3 Reasons to Apologize Even if You’ve Done Nothing Wrong

“I’m not going to apologize because I didn’t do anything wrong!”

I remember my kids uttering that phrase a number of times when they were young, and I’ve also heard it from adults in the workplace more times than I care to remember. No one likes to be wrongly accused and most people certainly don’t want to apologize for something they didn’t do. The thought of apologizing when we’ve done nothing wrong, or even worse, when we’re actually in the right, causes our blood to boil. We become indignant, defensive, or lash out at others, none of which does anything to improve the situation.

However, there is a time and place for apologizing even if you’re not guilty. It’s important to remember that apologizing is not an admission of guilt; it’s an admission of responsibility. (Click to tweet) You are taking responsibility for improving and moving past the situation at hand. Here are three good reasons to apologize even if you’ve done nothing wrong:

  1. Choosing relationship over being right—When difficulties arise in a relationship, it’s a natural human instinct to want to assign blame. If the other person is in the wrong, then we can gloat in the satisfaction of being right. It’s easy to dive into the deep end of the pool of self-righteousness. It takes emotional maturity to prioritize the health of the relationship over the ego-feeding need to be right. Apologizing for the pain and difficulty of the current situation, even if you didn’t cause it, shows you place a higher value on the other person than you do on the need to be right.
  2. Lose the battle to win the war—You need to have a long-range perspective when it comes to relationships. There are going to be lots of battles (e.g., differences of opinion, conflict, etc.) in our relationships at home and work, and we’d die of exhaustion if we fought tooth and nail to prove ourselves right in every instance. Sometimes it’s better to lose the battle and apologize even when you’re right, for the sake of winning the bigger war (e.g., maintaining peace, completing the project, etc.).
  3. Take one for the team—As the leader, there are times you need to take one for the team. You may not personally have been at fault, but if your team has dropped the ball, you should take the blame on their behalf. Weak leaders will often throw their team under the bus when they’ve made a mistake. The leader will absolve him/herself of any responsibility and blame it on the team acting carelessly. The best leaders, however, apologize for the mistakes their team make and accept whatever blame comes their way.

It’s no fun to apologize when you’ve done nothing wrong. Every fiber of our being compels us to scream that we didn’t do it, and to blame someone or something else. Responding with righteous indignation often escalates the tension and does little to resolve the situation. If you value the relationship more than being right, are willing to lose a small battle for the sake of winning the larger war, or need to take one for you team, it’s OK to apologize—even if you’ve done nothing wrong.

111 Comments on “3 Reasons to Apologize Even if You’ve Done Nothing Wrong

  1. Great points, but be certain that there is not an ounce of sarcasm in the apology. Sometimes one can be misinterpreted as just trying to stop the conversation by apologizing.

      • There are few things that smell more sour than an insincere apology, which serves only to add insult to injury for the offended party. So it is definitely worth a moment for the person who has made that mistake to track back in time:
        What is the foundation of the problem and what is their own role or responsibility? Were errors or false or misleading expectations set in the first place, leading to this awkward situation? Has one bad move lead to another? Even if the person apologizing has been caught in the net of another’s mistakes or misdeeds but is rising up to take responsibility, it is likely that there were times when intervention earlier on their part could have averted the end problem.
        While hindsight is 20-20, it should not be underrated as a learning opportunity.
        I have always said, as my friends and colleagues know: Do not ask me a question unless you want to hear what I truly think. If you want platitudes or cover ups, knock on another door.
        Whether the head of a company I worked for or a peer, I have never hesitated to be truthful, even at the risk of facing retaliation or criticism for honesty.
        That is not to say there is no room for tact: one learns quickly that it usually does not go well when rudeness and honesty are paired. There is also a responsibility in honesty to have thought thoroughly about a situation from all possible perspectives.
        False remorse in the form of an insincere gesture reads as cheap lip service. The bottom line: try to be forthright in the first place. Avoiding it sometimes only leads to having to face a more difficult situation.
        If honesty is the policy, a true and gracious apology bearing genuine responsibility should be able to be explained.

      • Quite often I will go to say sorry, and my parents will respond with “sorry doesn’t mean anything if you have to keep apologising, it just shows you only care about yourself and don’t care how others are feeling. If you were actually sorry then you wouldn’t have done it in the first place,” How am I meant to react to that? Quite often I then retaliate and make things worse and then feel as though it was my fault for the entire thing.

      • Hi Josh,

        That’s a difficult statement to respond to, isn’t it? An apology is only effective as the action that follows it. If a person keeps committing the same “trust busting” act, then it shows their apologies are not sincere because they are changing their behavior. There’s a big difference between breaking trust once, apologizing, and then not committing the same behavior, versus repeating the same thing over and over again.



      • Hi,
        What to do when u want to say sorry for peaceful life but at the same time u worry about ur selfsteam? What should i chose my self steam or a peaceful life becaue both matters….

      • ‘It’s important to remember that apologizing is not an admission of guilt; it’s an admission of responsibility. ‘ I loved this point. We would not be responsible for a failure history. Our apology will be earlier prevention of possible failure. Thank you!

    • But if you’re not wrong, what can be said?? I’m sorry what I shared hurt your feelings?
      Is that sufficient?

      • It may be as simple as saying that, or may be something along the lines of “I’m sorry we’re in this predicament” or something along those lines. The gist of my article is about taking responsibility for your part in the relationship/issue, whether or not you did anything “wrong.” I hope that’s a helpful explanation.


    • Yes a good read felt better as argued with mother she doesn’t actually say the word sorry but did say so am I when I did put the word sorry as thought it was getting out of hand and in my defence I do answer her back just feels one way even with your own mother

    • Thank you, just had a fight with someone today, it was his/her fault but I made it 10 times worse by bringing it up, so this helped.

