Fixing a Relationship You’ve Ruined: Here Is How

Relationship Rules
24 Sep 2023
10 min read

There are so many reasons why people break up: cheating, changing expectations and interests, putting a partner on the back burner for too long, dumping them thinking the “grass was greener” with someone else… Whatever the reason, it’s all over. You are full of guilt and regret, and thinking about how to fix the relationship you ruined is just inevitable. However, only you can decide if you really want them back.

This article will give you a roadmap to assuage the hurt feelings you have caused and help to heal and make your relationship strong again. But once you decide to fix a relationship you ruined, beware that it’s going to require some real work on your part.

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How to Fix a Relationship You Ruined – Making Contact

So, here is the question: how to fix a relationship you ruined?
And here is the answer: it won’t be easy, and it’s going to require some real work on your part. So be ready to “do the time” to fix a broken relationship for the love you want to save.
But remember: as you work on how to fix a relationship you ruined, there are no guarantees you will be successful. And it takes time.

You are about to embark on a journey that is going to take time, energy, and plenty of “eating crow.” If you are patient and focus on the goal, you’ll take all of these steps to heart.

1. Own What You Did

The first step is to be brutally honest with yourself. If you were responsible for the ruined relationship, take that responsibility fully.

Identify what you did wrong and whether you were involved in some of these bad behaviours:

  • Did you cheat on them?
  • Did you treat them as if they were last on their list of priorities?
  • Did you put yourself first and take advantage of them, so they did all the giving and you all the taking?
  • Did you ignore their needs and just fail to listen to them?
  • Did you take your frustrations out on them because they were an easy target?

You need to identify the mistakes you made first of all. And then you must commit to not making these same mistakes again before you develop any kind of a plan to fix a broken relationship.

Above all, be completely honest with yourself about all the role you played in a damaged relationship. This is not the moment to let your ego rationalize your behavior. Taking full responsibility is not an option.

Related reading: How to Build Trust in a Relationship: 15 Tips

2. Make a Plan

It’s not enough to simply say that you have taken an objective look at your bad behaviors that caused the relationship problems and vow not to repeat them. You can’t just tell your love that you have turned over a new leaf and want to renew the relationship.

You have to have a plan for changing your behavior:

  1. Require professional help from a relationship expert – there are habits you need to break, and you need to get at the cause through some self-analysis – it’s not easy or fast.
  2. Contact your loved one and tell them that you accept responsibility, want to heal your relationship, and are getting professional help to deal with your behaviors.
  3. Do not suggest couples therapy yet but consider that possibility in the future when they’ll you are putting forth some effort.

At this point, another part of your plan may be to offer some gesture that lets them know you still love them and are sincere in your goal to fix things. Your words may mean little right now, so a small gesture might help.

Have their favorite takeout delivered to them at work or later at home.

It may not mean much, but they may at least appreciate the gesture. And it does tell them you are thinking about them. Now may not be the time for real talk, so back off from that.

Related reading: Putting Love into Action – It’s a Language

3. Make Direct Contact

It’s one thing to let your love know that you are working on your mistakes and to make some type of a “peace offering.” It’s another to contact them directly and have that first conversation about what happened and how you want to make things right. If your partner has not blocked you, you might begin with text messages just to see if you get a response.

The message can be short – something like “I really want to talk to you about our relationship. I know I made terrible mistakes that resulted in a damaged relationship, and I am working on them. Please text me back so we can talk. I really want to fix things.”

You’ll know if they received the text, so now is the time to be patient and wait for an answer. Respect the fact that they may need time to think about it. If you don’t get a response quickly, spend time doing other things to keep yourself occupied.

You might even make a connection or two with others on this dating app – not that you will necessarily get involved with actual dating, but just having nice conversations will be good for your mental state.

Make a second contact, maybe a couple of weeks later, and, this time, maybe be a bit more specific about what you know you did wrong:

  • “I know how much I hurt you by cheating, and if I could go back in time and erase the past, I would. I broke all the rules and ruined us. I want you in my life as my partner. Please answer this message.”
  • “I was going through a really stressful time at work, and I know I ignored and neglected you. I realize now that no job is worth losing you, and I promise this will never happen again if I could have another chance.”
  • “I was so selfish and just took you for granted. I decided to seek professional help and I’m working hard to make the changes that will fix the past issues we had. I want to show you that our damaged relationship can be repaired. Please reply to me.”

Notice three important things here:

  1. You are using “I” messages only,
  2. You are accepting the fault,
  3. You are being more specific about the mistake(s) you made.

What’s more important is that you are not making excuses for your bad behavior. There may be some, but this is not the time to go into them. If there were things that your partner did that contributed to your behavior, that is better served by couples counseling later on if you are successful in winning them back.

4. Make Indirect Contact

During your relationship, you obviously developed mutual friends and probably met their best friend too. If you aren’t making headway with your contact messages, then spending time talking with these others may help.

Make those contacts. You don’t have to get into details or let your emotions run amuck. Simply ask how your former partner is doing and if they think there is any chance that they still care about you. If your direct contacts haven’t yielded results, you might ask them to intervene for you.

And again, you wait for someone to get back to you.

If you learn that the love of your life has moved on, you have a decision to make. Do you accept that or do you persist? If it’s been a short period since you parted, they may not be “thick” into someone else just yet. You might want to try one last contact. If there is no response, you probably need to move on, regardless of your feelings. They want a permanent break, at least for now.

And keep in communication with those mutual friends. You just never know.

