An apology without change is manipulation - Makin Wellness (2023)

When someone hurts us physically or emotionally, we long for an apology. Of course, an apology rarely, if ever, fixes the problem, but it does.disapproving gestureAid. Finally, an apology shows a willingness to change for the better.

Or is that it?

The problem with apologies is that abusers know how much their victims want to hear from them. To keep their victims close, they will apologize left and right without actually taking any steps to improve or make amends.

These are not real apologies, they are manipulation tactics. Any counselor, therapist, or psychiatrist in the world will attest that an apology without change is manipulation.

How can you tell the difference? What separates the genuine apology of someone struggling to change from the manipulative apology of a perpetrator?

If you need help determining if you received a genuine apology or if you're just being manipulated, here are some red flags to look out for.

Why an apology without change is manipulation

"An apology without change is just manipulation."

It's a succinct statement that's perfect for window stickers and bumper stickers, but that doesn't make it any less true. It also doesn't make the sentence any less scientifically correct.

For at least the last two decades, psychologists have understood that there is something to a sincere apology.4 different actions:

  1. Admission of the injurious action or conduct
  2. Declaration of remorse for the act or conduct
  3. Promise kept to avoid (or avoid) this action or behavior in the future.
  4. offer modifies

It is important to point out the language in this third point. It cannot be a general or empty promise, it has to beunderstoodpromise.

Types of false and/or manipulative apologies

Not all insincere apologies are intentionally manipulative. Often they are not even intentionally insincere.

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However, that doesn't make them acceptable, nor does it create an ongoing pattern of making such apologies any less toxic. However, it can be more difficult to determine when an apology is genuine and when it is a manipulation. Feeling genuine regret is not a reliable indicator of a sincere apology.

For this reason, it is important to learn to distinguish the different justifications behind insincere and/or manipulative apologies.

Guilty conscience

What Apology Really Means: “I feel bad and apologizing makes me feel better. It's not about making you feel better, it's about me."

Like it or not, almost all of us apologize to appease ourselves and not the people we've hurt.

That doesn't mean you're a bad person or a secret narcissist. It is a common method of self defense to protect our own emotions and vulnerabilities. By verbally admitting our guilt, we lighten some of that burden and ease our own conscience.

We also recognize that simply offering an apology is often enough to improve the way people perceive us. In a 2006 articleUniversity and character magazine, author Hershey H. Friedman, states that "an apology makes the aggrieved party have more empathy for the offending party." In other words, the apology itself may be enough to make the person we hurt feel guilty.

The difference between guilt and shame

Friedman's article goes on to explain that we want this recognition to assuage our own negative feelings. When we do something that we know has caused harm to another person, most people feel one of two emotions:guilt or shame.

Guilt comes from knowing that we have displayed “bad” behavior. We have committed some negative actions, and one of the consequences of that action is a deep concern and a desire to make amends.

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Shame is a deeper emotion that stems from low self-esteem. Instead of labeling just the action or behavior as negative, people who feel shame internalize their discomfort and label their entire identity as negative. In other words, they think, "I'm a bad person," not "I did something bad."

Feeling any of these emotions is poison for a chronic manipulator. Whether their discomfort stems from guilt over an action or shame over their own identity, manipulators find this feeling even more unpleasant than the average person. That's because shame and guilt remind us that we made a mistake by doing something wrong.

Manipulators cannot deal with this realization and will do everything in their power to get away from it. This means that they trick their victims into believing that the crime never happened and apologize without any real remorse.

end of argument

What the apology really means: "I'm sick of arguing, so I'll tell you what you want to hear."

This type of apology is given by both manipulators and victims. At certain points, a situation or relationship can become so uncomfortable that the participants will do or say anything to end it.

This is where that apology comes in. It doesn't come from shame, guilt, or a genuine feeling of regret. It arises from a desire to end a confrontation, passive-aggressive behavior, and/or awkward silence.

The unfortunate quality of this type of apology is that it often seems more sincere than other types of manipulative apologies. What may seem like a sincere desire to end a fight may actually be exhaustion and/or apathy.

While it's not recommended to "test" someone you're in a relationship with (romantic, platonic, familial, or otherwise), a good way to eliminate this type of excuse is to say so.You haven't finished talking yet.. If the other person walks away or shuts you up, they probably just apologized to end the argument. If they're willing to listen, especially if they're clearly tired or upset, the apology was more sincere.

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leading the witness

What Apology Really Means: “By apologizing to you first, I expect you to apologize to me later. After all, it's not really my fault, it's your fault too."

In court, the term "witness management" refers to a tampering tactic in which a lawyer instructs a witness on the stand to make a specific statement. It's basically just a fancy way of saying "put words in someone's mouth."

For example, during a murder trial, a lawyer might show a witness a photograph of the murder weapon and ask, "The defendant has a weapon like that, right?" If the witness says "yes," then he has a vital connection between the defendant and the fabricated crime. If the witness says "no," even if he indicates the nature of the question, he is presumed to be lying.