    • How can an apology be sincere if you know you’ve done nothing wrong? That doesn’t make sense.

      • Easy. You don’t have to be right or wrong to apologize. “I’m sorry for the misunderstanding,” “I apoligize for hurting your feelings which is something I didn’t mean to do but I can see how that happened,” “I am deeply sorry something I apparently said hurt you,” etc.

    • I have this friend but he left me bc he thought I changed but I didn’t and he’s not fun talking to me anymore I texted of I apologized but I think he’s acting like I don’t exist

    • It must remembered that a true and sincere apology means having and expressing the insight of how what one has done has affected the other person. Without doing this the “apology” may not have its desired impact.

      • Spot on, Claire. A good apology expresses remorse for how the other person was impacted.

        Thanks for adding your insights.


  2. Wet sage advice! Have used the approach successfully over the past two decades. Builds trust in teams as well as with strategic partners and customers alike.

  3. Apologizing to someone who feeling were hurt because they though you have done something wrong, when you know you did not, is a powerful way to model love and kindness.

      • do not agree. if you have done nowt wrong why apologise

    • I was in a similar situation,I was asked by my wife to apologize to my step daughter for saying stop being so disrespectful. I was feeling like I didn’t do anything wrong. But I had to take one for the team.

      • Thanks for your comments Garry. Sometimes we do have to “take on for the team” in order to preserve harmony in a relationship. Remember, apologizing isn’t always an act of admitting you were wrong, but it’s an act of taking responsibility.


    • I respectfully disagree with this post. In the situation when someone wrongs you, you should forgive but you should not apologize. 

      One may privately redefine an apology to be an admission of responsibility and something separate from an admission of guilt but that doesn’t change its meaning or understanding by society.  In my mind, if I redefine “hi” to mean “i want sweet tea”, I shouldn’t expect to be handed sweet tea when I say “hi”.

      Furthermore, I do nobody any favors by taking responsibility for or admitting guilt for something that I have not done.  It is a type of manipulation to try and get an end result of peace and quiet without having to actually deal with righting a wrong.  Ultimately, It would be a lie and telling a lie, even if you convince yourself is for a noble cause, can do more long term harm than good (just ask any survivor of domestic abuse).

      As a Christian, the Bible gives me direction on what to do when I am wronged and this is the approach we should take.  

      Matthew 18:15-17 (ESV) “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. 16 But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. 17 If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.

      • Hello friend,

        Thank you for sharing your perspective. I can see where you’re coming from.

        As a fellow Believer, I’m intimately familiar with Jesus’ teaching from Matthew 18. It’s specifically directed toward the community of believers, the church, and not people in general. Even so, the points I made in my article don’t contradict this principle. I’m not advocating you accept blame for something you didn’t do. I’m suggesting it’s healthier for the long-term growth of the relationship to move beyond who’s right and who’s wrong. Many times you can’t do that if you are willing to acknowledge, admit, and yes, even apologize, for your role in either creating the breach of trust or allowing it to fester.

        I hope that’s a helpful clarification. Thanks for adding to this rich discussion.


      • Could not agree more! Thank you for respectfully disagreeing.

  4. Yes it’s true sometime even you are not guilty for something but you apologize to the one who is been offended and its a kind of respect that you are showing.Indirectly you are preventing thing from becoming worst.

    • Hi Vishal,

      You’re right, showing you value the relationship over being right communicates a great deal of respect and appreciation to the other person.

      Thank you for adding to the discussion.


  5. I’m not a big fan of apologies where relationships or other substantial issues are at stake. Expressions of sorrow or remorse are fine as far as they go. In my opinion, they tend to be rather selfish. They make us feel better. I prefer making amends. It should be about making the other party whole. If it’s big enough to worry about, it’s important… to the transgressor and usually to the party who’s been wronged. When I’ve fouled something up – and I’m not talking about forgetting to hold the door for the person behind me (that’s when “excuse me” is okay) but when I’ve really hurt someone, my approach is something like “Bob, I believe that my _________ (action or lack thereof) may have hurt/injured you. How can I make this right? Then I shut up and let them tell me. This signals my willingness to affect real repair to the other party’s pain at my hands….and is almost always well received.

    • Hi Kahley,

      Making amends is the critical action step that is needed in the apology process. The apology is an expression of remorse for your actions and it lets the offended party know that you understand you did something to hurt them in some way. Making amends completes the apology process. It only makes things worse to deliver a great apology but then never change your behavior.

      Thanks for calling out the importance of making amends.


  6. I agree with the article – but when someone says “sorry you feel that way” or “sorry you see things that way that upsets you” How does someone accept that as an apology worthy of moving forward?

    • Hi Becky,

      You highlight one of the key “no-no’s” in delivering an apology. Using conditional language like “if” or “but” shifts responsibility away from the offending party.

      Take care,


      • But if I didn’t intially, actual offend, but am apologizing for the reasons you said, I didn’t offend! Misperception is not on me! I’d fell dishonest

  7. I respectfully disagree. When you apologize for something that wasn’t your fault, you have to trust the other party not to use the apology in bad faith and turn it against you down the line. Some would force you to apologize as an act of dominance, and if you cave in, they smell blood in the water and come after you harder. It’s better to never apologize, and if pressed, an “I’m sorry you feel that way” non-apology is best.

    The exception is your point #3. When apologizing on behalf of your organization, it’s better to come from the top than the person who made the mistake, as it would appear that person was being thrown under the bus, and the public expects apologies from the proper authority. They see the organization at fault, not so much one individual, so in those cases a leader has to take one for the team.

