Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Should you say you're sorry when you're really not?


There was an article on HuffPo (no I'm not linking it) on the 6 Secrets to a Happy Marriage. Nowhere in the list did it say to marry someone you actually think you'd like to stay married to but hey - we're moving on...
Number six on the list was about letting arguments go, which I agree with. You do have to pick your battles. But then she goes on to say that you should say "I'm sorry" even when you're not sorry at all.

***crickets***

Jayme called me up with her hair on fire over that one. Dr. Be Honest With Your Feelings in the Moment was not having it. And to be perfectly honest, I wasn't feeling it either. It's actually one of my pet peeves from a previous relationship. Dude would apologize and say whatever he thought he should say to get me to drop the topic and get onto the next.

If you're not sorry, don't fake the funk. I find that patronizing. An apology for apology's sake isn't worth the paper it's wrritten on. My favorite line from Shange's For Colored Girls is: "One thing i don’t need is any more apologies, I got sorry greetin' me at my front door. You can keep yours." Amen. Stand behind your complete lack of remorse. 

BougieDad used to come home after a long damn day, get his two fingers of scotch and then listen to BougieMom tell him which BougieChild he needed to beatdown. He would take a deep sigh, go back to his bedroom and get the wide belt and then snatch the problem child up by the arm. Once he'd tanned hide, we were required to say we were sorry. But that wasn't enough for the BougieParents. He would ask, "Well what are you sorry about?" And if you didn't have the right answer, she would assign you a 1000-word dissertation on what you had done wrong and why it wouldn't happen again. I wish I was joking. BougieRents didn't play.

So why say you're sorry if you're not sure what you're sorry about? Why apologize if you don't feel the least bit apologetic? That's just insincere. It's better to say, "I'm sorry you're upset and I'm sorry I don't feel the same way. Can we agree to disagree?"

Plus, I have to take into consideration what the apology is for. There's an "I'm sorry I turned on the light and woke you up." and there's an "I'm sorry I slept with your best friend on our bed when you were out of town." One you can accept easily, the other needs more than I'm sorry. 

Then let's look at folks who simply love to play the offended party. You can be genuinely remorseful and apologize a hundred times for the slightest misunderstanding and they're still not satisfied. Yeah... um - miss me with that. 

But these are just my thoughts. What say you, BougieLand. Should you apologize just to keep the peace? Is it easier to say, "I'm sorry" and shut the argument down? How much weight do you put behind an apology when you know it's not sincere? Is a simple "I'm sorry" like kissing a boo-boo, doesn't really solve the problem but we all feel better? Your thoughts on apologies? Do share...

81 comments:

Sol_dier said...

No. If you don't mean it, don't say it. 
Like your dad, I usually ask 'what are you sorry for'?. The response usually decides whether I walk away, give up or accept it.

The apologies I can't stand also include : 'I'm sorry if I offended you', I'm sorry if you took it that way'. That's not an apology, its an insult. 

rozb said...

IMO, I do not think you can be genuinely sorry for the things you intentionally and willfully do. You just regret that you got caught.

You can be sorry if you accidentally hit someone's ankle with your shopping cart. You will apologize, see if the person is okay and do everything you can to avoid doing it again. You cannot be sorry if you intentionally and with conscience backed it up on somebody's husband and did everything you could to keep it from becoming known. You regret getting caught and perhaps the fallout from it, but it is inauthentic to say you are sorry. 'Cause if you never got caught you just might continue your behavior or at least go on your merry way.

ClayJones said...

"Sorry" shouldn't be thrown around like "Hello" or "Goodbye" - you should only use it when you mean it or it loses all value.

MsJamie14 said...

You can be genuinely remorseful and apologize a hundred times for the slightest misunderstanding and they're still not satisfied. Yeah... um - miss me with that. 

Ugh...Amen. My last relationship was short lived for that very reason. It didn't matter that I apologized (for what I felt was just misunderstanding) several times, I had to admit to being XYZ and having a partridge in a pear tree. Why must I tap dance and tip my little cap at the end too?

