Is “I’m sorry” a good thing or a bad one?

I strongly believe if you know you’ve done something to cause another inconvenience or pain, you should acknowledge that with an apology.

What if there are too many apologies from someone you’re going out with? Or too few?

When I was married, I noticed my ex nearly never (I’d say never but there were probably a few in the 20 years) said “I’m sorry.” Yet he was continually inconveniencing me (he was awfully self-focused). His common response when I pointed out he did something that affected me negatively was “Oops.” When he frequently forgot to do something he’d promised, he’d say, “Oops. You know I have a bad memory.” Thus acknowledging he’d screwed up, but taking no responsibility for how his screw up caused me extra work or angst.

Only deep into our second decade did I realize his “Oops” didn’t equate to an apology.

The other end of the spectrum is equally troubling. If a man is constantly apologizing, he’s behaving in ways that have a negative impact on you, yet doesn’t think of this until after he’s done it. In other words, he doesn’t think through his actions and their affect on you or others. He thinks he can do whatever strikes him in the moment and get off the hook later by apologizing.

Neither spawns a healthy relationship. If he is constantly apologizing to you, he is not thinking clearly about the consequences of his actions on others. Or if he is disappointing only you and no one else seems to mind, then you aren’t on the same page about values and commitments.

If he doesn’t think the negative affect of his behavior on you deserves an apology, then he is insensitive, immature and self-absorbed.

So while one would think an apology is a good thing, too much of a “good” thing can be bad if the core behavior causing the frequent apologies doesn’t change.

What’s your experience with too few or too many apologies in a relationship?

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8 responses to “Is “I’m sorry” a good thing or a bad one?”

  1. Barnett Avatar

    I agree apologies in a relationship is beneficial, but for a mate to say ‘im sorry’ too frequently often means that he is either not man enough to make smart choices or simply trying to manipulate you.

  2. Almita Avatar

    I used to date a man with whom every conversation began with his saying, “I’m sorry:” sorry he didn’t call me, sorry he couldn’t answer my call, sorry he’s running late, etc. If a man is constantly saying “I’m sorry,” then he knows that he is not meeting your expectations. And if he knows that, why isn’t he doing something about it?

  3. Allyson Avatar

    I once dated a man who was a bit younger than me (5 years). He apologized for EVERYTHING. He was an interesting man, attractive, smart, funny, financially stable, but when it came to personal insecurity he came a car load of matching baggage. He felt the need to apologize if my eyes narrowed because he thought it meant I didn’t like something (when really I was just about to sneeze). It was frustrating and eventually I got tired of accepting all of his apologies and had to let him go.

  4. Stacy Avatar

    I think there are two options if someone is overly apologetic – either they have too much on their plate and they don’t value you enough so they are apologizing to someone else (ie. a business partner) because they spent too much time with you or they are extremely insecure. A friend of mine apologized so often it became challenging to be around her. That behavior can go far beyond romantic relationships and then we have to ask ourselves, “who am I choosing to spend my time with?” Either way the answer is to not spend too much time with someone who apologizes too much – Don’t walk away, run! = – )

  5. Richard Avatar

    I dated someone who is insecure. She regularly asked permission, and apologized repeatedly for really small things. As we got to know each other, I would playfully stop her mid sentence. As she became more comfortable being around me, it diminished. She was being polite, and did not really do anything wrong (other than being fashionably late on occasion).

    But, more to your point: Does it matter which he is? Either way, the underlying problem is not being addressed (he does stuff that you do not like). Since you can’t change the other person, you have to decide if you want to accept it or not.

  6. Miss Avatar

    I need to marry someone who is humble and caring enough to be able to apologize to me.

    Not only does it show me that he cares and he is concerned about how he is treating me, but it lets me know that he is man enough to show that he isn’t perfect and can say “I’m sorry”

  7. Stacy Avatar

    Miss – I agree with you completely. I manifested my man, Mario, five years ago and we just had an experience in our relationship where he was a little thoughtless and he was man enough to say he was sorry. I too was woman enough to acknowledge my responsibility in the equation, since part of my issue was some things I was processing from my past. He was awesome and held me and let me cry until I was finished, and he still said he was sorry. It was quite an intimate moment for us. We allow each other to feel vulnerable because we feel safe with each other. I know you will Manifest Your Man (R) who can say he’s sorry, because you are very clear on what you will and will not accept for yourself. If you want some more tips, sign up for my ezine, I have some fun ones coming out in two weeks. http://www.ManifestYourMan.NET.

    Hugs and great job being clear on what you want!

    = – )

  8. Alphan Njogu Avatar
    Alphan Njogu

    I agree with you. At times we need someone who accepts his/her mistakes and apologises for the wrong or inconvenience caused. That shows that they are responsible for their actions. But when the apologies become too many, they become monotonous such that you can no longer put up with the person’s behaviour. They get used to doing things without thinking about the consequences and resulting into a mere sorry. That means that they might be saying it to please you but don’t really mean it hence not ready to change! And by not saying sorry, it actually implies that one is rude, ruthless, doesn’t care and he/she is self centred.