    • Hi Dustin,

      The level of trust you do/don’t have in the other party is certainly a key factor that needs to be considered. If you believe the other party is going to use your apology as a way to blackmail, manipulate, or otherwise harm you, then you probably have bigger issues to deal with in the relationship than whether or not to apologize.

      Thanks for adding to the discussion.


      • Randy,
        I agree with both Dustin and you – Dustin in the case of working in an environment where upper level management cannot be trusted; and you for recognizing larger issues at the core than whether or not to apologize. Otherwise, I think your article, and subsequent comments, promote great philosophies!

    • I have a tough situation with my elderly Mother. Since I was a child, she has accused me of things that I haven’t done and that messed with my head. In almost every current communication she demands to know what is wrong with our relationship and it is very hurtful and I feel sad. If I thought an apology was the perfect way to address the issue, I would. I’m concerned she would, indeed, accept an apology as acknowledging I have done something wrong. She shows signs of paranoia – complaining all her friends have “ghosted” her. I am good daughter to her, going above and beyond helping her in her old age. She mostly complains about me and gets angry with me. Suggestions?

      • Hello Dawn,

        I empathize with your challenging situation. It could be possible that your mother’s paranoia/complaining is age or health related and is not truly reflective of how she feels about you. It sounds as though you are doing on what’s most important – serving her in a respectful and loving way.

        My best to you,


  8. If you have been falsely accused of a criminal offence; an apology will appear as an admission of guilt; so my lawyer says, “Don’t even think about it!”

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  11. Randy,

    Great article, and something I really needed to read at this time. Something else to remember (and please pardon me if this has been mentioned already) is that we have to apologize for our wrongdoing, whether anything is given back in return. The whole purpose of apologizing is to show remorse; that remorse cannot be dependent upon the other person’s reaction or their actions that led to your actions in which you needed to apologize. In other words, I should not avoid apologizing just because of what someone else did. I have to look at myself and only myself, realize that what I did was wrong, and express remorse, no waiting to see how it would be received, nor using what the other person did as justification to not apologize.

  12. I have a question
    Im a teenager and i had an accident in school
    Our teacher gave us free time so we agreed to play a game. After first couple round everything went great but in the third round someone started writing bad words in the notebook but no-one noticed it but when our teacher saw that we are playing games loudly he came to keep us quiet but then he noticed the bad words and send us to the principle and he told our parents about it.my question is do i have to apologize when i didn’t wrote those words?

    • Hello Saman,

      Thanks for your question. I don’t think you need to apologize. You didn’t do anything wrong. I think your concern about whether or not to apologize show you have a good character and are concerned about doing the right thing.

      Thanks for reading my blog.


  13. How are you choosing the health of the relationship over being right, to me it sounds like a pretty unhealthy relationship if one party has to apologise for something they didn’t do all the time!

  14. My wife not only demands I apologize for getting mad at her when she is extremely rude to me or other people, she also demands I take all the blame as well. She won’t let it go for weeks and bullies me and threatens me, sometimes leaves, until I tell her I was all wrong, she is right and I will work on our relationship for the future which includes talking to her councilor. Her counselor and I talk about sports because there is little else to talk about. She just needs to vent to someone that will take her side. I can’t go on like this forever.

    • Hello Dan,

      Thank you for sharing your story. Have the two of you tried meeting with the counselor together?


  15. All of this is nonsense no one should have to apologize for something they didn’t do wrong just to make someone else feel better

    • I agree with you. Its all toxic positivity. Manipulation. Why take responsibility for something you were not responsible for in the first place….

  16. Hi Randy. Yes. The counselor won’t do it again because it gets out of hand. She told the counselor she wanted a refund for the session and threatened to find another counselor. She said she won’t talk to him again if he won’t tell me I’m the one thats wrong and needs to change.

  17. I have an adult daughter that has a huge since of entitlement. I let her and her son move in with me because she stated she was in a bad situation with the guy she was living with. She has had one bad relationship after another, when one doesn’t work out she will go back to the previous relationship which never works out. I believe she has a very low self esteem also.. When she moved in I told her that the guy she moved away from was not allowed at my house. I came home one day and he was here. I told her I didn’t appreciate her bringing him to my house. She became very angry and moved out and hasn’t spoken to me since and it has been 8 months and she will not allow me to see my grandson. I was recently told by someone that she is expecting me to apologize and if I do I may be able to see my grandson. I have to agree with you that sometimes we do need to apologize because of the relationship, but how do you do that and maintain healthy boudries with this person.

    • Hello Sarah,

      Thank you for sharing your story. As your situation illustrates, sometimes boundaries can lead to estrangement, usually on the part of the individual who doesn’t agree or want to abide by them. But that doesn’t mean the boundary isn’t healthy or necessary.

      I’m a believer that an individual can only accept responsibility for his/her own behavior. You can be loving, non-judgmental, AND still have healthy boundaries, but ultimately your daughter will have to make the decision of whether she can live with those boundaries as well.

      Best to you,


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  19. my friend is mad at me and i don’t know what I did wrong and he won’t tell me so I can fix it can you give me some information so we can be friends again

    • Hello Catelyn,

      I’m sorry to hear about your difficulties. You can’t do anything to address the problems if your friend won’t share information with you. Perhaps your friend needs some time and space to process his/her feelings.


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  21. There’s an problem with apologizing for something you did or said that was misunderstood or imaginary offenses.

    An apology implies that an effort will be made to not offend again. But when the offense is based on the other person’s misinterpretation or imagination, you can’t promise that. One can control what one says and does, but one can’t control someone else’s misinterpretation. The next time an offence is interpreted or imagined, the previous apology is perceived as insincere and the next one sounds insincere.