For me, be sincere or don't apologize at all.

motown_skater said...

if you don't mean it don't say it, it solves nothing!  i actually found myself about two/three weeks ago attempting to make peace with an apology and  admitted i had no clue why i was apologizing.  uncool move, but hey it was the truth #don'tjudgeme :-).  i just wanted to bring peace even though i knew the friendship was over.  if you can't say why you are apologizing, which i couldn't, its a waste of time.  i got my peace alright, we no longer speak, so i repeat if you don't mean it and can't say why, don't apologize b/c it solves nothing.  apologize for the feelings caused, but agree to disagree and move forward.  

a man hurts you, you're expected to suck it up and move forward.  you inadvertently hurt him you no longer exist in his world #sorryihadaflashback....

Pure Choco said...

There are things that I'm sorry covers and then that require begging for forgiveness and holy interventions. *crosses arms and takes deep breaths to let off steam*

Jesse said...

Why does that picture look like a dude I know?
I'm a serial apologist. Half the time, I don't know what I've done wrong so I issue a blanket apology to cover whatever it was. So that's bad is what you're saying? :)

Cassie said...

"Stand behind your complete lack of remorse" <~~~ This. All. Day. I would rather know exactly where you stand on the issue than think we're on the same page and get an unpleasant surprise later.

Penny said...

You are so right with "I'm sorry if I offended you" "I'm sorry you took it that way."  When someone says those things, it is an indication that they are refusing to accept their own actions for their transgression.   They are not apologizing; they are trying to make it your fault for feeling hurt, insulted, etc from their actions.  

OSHH said...

"I'm sorry" like" I love you" should only be said when it's meant.
But then I am firm believer in saying what you mean, and meaning what you say period.
Geunine, authentic,  honest, and true.

Reecie said...

yea one thing I don't do is give faux apologies. But I've been told "I'm sorry you feel that way" is rude too. LOL. so I'll say nothing. I'd rather someone not give me an insincere apology, but I'm not bothered by your statement to use instead. agreeing to disagree is a wonderful thing. 

The Pro Diva said...

While I am a firm believer in letting certain things go and picking my battles, I do not think one should apologize to simply keep the peace. In the end, the meaningless apologly will cause issues when the subject of the original discord pops up again. Also, if someone apologizes to me, I expect that he or she will not repeat the offense because they are truely remorseful. If he/she  is not really apologetic, then the same behavior will repeat itself.  I'd rather talk out the issue, agree to disagree, and move on. Fake sorries are all bad!

taut_7 said...

i will never apologize for something i truly don't feel sorry for. ever. i don't care how that makes me look. 

Deb B said...

My ex was Captain I'm Sorry but never altered his behavior. I'd rather you say nothing and Just. Do. Better.

Bryan Anthony said...

One of the biggest arguments the wife and I ever had was over an insincere apology I tossed out because I just wanted to go to sleep. So later as I tried to get comfortable on the couch, she screamed "And don't come back until you're really sorry!" and slammed the door? I was sorry then.

#LessonLearned

Alvin Milton said...

I think you have to stand your ground. If you are not in the wrong... do not apologize. 

Its one thing to be accommodating or compromise when the situation calls for it but that's another thing. 

I don't wanna "over-man" the whole "victim mentality" conversation so I'll leave that one alone.

BlackButterfly said...

"So that's bad is what you're saying?"

Ummm. that is a big fat yes! :)

BlackButterfly said...

I like your parents style.  My teenage daughter apologizes sometimes as if she is going through a drive-thru.  If I ask her what is she apologizing for and her face cracks in a thousand pieces (she doesn't know and isn't sincere) there is carpal tunnel on the way.

CorettaJG said...

The "I'm sorry you feel that way."  Classic.

They can keep that.

maureen said...

My name is Maureen and  I'm an avid  apologizer ( if this word exists), guilty as charged. I hate confrontations.  I promise to change.  Like it is said around here most days,  "reach one teach one."

maureen said...

I typical  do not repeat the offense, but I   apologize to keep the peace.

C Nelson said...

I despise people who think that "I'm sorry" is some sort of magic wand that means the other person has to forgive, forget, and move on, whether you were actually sorry or not. It's dishonest and, frankly, manipulative -- it's not about making amends for what you did wrong, it's about saying what you think will smooth things over and be comfortable for you in the short term. And you know what I have learned since having children? It's what we teach them. Sister pulls brother's hair, we say, "tell your brother you're sorry." Not because the child is, or won't do it again in ten minutes, but because it's "polite" and it makes us feel like we're raising them right, and it looks good in front of other parents. So of course these same children get to adulthood not knowing how to do anything but give reflexive, self-serving, insincere apologies. Send them to their room until they can explain what they did wrong and why they won't do it again instead, and you'll save everyone else so.much.aggravation.