This is exactly how this kind of manipulative apology works.

Like Ender's reasoning, apologies in this category don't come from genuine remorse. Rather, they come from the belief that apologizing will force the other person to apologize as well. Won't they look like idiots if you apologize and they don't?

(Video) Elizabeth Holmes Accidentally uses REAL VOICE !!

This is, of course, a fallacy. While the phrase "it takes two to tango" (meaning no one is responsible for a negative situation) is correct for many conflicts, it is not correct for all. A victim of physical or verbal abuse is not responsible for the actions of her abuser.

test limits

What the apology really means: "If you accept this apology, it means I can do what hurt or upset you again without consequence."

When children begin to experience autonomy, the first thing they do is test their limits. "Mom doesn't mind her drawing on this paper, so let's see if I can draw on the wall." Will she put me on pause if I do it again?

These are the types of activities that young children participate in. You are not evil, narcissistic, or sociopathic. You are learning which behaviors are acceptable and which are not.

At best, that's the mindset behind these kinds of apologies. No matter how old or mature the person offering this type of apology is, it is from a very childish perspective.

Instead of viewing an accepted apology as a means to forgiveness and personal growth, they view it as a license to do the hurtful act again.If they were really mad, they wouldn't have forgiven me, so it's okay to do this again.

In this scenario, the person offering the apology as a meanstest limitsprobably not on purpose. Unfortunately, that is not always the case. Manipulative people deliberately use the same technique to see how far they can push someone.

Definitive control

What an apology really means: "I know my apology will make you feel sorry for me enough or positive enough about our relationship to stay."

This is what most people picture when they think of manipulative apologies. These are the excuses and promises deliberate abusers and manipulators make to make sure their victims stay.

In some cases, there is an additional purpose behind this type of apology. The person who apologizes hopes to deceive his victim.

The term "gaslight" is thrown around a lot these days, so it's important to define what it really means. Gaslighting is a form of psychological abuse in which the abuser tries to convince the victim that their perception of reality is distorted. Examples of gaslighting can range from the innocent and evasive "It wasn't that bad!" to the explicit "You're lying and you know it!"

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When perpetrators apologize in order to gain ultimate control over their victim, the method they often use is gaslighting. By apologizing, they create doubts in the minds of their victims. "They apologized to me, so they can't be as horrible as I remember them to be."

The moment doubt takes hold, abusers know their victims are vulnerable to further abuse. They will immediately counter any violence or negativity with a smile, a compliment, or a gift. Such acts leave their victims guessing who the perpetrator really is and whether or not they are abusive at all.

Apologies humanize people, and abusers know it, they bet on it. If you notice that someone is in the habit of apologizing to reassure you ordivert your anger, take it as a red flag that they are using this excuse to gain final control over you.

the last resort

What an apology really means: "I don't feel bad about what I did or said. I feel bad that you're going to leave me and/or never forgive me."

Finally, manipulators may rely on an apology as a last resort to keep the victim from leaving.

This latest apology comes in two main forms. The first relates to an apology directed at final control. The manipulator knows that his victim will leave and/or have a negative opinion of him if he doesn't apologize, so he does just that.

The second way is involuntary but no less manipulative. In this scenario, the manipulator generates aDesperate apology driven by fear. This manipulator is not actively trying to gain control of his victim, he will just do whatever it takes to keep him there.

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The first type of last resort apology usually comes from master manipulators, narcissists, and sociopaths. It is completely intentional, and the person apologizing like this knows exactly what he is doing and why. The second type of last-ditch apology stems from low self-esteem, codependency, and a lack of appropriate boundaries.

doing wellness

At the end of the day, an apology is just an apology. "I'm sorry" is just a string of words. No matter how close you are to someone or how good you find that person, an apology without modification is manipulation.

However, that doesn't have to mean that you should cut that person out of your life, nor does it mean that your relationship can't be saved. As we have shown here, many people inadvertently offer insincere apologies due to their own doubts and problems.

That's why Pittsburgh-based Makin Wellness is here to help. Whether you are dealing with addiction, grief, emotional instability, or relationship breakup, Makin Wellness has an experienced therapist to help you through it. Get started with Pennsylvania online therapy. We ship to the greater Pittsburgh, PA area, the Philadelphia, PA area, and the entire state of Pennsylvania. For more information on how we can help you,Start your healing journey now.

This post has 26 comments.

  1. An apology without change is manipulation - Makin Wellness (6)


    Thank you for this article...I am currently stuck in this cycle of empty excuses...He even says he knows what it takes but never acts...Then he says he is sorry...
    I'm stuck

    1. An apology without change is manipulation - Makin Wellness (7)

      Sara Makin 29.09.2021responder

      Hi Shelly, thanks for your comment. It sounds like the relationship could benefit from some new communication skills and techniques for change. It can be frustrating when there is no change after apologizing. Our office will be happy to help you with this. Feel free to contact us at[Email protected]of 1-833-274-HEAL.

