People Who Won’t Apologize

not apologizing, no apologies, amends, black & white thinking, all or nothing thinking, anger problems, anger issues

Drawn by Linda Wallen

There seem to be enormous numbers of people who won’t apologize. Apologizing requires openness & vulnerability. Many people hide behind the fallback emotion of anger that rings falsely because it is too puffed up & noisy.

Easy access to anger is all about being overdosed on self-protection. “ROAR, ROAR, ROAR” is a giant blast to back you up. Angry adolescents or angry anyone are really demanding distance. Distance from what?

Distance from their own fragility; “If I get a whiff of not being ok I will collapse.” Angry people are often people who feel either great or terrible with no in between. Again as in blame (next post) these are people who are very black or white, 1 or 10 without any shades of grey or 4,5 & 6. They are really protecting themselves from falling down the black hole of “I’m a wretch.”

These are the folks who are unwilling to go to therapy. If they do go they find a flimsy excuse to exit quickly. They are really terrified their innermost fears will be confirmed.

They lack the perspective of understanding we are all good & bad. One does not erase the other. A solid more integrated ego allows one to sit next to the other, knowing inside that both are true. Accepting the truth of the yin & yang within makes it easier to apologize.

Imagine a man who has lost his job. His ability to bring in money, provide for his family & to be generous now disappears. This can be a huge blow to his identity. So, he spills over in anger, like a wounded bull stuck full of the matador’s lances. He becomes unreasonable and dumps out his stress without any apology.

So step back to see his whole context; the loss of his ability to be generous is gutting him.
Depression is often connected to anger turned inward. He’s angry at himself for not being able to provide.

So try understanding & then establish a goal for yourself to not take it personally. If there is a pattern over years of no apology you have to decide if you can live with that part of their dark side.

It’s often a defensive technique developed early in life. How many kids apologize without adult direction? It’s the fragility from childhood that makes it hard to face any hard truths about themselves. Remember back then, how easily crushed you were by a zinger from a friend?

It takes a lot of strength to be vulnerable & apologize in any meaningful way. When my kids were growing up an apology didn’t count unless they were specific. When you clearly own your part in things then you are less likely to repeat your mistakes.


9 thoughts on “People Who Won’t Apologize

  1. Benedict says:

    I don’t have anything to add to this, Rhoda, I just wanted to say what an enlightening post this is. It explains a lot, so thank you for writing it!

  2. the audacious amateur blogger says:

    At the end of a recent relationship, we both knew it had been over for a while, I couldn’t let go. I couldn’t let him escape my mind bc of that: he had never taken responsibility or apologized for his role in the failure of our relationship.

    I had, many times. And I continued to do so, because I was trying to save us. Finally, I gave up and simply thanked him. For all that was good about being together, that finally gave me what I’d wanted, don’t know what about it touched him, but he apologized, took responsibility – manned up so to speak. And I DO feel better and was able to let him go.

    It’s hard though… as an adult to admit you were wrong.

  3. Kellie says:

    My sister seems to be incapable of apologizing. I think the reason is that she feels she would be “one down” if she admitted she had done something wrong. Many years ago she said, re a man we knew who had cheated on his wife and lied about it throughout the divorce, “Well, there are some people you have to lie to. Otherwise they’d never let it go.”

    (Just deleted details on all the drama she’s put me through … suffice to say I’m angry with her for years of bad and dishonest behavior. Oh well.)

  4. Kenneth St. L. Attard says:

    MY roommate cursed and verbal abusive me with name calling and I had done nothing wrong to provoke him in doing so, My other roommate also did the same, but later during the day apologize to me. Other roommate did not and won’t.

  5. Liz Graham says:

    I thought that by modeling that it was humane and humbling to apologize for any behavior I was not pleased with in myself, that my addicted boyfriend might eventually come to be able to do the same. But he was never able to even hear that I had a differing expectation or confusion or question about something. He would not show it, most of the time on the outside, basically say whatever he could to neutralize or distance himself, then run away, shut down and avoid me as best he could until he could rebalance himself, which usually meant, get high, distract himself and pick up where he left off. It becomes so demoralizing to be faced with this avoidant behavior again and again. I think he came to believe that somehow because I could own my stuff and he never did, that in fact, I was the only one messing up. Which couldn’t be further from the truth. When there is an inability to have an argument or face difficult issues or your partners disappointments, they only build into something insurmountable and most destructively the opportunities to grow closer, support one another and become more intimate erodes into dissolution. And finding a way to get some closure, you can bet it will be alone, on that takes great support, courage and self-love.

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