An apology without change is manipulation - makin wellness (2023)

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

Or is it?

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

These are not real apologies - these 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 genuine apologies from someone struggling to change from manipulative apologies from a perpetrator?

If you need help determining if you've received a genuine apology or if you're just being manipulated, here are some red flags to watch 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 decals and bumper stickers, but that doesn't make it any less true. It doesn't make the sentence any less scientifically correct either.

For at least the last two decades, psychologists have understood that there is something in a sincere apology4 different actions:

  1. Admission of harmful action or behavior
  2. Declaration of remorse regarding the act or conduct
  3. Realized promise to avoid (or avoid) this action or behavior in the future.
  4. Offer amends

It is important to note the language in this third point. It can't be a blanket or empty promise - it has to berealizedpromise.

Types of insincere 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 make a continued 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 manipulation. Feeling genuine regret is not a reliable indicator of a sincere apology.

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

Guilty conscience

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

Whether we 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 self-defense method to protect our own emotions and vulnerabilities. By verbally admitting our guilt, we relieve some of that burden and ease our own conscience.

We also recognize that simply offering an apology is often enough to improve how people perceive us. In an article from 2006Journal of College and Character, author Hershey H. Friedman, states that "an apology causes the aggrieved party to have more empathy for the offending party." In other words, the apology itself can be enough to make the person we hurt feel guilty instead.

The difference between guilt and shame

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

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

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Shame is a deeper emotion that stems from low self-esteem. Rather than 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 to a chronic manipulator. Whether their discomfort stems from guilt about an action or shame about their own identity, manipulators find this feeling even more unwelcome 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 move away from it. This means they trick their victims into believing the crime never happened and apologize with no real remorse.

Argument Ender

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 manipulators and victims alike. 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 sense of regret. It arises from a desire to end a confrontation, passive-aggressive behavior, and/or uncomfortable silence.

The unfortunate quality of this type of apology is that it often comes across as 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 weed out this type of excuse is to say soYou haven't finished talking yet. If the other person walks away or shuts you down, they probably just apologized to end the argument. If they're willing to listen, especially if they're clearly tired or annoyed, the apology was more sincere.

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guiding the witness

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

In court, the term "witness leading" refers to a manipulation tactic in which an attorney instructs the witness on the stand to make a specific statement. It's basically a fancy way of saying "putting words in someone's mouth".

For example, during a murder trial, an attorney may show the witness a picture of the murder weapon and ask, "The defendant has a gun just like that, doesn't he?" If the witness says "yes," then he has a vital connection between the defendant and the crime produced. If the witness says "no", even if he indicates the nature of the question, he is assumed to be lying.

This is exactly how this type of manipulative apology works.

Like Ender's reasoning, apologies in this category do not stem from genuine remorse. Rather, they come from the belief that apologizing will compel the other person to apologize as well. Won't they seem like an idiot if you apologize and they don't?

This is of course a fallacy. While the phrase "it takes two to tango" (i.e., 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 in no way responsible for the actions of their abuser.

test limits

What the Apology Really Means: "If you accept this apology, it means I can do what hurt or bothered you again with no consequences."

When children begin to experience autonomy, the first thing they do is test their limits. "Mom doesn't mind that I drew on this paper, so let's see if I can draw on the wall." "Dad put me on time out when I was pulling the dog's tail. Will he put me on hiatus if I do it again?”

These are the types of activities that toddlers participate in. You are not evil, narcissistic, or sociopathic. You're learning what behaviors are acceptable and what aren't.

At best, that's the mentality behind this type of apology. No matter how old or otherwise mature the person offering this type of apology is coming from a very childish perspective.

Anstatt eine angenommene Entschuldigung als Mittel für Vergebung und persönliches Wachstum zu betrachten, sehen sie es als Freibrief, die schädliche Handlung erneut zu begehen.If they were really mad, they wouldn't have forgiven me, so it's okay to do this thing again.

In this scenario, the person offering the apology as a meanstest limitsprobably doesn't do it on purpose. Unfortunately, that's not always the case. Deliberately manipulative people use the same technique to see how far they can push someone.

Ultimate control

What the 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 that willful abusers and manipulators make to ensure their victims stay.

In some cases, there is an additional purpose behind this type of apology. The person apologizing is hoping to gaslight their victim.

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

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When perpetrators apologize with the aim of gaining ultimate control over their victim, gaslighting is often the method they use. By apologizing, they create doubt in the minds of their victims. "They apologized to me, so they can't be as awful as I remember them being."

