38 Short Quotes About Saying Sorry—And Meaning It

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Not only is offering an apology incredibly humbling, but it’s also very cathartic. This is true whether you're saying sorry for your loss or apologizing after an argument. And even when you think you’re right, there’s definitely some small probability you own some fault in the matter.

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So, if you want to move in the right direction with someone important, then dig deep and offer an apology. After all, pride matters little when you lose trust or faith from loved ones. Plus, there’s far more strength in putting an end to problems versus the tenacity to continue them.

So, if you’ve been stuck on finding the right words, here are some quotes for you. You may be surprised how easy problems seem to solve themselves once you get over the hurdle of the apology. 

‘I’m Sorry’ Quotes to Send to a Partner or Spouse

Nothing surpasses the bond that you have with your partner or spouse. Here are a few ways that you can help alleviate the tension when life gets hectic and the wrong words come out. 

1. “There is no love without forgiveness, and there is no forgiveness without love.” —Bryant H. McGill

Saying that relationships take work, time, and love is not a cliché. So, if you’ve got a hurdle to overcome that requires an apology, McGill’s words might help smooth the path ahead.

2. “I loved and adored you, but I drained you like a thirsty man at a spring. I loved what you could give me—your admiration, your acceptance, your love, your forgiveness. I forgot to love you for yourself.” —Jennifer Ashley

Quotes rarely drip with such raw honesty. But when you're in Ashley’s position or a similar one, your partner probably deserves nothing less, and maybe a lot more.

3. “Apologizing does not always mean you're wrong and the other person is right. It just means you value your relationship more than your ego.” —Mark Matthews

If you’re ready to call quits to your disagreement, then here’s a pragmatic quote to help break the ice over a text or email so that when you next meet, you can talk without all the anger.

4. “I felt ashamed for what I had done. I don't have any excuses. I did what I did. I take full responsibility for myself and my actions. I wouldn't pawn this off on anybody. I'm sorry it happened. And I hurt [you].” —Louie Anderson 

If you are searching for an apology that runs the gambit of bad behavior and wrongdoing, Louie Anderson covers many of the bases. 

5. “Never forget the nine most important words of any family: I love you. You are beautiful. Please forgive me.” —H. Jackson Brown Jr.

You can tailor this apology to fit in a card, text, or say it in-person. While it may not suit the most serious offenses, it will likely apply to some minor infractions.

6. “How do I say the words, 'I'm sorry' when I know that words are not enough? And how can I ask you to forgive me when I know I can't forgive myself?” —Unknown Author

For those major offenses or transgressions, an unknown author has created an apology that says you’re sorry, and that you, too, find the actions unforgivable. 

» MORE: Hey bestie, it’s time to make an online will. (Don’t worry, we’re here to help.)

 

‘I’m Sorry’ Quotes to Send to Another Family Member

Holding grudges with family members is the last thing we need. After all, family sticks by each other no matter what. So, if there’s a pickle that’s got people silent, take a moment to clear the air with some quotes like the following.

7. “I regret that [thing I did]. I made a mistake and I left the impression that the truth does not matter. And I am deeply sorry about that because that is not what I believe. To everyone who has challenged me on this issue of truth, you are absolutely right.” —Oprah Winfrey

Politics, religion, and climate change seem to get people riled up a lot lately, but that doesn’t have to make you enemies with your siblings when you don’t agree with one another. 

8. “Friends are God's apology for relations.” —Hugh Kingsmill

With simple apologies, it’s not necessary to offer detailed reasonings at every crossroad. Plus, unavoidable things happen, and you’re definitely stuck with your family.

9. “Right actions in the future are the best apologies for bad actions in the past.” —Tryon Edwards

Here’s a great way to let someone know you have done some internal processing about how you’ve been behaving towards the people you care about. And, if your friendship is strong, you’ll be able to get past some of the little issues very easily. 

10. “If I said, ‘I’m sorry’ even though I don't know why I'm saying it, will it reduce my time in the corner? —Author Unknown 

Some of the most famous family dramas in US history happened after the civil war, so if it’s not quite to that level, you may find that there’s really no sense in holding a grudge. Just say I’m sorry.