  2. An apology without change is manipulation - Makin Wellness (8)

    april davis11.10.2021responder

    What about someone who asks you to accept their apology and if you don't, they will punish you?

    (Video) wellness culture is making you feel UNWELL (?) : an analysis of toxic wellness
    1. An apology without change is manipulation - Makin Wellness (9)

      doing wellness 17.10.2021responder

      Thank you for contacting April. That sounds like a pretty serious form of control. It can be difficult to get back to healthy levels on your own. We have experienced professionals who work with people just like you. You are not alone. Give us a call at 833-274-4325 and we can help you.

      1. An apology without change is manipulation - Makin Wellness (10)


        How do I explain to my husband why saying "Sorry I didn't meet your expectations" or "Sorry for being a @hole" isn't a true apology? Because he seems to believe it and gets annoyed when I basically ignore the so-called apology or the suggestion that this isn't really an apology, or when things have already exhausted my patience, I tell him that he should grow up. (I know that one does not help)
        This often happens when I ask him to do something else, like throw the empty pie box in the trash, not on the kitchen table (pick it up after him), or not take his frustration out on me when he's having a bad day. Such a silly thing. I know... I have very high expectations (eyes roll)
        Or telling me not to yell when I tell him not to yell at me, especially when he's upset about something unrelated to me.

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          doing wellness 03.11.2021responder

          Hi, thank you for you answer. Sometimes significant others make up an excuse that includes things they think the other person wants to hear. While this may seem patronizing to you, he may think it's appropriate. While these reactions can trigger anger, it helps to try to breathe and respond to your apology with questions about why you feel the way you do. We can help you create better ways to communicate and find the answers he's looking for. Give us a call at 833-274-HEAL or join our next Facebook Live Q&A. We look forward to hearing from you and wish you the best.

  3. An apology without change is manipulation - Makin Wellness (12)


    What if you really apologize?
    but you say things that give a bad aura? but you don't say it at all

    I'm afraid that's why my life is like this

  4. An apology without change is manipulation - Makin Wellness (13)

    no 03.12.2021responder

    Hola Shelley.
    I've been through the same thing... for 12 years. It started with different things. But for the last two years it's been the same... and it's gone from once every 6 months to every 2-3 days. destroyed me I'm pretty sure he's a narcissist... and I KNOW he's burning me. I went from being a confident, happy, outgoing person who loved life and had lots of friends... to a recluse with no self esteem and hurt by someone who never deserved me... and by that I mean... he has NEVER contributed a penny to the relationship despite promising to get involved; he invaded my privacy, he was violent, he was terribly abusive and he does unspeakably cruel things…. then he disappears and reappears with apologies…. and usually with a request for money and then repeating the behavior. He cost me jobs, family... my joy. These days I literally have chest pains from the pain every day. It's been like this for 5 years...and every time he shuts up I decide I can't leave him behind to hurt me anymore. But I'm so devastated and isolated now that when he comes up with a vague, insincere apology that I KNOW isn't real, I'm so desperate not to feel the pain that I finally accept that I choose to "pretend" it's sincere. ...just for those few moments of relief. It reminds me of my childhood: I chose to believe my alcoholic father every day when he promised me every morning for years that he would not come home drunk and violent again... deep down I knew he would. Faith got me through the day. He was drunk every night.
    Anyway... I'm on another "silent treatment"... what he's done this time is the worst yet (in terms of blatant cruelty-)... and even though I feel gutted, I REALLY want to keep pulling him out, when inevitably reappears. I just hope the lure of momentary relief from sadness doesn't win out this time. Logically, I know exactly what's going on. I'm not stupid. But I realize I'm stuck, totally stripped of everything by this man, and running full steam ahead for self-motivation and perseverance.
    Worst of all, when I met him 12 years ago, his stepmother was just like me now: stuck at home, empty, depressed...his father was a total monster to both of us (but of course my partner seemed different)...she He has warned me... that the men in this family are all monsters and that I would end up like them, basically waiting to die to get rid of the pain. I felt sorry for her, but I thought this would never happen to me. The son (my partner) was so lovely! 12 years later, I'm just a shell of my old self. Unrecognizable to me. Only. Hurt. Feeling desperately sad, alone, and worthless. (And of course, no sleep as I type this at 3 am!)

    1. An apology without change is manipulation - Makin Wellness (14)


      I hope you have managed to stay strong. praying for you

    2. An apology without change is manipulation - Makin Wellness (15)


      I've totally been in it since my first boyfriend at 15 and the 4 or 5 or maybe 6 or 7 relationships I've had in the next 20 years. I know exactly how you feel... Like you need to stop fooling yourself because you know the odds that you'll fall for it next time and you're ashamed of lying to yourself or others when you say you're done.
      Eventually, what I did in most of those relationships to really deal with them was to be with someone else when they went off to do their silent treatment shit. You know the saying, to get over someone, you have to put yourself under someone else... But usually, the people I'm attracted to are the same people I've been trying to get away from. So usually I started a whole new relationship with another narcissist by doing that. However, I'm at the point where I know I can and it's easier to not be tied down for as long as I'm not so exhausted by them. What really makes this possible is dating people who are emotionally unavailable, the guys who are obvious scammers, or some kind of man with multiple wives, or who are already in a relationship (that is "ending") or those in their mid-life crisis, who know how to be mature and get over their horny younger days, but are actually reverting to the same behaviors, just with less attention (and therefore less competition) from other women
      Of course it's not what I want. I need to separate myself and not be distracted all the time because I always have a bad relationship that I need to get over, but I always fall for the good.