    • Hello Dan,

      You bring up an interesting point. I agree that we aren’t in control of another person’s imagination, or misinterpretation of our behavior or a situation. However, communication is not just how we send a message, but how the receiver interprets that message. We can check for understanding when we’re communicating to make sure the other person is receiving the message in the way we intended. We can pause and say “So tell me what you heard me say?,” or “Tell me how you’re interpreting what I just said” as ways to make sure our message is clear.

      Thanks for adding your insights!


  22. Hi, I am getting a lot out of reading these posts and the article. Thank you!!!! I have a younger sister who sets a high bar. I being the older sister have many times allowed her to criticize me or some aspect of my life and not said anything in rebuttal to her just to keep peace and basically to take it for the team. I decided in my 20’s that discussing things that we dont share in common or things that may be important in my life both spiritually, emotionally or politically are not things we are able to talk about without someone getting very angry and storming out. ( namely Her). So, for the sake of the relationship and because I love her and enjoy her company in many other ways I have maintained this peace in our relationship since then by avoiding anything that would be a hot topic. ( We don’t really share similar moral, spiritual or political values ( what sibling do? ) I am 55 now… I have raised 7 pretty neat kids and have been married for 32 yeas to the same man and run/own a part time Physical therapy clinic. She got married at 43 and never had children and is a very creative pianist and college
    music professor. She has recently been voicing more and more her critical opinion of my other sister ( which although sometimes she is right about some things , much of what she brings up is really not that important in the grand scheme of things) . She is also letting her tongue loose on me and getting controlling. Because she does everything so well and so completely perfect, she has a very hard time trusting me or my other sister with responsibilities within the family. Namely, the care of our health but elderly parents. She always double checks me to make sure I am doing things “right ” in her eyes. As a result I basically told her I didn’t appreciate that she was doing this and that she needed to be able to trust me, and treat me as the capable person that I am ( I am not perfect but I am a capable and caring person ). She got really mad…. and as had happened once in our 20’s ( when we had a disagreement she has not talked to me since or tried to reach out to me. I am not sorry about what I said to her but I am sorry that she is so upset and won’t talk to me. How do you think I should best proceed.?

    • Hi Mary,

      First of all, let me thank you for courageously sharing your story. I appreciate your vulnerability.

      Second, since you posted your comment on this specific article, I’ll point you back to the first point – choosing the relationship over being right. It sounds as though there have been many times you have chosen the value of the relationship with your sister over being right, but perhaps she doesn’t do that herself, correct? Do you think you could talk to her about the importance of both you valuing the relationship regardless of who is “right?” The problem with being “right” is that it means the other person has to be “wrong.” What is right for your sister may not be right for you, and vice versa. Hopefully she’d be willing to understand that her way isn’t necessarily the only way.

      Take care,


  23. This is really helpful,thank you for the message

  24. Should I apologize to my sister-in-law? We had a blowout on Christmas and I cussed her after years of her manipulative, bullying ways. Now she has said she won’t talk to me until I apologize. I am open to a discussion, but she wants an apology first. While, I don’t think I owe her an apology, I do want to move forward, not necessarily to have a relationship with her but so that we can co-exist without animosity as this situation is affecting both of our families. I don’t necessarily want to rehash the past since I don’t see how that would accomplish anything. I don’t think she would ever admit to being a bully and I think apologizing would be feed into her narrative as the victim and put her once again in the position of bullying me into submission. How do I move forward without apologizing.

    • Hello Michele,

      You asked two questions: Should I apologize? and How do I move forward with apologizing?

      My answers are: 1) Yes and 2) It will be hard to move forward if you don’t.

      As I mentioned in the article, apologizing doesn’t mean you are acknowledging you were wrong or that the other person was right. You are apologizing because you value the relationship more than you value being “right.” You are responsible for your behavior, so you could apologize for the way you expressed your feelings in the heat of the moment. That doesn’t mean your feelings aren’t right or justified…just that you could have expressed them in a way that was better received.

      I hope that is helpful advice. Best wishes in restoring the relationship with your sister-in-law.

      Take care,


  25. This stuff is poppycock. “Apologizing not admission of guilt, it’s admission of responsibility.” THAT’S LITERALLY THE SAME FREAKING THING! If people can’t think logically and focus on exactly what happened and exactly who deserves blame, that’s their fault, not yours. There’s no reason anyone should have to apologize when they didn’t do anything wrong! An apology is an expression of remorse over wrongdoing. If you DID no wrongdoing, there is nothing to apologize for. I fail to see what is a complicated about that.

    • Hi Lucia,

      Thank you for sharing your passionate feedback! I appreciate the energetic tone of your response.

      Perhaps it’s a semantic subtlety, but I believe there is a difference between being guilty for an offense and taking responsibility for the state of the relationship. For example, let’s say my wife asks me to clean up our back patio because we’re going to have some friends over for dinner on Saturday evening. I say, “Sure honey, no problem!” Saturday morning rolls around, the patio still isn’t cleaned, and my wife is upset. She lays in to me for not cleaning the patio like I said I would. In my mind, I was planning all along to clean it up on Saturday afternoon, but neither of us explicitly expressed our expectations about when she wanted it done or when I was planning on doing it. I apologize to her for not being more clear in my response and for it causing her to be upset. Then I clean the patio, well before our company arrives for dinner.

      Do I deserve blame for not cleaning the patio? No, of course not. The patio still got cleaned before the company arrived. Am I to blame for not being clear in setting the right expectations with my wife regarding when I would clean the patio? Perhaps, although I’d argue why does there need to be someone to “blame”? That type of thinking usually comes into play when people feel that someone has to be right and the other has to be wrong. Sometimes mistakes happen through no fault of anyone. Those who value the relationship more than being right will see the logic in apologizing even if they’ve done nothing wrong.