11. “Never ruin an apology with an excuse.” —Kimberly Johnson

If you’re in good relations with both people in a marriage who are now divorcing, there’s really no good way to navigate the situation. So, when everything settles down, here’s a way to let them both know you’re sorry—but also saw no other option. 

‘I’m Sorry’ Quotes to Share with a Friend

When saying you’re sorry to your friend, be sincere, admit your fault, and give them plenty of time to respond. Afterward, you may want to find ways to make it up to them—or be prepared to walk away altogether.

12. “Chocolate says ‘I'm sorry’ so much better than words. —Rachel Vincent 

Send this note along with a really good box of chocolates. If it doesn’t work, then you may want to pick up the phone and have a direct conversation.

13. “Forgiveness does not change the past, but it does enlarge the future.” —Paul Boese

After an email to address the situation, Boese’s quote would make for a solid summary. It sounds hopeful, but pragmatic, and would suit an older relationship over a newer one.

14. “True friends stab you in the front. —Oscar Wilde

No truer statement could be said! Still, if you’ve been in a mess before with this friend, and generally have some good humor about you, then Wilde’s quote may help reduce the pain of your infraction and get a good chuckle simultaneously.

15. “Let us forgive each other—only then will we live in peace.” —Leo Tolstoy

Tolstoy’s apology seems so formal, almost like the one you would say to a colleague or coworker more than a friend. That is, unless, you are making amends in a social group wherein your relationship doesn’t need to be intimate, only cordial. 

16. “I overlooked your happiness in an attempt to make myself happy, only to realize that my happiness lies in yours. I am sorry, please forgive me.” —Author Unknown

Here’s a way to sound contrite and also express the value in your best friend’s happiness. When you let them know that you can see life from different angles, you’re showing and telling them how much you care.

17. “Remorse is impotence; it will sin again. Only repentance is strong; it can end everything.” —Honor de Balzac

If you can follow up your apology with some right actions, then use this as the starter, otherwise, you’ll be offering more apologies down the road.

18. “To err is human, to forgive divine...” —Alexander Pope

Offering an apology lobs the ball into someone else’s court. After one has been offered, all you can do is wait to hear if you’ll be forgiven or not.

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Quotes That Say ‘I’m Sorry, I Love You’ 

Offering an apology to a loved one can come from a place of mutual understanding, even if you don’t plan on rekindling your relationship. However, if you plan on making things last, note the tone and texture of the apology, ensuring it fits your circumstance or personality.

19. “I’m sorry that I make mistakes, sorry for not being as perfect as you would like me to be… But what I can say is I love you and that’s something to not be sorry about.” —Michelle B.

There’s a way of presenting this quote that can come off a little snarky, so use it only if there’s some appropriate backstory—and an understood tone.

20. “I am sorry, I wanted to tell you that I regret everything that I did, I want you back with me.” —Maria Bastida

This is a quote for getting back together with the one you love.

21. “I am sorry I told you I loved you and hurt you. I’m sorry I made you cry in the way I did. I’m sorry I had to leave. I just couldn’t stand to hurt you anymore but I’m sorry that when I hurt you, I hurt myself too. Baby, I love you.” —Kyra

Apologies aren’t always a remedy for getting back together. Sometimes they’re also about explaining the breakup.

22. “Tell him yes. Even if you are dying of fear, even if you are sorry later, because whatever you do, you will be sorry all the rest of your life if you say no."  —Gabriel García Márquez

Márquez’s quote works more as a piece of advice you’d give to a friend, but it also works as a quote to send to a lover who often quotes great novels.

23. “I don’t think that I deserve your forgiveness, but I will hate myself if I don't try at least. I know I messed up big time, but I love you more than anything in the world and I can’t imagine my life without you. I promise to make it up to you.” —Author Unknown

Use this if you’re the kind of person who prefers the phrase “messed up big time” over “I’m sorry.”

24. “Loving you is the most important thing I do, and sometimes I get overwhelmed with the responsibility. I mess up. But I still love you unconditionally, eternally, beautifully. I am really sorry. I learned my lesson.” —Author Unknown.

For some, offering an apology comes disguised in the words, “I mess up.” As such, it’ll work for minor infractions rather than cardinal ones.