      (Video) What Happens to Men? John Quincy Adams - Childhood Trauma
  5. An apology without change is manipulation - Makin Wellness (16)


    I think I may have borderline personality disorder. I did some horrible things to my 76 year old aunt hoping she wouldn't leave me. She did: she blocked my email and my phone. I apologized as sincerely as I could many times. I feel really bad lying to her and manipulating her feelings. I love her and I fear that she will disappear from my life forever. I keep going to her opening new email accounts, but she doesn't reply to my messages. Is there anything else she can do? I find it difficult to respect her wish not to speak to me. She really wishes she could turn back time. It's horrible to lose someone you really care about and have to admit that my behavior caused her to break up with me forever. Should I keep apologizing? What if she never talks to me again? I have bad love

    1. An apology without change is manipulation - Makin Wellness (17)

      doing wellness 13.12.2021responder

      Hi Jennifer. Processing the past and dealing with our life choices can be difficult. We'd love to talk to you more about what you're going through right now. You can always schedule an introductory meeting with one of our team members. We are here to help.

  6. An apology without change is manipulation - Makin Wellness (18)


    I feel trapped in this relationship when I stay with someone who doesn't change anything or do something better, just talk about it. I am 5 weeks pregnant and I have a 1 year old daughter. I've tried really hard to stay and make it work, but I'm sick of the constant pain. I never receive the same hand that I give him. I want to go, in fact, I always tell him I want to go to see if he changes, but look, I'm writing here, so there are no changes, just empty statements and promises.

    1. An apology without change is manipulation - Makin Wellness (19)

      doing wellness 01.04.2022responder

      Hello Simone. We are sorry that you are struggling with these things in your relationship. Feel free to make an appointment with one of our team members if you think he needs help.

  7. An apology without change is manipulation - Makin Wellness (20)

    half pension03.05.2022responder

    I needed to remove this toxic manipulative person from my life. About 35 years old and he relapsed into bad behaviors and thus escaped the consequences without having learned to change. Blame, she doesn't see herself as a trouble maker.

