Say Sorry: How to Write a Heartfelt Apology Letter to a Friend

By Billie •  Updated: 12/02/21 •  10 min read

It happens: your emotions are high, you’re feeling stressed, your capacity to exercise wise judgment shrinks and then at a moment of weakness, you say or do something you regret to someone close to you.

Uh oh. The damage is done.

So now how do you recover a friendship once you’ve let some hurtful words slip past your mouth? With these words of humility and grace, underscored by your sense of responsibility for your part in the current state of your friendship.

Making amends quickly after an offense is a basic act of friendship.

No excuses. Only an apology and a promise to do better.

What to Write in Your Apology Letter

In your apology note or letter, you not only need to show them that you are aware of what you did, but also:

  1. express regret for your actions
  2. accept responsibility,
  3. find a way to atone, and
  4. ask for forgiveness.

Taking responsibility for your actions does not mean making excuses for what happened. The other person is not interested in why you offended them. Even if you are not completely to blame, take responsibility anyway. Taking responsibility means admitting what you did wrong, and owning it as your own problem and not theirs to bear. It is also your opportunity to lead your relationship in the direction you desire. Empathize with the person, show them that you can understand why to them your actions or words were offensive or hurtful.

When you offer to make amends, you show that you want to make things right. Sometimes forgiveness is hard to ask for, but if you want to rebuild your relationship, you must ask for what you want. You might offer suggestions of things you can do to make up for the mistake (or for the situation that led you to need to issue an apology).

Personal Apology Letter to a Friend [Example]

For your reference, the following is a sample apology letter to a friend or family member; you may email or write them this letter after having time to process what happened, or feel free to paraphrase the sentiment and send a text immediately after something regretful has happened.

Dear Susan, [Express remorse.] I’m so sorry about the unthinking schedule I made for us at the girls’ get-together last weekend. I know that I previously told you that we would not be spending extended time outdoors, so my inappropriate expectation that you should have been prepared for the weather is inexcusable. I really feel awful for how I responded to your surprise.

[Take responsibility.] My behaviour is inexcusable, especially considering you made the trek at short notice and explicitly asked me what to bring. I can only say that in a time of stress I lost control of my temper and lashed out at you, even though you were clearly only there to support our mutual friend on her happy occasion. You did nothing wrong.

[Make amends.] I am hoping that you will join me for sushi next week at my house. I would love for us to be able to spend some time together, just the two of us.

[Provide assurance that you will not betray.] You can rest assured that I will confirm my information before sharing it with others in the future. I am truly sorry for my poor reaction and behaviour towards you; please forgive me. You won’t have to endure my abuse ever again.

Love, Fran

Sorry for Not Being There When Someone Needed You

Use these snippets from Apology Letters as templates for writing your own sincere letter as an olive branch offering to mend fences with your friend. Friendship is a precious thing.

Sorry for Saying the Wrong Thing During a Disagreement

If your thoughtlessness hurt someone you love, wanting forgiveness and to make things right again is only natural. When friends and family are involved, a meaningful and sincere apology is the only way to go.

Forgive me for my insensitivity… I’m sorry!

Genuine Apology for Emotional Outburst and Hurtful Words

Being at odds with friends and family is an isolating feeling. It feels wrong to be distant from our closest relationships and the people that love us.

Apology Letter for Being a Bad Friend in General

I never meant to hurt you. Please forgive me.

Sorry for an Unfortunate Misunderstanding or Outcome

Example Apology Letter to a Friend

Dear Michelle, I am so sorry I lashed out at you about your dog’s behaviour. It was uncalled for, and I realize now that I had no business saying what I said. I overreacted and was not thinking clearly that morning. I’d like the opportunity to make it up to you and your pup by hosting the next play date at my house. I promise I’ll relax and enjoy the visit.

I hope you find it in your heart to forgive me. Your friendship means the world to me, and I don’t want to lose what we have. I’ll call you in a couple of days, but if you want to talk sooner, please don’t hesitate to call me sooner. I’m eager to put all of this behind us.

Letter of Regret to a Friend for a Ruined Friendship

Want more apology letter examples? Say sorry to a family member or parent, or write a letter of apology to a boss or colleague.


I like to climb mountains, read Nietzsche, and explore the West Coast. I have a BA from York University (2003) in Toronto, Canada, and yet on this site I sometimes spell like an American (know your audience). Thank you. Thank you very much.

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