The moment doubt takes root, 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 as to 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 someone making a habit of apologizing to reassure you orDeflect your anger, take it as a red flag that they are using this excuse to gain ultimate control over you.

The last resort

What the Apology Really Means: "I don't feel bad about what I did or said. I feel bad about the possibility that you might leave me and/or never forgive me."

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

This last apology comes in two main forms. The first relates to an apology aimed at ultimate 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 form is unintentional but no less manipulative. In this scenario, the manipulator outputs adesperate apology borne by fear. This manipulator isn't actively trying to gain control of their victim, they'll just do whatever it takes to keep them there.

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

Makin 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 remove that person from your life, nor does it mean that your relationship is beyond salvage. As we have shown here, many people unwittingly offer insincere apologies because of their own doubts and problems.

That's why Pittsburgh-based Makin Wellness is here to help. Whether you're dealing with addiction, grief, emotional instability, or relationship breakdown, Makin Wellness has an experienced therapist to help you overcome 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. To learn more about how we can help you,Begin your healing journey now.

This post has 26 comments

  1. An apology without change is manipulation - makin wellness (6)


    Thanks for this article.. I'm currently stuck in this circle of empty excuses.. He even says he knows what it takes, but he never acts... Then he says sorry...
    I am stuck

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      Sara Makin 29.09.2021answers

      Hello 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]or 1-833-274-HEAL.

  2. An apology without change is manipulation - makin wellness (8)

    April Davis11.10.2021answers

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

    1. An apology without change is manipulation - makin wellness (9)

      Makin Wellness 17.10.2021answers

      Thanks for reaching out 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 working with people like you. You're not alone. Call us at 833-274-4325 and we can help.

      1. An apology without change is manipulation - makin wellness (10)


        How do I explain to my husband why saying "I'm sorry I didn't meet your expectations" or "I'm sorry for being such a @hole" isn't a real apology? Because he seems to think so and he gets upset when I basically ignore the so-called apology or the suggestion that this isn't really an apology, or when things have already tried my patience, I tell him he should grow up. (I know that one does not help)
        This often happens when I ask him to do something else like toss the empty pop tart box in the trash, not on the kitchen table (pick it up after himself), or not take his frustration out on me when he's having a bad day . Such a dumb thing. I know... I have really high expectations (eye 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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          Makin Wellness 03.11.2021answers

          Hi, thanks for your answer. Sometimes important others make up an excuse that includes things they think the other person wants to hear. While this may seem condescending to you, he may think it's appropriate. Although these reactions can trigger anger, it's helpful to try to breathe and respond to their apologies with questions about why they feel the way they do. We can help you create better ways to communicate and find the answers you're looking for. Call us at 833-274-HEAL or join our next Facebook Live Q&A. We hope to hear 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 off a bad aura? but you don't mean that at all

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

  4. An apology without change is manipulation - makin wellness (13)

    no 03.12.2021answers

    Hallo Shelley.
    I've been through the same thing...for 12 years. It started with different things. But for the past two years it's been the same... and it's gone from once every 6 months to every 2-3 days. It destroyed me. I'm pretty sure he's a narcissist... and I KNOW he's setting me on fire. I've gone from being a confident, happy, outgoing person who loved life and had lots of a recluse with no self esteem and being hurt by someone who never deserved me...and with that I mean...he NEVER has contributed a dime to the relationship despite promising to get involved; he invaded my privacy, was violent, was terribly abusive and does unspeakably cruel things…. then disappears and reappears with apologies…. and usually with a request for money and then repeating the behavior. It cost me jobs, family... my joy. These days I literally have aches in my chest from pain every day. It's been like this for 5 years now... and every time he falls silent I decide I can't leave him behind to hurt me any more. 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 grief that I finally accept it 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 on a daily basis when he promised every morning for years that he wouldn't come home drunk and violent again...deep down he knew he would. Faith got me through the day. He was drunk every night.
    Anyway....I'm in another "silent treatment"....what he's done this time is the worst yet (in terms of blatant cruelty-)....and while I feel gutted, I REALLY want to keep him out , when he 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 am not stupid. But I realize I'm stuck, totally stripped of everything by this man, and running on steam for self-motivation and perseverance.
    Worst of all, when I met him 12 years ago, his stepmother was just like me now: housebound, empty, depressed...his father was a total monster to both of them (but of course my partner seemed different)...she has warned me out...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 charming! 12 years later I am just a shell of my former self. Unrecognizable to myself. Alone. Hurt. Feeling desperately sad and alone and worthless. (And sure, sleepless as I'm writing this at 3am!)