Related reading: Moving Forward: Your Guide on How to Stop Loving Someone

Fixing a broken relationship requires hard work

What to Do After You Get the Response

Suppose you get a response other than “Go to Hell.” In fact, you have gotten a return text, and your partner is willing to talk.

This initial conversation should never happen on the phone. Instead, call or text and ask when they are available and let them decide where they like to meet. Let them provide the details, and you accommodate them, no matter how you have to rearrange your schedule.

5. Your Checklist for the First Meetup

This will be the most important meetup people will have as they work toward fixing relationships:

  • Practice active listening: Read a blog post or two, as this will be the most important skill when you start the journey to fix the relationship. Active listening means you really hear what your partner is saying, validate it by repeating what they have said in your own words, and show them you understand what they say.
  • Access your feminine side: Whether you are male or female, access a softer, kinder, and more compassionate side of your psyche to process the emotions that your partner has and still is experiencing.
  • Apologize first: Begin the conversation with a sincere and genuine apology and a desire to fix the relationship you ruined.
  • Ask their opinion: Be sure to ask them for ways to fix things. What can you do? What do they need from you?
  • Stay calm: If you are met with anger, acknowledge that right. And tell them you get their feelings.
  • Do not interrupt: Let them talk and ask follow-up questions if you want more detail. This tells them that you are really hearing what they say.
  • Don’t rush: If you want to get back together after the first meeting, focus instead on what you hope will be a future together as partners again, whenever possible.
  • Validate their feelings: They may express hurt, anger, or be afraid to get back together. Tell them you understand that, but ask them to keep an open mind and let you prove that you are absolutely committed to fixing the relationship.
  • Give them time to process: They may need to be in their own space to think things over. So, after the meeting, it can work to apply the no-contact rule with a clear deadline.
  • Commit to rebuilding trust: Broken relationships are not fixed overnight because many negative emotions must be brought up and dealt with. Again, practice active listening and validate their emotions.
  • End the first meetup with a path forward: Even if it is to talk some more, let it go timely. Ask your partner for the chance to spend some quality time together when they are ready.

Always put “when you are ready” to any such request.

6 steps on how to fix a relationship you ruined

6. Follow the Meetup with Action

You are certainly not a relationship hero to your partner. And probably not to yourself either. You chose the wrong way for whatever reason and rebuilding trust on the part of your partner may not come easily. But while they are taking time and space, what can you do to prove that you want to fix a relationship that you ruined? While this looks like it’s a lot of piling on yourself, right now that’s just what it is.

You may want to give this person a progress report of what you are doing to repair the relationship. This can be done by periodic text messages – phone calls may be seen as too intrusive right now. And don’t expect a response to your texts. When people are hurt, they may not want to have relationship conversations with the person who hurt them. Be careful about how much you try to make contact.

How to give them a sense of what you are doing:

  • If you believe you have some mental health issues, have you sought out therapy? If so, let the person know.
  • If you cheated, have you broken off all communication with those others, and can you show that you have done this?
  • If you put this person on the back burner for your job/career, what action have you taken to reduce the demands of your work so that you will have more time for them?
  • If you were selfish in your relationship, and only concerned with how your partner could support you, then you need to do more than apologize. You need to have a plan for how you will support your partner in their priorities, goals, and needs. If a therapist asked you this question, how would you respond? Are you ready to embrace those priorities and goals? Do you even know what they are? Have you asked that person what they are? Now may be the time to do just this. Healthy relationships and true love are built on the confidence that both partners will have their needs met.

How Will You Prevent the Same Mistakes?

“Take accountability for what happened and apologize for what you specifically did. Be willing to answer any questions your partner has after the fact – they deserve to understand what happened and why. Then, make a commitment or promise going forward so your partner can feel safe in the relationship.”

Kelli Miller, psychotherapist

This is a moment where the rubber meets the road. You realize the mistake(s) you made; you have an understanding of what you need to change.

Your partner has a right to know what you intend to do differently to make this relationship work going forward. Remember, they may feel anger; they may be experiencing depression; and they may be afraid to give you another chance. If you want to have a good chance to fix the relationship, you’ll need to think about the causes of your mistakes first.

But a word of caution here: You may come to see that your partner had a hand in it too. NEVER say this, at least now at this point. It would not be helpful, to say the least. This is something that you should save for much later, maybe in couples counseling. Right now, you need to focus on how you will avoid what you did.

You cheated on your partner. Why? Maybe they had a part in it. They were so focused on other aspects of their life that they didn’t give you the time you needed. A co-worker did, and you found yourself counting on them for the support you wanted. Ultimately, the relationship led to a sexual relationship too.

Now, it’s impossible to undo that. But it is possible to take a look at that root cause and take some responsibility yourself. As your partner was ignoring your needs, did you initiate any conversation about it? Did you make your needs known? Did you suggest solutions? Perhaps it was just easier to take the route you did rather than work to save your relationship.

Make a lesson from your mistake. You have learned. And even if your relationship isn’t ultimately saved, you have good memories, and you are much wiser now as you move forward.

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Relationships Can Be Healed

People goof. And sometimes they goof big and ruin relationships. While it may not be 100% successful, there is a path to fix a broken relationship if the perpetrator is willing to put in the time, effort, and self-analysis required to get the job done. If this sounds like you, go for it!

Dating Tips Author
Shelly Standford
After a devastating relationship breakup, I threw myself into the dating scene by registering on Hily. I had over 100 dates - some absolute disasters, some pretty average, and some that were actually great. So many stories to tell and insights to share with you guys!

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