im sorry that it upset youI came across this card today and it made me laugh. But it was one of those slightly-too-sharp laughs. Hmmm. Might be a hint of something unresolved that perhaps I should work through? Ok I’ll add it to the list. Anyway, I can’t think of a specific example, but I know I’ve received that non-apology before. Gosh, I’m ashamed to admit I’ve probably used it too. Ugh!

Which made me think of a few other classics, like:
“I’m sorry but I couldn’t help it.”

Of course that one has lots of variations:
“I’m sorry but you (he, she, they) deserved it.”
“I’m sorry. But you have basically been doing the same thing to me.”
“I’m sorry but that’s just the way I am.”

Then there’s this one:

(Not that I’ve ever heard any kids I know string those words together after possibly being prompted to do so, in a completely monotone voice with no eye contact and possibly also an eyeroll, followed by stomping off without waiting for a reply. I must have seen it in a movie somewhere…)

Oh, here’s another favorite that I’ve actually heard way too many times in my life:
“You’re right. I’m a loser.”


And this one, which is a very recent and slightly raw one for me:
“Yes I hurt you but you need to give me a little more grace.”

But possibly my most annoying non-apology is the good ole:
“My apologies.”

I actually don’t mind that one at all if I’m receiving it from a casual acquaintance or a service provider about a surface issue. Like:
“My apologies for sending your $5,000 in prize money a couple days late.”

That works for me. No problem.

But any other usage? Especially with someone you are close too? No. “My apologies” just is not and never will be an actual apology.

I’m sorry.

How about you? Received (or given?) any classic non-apologies? Let’s hear em – leave me a comment!

P.S. This is not a passive-aggressive message to anyone I might happen to know who might happen to be reading this. If it sounds that way at all, I am – truly – sorry! I’m just as guilty of non-apologies as the rest…!

by julie rybarczyk

Greeting card is handmade by thebigharumph, whose work is available here.


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  • Julie

    Bitter? Noooo. : ) I do like your thoughts, Heather. Come to think of it, it’s not the actual apology I need either. There’s just such a clear difference between engaging with someone who is owning their piece, and someone who is just pretending to own it. Even if their “piece” is to say – “Actually, dear, I really don’t think I did anything wrong here although I hear that you think I did. I’m willing to disagree on that…” I’d much rather have an honest “no apology” than a non-apology any day!

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  • Heather

    I mean no one is bitter here, right girls? I personally just don’t love the word sorry a whole lot. I don’t always need someone to be sorry, most of the time I just need to be heard. If after hearing that person really feels they wronged me and puts words around it, cool and whatever. But if it’s just a “I’m sorry, it was all my fault” or something without any kind of engagement or understanding that is yuck-o. My 2 cents – no messages intended either. : )

  • Julie

    lol – those are good (bad!) ones, Em. Speaking of being hard on oneself… here’s another classic non-apology that I have been quite guilty of: “Oh my gosh, I dropped something! I’m sorry! Oops, I disagree with you. I’m sorry! Shoot, I didn’t know that. I’m sorry! Sorry. Sorry. Really sorry. I’m so sorry. Sorry.”

    Phew. Exhausting! I’m thinking apology overkill is another form of non-apology… Sorry. : )

  • emily haataja

    how about: “i’m sorry that you are so sensitive that you took it that way” “im sorry, it’s not my fault” (huh? bad bad) seems like the harder I am on myself, the harder it is to get to the place of looking at my own actions or behavior and near the word sorry. but so freeing when it is said. especially when said and felt both. ahhhh.


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