  8. An apology without change is manipulation - Makin Wellness (21)

    jamil 22.03.2022responder

    So my wife was in an abusive relationship. I get it. No matter how many things you try to change, it never seems good enough. She points things out to me that don't make sense, but I will. Example: All of her shoes are on a claim form below. Then I take the closet from our room on my side. I have been an alcoholic since I was 15 years old. I am now 37 years old but I stopped drinking about 3-4 years ago. We have moved fast and I have a son whose mother abused heroin while she was pregnant with another boy's baby and she has had full custody for two years. We have always lived very well together. So my one and his two. She always shows favoritism towards the boy. When I ask for something, just common sense shows that I don't need to ask, she creates that drama and starts saying that I said it anyway. She tells me what I felt and what I meant by that. No matter how my approach to the situation changes, it's always the same. I get to a point where I don't talk to her for days. She then apologizes and says that we have to learn to communicate. Every time and everything I ask always comes with a fight and she makes it right or wrong. She then insults me personally but she says I said something wrong when she changed to what I meant when I said it. I even state for the future that if I ask for something, that's all I ask for. Every time she gets defensive, she plays the victim or makes excuses and starts telling me what I said. I explained that I try to talk to her using we, we, our and she finds a way to turn it around, and then I told her that if she talks to me, she won't talk to me. Instead of feeling like this when you said that, that was it. It's more like she got defensive because you said that and she hurt me. For example, how will you say what she meant and said for me why you felt something or will she say when you said that she made me feel that you do that? So I gave you a way. Nothing from her, she makes fun of what we were talking about all the time and apologizes but it never ends. She scoffs and says you're crazy. I always say why I'm always mad when I'm just talking. She barely left me food and asked if she needed more. I explained that she was cooking and not eating as much as the 4 of us please. She pretty much says that she would have it anyway. It seemed like a joke, but usually you just tell a joke. whatever I don't care about her She apologized about 5 times and said are you sure you're ok? So I say, if not, I can go get something to eat. She scoffs and another we have agreed not to do. She makes fun of me in front of the children. I say what was that? Why are you making fun of me? She leaves because you're crazy about it. So I say, why do you just say? Shhhhh not in front of the kids. Like it's a B word. Like she's better than me every time she starts a fight like this I never started and then she pretends she's the bigger person and I just have to shut up. She hasn't endorsed anything at all and she seems to rather pretend that she really just pretends to be so sick. She once told me to my face that she wished she had friends to talk to, so I didn't say things to her. She then tries to talk about the makeup. Now I really stand up for myself and it's always the same with her, I'm sorry and then she says we mess and it's like and I accepted it while drinking. I said that in the first 2 years I accept that I caused a lot of problems, but I changed and showed it. I said, and then we had parenting issues for about a year, and I worked really hard not to worry about all the little things. Now they were just victim excuses, always on her son's side. My girl and hers are sick of him and she blames them and spoils him. He randomly walks into her room and talks trash and she yells at them, blaming them. Her son used to wash dishes and he has a bad arm, but she did well and apologizes for washing hand washed dishes. She blames the arm. However, she plays basketball well and has emptied the dishwasher well. Now he's trashing and she tells him to leave it in the garage and she just waits for me to take it. She does all these things around the house and sometimes when something isn't ready I do it but I said hey you make too much and I'm more than willing to help but my whole day is work so I need you to do it. say or ask I know and you can relax. She complains every time there is a chance that she did something wrong and she says that she is doing it all. She uses Word all the time, you never, I always have to and you don't. Every time I tell her how much it hurts because it helps especially when I'm out and the kids are home after school so she can be alone and relax. She then says that she's sorry and that she needs me and blah blah, only to do it again later. When I say you shouldn't leave cans here and the trash is closer it's just all this shit I didn't say or mean she made up and it's like a big deal. She says she wants to talk and I'm at that point I just walk away and now I'm telling her that she doesn't want to talk because I tried and you (she) just get mad and insult me ​​and say what I said and meant. The girls told me they were fed up with her antics. Anyway, the one time I say that she maybe she should do some paperwork because she won't agree to anything and she keeps telling me. I'm sick of being told I need to change when I don't see her. She still behaves the same. make fun of me she insults me and makes up what she meant and said I never meant or said I insulted her. One time when I say that, she sends me a pdf with documentation and says that she still loves me but she respects my choice. So she said we should have a consultation. She apologizes for hers her son and responds like a B word to my daughter, and her mother stopped seeing or dating her after 13 years as a GP. Her ex has been going back and forth with multiple children from multiple mothers and acts like my daughter doesn't know the fight let alone her own daughter. I just want to explain and let you hear what I'm dealing with because I want someone to see what I'm dealing with. She won't even ask her family for advice because once I explained something to her family and they all explained how it can be. She acts like she was executed as a single parent with no help, but her whole family helps out all the time. I come from a loving family but with many underlying problems that we have all faced and overcome, but I have no family and no help. Mom and dad, we never talk and don't pretend, and I have a brother out of state with kids and a marriage of his own. I am simply myself. My daughter and I are just us. We have nothing to fall back on and I love her, but I feel like I've allowed too much power and now I'm the punching bag of all her ex's abuse and she's learned some manipulative tactics along the way to find a way to show no remorse. . or emotion until then it's a sacrificial card to feel bad and I've had a hard life, some I chose and some I didn't, but it's like the little years can never take me, or the mother card I can't have because I'm a man. Anyway, I don't mention something like that because it's my own dealings and you either suffer with a crutch or you convert it to calcium around the break and get better. I don't need to talk about it because it helped me grow and that's it. She always seems to mean this as if she pity me, but you use the same apology for anything that doesn't make sense. Please help!

  9. An apology without change is manipulation - Makin Wellness (22)

    Dana B Koogler02.04.2022responder

    Thank you for sharing valuable information on this sensitive topic. I get along with a family member who repeatedly does mean things to me and others, apologizes, but then makes no effort to show change. Complete dishonesty. You called it what it is. I needed this. It validates my own emotions and helps me form my own thoughts on the subject. I finally told him I was done with the "I'm sorry. I'm looking at the actions…not the words anymore." I was mad, but I'm not here to be popular. I think about what Maya Angelou said about when people show you who they really are, believe them the first time."

    1. An apology without change is manipulation - Makin Wellness (23)

      doing wellness 04.04.2022responder

      (Video) This Is What A Narcissist Does When They Can No Longer Hide Their Evil Nature | npd | narcissism |

      Hi Dana. Thank you for sharing your story. We understand how you feel. These situations with relatives are really difficult to handle.

  10. An apology without change is manipulation - Makin Wellness (24)

    miley s18.04.2022responder

    Great article, although I strongly disagree with the part about "testing" your willingness to keep talking. Conversations must be consensual: when a person is exhausted and no longer feels like talking (although they should say so and not lie with a false excuse), you have no right to continue talking to them (which will only rush them). hitting yourself or continuing to log off.) Nagging is also a form of abuse. I strongly advise against it, and even traditionally "girly" argumentation tactics can be just as toxic.

