"I'm sorry, but ... "

How many times have you heard that one in a relationship? How did that apology land for you? How did you receive it? Did it feel good? Did you experience it as genuine?

How many times have you given an apology like that in a relationship? When you gave it were you genuinely sorry or were you still angry? Did it clean things up?

"I'm sorry, but ... " is what is called a "yes, but" apology.

Here's what "Yes, but" means:

You are really saying that your partner should ignore everything that came before the "but" and pay attention to everything that comes after the "but."

Not only does a "yes, but" apology not clean things up, it can often make things even worse.

A genuine apology comes from genuine remorse over the pain that was caused in a relationship. It looks something like this:

1. I'm sorry I hurt you.

2. Please forgive me.

3. It won't happen again.

4. How can I make it up to you?

In this way you own responsibility for what happened, acknowledge the damage done, clean it up and move forward.