      I hope that provides greater understanding.

      Take care,


      • I don’t think that’s a very good analogy. If you planned to clean the patio on Saturday, that falls into the category of “before Saturday afternoon”. Your wife has no right to lay into you when you haven’t actually broken your promise. Yes, she’s perfectly entitled to REMIND you, as she could easily think you’ve forgotten, but then all you do is say that you haven’t forgotten and that you planned to do it on Saturday. That resolves the misunderstanding and everything is fine and nobody is at fault. Simple as.

      • The problem with your analogy is that some people, even though you discuss the misunderstanding, will still accuse you of lying or breaking your promise and will want you to apologize for EXACTLY that. They want you to either 1. admit you broke your promise or 2. admit you lied to them and then apologize for lying or breaking a promise.

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  27. Hello I really appreciate this site and couldn’t have discovered it at a more appropriate time! Thank you very much. Not having read all the entries I don’t know if it’s already been said,but I feel if no- one apologizes the wound remains open,there’s no healing and moving on. Even though I feel it is not my duty to apologise to my daughter in law,I do value our relationship and hope she will derive that from my gesture .Maybe it’ll help her to see it’s not difficult for her to reciprocate!

    • Hello Sarah,

      I’m happy that the article was helpful to you and I wish you and your daughter-in-law a relationship full of trust!


  28. Ok. I agree with Lucia. I came to this article because its title is”3 Reasons to Apologize Even if You’ve Done NOTHING Wrong”
    … Every single example that was given has you at fault at least to some degree! So… you have done something wrong and need to admit responsibility.
    So here is a better example:
    I came home from work today and learned that my wife was upset. She was upset because one of her friends said something on social media that hurt her feelings. I understand the response was not intended to offend anyone, the friend just isn’t that good with words. Instead of explaining this to my wife, I responded by saying “I’m sorry you feel sad.” and gave her a hug.
    I was ripped apart because she says “That’s not a real apology! You have to take responsibility for your actions!”

    So in short, I came to this article to find reasons to apologize when you have done NOTHING wrong. Apologizing is admitting fault and taking the responsibility upon yourself. I am not going to lie and say that I am the reason my wife feels bad her friend is offensive over social media.
    I am not going to apologize about the words my wife’s friend said and say they are my fault or responsibility.

    So, Why should you apologize for something you have done Nothing wrong for?…
    (PS: if you use it lightly like in place of saying “I wish that didn’t happen” or “i feel sad that has happened”, then that is not the same as truly apologizing.)

    • Hi Jon,

      Thanks for your comments! I apologize for not responding sooner.

      See what I did there? Even though I didn’t do anything wrong (e.g., I didn’t break any rules by not replying to your comments within X timeframe…I didn’t make any commitments to you, the reader, to respond in a certain timeframe, etc.), I apologized for not replying sooner because I want you to know that I value your relationship as a reader of my blog.

      The example you provided about your wife points out an important dynamic – you can’t truly apologize for something of which you had no involvement. Your alternative response of “I wish that didn’t happen” is great way to express empathy and support to a situation your wife experienced which you had no part of.

      Thanks for your insightful comments. I appreciate it!


    • I am facing the same situation and totally agree with you.

      • I think you forget that some people are mental abusers and want control over others by demanding an apology. And some are easy offended. When you are so afraid of hurtig someone, that much that you walk on eggshells, than i’m done. I do not apology to someone always misinterprets, get easy offended, looking for some shit they can complain about. Maybe it’s about time they apolgy for their shitty way to talk to others on. It’s not right to apolgy for someones poor jugdements. Now i just give you an example that way to. Do you know how much it’s hurts to be blamed for something you didn’t do, from the same person over and over again?

  29. Could not disagree more. In this woke world where outrage is currency, and that currency is stolen at the slightest offense, or no-offense, or pretend offense, apologizing for something you did not do, say or cause only fuels the fire. Adults need to start acting like adults. Stop being so offended at every change in the wind direction. And all the other adults need to stop bending over for the perpetually offended class.

  30. I have always had a difficult relationship with my daughter since she was 14. She is now 32 and has cut me off since she was 29. I was hearbroken, still am. She tells people she cannot trust me (I imagine with her emotions) she won’t tell me what I have done, just refuses to speak to me. I have asked her father (who I am divorced from but have a good friendhsip with) he is as shocked and upset as me. He has no idea why either.

    But she has said some strange things in the past. I gave her a job and some breathing space and time in my small business when she was let go from her current job. So time to have a think about what she wanted to do in her career, but at least she had an income and a roof over her head. She then is hostile the whole time she worked for me, was lazy then one day shouted at me saying she was sick of being in my shadow.

    Another time I arranged a treat for us both to have a nice weekend away as an early chrisrmas present. 6 weeks before she told me she could not go with me. I asked why. She said because I had no respect for her life with her partner, I just booked the w/e without asking her or asking if she was free to come. I was so upset. I said I had full respect for her and her partner but the w/e away was a gift, a suprise. I knew she would probably be free as I run the busines and knew we would be closed and I had given her about 8 weeks notice.

    She accused me of ruining her grandmothers funeral (father’s mother) because I had mentined something I would be doing in the future with my job, to a relative who was talking with me. I said the person asked me what I was up to . My daughter said I should have lied…

    So recently I realised I have always tried to protest my innocence against her accusations, which has pushed her away. This week ( after 3 years no contact) I messaged her. A nice open friendly message. I said I was genuinely sorry for anything and everything I had done that had hurt her or caused her to question me as a mother. I aksed for her forgiveness. I said I had been reflecting and realise the things I have done that have pushed her away, and that I would not do that any more.

