Apologies are really important…if the other person actually means them.

They can validate our feelings, they set our relationships back on a good path, and they make us realize the other person respects us enough to admit when they were wrong.

People aren’t always sincere, though, and these folks think they’ve got great tricks for figuring out when they’re not.

1. Unless it’s a kid.

If you hear someone say “go apologize”

Depending on the age of the child, that’s just training them to know which contexts call for which manners. It’s not super important that they know why, because it needs to be taught before they have the capacity to understand why society has manners at all. This is not to say, that it shouldn’t be explained, just that the explanation is actually pretty complex.

2. Too lazy to care.

“I’m sorry for everything.”. That is the apology my ex told me when I wouldn’t take him back and refused to text him.

How about an actual explanation of what you are sorry for then?

3. It’s not about you.

“I’m sorry if…”

“Oh my god I can never do anything right. I’m such a fuck up.”

Basically anything that turns it back on you or makes it sound like they’re questioning your feelings, even if you’ve made it very clear you’re upset and why.

4. No excuses.

They talk about them selves and tries to make the person feel bad for them. “ I’m sorry for what I did but blah blah blah has been effecting me lately”

5. Ah, childhood.

They yell “NOT” at the end.

Having grown up during the height of the …NOT craze, I hate that. It seemed like every third line anyone uttered was followed by a pause and then “NOT!!!” That needs to die out completely.

6. What about your actions, though?

“I’m sorry we fought.”

“I’m sorry you feel that way.”

“I’m sorry you took my words the wrong way.”

Any apology that expects you to forgive right away, or say “It’s OK.” Sometimes it’s not OK, even if the apology is genuine. A true apology means you’re really sorry; it doesn’t mean you expect them to react a certain way.

7. They need to care at least that much.

the inability to actually address, show, or acknowledge the thing they’re apologizing for that happened.

If it’s all vague like “my actions yesterday…” or “my words I said to a colleague…” or “the events that took place…” I guarantee you it’s bullshit and it means nothing. They still are trying to keep a grip on their ego because they fear more people learning what they did and more people coming after their ass, so they can’t say what it is that actually occurred, knowing that it would crucify them.

In order to actually show you feel regret you have to show humility. Humility is the biggest part of apologizing and so few people seem to understand that. They think apologizing is about making somebody else feel better enough to stop hating them and even worse- that they are obligated to forgive them, and by apologizing they’ve done their part and are free to “move on”.

if something they said was really racist or something, or their actions viscerally disgusting, or so on, and they’re afraid to actually say it because it’ll make things worse or make people who weren’t involved/didn’t know hate them, then it shows they haven’t properly grasped the fallout those actions had on their victims, which I guarantee you was worse.

Own up to your mistake and show humility or no one can ever trust you to control yourself. You’ll only ever obey what might look bad on you otherwise, not what actually improves things.

8. The windows to the soul.

Their eyes. You need a good baseline for comparison, but compassion, hurt, and embarrassment are good indicators of a true apology.

Not having those doesn’t necessarily mean they aren’t sincere, but it’s a good indicator with other things shown in this thread

9. But…

The word ‘but’.

It never needs to be present in a real apology.

“I’m sorry. I did the things for these reasons. They were bad reasons and I was wrong. I won’t do it again.” vs

“I’m sorry but I meant well, so it’s not really even my fault.”

10. Those are not actually apologies.

“If anyone was offended…”


“I’m sorry but if you hadn’t done what you did, I wouldn’t have had to do what I did.”

11. It’s a simple formula.

All apologies that are truly and fully sincere need to include, in some fashion:

1) Acknowledgement of the offense

2) Sincere remorse

3) Commitment to change

Example: I am sorry I broke your toy, I feel bad that I broke your toy. I promise to be more careful in the future.

That is a basic, complete apology (see book, “On Apology”)

Anything less than that is lacking or even insincere. No commitment to change means they don’t regret doing, only feel bad they got caught. No remorse means they don’t feel bad. No acknowledgement of the offense means they think they did nothing wrong.

12. Teenagers. Or…

Eye rolls, not looking, slow speaking.

I agree with the first one but the last two could be because someone is autistic or in general neurodivergent to an extend.

13. You might be a narcissist if…

Saying they’re sorry in a rushed way and then immediately going back to whatever they were doing (staring at their phone, putting headphones back in, playing video games etc).

Like they just wanted you to get over it so they can get back to their lives.

14. They put it back on you.

Passive-aggressive tone and wording or just add things like “you wanted me to say sorry” or “so what?” in their apologies.

15. Boo hoo.

When they pull the “pweeze don’t hate me I ALWEDDY HATE MYSELF ” crap.

16. Karma does the work.

There was one guy who apologized to me because he scolded me after only finishing 90% of the work (three website designs and development with animation) because I didn’t put his name on it on the credits part. These we all pro-bono and I did all of them in 2 weeks because I believed in their cause and I was on school break doing nothing anyway.

Fast forward after that, he called me and said: “You know they say it takes courage to apologize to someone…” and I was like so shocked that I hung up. The fucking nerve of that guy. Seriously, fuck that guy.

Last I heard this year, he now lives in a garage in his brother’s house and he doesn’t even have any money because he wasted all his investor money on petty shit as well as paying his old accumulated debts from his previous investors.

17. They’re not even trying.

Not being able to articulate exactly what it is they are apologizing for, or their understanding of why it upset you.

18. A non-apology.

“I’m sorry you feel that way”

19. And your point?

“Whatever I said, whatever I did, I didn’t mean it…”

Most insincere apology ever. If you’re not even self-aware enough to recognize what you’ve done to hurt someone, an apology is meaningless.

20. Take the responsibility.

Also the “if I upset you”.

You know you upset them. You just don’t want to take responsibility for upsetting them.

21. How about being sorry you said them?

Or, “I’m terribly sorry anyone was offended by my words.”

22. It’s not about them.

“I’m sorry, I’m such a terrible person, I suck so bad, blah blah, comfort me I’m the real victim here!”

23. Nothing good can come of this.

“I’m sorry, but…..”

24. It’s not healthy.

This non-apology is cousins to the, “You can hit me if you want.” For whatever reason I have met more than one guy (always a guy who says it) that would say that. It’s become one of my immediate deal breakers.

At best, this guy has had a lot of toxicity in his life and doesn’t know how to handle apologies in a healthy way. At worst, he is a manipulative person who will bring copious amounts of unnecessary drama into your life. Either way, not my problem to find out or try to fix.

25. Don’t try to justify it.

100% this.

It starts with “I’m sorry” but that is just the intro to either an excuse that justifies why they did that and will continue to do the same, or a shifting of blame to you.

Either way there is neither any sense of contrition nor an intention to do anything different.

26. If you really mean it.

Unchanged behavior.

An apology is like a good joke. It loses its meaning the more you use it.

27. I mean maybe they just had a Coke?

It ends with a loud burp.

28. If you can’t say the right thing, do the right thing.

Some people suck at articulating a proper apology. For many, it is a learned skill. I don’t care how good you are at saying the right thing, whether you mean it or not.

I only care that you make an effort to do the right thing now that you realize you’ve made a mistake. Correcting your behavior is the single most important part a sincere apology.

29. You deserve time to wallow.

Apologizing while simultaneously shutting down all discussion.

I’m going to pay closer attention from now on.

Do you have a way to tell if someone’s apology is honest? Share with us in the comments!