Ms. LTB said...

Ummmm... yea. I'm guilty of the "that's not what I meant and I'm sorry you took it that way".  *shrugs* wasn't aware that that was a bad thing.  My bad.  In my mind I was just saying that's not what I meant I wasn't trying to upset you/piss you off/agree to doing/insert whatever it is that you took out of my statement/actions that I didn't actually mean.

I don't think I've ever apologized if I didn't mean it (as an adult) just because I don't see the point. For what? I'm not sorry so no reason for me to pretend that I am.  There has to be another way to be make offended person feel better and no I don't always happen to know what that way is.

Fake apologies to me get the "ummhmm yea whatever we'll see".  I seem to have a thing for actions speak a lot louder than words.  It's a lot easier to fake the words that are coming out of one's mouth than it is to fake the actions that should accompany them.

(sn - do you realize how hard it was not to use the phrase I'm sorry a few times in this comment lol)

Jubi The Great said...

I don't apologize unless I truly feel I did something wrong & i want to make amends. If I don't care enough or I don't feel I was wrong, I won't apologize.

"I'm sorry you're offended" irks the hell out of me, but I must admit I've used "I'm sorry you feel that way" in relationships. I guess I should stop doing that.

CorettaJG said...

"If you can't say why you are apologizing, which i couldn't, its a waste of time."

THIS.  If you can't figure out why you're wrong, or if you're even wrong at all, then perhaps just nix the apology altogether.

I don't believe there is anything wrong with trying to keep the peace though,  but maybe it doesn't have to be through the words, "I'm sorry."  

You could keep the peace through your calm tone or some active listening or acknowledgement of their position. 

Or maybe it's really not so wrong to say "I'm sorry we're going through this" or "I'm sorry that you're upset" since that's actually the truth.  *shrug*

C Nelson said...

"I'm sorry you're upset" is a less rude way to put it. "I'm sorry I upset you" is even better. Both of them tell me you're not actually sorry about what you did, mind you, but at least you acknowledge I'm upset and you did something that caused that.

Just_A_Thought1218 said...

Hmmm, I am torn on this one.  On one hand, I had a pretty decent BS meter, so I don't cotton to insincere apologies.  Or faux-pologies, which contain the oft maligned and very useless phrase "I'm sorry you're upset ...".  If you aren't truly sorry, then don't waste my breath saying it.  I'd rather we talk it out and either reach a cease-fire or move on.

On the other hand, words mean something. Humbling yourself to apologize when you aren't wrong (or don't think you are wrong) means something. Shoot, sometimes it's not about sincerity but the willingness to do it.  There was one situation where pride got in the way, because neither one of us wanted to apologize. I'm sure if one of us had taken the L and said "I'm sorry", we may have been able to be friendly/cordial.

CaliGirlED said...

THIS!!!

ShawnSoze said...

The thing about apologies is that they are useless without some action. The most recent ex was this way. She would apologize but wouldn't admit that she was wrong. What are you apologizing for if you weren't wrong? And why keep saying you're sorry about the same thing? Quit doing it.

CaliGirlED said...

LMAO!!! I probably shouldn't be laughing but it's the way you told the story! #LessonLearned

GrownAzzMan said...

Unpopular post in 3-2-1...
Sometimes I say I'm sorry just so there can be peace.
#truthshallsetyoufree

SingLikeSassy said...

I laughed too. LOL

CaliGirlED said...

I don't like insincere apologies, thank you's or I love you's. It's very patronizing. I once found myself apologizing because it made the other person feel good. That's sick!

SingLikeSassy said...

I'm not big on apologies cause I usually mean to do and say everything I do, even if it's hateful.

Bonita Applebum said...

I read the article yesterday. I actually agreed with the highlighted statements but didn't read what followed underneath.  Saying sorry when you don't mean it?  It's a trap.  There's nothing wrong with saying "I'm sorry you feel that way but I feel this. So we'll just have to leave it at that."  People won't always agree on everything. And that's perfectly OK, folks. 

