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The Problem with Saying “I’m Sorry”…

Renee Wade
August 6, 2010
Article updated 2018

The Problem with the Words “I’m Sorry” – Saying sorry

Many would tell you these are the two most important words in relationship, and that saying sorry is very important. Some will tell you that you should use these words more, rather than less.

My response is: “really?”

I disagree. The words “I’m sorry” are relatively unimportant for the long-term, in your relationships. Many women use these words too much. Women also have this tendency to feel guilty too often; thus the use of the phrase “I’m sorry” (though this is not true for all).

I don’t think there is such a thing as using the words “I’m sorry” too little – I think rather, that there is such a thing as caring too little to make a change or to treat your partner better. 

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Many women lash out and cut deep with their words, and then torture themselves with guilt. And then say sorry. And then lash out, and cup deep with their words, and then torture themselves with guilt. And then say sorry. And then lash out with their words, and then….

The pattern still exists. The same thing happens, continuously, over and over. You have to break the pattern, and develop alternative ways to deal with a problem, or even a new authentic temperament.

You’ll find a larger proportion of women than men in the feeling guilty clan. Men feel it too, yes. But they don’t generally live in this emotion as much as women.

Sorry as a cover up

The words I am sorry are often used as a cover-up. I’ve done it before, and I’ve seen others do it too – this is how I know. The words “I’m sorry” are often just that – just words. Words in themselves mean little without true resolve to change something, or to do better next time. (read my article about he misses you but…)

There was a time in my relationship where I had not treated my man fairly, and I was saying sorry – and in the middle of it, I had to stop myself. Later, I thought hard about it. I thought hard about the words and why I was really saying them.

I came to a conclusion that, throughout my life, in certain relationships, I had said I was sorry out of a need to re-gain the other person’s acceptance. And to desperately try and re-salvage lost connection. In other words, I was still coming from a wholly selfish place.

Do you know what I mean?

It’s like, I hurt the other person to start off with, and now I want to take even MORE from them by hoping that my apology will bring them closer to me?! This is fickle.

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Sorry as a way of serving guilt

So, after stopping myself midway through the apology, I started to ask myself what would be a better way of doing things. I realised that, often, the words “I’m sorry” were helpful (depending on who the person is, and what they value), but never made the REAL difference in repairing something I’d done that was hurtful.

The real difference goes something like this: we mess up somehow; and act in a way that is less than authentic and less than acceptable. (Click here to take the quiz on “How High Value High Status Am I on Facebook?”)

And rather than hating yourself for it; rather than grieving, rather than indulging in guilt, the better thing to do would be to even say nothing at all, but to truly listen to the other person’s pain, and their experience. And just be with them. Whether it’s your man, your mom, your sister, your best friend, or your colleague.

Once I’ve done that, from a place of honesty and sincerity, as a true woman, it is a must to proceed to grow and to love greater. This means that repairing lost trust is purely YOUR responsibility – Up until a point where it’s clear that the other person isn’t interested in trusting you at all anymore. IF that even happens. Which is rare. In most cases, a person who is hurt just wants you to care more, and love them more. Even if they seem to be pushing you away. (read my article about how to solve a relationship problem)

Just to clarify for the purposes of this post, caring and/or ‘loving’ someone ‘more’ doesn’t have to mean that you suffocate them, but that you come from a place of authenticity and you place yourself wholly in their shoes, and listen and care – without question. No strings attached!!

Putting “I’m sorry” in to context…

That being said, for a small few, I believe that there are a number of people who say sorry authentically. And of course, it’s possible to say sorry purely out of 100% consideration, compassion and love for the other person.

I think that the words “I’m sorry” said in this way takes a high level of selflessness.

Childhood conditioning…

The problem for many is that as children, we had mommy or daddy take us by the hand, lead us up to little Johnny or Sarah, and force us to say “I’m sorry” when we broke their toy or called them a meanie. Even when we didn’t want to say sorry. Even when we didn’t mean it. Even when it wasn’t coming from the right place in our hearts.

And this is ingrained in to us over and over and over and over throughout our childhood until it became a natural and subconscious reaction to something. Sometimes, as a matter of etiquette, saying “sorry!” is fine.

For example, if you step on someone’s unsuspecting toes on a crowded bus, it’s only good to say “oh sorry!!!” Because you don’t know that person as well; you’re less likely to be in a long-term relationship with them, and it’s good manners to do so. Just to indicate some consideration towards them.

The words I’m sorry are not as important as our intentions, our resolve, and what we have to give. Some people just say they are sorry because they feel they have to.

What is more important than sorry?

Honestly, there are a number of things that are more important, and will have a greater effect and influence upon your relationship and life than using the “I’m sorry” phrase. I’ll list a few below:

– Working on yourself. Constantly striving to strip away your fears and masks so that you can present yourself with authenticity and character. When you do this, you’ll often say the words from a place of total authenticity, and they will MEAN more to the other person.

– A humble intent.

– Your actions in the long-term, after the thing you did or said that may or may not have caused hurt to the other person.

– True compassion.

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So do you agree with my views?

Do you think saying sorry is important? What other words or actions could someone say to you or do that would have a greater and better impact? Has anyone ever apologized to you and it didn’t feel like it came from the right place? Perhaps you thought it didn’t help because they didn’t mean it?


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Post Information
Title The Problem with Saying “I’m Sorry”…
Author Renee Wade
Date August 6, 2010 11:31 PM UTC (13 years ago)
Blog The Feminine Woman
Archive Link
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