    She replied… clearly you’ve been getting therapy, I aplaud you, but nothing you have said is any different from the past. I still don’t trust and need to keep away from you. I’m not saying for ever, but I wish you well.

    I have not been getting therapy, I just wanted to genuinely say sorry for my part in any or her hurt or anger regarding me.

    What do I do? I have no more tears left;I have cried them all out

    • Hello Cathy,

      Thank you for leaving a comment. My heart goes out to you! There are few things as hurtful as a broken relationship with a child.

      It sounds as though you have been taking the right steps to repair the relationship with your daughter. It may be helpful to keep in mind that you are not responsible for your daughter’s behavior. The only thing you are responsible for is your own behavior. If she chooses to accept your outreach, or how she reacts to it, are beyond your control.

      As a parent, I understand the unconditional love one has for a child. That never goes away and we will always love our kids, no matter how strained our relationship becomes. It’s also true that a healthy relationship takes effort from both parties. Your daughter has to make her own decision as to how much she chooses to engage with you. In the meantime, pray, pray, pray! Keep loving and hoping. Keep being available to your daughter and find appropriate ways to reach out with a light touch, without being too obtrusive or demanding. Perhaps her heart will soften over time.

      In trust,


  31. Interesting comments here. I recently had a big argument with my elderly mother. We are polar opposites politically, and I usually don’t voice my opinions so as to avoid arguments. While watching the news, she made numerous derogatory comments about groups of people and about recent events. I expressed my disagreement very strongly (I said I found her views both objectionable and embarrassing). I know I hurt her and made her angry, but I haven’t apologized. I want to mend the relationship, but I just can’t bring myself to apologize for what I said, mainly because I still stand by it. I’m trying to prioritize the relationship and not the actual conflict but it’s so difficult to get past. I somehow feel that by apologizing I would be going against my principles. I also don’t want to bring it up and set her off again. I have to do something as I am her caregiver, and I am certain she will not apologize. I wish I hadn’t said anything, but sometimes it is hard to stay silent.

    • Hi Beth,

      Such a difficult situation; I can understand the dilemma.

      Consider this – you can apologize for the conversation being upsetting/getting heated/causing hard feelings/etc., without apologizing for your beliefs or principles. They two things (your mom’s hurt feelings and your beliefs) are not connected. As I mentioned in the post, one reason for apologizing is because you prioritize the relationship over winning the battle of who’s right or wrong (isn’t it possible in some situations there isn’t a clear right or wrong, and both parties can have legitimate differences of opinion?).

      I’d love to hear your thoughts.


      • Hi Randy,

        I think this can help when respect and trust are both present. Without both, then the conversation can turn violent with difference of opinion and different beliefs. In my household, I can’t even voice my opinions when watching a thought provoking movie and sharing my disagreeing thoughts about the news with my younger sister without her getting angry. I’m not sure if an apology is what’s in order because that seems more like shutting me up. It’s like sorry, I don’t believe you or sorry, your opinion isn’t valid.

        Isn’t this more of a reason for me to look like the bad guy.

        What else can I say sorry it escalated when my buttons are continuously pushed when I’m gossiped about and I’m disrespected, accused, and blamed unfairly for things I didn’t do when being made to shut up instead of hearing out what I have to say?

        Or my favorite admitting I’m at fault, but she doesn’t hear it and pretends like I’m constantly in the wrong to avoid responsibility and remain in victim hood. Because, it seems to be everybody else’s fault instead of her own.

        So, the simplest seems to be sorry, I lost my temper when I was ignored and misunderstood?

        all seem to be insensitive and fake to me.

        Will that really help a relationship when trust and respect is low to nonexistent?

      • Hello Kate,

        Thanks for your comments. Mutual respect goes a long way to helping relationships function smoothly. If there isn’t that base level of respect and appreciation for the other person, then expecting more/better/different from the person seems unreasonable and unwise.

        Take care,


  32. Bad Idea. My wife just stormed out of the house with her suitcase after a few hours of fighting over a perceived slight.

    We started a conversion over the plan for today. I listing some thing I wanted to do. She heard this as me “dictating” and not honoring her as a person and hearing what she wanted done today.

    As is her pattern, she refused to have a normal conversation about today’s plans, and instead got angry about my alleged mistreatment.

    My apology for how I had mistreated her was rejected because of all the previous times I had apologized for earlier mistreatment she had falsely perceived.

    Apologizing when you have done nothing wrong is LOSING game. You have no control over how someone misinterprets your actions and words, so it sets you up for looking insincere and selfish the NEXT time the person falsely perceived wrongdoing.

  33. I have read everyone’s comment’s that you should apologize if you’ve done nothing wrong and I agree with you it is not about being right or wrong that won’t resolve or mend anything I care about my friend more an maintaining that relationship with them But this is my dilemma I feel it is important to apologize but equally important to explain and I would appreciate any advice and even whether I should explain or perhaps leave that to another day if my apology is accepted.

    So this is what happened I have been since this corona virus pandemic started a member in a virtual Singing group I have made some great friends Three Close one’s in particular) and we have shared some great times within the group,helping good causes with a Charity cd, many of us did radio,or local press and we hung out virtually together on music event’s.Shared Video calls,chatted on Social media and hung out virtually with Musical event’s I was so grateful to have met three wonderful woman who i got on with and had so many things in common

    That was until about early December then things changed. Everything was fine until One night I checked in with a friend (who surfers terrible depression) to see how they were on social media I don’t really need to tell you exactly what they said but One thing they mentioned was that they would be lonely over Christmas and wouldn’t be able to see their kids Now what they said next though,really scared me This was a cry for help I listened, reassured them that many people cared that i cared that they were loved Then I asked them to promise me they would not do “anything” A couple of days later we had our Virtual singing class The vocal coach had an idea to have Small groups og there or four people We were given a choice of Christmas songs we could choose to record in our groups. I thought this would be the distraction that my friend needed to help her give her something positive to do help her cope with her suicidal feelings she had expressed day’s earlier.