Reecie said...

gotcha. thanks. 

Earthangel172 said...

Color me stubborn but if I'm not wrong, I'm not apologizing. I can admit when I'm wrong but I have a hard time being told I'm wrong without substantial evidence. ::kanye shrug::

Anyway, people who apologize profusely irritate me. If I tell you I'm having a bad day, please don't say "I'm sorry" because it's the proper thing to say. Try offering a solution; say a prayer or something...heck anything but "I'm sorry".

CaliGirlED said...

Don't you just love BougieLand! A place where truth will stare you dead in the face and sometimes all you can do is say, "Hello Truth!".

CaliGirlED said...

I did the same thing, I think I only read two of the explanations. I didn't on that one and ASSUMED (silly me) that it was just saying to pick your battles carefully.

CaliGirlED said...

Aw shnookums! How's that?

Earthangel172 said...

LOL

MsJamie14 said...

Me three. Hollered even. LOL 

Earthangel172 said...

I'll take that too....LOL!!

Earthangel172 said...

This! All day, every day.

Earthangel172 said...

"I'm sorry you're upset" is a less rude way to put it. "I'm sorry I
upset you" is even better.

^^I will be using this. Thanks for the tip.

CaliGirlED said...

I probably should have used this the other night when yelling at my daughter. Instead I said, "I don't care if you don't like the way I said it, just make sure you understand what I said!"....My bad, but I was furious/scared to find out that some days she goes straight to the school bus in her track practice clothes because she doesn't have time to change. Ok then slip some sweats or shorts on, only takes 3 seconds.  She only walks directly from the bus to our front door, but we are in the middle of the complex, I don't know what kind of perverts are lurking about!

nylse said...

i  just asked my husband this question and he said, "I suppose; to diffuse a situation, why not?"

Leo the Yardie Chick said...

Saying "I'm sorry" just for the sake of it takes me back to my nursery school/Kindergarten days - when you had spats with classmates, and the teacher would make us shake hands and apologize. Trust me, we were NOT sorry; we just didn't want a hiding.

Not to mention that it's a lie. Do you really want lies building up in a relationship of any kind?

ASmith said...

Eh.  I won't fake not nary a funk... I have, in my years of living, apologized just to keep the peace.  Some folks I already know won't let anything go until they hear "I'm sorry" and if that's what you need to have a seat, then fine... I can do that. 

However, I generally try not to be in those positions and will more often than not be precise about what I'm apologizing for - "I'm sorry if what I said made you feel x" because I can accept that even if my intentions were good, if the other person took it wrong then I'm sorry that happened, and let me clarify.

That being said, my mama taught me that when you're sorry, you also won't do it again and so I'll take your first apology on any issue, but if it has to happen again, then we have a problem.  I also, unfortunately, think that most of the time people aren't genuine when they apologize and so while I take it as a nice gesture, I'm still really really watching your actions behind it.

ASmith said...

Oooohhh check this "I" statement out.

Seriously, "I" statements can change everything about how what you say is received!

ASmith said...

I like C Nelson's reframe, but "I'm sorry you feel that way" isn't rude, it's just people use it to be rude. They're not sorry, it's obvious they're not sorry and it's clear that what they're really saying is "you're too stupid to know how to take this the right way..." which isn't what those words are supposed to mean but is the popular connotation.

Sasha Iman said...

I don't give fake apologies or apologize for things when I don't know what I did wrong. If I'm sorry about the negative effect the action(s) I'm unapologetic about had on someone else, I'll apologize for whatever that is (the effect, not what I what I did).

Sidebar: I see many don't like the "I'm sorry you feel that way" or "I'm sorry I offended you" statements. I can see why that would be since it is kind of dismissive and I more often hear it said to end the subject or done mockingly. On the other hand, are you still upset when the person makes it clear they really are sorry you feel a certain way or that they offended you?

I mean, if I say "I'm sorry you feel like XYZ. I really thought what I did would play out like ABC," I feel as though I'm making it clear that 1. I know what it is you're upset about, and 2. I'm really am sorry what I did caused you to feel upset, but I'm not going to apologize for what I did..... Is that it? The fact that the person won't apologize for what they did to cause the hurt in the first place? Because that doesn't mean if they could do it all over again they wouldn't handle the situation differently.