    1. An apology without change is manipulation - makin wellness (14)


      I hope you managed to stay strong. praying for you

    2. An apology without change is manipulation - makin wellness (15)


      I've been totally into it since my first boyfriend at 15 and the 4 or 5 or maybe 6 or 7 relationships I've had over the next 20 years. I know exactly how you feel... As if you need to stop cheating yourself because you know the odds that next time you will fall for it and you are embarrassed about 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 be with someone else when they were gone to do their silent treatment bullshit. You know the saying, to get over someone, you have to get under someone else…. But usually the people I'd be attracted to are the same people I've been trying to get away from. So I usually just started a whole new relationship with another narcissist by doing that. I'm at the point though where I know I can and it's easier not to be tied down for so long where I don't get so drained and worn down by them. What actually makes this possible is dating people who are completely emotionally unavailable, the guys who are obvious scammers, or some sort of man with multiple wives, or who are already in relationships (that are "ending") or those in their midlife crisis, who know how to be mature and move beyond their horny younger days, but are really just reverting to the same behaviors, only with less attention (and therefore less competition) from other women
      Of course it's not what I want. I need to detach and not get distracted all the time because I always have a crappy relationship that I need to get over, but I just fall for the good every time.

  5. An apology without change is manipulation - makin wellness (16)


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

    1. An apology without change is manipulation - makin wellness (17)

      Makinwellness 13.12.2021answers

      Hello 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 stuck in this relationship when I stay with someone who doesn't change at all or does something better, just talks about it. I am 5 weeks pregnant and have a 1 year old daughter. I've been trying really hard to stay and make it work, but I'm sick of the constant pain. I never get the same hand I give him. I want to go, in fact I always let him know I want to go to see if he changes but see I'm writing here so no no changes just empty statements and promises.

    1. An apology without change is manipulation - makin wellness (19)

      Makinwellness 01.04.2022answers

      Hello Simone. We're sorry you're struggling with these things in your relationship. Feel free to make an appointment with one of our team members if you feel you need assistance.

  7. An apology without change is manipulation - makin wellness (20)


    I needed to eliminate this toxic manipulative person from my life. Around 35 years and repeated misconduct and thus escaped the consequences without having learned to change. She shifts the blame, does not see herself as the creator of conflicts.