    Then everything started to unravel suddenly we were being asked to edit our group video’s and my other friend who had been excited by working on this Christmas project with Us suddenly wanted to pull out Saying she hadn’t been thinking and that she would be too busy. I tired to persuade to change her made or at least think about it.I could see how disappointed our other friend was. Nothing happened until later on that evening then She contacted me and we had a text chat it was friendly as usual at first,then I started asking her about would she be able to do the project with us She said she was too busy. I tired again did she think that she could find some time an hour or two?Asked her if she would think about it and not say No just yet.Let me see if I can get my girlfriend to edit for us, reminded her that our vocal coach said she would be able to help people with it as well. No time on that day would she do something on this day? What happened though rather than get her to change her mind (and not for me because i was worried about our friends fragile state of mind) I upset her.

    She was polite at first said she was too busy then She said no, said that I was testing our friendship. Then she got really annoyed at me told I wasn’t listening, didn’t care about her, or her family, was being selfish, stop trying to make her feel guilty. I have never had a text fight before but I have now.
    You know even typing this now I can see how this looks to her I really understand why a lot of other people turned on me too But it was not about me, People got it into their heads that “I” Wanted to do that song, that it was all about me I didn’t care about anyone else. But it was because i was worried about our friend worried that she wouldn’t be with us anymore if I didn’t step up and help her. That was why I “pushed” my friend to change her mind. Now She is upset won’t talk to me, has ignored my recent messages
    She does deserve an apology I can see that I have hurt her unintentionally makes no difference I really do care about her, value her advice and appreciate her I really am not selfish I haven’t changed from the friendly,caring person that she got to know though the musical group, Facebook,Zoom. In the past I said that she should trust me I wish that i had trusted her it was a mistake not to tell her about what our friend said about ending her life but I didn’t because I thought I could cope that I cared enough not to lay that on her shoulders I didn’t want her to worry.

    So I don’t know what to do I can contact her through a friend and get them to pass on the message to her it would of course have my sincere apology but should i also explain the reason I acted that way I don’t want her to see it as an excuse when it really isn’t. I am Torn because i think if she knew she would understand and our friendship would be even stronger but I don’t want to upset her and let her think I am not taking responsibility for any actions So what should I do? I really miss my friend and the close relationship the three of us had Nobody win’s if we don’t resolve this situation we all lose it’s no good pretending otherwise


    • Hello Michael,

      Thank you for displaying courage and vulnerability in sharing your story. That seems like a challenging situation that is troubling you. When someone pulls away, it can be difficult to know when to reach out and make contact versus giving them time to process their feelings, and hopefully, reach out to you. Without knowing all the dynamics involved, I would suggest giving your friend some time to process and then find a way to contact them to just let them know you care, are thinking about them, and would like to talk when/if they are ready.

      Best wishes to you,


  34. Thanks for the article. Good points. I would only add that there are some personality traits and disorders (and even some faulty “crisis management strategies” resorted to in difficult moments by otherwise well adjusted people) that depend on being a victim, and the more one apologizes for slights and offenses as perceived in their alternate universe, the more one is simply feeding the beast. Their victimhood is confirmed and they become increasingly able to detect slights and offenses where folks in our universe can’t see them. Sometimes feeding the beast can make the problem worse.

  35. “Apologizing for the pain and difficulty of the current situation, even if you didn’t cause it, shows you place a higher value on the other person than you do on the need to be right.”

    This is WAY too “generic”.

    First, if you simply did not do the “wrong thing” that you are being accused of, then it is not a matter (at all) of you being “right”. It’s a matter of the accuser refusing to accept reality. If someone accuses you of murder, but you weren’t even in the country at the time of the murder and can prove it, then being “right” has nothing to do with having an attitude of “always having to be right”. It has to do with reality. And if the accuser is not going to look at that reality, and continue to be PO’ed at you for having committed a murder which you couldn’t possibly have done, then you *apologizing* for it would (a) be an admission of guilt on your part, and (b) would be of no help whatsoever to the accuser (who badly needs to find the REAL murderer).

    Second, if you need to (essentially) lie in order to show you place a “higher value” on some other person than you do on the *truth*, then you don’t even have a real relationship with that other person. What you have is a subservient arrangement with someone you need to appease.

    I can see where, in some situations – especially those that might have occurred because of a real-life miscommunication (which does indeed happen), it might well be better to apologize for the sake of “moving on” and getting to whatever the desired goal is.

    But, the deal is this: if somebody just uses irrational anger to try to control a situation and get what they want – an apology, and you agreeing to whatever it is they want – then you’re a chump.

  36. So I take the high road and apologize for how I expressed my feelings in the heat of the moment. They accept my apology and we move forward in the relationship. How am I supposed to be sincere in the relationship when I still feel like this person is a narcissistic control freak and I just want to have my grandchildren in my life. 😁

    • Hi Leann,

      Boy, that’s a touch situation. The obvious answer is that you have to find it within yourself to actually feel at peace with the nature of your relationship with that individual. If you can’t reach that point, then perhaps it’s time to consider specific boundaries that should be in place to protect yourself and preserve the relationship.