 

motown_skater said...

i agree, but when you stop living in the moment (which i did) you tend to re-act (which i did) instead of respond (which i didn't)...in an attempt to just hurry and make peace i didn't give other options any thought....staying (or not) in the moment can make or break and experience.... :-/

Sol_dier said...

I just made this batch of tea! Now I gotta make another one.. Hilarious!

Sol_dier said...

It's dishonest and, frankly, manipulative

oh..you got it. And I abhor when adults do it. Some people spit out I'm sorry, follow up with a hug and then have the nerve to repeat the same behaviour and get offended when you call them on their sorry behaviour. 

M.I. said...

I dated someone who dismissed any apology I ever issued as insincere because he was right, I was wrong, and the only way I could truly apologize for being wrong was by not being wrong in the first place.  He never said that to me explicitly, but since he became personally offended whenever my opinion or actions differed from his or what he thought they should be, it became apparent after a while.  

I began to preface my apologies with, "I'm sure you won't accept this, but..." and honestly, offered them up in an attempt to appease him.  My sincere apologies had become insincere; no bueno.  Once I realized that I had "This Can't Be Life" playing on repeat in my head, I knew it was time to go.

I will never again apologize to keep the peace...there cannot be true peace if I'm stifling myself in order to get it.  But, for those times that I truly need to make amends, I have found this blog post, "How to F*** Up", extremely useful: http://portlytruestories.blogspot.com/2007/11/how-to-fuck-up.html.  It is posted up on my cube wall and I look at it every day.  I hope someone else gains something from it.

Sol_dier said...

And why keep saying you're sorry about the same thing? Quit doing it. Recession be damned! Here's 20quid for your collection plate. 
So endeth the sermon!

Sol_dier said...

I don't get it.
You've hurt the person, person is really upset. At that moment when you say, I'm sorry but you are upset but I'm not sorry for what I said' all you are doing is simply rubbing the point in.
Whats wrong with saying: 'sorry I hurt you by what I said'? Its a re-phrase but it strikes me as a heck of a lot different than saying..
Sorry what I said caused you this pain, but you know what I'll say it again anyway

Court A said...

"Once I realized that I had "This Can't Be Life" playing on repeat in my head, I knew it was time to go."

I thought I was the only one who this happened to! LOL

Sasha Iman said...

 Okay, so we're talking semantics here.

I would never say "Sorry what I said made you feel hurt, but I'm not going to apologize for saying it". I'd say "I'm sorry I hurt you when I said ..." and leave it as that unless further probed. That still makes it clear I'm sorry about hurting the other persons feelings but, via omission, doesn't mean I'm apologizing for what I said.

Only if probed would it be made explicit that I won't apologize so much for what I said, but how I said it. Harkening back to me being unapologetic in regards to the act (what I said), but not the outcome (how it came across), so I'd do something to reflect that I was actually remorseful about the latter (concede I shouldn't have said anything at all, or should have done it in a more tactful manner).

CaliGirlED said...

I love the movie "What's Love Got To Do With It", and I often find myself quoting lines from it. This scene came to my mind when thinking about today's topic.

Tina: I'm sorry Ike
Ike: Yeah you're sorry, you're the sorriest MFer I done ever seen!

Two things: 1) Tina was apologizing to keep the peace. She hadn't done anything wrong. In fact she was not feeling well due to lack of rest after having just had a baby, and really didn't want to perform. But she apologized for making Ike upset; 2) Ike then takes Tina's apology and insults her with it.

That's crazy! But what's crazier is that this happens in real life.

thinklikeRiley said...

Riley got ish to do. If breaking off an "I'm sorry, baby" gets us onto the next, I'll be dat.
#SorryChele
#seewhatIdidthere?

C Nelson said...

I have a friend who is going through some chronic illness and assorted hard times because of that. She's usually having a bad day, and is fascinatingly honest about it -- I guess when you don't have that much time left, why waste it in empty pleasantries? After a few times where I went "I'm sorry you're not feeling better" and she responded with "sweetie, it's not like it's your fault," I hit on "is there anything I can do?"  as a default, alternating with "I wish I could help." Those work. I'm not so good yet at incorporating the lesson with other people, but maybe I should.

CaliGirlED said...