25. “I am sorry about how I acted. That was really thoughtless and selfish of me. I love you so much. I will try to do better in the future.” —Davis Macron

Macron’s quote will work well for the things that you did versus the things that you said, as it’s honest, resigned, and sincere. 

Quotes That Say ‘I’m Sorry I Hurt Your Feelings’

From partners and lovers to long-time friends, or acquaintances, there’s something here for everyone.

26. “I have never thought that I’m capable of such a thing. It hurts me to know that I made you feel bad. You deserve so much better than this. I’ll do anything to be a better person for you. Forgive me.” —Author Unknown

Use this quote when you realize that your words or actions have profoundly injured your loved one.

27. “Just the thought of hurting you makes me feel sick. I can’t believe I made you feel this way. I’m incredibly sorry for this, and I will do anything to fix things. I love you more than life itself.” —Author Unknown

New relationships can bring hurt upon both participants, even if it’s unintended. Use this quote to turn that unintended mishap into an opportunity to change and to be a better person. 

28. “I know that it may not seem so, but I never meant to hurt you. You mean so much to me, and I feel like my life would be nothing without you. I’m sorry for making you feel the opposite. I love you.” —Author Unknown

Let your loved ones know that you inadvertently caused them anguish but didn’t set out to hurt them.

29. “I feel really bad for saying such hurtful words to you, but you should know that you are the only one that matters to me, friend. I’m extremely sorry for my behavior.” —Author Unknown

Good friends can be unkind to each other. Even so, a long history is no excuse to leave the apologies unsaid.

30. “What you said last time surprised me and I was not ready for it. I know that I reacted badly and that I hurt your feelings. I love you so much. Can we start over and try it again?” —Davis Macron

Use this quote when you don’t care who started the fight, but you just want to stop arguing.

31. “Ever since I have hurt you, I have been feeling really miserable, let’s chill and be cool again! I’m sorry, please forgive me!” —Author Unknown

This may work for a casual friendship or in another friendly environment, but it wouldn’t work for something that’s long-term or even work-related.

32. “I was not thinking when I did what I did. I never wanted to upset you or make you mad. I am so sorry, and I love you more than anything in the world.” —Davis Macron

Macron’s quote works for when your actions catch you off guard, surprising even you.

» MORE: Hey bestie, it’s time to make an online will. (Don’t worry, we’re here to help.)

 

Quotes That Say ‘I’m Sorry, Please Forgive Me’

For those complicated times in a relationship when you wish you would’ve said something else or acted differently.

33. “I have never thought that I’m capable of such a thing. It hurts me to know that I made you feel bad. You deserve so much better than this. I’ll do anything to be a better person for you. Forgive me.” —Author Unknown

There’s a certain depth to this apology that is more meaningful than most, so use it for those relationships that matter at the core.

34. “I want to apologize for accusing you of cheating on me. It is just that I love you so much, and I cannot bear the thought of losing you. Do you forgive me?” —Davis Macron

This apology is just the start of what will be a lot of work on oneself and the relationship.

35. “Our friendship is way too important than stupid ego or mistakes, so here I am, pleading for your forgiveness. Please accept my apology.” —Author Unknown

Even long-term friendships can have bumps in the road. Here’s one way to get around them.

36. “I am sorry for being such a nuisance and causing so much negative energy around you. I hope you will forgive me this time. I am extremely sorry.” —Author Unknown

This apology works if yours is the kind of office relationship where you can speak plainly.

37. “I know saying sorry is just not enough for how much I hurt you but I’ll say it a million times until you forgive me. I am sorry.” —Author Unknown

Even if your actions caused a breakup, you could still ensure that what you’ve done will eventually be forgiven.

38. “I am sorry I lied. I am sorry you cried. I didn’t mean to be rude, please forgive me dude.” —Author Unknown

Yours is a particular kind of friendship that lets you send awful rhymes and get a chuckle when you’ve been a jerk.

Partners, Family, and Friends Need Second Chances

Hopefully one of the above examples for saying ‘I’m sorry’ helped you find a few ways to pull the bandage off quickly—and mean it. If the relationship is important to you, look for the right time and place so that afterward you can both begin to heal.

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