      My best,


  37. How do you apologize for something specific you are being accused of that you did not do? I’ve been “taking one for the team” for 50 years and I am tired of it. I am the one that is always “losing the battle to win the war” and I’m tired of it because I never win any battles or wars. Even when somebody has wronged me the argument is always turned around to where I am somehow the one in the wrong and that everything they have said or done is okay. It’s even getting to the point the relationship does not even seem worth it since I am always the “one to blame” or “is wrong all of the time” because I am always the one that has to apologize.

    How do you get past all of that?

    • Hi Robert, that’s my thoughts exactly. Maybe by this point it’s time to start evaluating the relationship when you’re always wrong and forced to apologize. This does not seem like a genuine apology, it’s almost like they’re controlling what you think without giving you the freedom of speech and listening to what you have to say. That’s a sad place to be if you are taking most of the responsibility and the other person remains blameless, it takes to tangle doesn’t it and it must get tiring after a while if you shoulder most if not all of the blame. I hope that you are able to get past of all. But, what can you do if you’ve apologized and the same situation has arisen over and over again without resolve. Perhaps there is some deeper issue at play here with whoever continues to make you wrong and say that you start things. Also, perhaps, it depends on the trust level whether this is worth it or not. I hope things have gotten better.

  38. Pingback: Letting Your Loved Ones Know you Care About Them - Curious Mind Magazine

  39. Hey! First of all, I really wanted to say that I really like this post and you’re absolutely right I fully agree with you! 🙂 You also described the feelings of someone apologising even if the person did nothing wrong perfect and yeah it’s a really thoughtful thank you very much for this thoughtful and helpful post!! 🙂

  40. I find it refreshing to have found an article on this subject. I have recently left my husband, who I married twice, believing that the second time his therapy for complex PTSD would have allowed for a healthier relationship. Apologies have been one of the things that has resulted in difficulty between us over the years. To be clear, I am very aware of the impact the PTSD has on how he perceives apologizing when he doesn’t believe he has wronged someone else. His most common response is, “That isn’t how I intended it, so why should I have to apologize just because (insert name here) took it the wrong way. They/you are just too sensitive.” I have tried numerous times over the course of the last decade to explain to him that not only is he often offensive in what he considers humor, so an apology is appropriate, but that apologies don’t always indicate an admission of guilt but rather a representation of your love and respect for the other person and their thoughts and feelings. That is how I would define it. I am a lover of language and words, so I feel that using the word ‘responsibility’ can be easily confused in this case, so switching to “representation of love and respect” might make more sense to those who are still equating admission of guilt with responsibility. Just my 2 cents.

    • Hi Heather,

      I love the way you framed it under “love and respect.” Thanks for adding your valuable insights and experience.


    • Hi Heather,

      I love how you frame this discussion with love and respect, it’s a bit of a challenge if love is there without the respect. Thank you for sharing your perspective and being vulnerable when sharing your experience in this situation.

  41. In 14 years of marriage, I didn’t start a single fight and always went along with her to keep the peace. She had a major meltdown about once a month, always about something different but inconsequential. She had a messed-up childhood and is just very angry. She refuses to seek counseling or help, won’t admit she has a problem, and focused her anger on me. During this time I was working full-time, doing 99% of the housework, yard work and parenting. Never once did I hear a “thank you” from her.

    After 14 years, I decided to get counseling on my own since she wouldn’t go. I determined I wasn’t going to be her punching bag anymore. I started to ignore her petty criticisms and angry outbursts. I stopped initiating sex and turned her down. If she genuinely needed my help with something, I helped. But when she tried to vent her childhood anger at me, I told her to knock it off and get some counseling. Then I ignored her.

    As you can imagine, this infuriated her. But at this point I didn’t care and I certainly didn’t love her. She was just a roommate, and a bad one at that. She finally filed for divorce and tried to kick me out of the house. I ended up kicking her out because I was doing all the housework and childcare anyway – and the kids wanted to be with me.

    This is a long rant, but my point is there comes a time when more apologies don’t help. It just fuels the abuser’s tank. Best to stick up for yourself and if necessary end the relationship. The day she moved out was my happiest day since we married. The kids and I are thriving, but I’m afraid I will never trust any women with my feelings again.

    • Hi John,

      Thank you for sharing your experiences. I admire your persistence in trying to resolve a very challenging situation and I hope you’ll be able to rediscover the power of trust.

      My best,


  42. I’m currently upset with my friend, he said I was rude to him and I personally don’t think I was, I also think he’s being overly sensitive. I said sorry even though I clearly didn’t mean it and he was over reacting about the whole thing. I don’t like that we’re on salty terms but I don’t want to go making up either.

  43. Im sorry for replying to a comment rather than leaving my own comment…I dont see a place to leave a new comment.

    I am currently in a situation, and my question is, how would I appologize to this?
    My husband was play wresting with our kids. I heard my daughter ask a few times for him to stop, but he continued (a rule in our house is no is no, and stop means stop.). Eventually my daughter got up in tears and left the room angry, and holding her side because it got hurt somehow.
    He asked her what happened, and I answered for her, “you didnt stop when she said to stop!”. I said it firmly. I wasnt lieing, that was what happened. He came up to me shortly after and told me he didnt appreciate me scolding him like a child.

    How do I appologize for this? I wasnt apart of the scene until she had enough and got up, hurt.

    He is currently mad at me and not talking to me.
    Thank you

    • Hi Tiffiny,

      It sounds like you may mixing the issue between you and your husband with that of your husband and daughter. Apologizing to your husband for how you spoke to him is separate from how he interacted with your daughter. If you choose to apologize to your husband, I suggest you focus on how you interacted with him and how that made him feel, not on how he interacted with your daughter. That’s a different conversation and topic.

      I hope that’s helpful. My best to you.


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