  8. An apology without change is manipulation - makin wellness (21)

    jamil 22.03.2022answers

    So my wife was in an abusive relationship. I get that. No matter how many things I try to change, it never seems good enough. She points me to things that don't make sense, but I'll just do it. Example: All your shoes are in a complaint format below. I then take the closet in our room on my side. I've been an alcoholic since I was about 15. I'm 37 now but stopped drinking about 3 or 4 years ago. We've moved fast and I have a child whose mother abused heroin while pregnant with another boy's baby and has had full custody for two years. We have always lived great together. So my one and her 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 either way. She tells me what I felt and what I meant by that. No matter how I change my approach to the situation, it's always the same. I get to a point where I don't talk to her for days. Then she apologizes and says we need to learn how to communicate. Every time and everything I ask about always comes with a fight and she turns it into right or wrong. Then insults me personally but says I said something mean when it was changed to what I meant when I said it. I even declare for the future that if I ask for something, that's all I ask. Every time she gets defensive, plays victim, or makes excuses and starts telling me what I said. I explained to her that I try to talk to her using us, we, our and she finds a way to flip it, and then I told her that if she talks to me, she won't talk to me . Instead of feeling like that when you said that, that was it. It's more like I got defensive because you said that and it hurt me. For example how will you say what I meant and said for me why you felt something or she will say when you said that it made me feel like you do that. So I gave you a way. Nothing about herself. She scoffs the whole time what we were talking about and she apologizes but it never ends. She scoffs and says you're crazy. I always say why am I always mad when I just talk. She barely left me any food and asked if I needed more. I explained that she was cooking and not eating as much as the 4 of us please. She roughly says I would have it anyway. Seemed like a joke but usually you just say joke. Whatever I don't care She apologized about 5 times and said are you sure you are alright? So I say, if not, I can just go get something to eat. She scoffs and another we have agreed not to do. She mocks me in front of the children. I say what was that? What are you mocking me for? She's leaving because you're crazy about it. So I say, why are you just saying. Shhhhh not in front of the kids. Like I'm a B word. Like she's better than me, whenever a fight like this I never started starts and then pretends she's the bigger person and I just have to be quiet. She hasn't endorsed anything at all and seems more to pretend that she's really just pretending to be so sick. She once told me to my face that she wished I had friends to talk to, so I didn't talk stuff to her. Then try to discuss makeup. Now I really stand up for myself and it's always the same with her sorry and then she says we stuff and it's like and I accepted that as I drank. I said that in the first 2 years I accept that I caused a lot of problems, but I changed and proved it. I said, and then we had parenting issues for about a year, and I worked so hard not to worry about all the little things. Now it was just victim excuses, always siding with her son. My girl and hers are fed up with him and she blames them and spoils him. He randomly walks into his room and talks trash and she yells at them, blaming them. Your son used to wash dishes and has a bad arm but did well and excuses him for washing hand washed dishes. She blames the arm. Nevertheless, he plays basketball well and has emptied the dishwasher well. Now he's trashing and she tells him to leave it in the garage and just expects 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 say or ask so I know and you can relax. She complains whenever there is a possibility that she has done something wrong and says she is doing everything. 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 me because I help especially when I'm off and the kids are home after school so she can be alone and relax. Then she says sorry and how 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 crap I didn't say or mean that 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 say to her 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 their antics. Anyway, the one time I say maybe I should get some paperwork because she doesn't accept anything and keeps saying me. I'm sick of being told I need to change when I don't see her. She still behaves the same. mock me Insults me and makes up what I meant and said I never meant or said insulted her. Once when I say so, she sends me a pdf with documentation and says she still wants me but respects my choice. Then say we should have a consultation. She apologizes for her son and responds like a B-word to my daughter, and her mom just stopped seeing or hanging out with her after 13 years as a GP. Her ex has been back and forth with multiple children from multiple mothers and acts like my daughter doesn't know the struggle 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 I explained something to her family once and they all explained how she can be. She acts like she was executed as a single mother without help, but her whole family helps all the time. I come from a loving family but with many background issues that we have all dealt with and grown through but I have no family or help. Mom and Dad, we never talk and they don't pretend, and I have a brother out of state with kids and marriage of his own. I am simply myself. My daughter and I are just us. We have nothing to turn to and I love her but I feel like I've allowed too much power and am now the punching bag for all of her ex abuse and she's learned some manipulation tactics along the way to find a way not to show remorse or emotion until then it's a sacrifice card to feel bad about and i've had a hard life some i chose and some i didn't but it's like the little years of it can never lead to, or the mother card I can't have because I'm a man. I don't mention something like that anyway because it's my own dealings and you either suffer with a crutch or work it into 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 want to say this as if to pity me, but you use the same apology for anything that loses meaning. Please help!

  9. An apology without change is manipulation - makin wellness (22)

    Dana B. Koogler02.04.2022answers

    Thank you for sharing valuable insights on this sensitive topic. I get along with a family member who repeatedly does bad things to me and others, apologizes, but then makes no effort to demonstrate change. Total 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. Finally I told her I was done with the "I'm sorry. I'm watching the actions…not the words anymore.” She was pissed, but I'm not here to be popular. I think back to 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)

      Makinwellness 04.04.2022answers

      hello dana Thank you for sharing your story. We understand how you feel. These situations with family members are really difficult to deal with.

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    Miley S.18.04.2022answers

    Great article, although I totally disagree with the part about "testing" her willingness to keep talking. Conversations should be consensual - when a person is burned out and doesn't feel like talking anymore, (they should say so and not lie with a fake excuse, though) you have no right to continue talking to them (which will only rush them to hit each other or continue to switch off.) Nagging is also a form of abuse. I strongly advise against it, and even traditionally "feminine" argumentation tactics can be just as toxic.

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    Renee Gaudard22.05.2022answers

    Married 34 years to a man who used all the excuse angles in this article. I didn't recognize it for years. My mother said years ago that she appreciated that he apologized frequently, even when he didn't feel like he was wrong. I found that odd then and even more so now.
    What I would love would be someone - any therapist (we were at 4) who would 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 keep quiet.
    At this point, walking away seems like my only option, and I don't relish the thought of divorce.
    Honestly not sure which is worse - keep hearing the empty apologies or the litigation.

