more believable and have more impact in real time.