I like where she says: "Saying things like "I'm sorry if you felt bad about what I said/wrote" or "I'm sorry if your feelings got hurt", is, IMO, completely different from saying "I'm sorry that I
said/wrote that. I see how it was fucked up, and here's how I know
that it was fucked up . . . . . ". (Keep in mind that "if" is a word
reserved for hypotheticals, and doesn't usually refer to real life.
When used in apology, "if" is usually just a dilutive, and if you can't really apologize, then don't apologize at all."...Great explanation!

blackprofessor said...

I love GAM, that is all!

blackprofessor said...

Have I apologized to keep the peace? Yeah!  However, I always try to revisit the issue later to get to the root issue because ultimately that is what I care about.  If he has done something to me or vice versa, we need to talk about that issue so that future apologies can be prevented. 

JaymeC said...

I always tell people to take a deep breath and then say the realest thing in the nicest way. So "I'm sorry you feel this way" or "I didn't intend to be hurtful" is always better than "I'm sorry if this hurts you" any day. Also asking for clarification can defuse a situation "Tell me why you're angry" (instead of "What the hell did I do wrong") can go a long way.

Apologizing just because it seems the thing to say is easy but it's like a tiny Barney bandaid on a knife wound: cute but inefficient. Whatever the problem was is still there. Deal with it now or later when it has had time to fester?

The tone of that article was what got me. Kind of an easy-breezy-marriage-in-a-minute when it's never that easy or simple. Not all relationships are made equal. Let me get down off my soapbox. Good post, Madame Bougie.

Earthangel172 said...

I hit on "is there anything I can do?"  as a default, alternating with "I wish I could help." Those work.

Yes, they really do.  I'm sure she appreciates the fact that you let her vent as well.

Earthangel172 said...

That makes two of us!

Leon X said...

If you cannot articulate the reason why you're apologizing then it's not that good of an apology.

Sound bite game proper.

Ivory Tabb said...

THIS
I always tell people to take a deep breath and then say the realest thing in the nicest way.

Truth.com

Muriel Isaac said...

It's kind of like the "kick" in "Inception"...once that song starts playing, you better wake up, lol!

Muriel Isaac said...

I agree...that had a huge impact on me. #nocountryforfakeapologies

Ivory Tabb said...

I was going to go with I don't know why so many people don't like I'm sorry you feel this way. I use it all the time to me it just says hey this is my feelings on the issue and it seems to me that you don't feel the same way and you took it to mean something totally different than what it was intended to mean.
9 times out of 10 I'm not sorry about what I said. I may be sorry about the way it came out or better yet the way you took it but I meant every bit of it.
More folks should practice their delivery cause the truth is sometimes ugly but its still the truth. You just have to learn how to delivery it in ways that wont truly upset and hurt the people that are important to you in your life. 

Sol_dier said...

I understand a little better.
p.s.
but that's best way I know to stay true to myself, - gets no shade from me :-)

Mykeia said...

I don't believe in apologizes, I believe that people say them to feel better about themselves or to look good in the eyes of others.  I also believe in forethought, think before you speak.    It is very rare that I apologize, so if (and that is a really big if) I do apologize it means that I must have really screwed up or you are just crushed by my words with your weak ass emotional self--which again means that I am trying to look good in the eyes of others and this is usually only at work.  
If you don't mean that you're sorry, don't say it, makes your words lose their true feelings.

Page Bartlett said...

The picture tho...

kjnetic aka Peter Parker said...

apologizing to keep the peace, makes sense to me. sometimes it makes more sense to the be the bigger man and just say sorry. *shrugs*

kjnetic aka Peter Parker said...

apologizing to keep the peace, makes sense to me. sometimes it makes more sense to the be the bigger man and just say sorry. *shrugs*

Page Bartlett said...

The picture tho...

Mykeia said...

I don't believe in apologizes, I believe that people say them to feel better about themselves or to look good in the eyes of others.  I also believe in forethought, think before you speak.    It is very rare that I apologize, so if (and that is a really big if) I do apologize it means that I must have really screwed up or you are just crushed by my words with your weak ass emotional self--which again means that I am trying to look good in the eyes of others and this is usually only at work.  
If you don't mean that you're sorry, don't say it, makes your words lose their true feelings.

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