12 steps to fix a relationship you ruined

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You messed up…BIG TIME.

Perhaps you cheated on them or neglected them for a long time, and now you’re sure they’re about to break up with you.

Don’t panic. With the right approach, you can still save your relationship.

In this article, I will give you our 12-step action plan to fix a relationship after you committed an unforgivable mistake.

Step 1) Calm down

The first thing you MUST do when there’s a major crisis—especially those involving relationships—is to calm down. So do calm down.

This isn’t optional. This is a necessary step so you can successfully pull off the next steps.

If you panic, you’ll make impulsive moves that could aggravate the situation—like bombarding your partner with messages when they begged you not to contact them.

I know what you’re thinking…that it’s not easy. And of course, I totally agree.

You can do some deep breathing and other anxiety management techniques.

But if you really find it hard to control your emotions, the next best thing to do is get rid of things that could lead you to do impulsive behavior. One example is your phone. Put it in another room so you won’t be able to send them text messages.

Step 2) Acknowledge your mistakes

The sooner you realize and acknowledge your mistakes, the sooner you’ll be able to save your relationship.

Sit down in a quiet place and reflect on what went wrong. Try to recall how it all started.

How was your relationship at that time?

How was your own mental state at that time?

What kind of partner have you become?

And once you identify your mistakes, don’t stop there. Start owning it, and by “owning it”, I mean accepting it 100%.

Listen. You’re the one responsible for the actions you made. You and only you. No one forced you to do it.

Accept that what you’ve done is wrong and take full responsibility for it.

Step 3) Figure out the root cause of the issue

You don’t want to rush back to them out of fear and guilt.

If you want to fix a relationship you ruined, first, you have to get to the root of the issue.

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • How do you see your relationship?
  • How do you see your partner?
  • How do you see yourself?
  • How do you see yourself when you’re with them?
  • Do you REALLY still want to fix your relationship?

And of all the questions here, the most important is how you see yourself.

You see, how we view (and treat) ourselves affects how we love.

I learned this from the world-renowned shaman Rudá Iandê, in his incredible free video on Love and Intimacy.

So before you start fixing, dig deep.

This is what I did with the help of Ruda. Through his masterclass, I found out my insecurities and dealt with them before I approached my ex. And because I became a better person overall, I have more to offer to my relationship.

I highly recommend Ruda’s masterclass. He’s a shaman but he’s not your typical guru who talks about cliche stuff. He has a radical approach to self-love and self-transformation that I haven’t encountered before.

You (and your relationship)  will definitely benefit from it.

Check out the free video here.

Step 4) Be clear on what you want from your relationship

Here’s a bitter pill you have to swallow: If your relationship has gone through a major crisis, it will never be the same again.

Trust me on this. The dynamics simply won’t be the same again.

Not only that, it will take a lot more work than your relationship pre-crisis.

You will constantly have to prove that you’re a changed person, and they will constantly be guarded.

So instead of trying to make it a goal to make things the same again (which is impossible), build your relationship from scratch.

Tabula rasa.

Having this perspective will also be healthier because it encourages holistic change, and you can start building your new foundation by addressing the root cause(s) of your problem.

Ask yourself:

  • What do I REALLY want from a relationship?
  • Can we still make things work?
  • How can I be a better partner? Can I really be that?
  • What am I willing to compromise?
  • What are my limitations?
  • What can make me unhappy?

Step 5) Define what you’re willing to sacrifice

If you feel that you’ve “ruined” your relationship, then you must have committed a major offense.

And when you reach this point, you have to make sacrifices in order for your relationship to have a chance at recovery.

For example, if you cheated on your partner, then you must be willing to give them access to your phone from now on. You must also be willing to “report” your whereabouts.  These “sacrifices” can help you both recover faster.

But aside from the sacrifices that could help fix the specific issues, you must know what you’re now willing to do for your relationship to get better.

Are you willing to go to therapy?

Are you willing to go home early instead of working overtime?

Are you willing to be more communicative?

Instead of just saying vague promises, knowing the very specific things you’re willing to do will be useful when you actually talk to them. It will help them decide if they’re actually willing to give your relationship another shot or not.

And chances are, they will, because by being precise about what you’re willing to do, you’re showing them that you’re truly serious about fixing your relationship.

Step 6) Get guidance from a relationship coach

Once you’re done with steps 1-5, you’re now ready to talk to a relationship coach.

You might ask, do I really need one?

The answer is DEFINITELY!

You see, while you can easily solve basic love problems alone, fixing a relationship that’s about to end requires the guidance of a relationship coach.

But don’t just get any relationship coach, find one that’s highly trained for conflict resolution.

I found one at Relationship Hero, a website where highly trained relationship coaches help people through complicated and difficult love situations

My coach gave me a clear plan on how to win the trust of my partner. He even gave me examples of the right words to say. Looking back, I can say that every penny I spent was worth it. I wouldn’t have been able to save my relationship without proper guidance.