  11. An apology without change is manipulation - Makin Wellness (25)

    Renee Gaudard22.05.2022responder

    Married 34 years to a man who used every excuse angle in this article. I didn't recognize him for years. My mother said years ago that she appreciated his frequent apologies, even when she didn't feel he was wrong. I found that strange then and even more so now.
    What I would love would be someone, any therapist (there were 4 of us) to give me the tools to respond to their lack of change and empty excuses. I don't know what to say and all I know is to shut up.
    At this point, walking away seems like my only option, and I don't like the idea of ​​divorce.
    Honestly, I'm not sure which is worse: keep hearing the empty apologies or the litigation.

    1. An apology without change is manipulation - Makin Wellness (26)

      doing wellness 25.05.2022responder

      Hi Renee. We are sorry that she is struggling with these things in her marriage. We understand that it is important to find a therapist that she can connect with. Feel free to make an appointment with one of our team members, we would love to connect you with someone who can help you move towards healing in your relationship.

  12. An apology without change is manipulation - Makin Wellness (27)


    I struggle as a parent and behavior analyst to show the school counselor that apologizing violently does not result in behavior change or learned skills. Are there specific studies that demonstrate this?

  13. An apology without change is manipulation - Makin Wellness (28)

    susanne lippey02.10.2022responder

    I have a close friend that I met in high school when I was 14 years old. She is married and in an abusive relationship and in the process of getting divorced.
    At my 60th birthday party, which my daughter planned beautifully for me, this friend of mine got high.
    And ruined the party. She became very verbal and physically abusive.
    The scene it caused was horrible.
    As we talked the next day she cried and apologized and when I tried to tell her how bad she made me feel and how she had embarrassed me in front of my family and ruined an important event that took my daughter months to plan and prepare. for it.
    He then cursed me and said, "Do you know what I went through that day?" She had to go to court and testify about her husband and her divorce.
    And the abuse.
    My question is, should that excuse his actions?
    And how can I move on with her if she refuses to take responsibility for what she's done?
    But do you keep repeating that you are having a difficult time?
    Thank you very much

    1. An apology without change is manipulation - Makin Wellness (29)

      Ciara Weber03.10.2022responder

      Hi Susan. Thanks for sharing your story. We understand how difficult this situation must feel with your boyfriend. If you'd like to talk more about this, contact our Makin Wellness team today.

  14. An apology without change is manipulation - Makin Wellness (30)


    Thanks for this article. How do you deal with someone who is NEVER ready to apologize? I have been with my husband for 17 years and he refuses to apologize for hurting me or accept responsibility for his actions. Once he said he, apologizing to me, he makes him inferior to me. When I tell him that he has caused me great emotional distress, he gets angry and then goes through the silent treatment until at some point he just wears me out and I finally apologize for expressing my feelings. I recently learned the term gaslighting and I feel like he is doing this to me. He often denies saying things that hurt me or telling me that I make up painful events in my head. He often tells me to stop interpreting and overreacting. The problem is not him, it's me and my own insecurities because I always feel hurt.
    I know it's me. I just don't know how to change his mind. The will to stay in this marriage is coming to an end. Living a life of pain is not a way of life. But I can honestly say that my husband is a nice person to everyone else. He cares a lot about the relationship he has with his mother and his brothers. That's how I know he really has it. However, this deep love was never given to me.

    1. An apology without change is manipulation - Makin Wellness (31)


      Hello marisela. Thanks for sharing your story. We understand how difficult that must feel. We have found that therapy is a great contributor to healing and the acquisition of health management skills. Contact our Makin Wellness team today as we are happy to help you develop a plan to find joy in life again.

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What does an apology without change is just manipulation mean? ›

To keep their victims nearby, then, they'll make apologies left and right without taking any real actions to improve themselves or make amends. These are not real apologies—they are manipulation tactics. Any counselor, therapist, or psychiatrist in the world will attest that an apology without change is manipulation.

What is an example of manipulative apology? ›

For example: “I'm sorry I said that. I was in a bad mood that day.” This could be a manipulative, blame-shifting apology if they knew they would hurt you with their words.

How do you respond to a manipulative apology? ›

How To Respond To A Manipulative Apology
  1. Call out their manipulative apologies. A good first step is to acknowledge that you are aware they are being manipulative. ...
  2. Let Them Know How It Makes You Feel. Once you've stated that you will not accept this apology, explain why. ...
  3. Explain What You Want From Them.

Can apologizing be a form of manipulation? ›

Apologising in order to finish the conversation, most especially if the apology isn't sincere, is manipulative. Not only is it manipulative, but it is also counterproductive. Arguments that end without being truly solved, never really end.

How does a narcissist apologize? ›

In narcissists' efforts to avoid blame, they often combine several fake apologies at once, such as, “I am sorry if I said anything to offend you, but I have strong opinions. Maybe you're too sensitive,” or, “I guess I should tell you I am sorry. But you know I would never deliberately hurt you.

What is it called when someone apologizes but then blames you? ›

A non-apology apology, sometimes called a backhanded apology, nonpology, or fauxpology, is a statement in the form of an apology that does not express remorse, or assigns fault to those ostensibly receiving the apology.

