Decoding An Apology: 4 Types Of False Apologies

Sorry! – The word we are taught to say from the moment we learn to speak when we’ve done something we shouldn’t have. Sorry is just that, though – a word. What’s more important is the intention behind the person saying it, and this can vary quite a lot.

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While sometimes it is easy to know when someone’s apology isn’t genuine, for example a heavily sarcastic “sorry…” usually accompanied with an exaggerated sigh and eye-roll, it isn’t always that obvious.

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Often, disingenuine apologies are the most difficult to decipher from the people closest to us, or who we spend a lot of our time around. They know you well enough to know what to say and how to say it without actually meaning it at all.

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An apology without a behavior change is not an apology, it’s manipulation.

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So how do you know when someone is being actually sorry or just simply saying what you want to hear so that you’ll get off their back? By knowing what false apologies often look like.

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4 Types of False Apologies

1. The gift apology
Flowers, chocolates, tickets to your favourite concert – while lovely, without the accompanied “I’m sorry for what I did to you” and the following behavior change, these things are just a tool for distraction. The person in question is not actually sorry, they just don’t want you to be mad at them or force them to actually do the personal work to change. By showering you with “love” in the form of gifts, you will forget that they didn’t actually apologise, and the behavior will repeat itself like a broken record.

2. The defensive apology
“I’m sorry, but…” This is the apology that always puts the blame back on you. In other words, the person isn’t actually sorry for what they did at all, because they feel justified in their actions. They then go off on a lecture of everything you are doing wrong, turning themselves into the victim and you into the bad guy. This is a common tactic with narcissists. At the end of it all, you find yourself apologizing to them, despite the immense hurt they have put you through.

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3. The dramatic scene apology
They cry, throw themselves on the ground, go on about how broken they are and how they are a terrible person and you would be better off to just leave them to their own misery. This apology is often a last-resort for narcissists, when they feel backed into a corner and don’t know what else to do. They distract you from your own hurt by making you feel bad for them and leading you to eventually apologizing to them yet again. In this case, they never actually apologize.

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4. The blame-shifting apology
When the person is confident that they have your complete trust, they will use this tactic. Unlike the defensive apology, they never actually say sorry at all. The minute you bring up something that they did that hurt you, they immediately shift the blame to you, telling you everything that you have done wrong. Usually, these accusations aren’t even true. They get you to believe that you pushed them to do what they did to hurt you, that they had no choice. They are using your love and kind heart to manipulate you into this negative pattern.

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People who use these types of apologies are not people that you need in your life. They will continue to use and manipulate you if you continue to let them. Stand your ground and don’t allow yourself to remain in that cycle.

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Penelope Wilson
Health enthusiast
Penelope is a writer and health enthusiast with a B.Arts in Language Studies. She is a deeply spiritual person, a relationship expert, a nutrition freak, and a skin-care maverick.