My coach is a badass. I still thank him to this day.

Click here to find the right coach for you.

Step 7) Know the dos and don’ts when approaching them

Knowing what to say is one thing, knowing HOW to say it is another.

And sometimes, the “how”—the delivery—is more important than the actual things you have to say!

So how do you approach a partner who’s hurt and angry?

Well, the wisest thing to do is to base your approach on who they are. You know them well enough to know how to pacify them and communicate with them effectively.

But in case you need some general advice, here are some basic do’s and don’ts when approaching someone who’s hurt by something you did.

  • DO ask them nicely when they’re available to talk. DON’T pressure them if they say they’re not yet ready. DON’T get angry if they push you away.
  • If it’s been a while and they haven’t reached out (or they didn’t allow you to), DO write a letter.

Well-composed letters can be better than face-to-face talk sometimes. It allows you to not be careless and wasteful of your words.

  • DON’T let your feelings get the best of you. DO leave your temper at the door. Talk only when you’re calm and collected.
  • DO Swallow your pride and be humble. DON’T get defensive and don’t get furious when they say something hurtful to you. Remember, you’re the one who made a big offense. They’re allowed to express their anger at you.

Step 8) Give them space (but let them know you’re waiting)

If you respect them, let them be if they ask you to stay away. It’s their basic human right.

You cannot force them to talk to you because not only will you hurt them more, you won’t have a fruitful conversation. You’ll just be aggravating the wound.

They want space? Give it to them.

And be very, very patient.

But this can get tricky because doing so might make them feel like you’re abandoning them (it’s possible they’re testing you to know how much you’re willing to pursue them).

To avoid this, make sure to tell them you’re just waiting for them to be ready to talk and that you might be a little annoying later because you’ll check in on them from time to time.

Step 9) Schedule a sit down talk

You cannot fix your relationship if you won’t talk.

But you have to plan it out carefully.

You don’t want to have the relationship talk when both of you aren’t ready. You might end up attacking each other with hurtful words if done prematurely.

So make sure you’re both calm enough, and make sure you choose a good place where you can both express each other freely.

You can say something like

“I know you’re still angry at me right now. But at the same time, we really have to talk. Do you think we can do it in one week or two?”

And if, out of anger, they reply “What’s the point? You already ruined our relationship!”

Give a calm reply.

Say something like “I just want to ask for your forgiveness, and if there’s a part of you that still loves me, I will tell you the steps I can do to win your trust and love again. But if you realize you really can’t go on anymore, at least give me this chance to see you one more time before we part ways.”

Step 10) Ask for forgiveness

The important thing here is to really mean it.

Don’t say sorry just to get them back, say sorry because you know you did something that hurt them. Say sorry because you care for them as a person and not just because it’s a solution to win them back.

And again, don’t get defensive. Not even a little. Own the mistake 100%.

If you cheated on your partner, then don’t say “I’m sorry…but I think I did it  because they’re too busy for me” or “I’m sorry…but the other person threw themself at me, I had no choice! I was too weak.”

Accept that what you’ve done is wrong and take full responsibility for it. No buts.

Step 11) Promise you’ll never make the same mistake again

Asking for their forgiveness is just one step.

In order to convince them to take you back in their life and work on fixing the “damaged” relationship, you have to give a clear promise.

This is why STEP #5 is very important.

Since you already defined the specific things you’re willing to do, it will be easy for you to give them an “offer” of how you’re still worthy of their love and trust.

Step 12) Be willing to do whatever it takes

If they forgave you and didn’t break up with you, congrats!

They must really love you.

And now is the time to show them that you love them equally, or even more.

Follow through on your promises and make sure you let them see you’re willing to do whatever it takes to make things better.

This isn’t easy.

You will feel the power dynamic shift in your relationship. You’ll be the beggar, and they’ll be the god.

But ride it out because this isn’t permanent. This is just the hard part of the healing process. One day, it will stop being hard and you’ll find yourself laughing and being cute again.

Last words

Fixing a relationship you ruined will be hard.

Sometimes, it will make you question if it’s worth the trouble.

But if your answer is always a resounding YES, then keep at it. Be patient, be humble, and be willing to give it all you’ve got.

Go down on your knees and be willing to make the necessary steps to turn things around.

Many years from now, you will look back at this moment and say “It’s a good thing we didn’t break up!”

Pearl Nash

Pearl Nash has years of experience writing relationship articles for single females looking for love. After being single for years with no hope of meeting Mr. Right, she finally managed to get married to the love of her life. Now that she’s settled down and happier than she’s ever been in her life, she's passionate about sharing all the wisdom she's learned over the journey. Pearl is also an accredited astrologer and publishes Hack Spirit's daily horoscope.

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