How do you respond to a toxic apology? ›

Try saying: “Thank you, I needed to hear this apology. I really am hurt.” Or, “I appreciate your apology. I need time to think about it, and I need to see a change in your actions before I can move forward with you.” Don't attack the transgressor, as hard as it may be to hold back in the moment.

How do narcissists respond to apologies? ›

They go into attack mode to make it about you so they can boost their narcissistic supply. When you apologize, the narcissist sees it as a weakness and will use this against you. Maybe you are thinking it would be wrong to not apologize if you did something to hurt someone else.

When someone apologizes but you're still hurt? ›

If you're still hurt, mad, or upset

Let them say their apology and acknowledge their effort, but be clear that you aren't fully ready to move forward yet. Commit to revisiting it later after letting your emotions settle. “It's good to hear you apologize, but honestly, I'm still pretty hurt by what happened.

Does a toxic person apologize? ›

Toxic people will never apologise for their words and actions because they can't see anything wrong with them. They feel that they are the victim and will often twist and retell what happened to such an extent that they honestly can't see an alternative perspective.

What are some signs of manipulation? ›

Main signs you're dealing with a manipulative person
  • persistent excessive attention, love, and flattery.
  • persistence despite boundaries.
  • time pressure (to get you to act)
  • incongruence between words and actions.
  • you feel guilt, shame, or generally “off” around this person.
Sep 21, 2022

What are common things manipulators say? ›

7 things manipulators say to make you feel that you are the bad person in the room
  • “You misunderstood what I said” ...
  • “I don't like drama” ...
  • “You are too sensitive” ...
  • “I didn't say/do that” or “It wasn't my idea, it was yours” ...
  • “I see you want to start a fight” ...
  • “You are so negative”
Dec 13, 2021

What do manipulators say in arguments? ›

Manipulators are experts in exaggeration and generalization. They may say things like, “No one has ever loved me.” They use vague accusations to make it harder to see the holes in their arguments. This tactic used by manipulators is meant to poke at your weaknesses and make you feel insecure.

What is a gaslight apology? ›

Jamie Schenk DeWitt, a psychotherapist and marriage and family therapist in Los Angeles told Newsweek: "A gaslighting apology is a conditional apology that makes the person apologizing appear as if they are sincerely saying 'I am sorry,' but they aren't taking any responsibility for hurting you.

What words not to say to a narcissist? ›

8 Things You Should Never Say to a Narcissist
  • Don't say, "It's not about you." ...
  • Don't say, "You're not listening." ...
  • Don't say, "Ina Garten did not get her lasagna recipe from you." ...
  • Don't say, "Do you think it might be your fault?" ...
  • Don't say, "You're being a bully." ...
  • Don't say, "Stop playing the victim."
Dec 15, 2017

What is a false apology? ›

An insincere apology occurs when it doesn't involve remorse or regret. Sometimes an apology may make you feel worse rather than offering an opportunity for reconciliation. A false apology can lead to resentment and anger, which may make you feel misunderstood, invalidated, or manipulated.

What is a selfish apology? ›

When we focus more on our own discomfort than on the distress of the other person, our apology is selfish, and selfish apologies are usually ineffective.

What trauma causes over apologizing? ›

“Over-apologizing can stem from being too hard on ourselves or beating ourselves up for things,” Dr. Juliana Breines, an assistant professor of psychology at the University of Rhode Island, explained. In addition to anxiety, another mental health disorder that can lead people to over-apologize is OCD.

Would a narcissist apologize? ›

Someone with NPD or narcissistic behaviors is unlikely to do things like apologize or sing your praises without it being self-serving.

Should you accept an insincere apology? ›

When The Apology Isn't Genuine. If you've been wronged, you want to feel as though the apology you receive is genuine. If it's not, that's one of those times when you shouldn't feel as though you're obligated to accept.

What is a passive aggressive apology? ›

Im sorry, Im sorry, Im sorry. This is a passive-aggressive apology done to silence the other person and move onto a different topic. It minimizes what the other person has experienced.

What are typical narcissistic responses? ›

Narcissistic personality disorder involves a pattern of self-centered, arrogant thinking and behavior, a lack of empathy and consideration for other people, and an excessive need for admiration. Others often describe people with NPD as cocky, manipulative, selfish, patronizing, and demanding.

How do narcissists argue? ›

Such methods include provoking, bullying, and intimidating, where the narcissist picks on you, calls you names, yells, acts overly emotional, deliberately tries to hurt you, blatantly lies, threatens, or even physically aggresses against you.

How does a narcissist react when they can't control you? ›

Narcissists also gaslight or practice master manipulation, weakening and destabilizing their victims; finally, they utilize positive and negative emotions or moments to trick others. When a narcissist can't control you, they'll likely feel threatened, react with anger, and they might even start threatening you.

What happens when someone doesn't accept an apology? ›

Give the person some time and space to process the apology and their feelings. They may feel differently once they have some time. Whatever it was that prompted you to apologize was hurtful or disappointing enough. Don't make it worse by crowding their space and disrespecting their wishes.