    1. An apology without change is manipulation - makin wellness (26)

      Makinwellness 25.05.2022answers

      Hello Renee. We are sorry that you are struggling with these things in your marriage. We understand finding a therapist that you can connect with matters. Feel free to make an appointment with one of our team members, we would love to match 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 demonstrate to the school counselor that violently apologizing does not result in behavior change or learned skills. Are there any specific studies that prove this?

  13. An apology without change is manipulation - makin wellness (28)

    Susanne Lippey02.10.2022answers

    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 a divorce.
    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 verbally and physically abusive.
    The scene she caused was horrible.
    As we spoke the next day she cried and apologized and when I tried to tell her how awful she made me feel and how she had embarrassed me in front of my family and ruined a milestone event that my daughter took months had cost to plan and prepare for it.
    Then she swore at me and said, "Do you even know what I went through that day?" She had to go to court and testify about her husband and the divorce
    And the abuse.
    My question is, should that excuse their actions?
    And how can I move forward with her if she refuses to take responsibility for what she has done?
    But keeps repeating that she's going through a tough time?
    Thank you very much

    1. An apology without change is manipulation - makin wellness (29)

      Ciara Weber03.10.2022answers

      Hello Susanne. Thank you for sharing your story. We understand how difficult this situation with your boyfriend must feel. If you would like to talk more about this, contact our Makin Wellness team today.

  14. An apology without change is manipulation - makin wellness (30)


    Thank you 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 ever apologize for hurting me or accept responsibility for his actions. He once said, apologizing to me, it makes him inferior to me. When I tell him that he has caused me great emotional distress, he gets angry and then follows with the silent treatment until at some point I just get tired and I finally apologize to him 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 hurtful events in my head. He often tells me to just stop interpreting and overreacting. The problem isn't 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 mindset. The will to remain in this marriage is coming to an end. Living a life of sorrow is not a way of life. But I can honestly say that my husband is such a good person to everyone else. He cares so much about the relationship he has with his mother and siblings. That's how I know he's really got it. However, this deep love was never given to me.

    1. An apology without change is manipulation - makin wellness (31)


      Hello Marisela. Thank you for sharing your story. We understand how hard it must feel. We have found therapy to be a great contributor to healing and the acquisition of health management skills. Contact our Makin Wellness team today as we're 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.

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

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.

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.

Is apologizing too much manipulative? ›

Is apologizing too much manipulative? 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.

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.

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? ›

But apologies are too often used as a quick fix for our uneasiness. 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.

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

What does narcissistic manipulation look like? ›

Narcissistic manipulation often involves frequent implications that you make bad decisions and can't do anything right. An abusive partner may call you stupid or ignorant outright, often with a falsely affectionate tone: “Honey, you're so dumb.

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 do emotionally manipulative people say? ›

They say or do something and later deny it

“I never said that!” is a catchphrase of the emotional manipulator, says Stern. They may accuse you of having a bad memory or making things up.

How do manipulators play the victim? ›

Manipulators often play the victim role ("woe is me") by portraying themselves as victims of circumstances or someone else's behavior in order to gain pity or sympathy or to evoke compassion and thereby get something from someone.

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 is an example of a passive aggressive apology? ›

Here are some inadequate examples. 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.

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 the best response to an apology? ›

5 English Phrases to Respond to an Apology
  • That's OK.
  • It happens.
  • No problem.
  • Don't worry about it.
  • I forgive you. (for serious problems)

How do you deflect an apology? ›

Here are 10 ways to stop saying sorry and start saying what you really mean.
  1. Catch yourself in the act. ...
  2. Think about why you apologize. ...
  3. Say “thank you,” not “sorry.” ...
  4. Use a different word. ...
  5. Focus on solutions. ...
  6. Ask a question. ...
  7. Ban sorry from your emails. ...
  8. Practice empathy, not sympathy.
May 24, 2022

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.

What is a Gaslighted 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.

Is saying sorry too much manipulation? ›

Sorry as a Tool of Manipulation

False apologies are tools of manipulation. An example of this is when a seemingly contrite person says they're sorry for being unfaithful to their partner. Their concern isn't for the relationship. It's about how a possible breakup will impact them financially.

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."

When a toxic person apologizes? ›

You're the only one apologising

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 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 is a passive-aggressive apology? ›

They twist the whole thing to make it seem like your fault, say something like: “I'm sorry, but you did X. That made me do Y.” Again, they may be telling the truth. Takedown request | View complete answer on

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


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