Can you accept an apology but not forgive? ›

It doesn't matter if you received an apology or not. Apologies and forgiveness are not dependent on one another. They do not go together like peanut butter and jelly, or spaghetti and meatballs, or biscuits and gravy, or fried chicken and waffles. But, you may need a bit of time to forgive the person who hurt you.

Why an apology is not enough? ›

It may make the person who is apologising feel better, but for the hurt person it can leave a feeling of disillusionment. They are left to carry the disappointment and scars while the other person gets to 'move on'. That's why it's important to go beyond 'sorry' to mend a damaged relationship in a meaningful way.

How manipulators use silent treatment? ›

Basically, the silent treatment is a passive-aggressive behavior by which an abuser communicates some sort of negative message to the intended victim that only the perpetrator and the victim recognize through nonverbal communication.

How do you outsmart an emotional manipulator? ›

6 ways to disarm a manipulator
  1. Postpone your answer. Don't give them an answer on the spot. ...
  2. Question their motivations. Manipulators often hide their real motivations because they don't like to take responsibility for their own actions and behaviors. ...
  3. Show disinterest. ...
  4. Impose boundaries. ...
  5. Keep your self-respect. ...
  6. Apply fogging.
Jun 23, 2021

What is a toxic apology? ›

It is a form of words designed to make you look like the bad guy by suggesting that you have been ungracious and unbending, as well as having unrealistic expectations.

What are the signs of a toxic person? ›

Here are five red flags you're in a toxic situation you may need to address.
  • They gaslight or lie to you. ...
  • They don't apologize properly. ...
  • They don't understand how their behavior makes others feel. ...
  • They think they are superior to others. ...
  • They see themselves as a victim of their own behavior.
Jan 12, 2022

Do people who Gaslight apologize? ›

They do apologize—but those apologies are conditional.

He's simply manipulating you into feeling seen by acknowledging your feelings. Gaslighters will only apologize if they are trying to get something out of you.

What are the 4 stages of manipulation? ›

The 4 stages of manipulation
  • Flattery. The first stage is when the person who manipulates puts on a facade of being kind, caring, and helpful. ...
  • Isolation. This is when the person who manipulates may start to isolate you from your friends and family. ...
  • Devaluing and gaslighting. ...
  • Fear or violence.

What is the most common type of manipulation? ›

Some of the most common include:
  • Using intense emotional connection to control another person's behavior. ...
  • Playing on a person's insecurities. ...
  • Lying and denial. ...
  • Hyperbole and generalization. ...
  • Changing the subject. ...
  • Moving the goalposts. ...
  • Using fear to control another person.
Sep 17, 2019

How do you test if someone is manipulating you? ›

Signs of manipulative behavior
  1. Gaslighting, lying, and guilt-tripping.
  2. Refusing to compromise.
  3. Passive-aggressive behavior, including the silent treatment.
  4. Extreme emotional highs and lows that impact the relationship.
  5. Isolating you from relationships with family and friends.
Oct 1, 2022

What is Gaslighting apology? ›

Jamie Schenk DeWitt, a psychotherapist and marriage and family therapist in Los Angeles told Newsweek: "A gaslighting apology is a conditional apology that makes the person apologizing appear as if they are sincerely saying 'I am sorry,' but they aren't taking any responsibility for hurting you.

What does unintentional manipulation look like? ›

"Unintentional manipulation can show up in exaggerating the facts," Silvershein says. "If someone had an early-morning flight that takes off at 8 a.m., they may say their flight is at 6 a.m. since they technically have to leave for the airport at 6 a.m. They know that this story is better and will gain more empathy."

What are some things a manipulator says? ›

7 things manipulators say to make you feel that you are the bad person in the room
  • “You misunderstood what I said” ...
  • “I don't like drama” ...
  • “You are too sensitive” ...
  • “I didn't say/do that” or “It wasn't my idea, it was yours” ...
  • “I see you want to start a fight” ...
  • “You are so negative”
Dec 13, 2021

What not to say in an apology? ›

If you really want to step up your apology skills, make sure to avoid these common apology pitfalls:
  • Making excuses! ...
  • Shifting blame. ...
  • Casting doubt on others' experience of the situation or questioning what transpired. ...
  • Using past behaviour to justify current behaviour.
Jun 17, 2019

What is a passive-aggressive apology? ›

Im sorry, Im sorry, Im sorry. This is a passive-aggressive apology done to silence the other person and move onto a different topic. It minimizes what the other person has experienced.


1. How to Know if an Apology is Sincere | ✋No buts, no ifs please. Thanks!
(Eclectic Alu)
2. The Maine Model of Corrections: Humanizing Corrections through Connections
(University of New England)
3. Conversations - Dianne Wagner
(It Is Written)
4. Positive Thinking Techniques
(Sivananda Yoga Farm)
(Stanford Film Tv)
6. How to Cut Out a Toxic Person
(Matthew Hussey)


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