Relationship Advice Tips By Dr. Jeanette Raymond, Ph.D.


dandilion20seed20head1 - Why 9 out of 10 Apologies Fail to Improve Relationships

photograph copyright, Jeanette Raymond, Ph.D.

How many times has a loved one apologized to you and then canceled it by acting in the very same way as before?

 Does it just take the sting out it, leaving the wound open?

Nine out of ten apologies do more to help the person making the apology than the person who needs and deserves a genuine apology.


So how do you tell the difference between the 9 fakes and the 1 real deal?

P1010003 - Why 9 out of 10 Apologies Fail to Improve Relationships

photograph copyright, Jeanette Raymond, Ph.D.

See if you can pick out the 1 true apology from the 10 types of apology below.

1.“I’ve said I’m sorry, why can’t you just drop it?”

2.“ I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to hurt you. It’s my fault.”

3.“I’m really sorry. I didn’t realize it meant that much to you. I was selfish and insensitive. I’ll never be so thoughtless again.”

4.“ I’m so sorry I upset you. I can’t bear seeing you in so much pain. Please tell me what I can do to make it up to you.”

5.“ I’m very sorry. I didn’t think. I know I put my foot in it. I’m an idiot. I should have been more considerate and thoughtful. What if I do………. will that help?”

6.“ I am mortified. How could I have said that? I can’t tell you how sorry I am. I must be an awful person. I don’t deserve you.  I get why you don’t want to be with me. I’m really sorry that I didn’t take care of this earlier.”

7. “ I’m so sorry you are hurting. I realize that I caused you pain. I can see how my actions would have distressed you. I also feel pain that I hurt you. Tell me what I could have done differently.”

8. “Oh my God, I’m terribly sorry. Oh my God, I didn’t mean for this to happen. You know I’m not really like this. Please forgive me. I don’t know what came over me!”

9. “I’m, sorry, sorry, sorry! How many more times can I say it. There isn’t any point going on about it. What’s done is done. Let’s move on.”

10. “I can’t tell you how sorry I am. I’ll do all the chores for the next month. I’ll pay for the vet bill too.”


1. Fake. All it is saying is stop the conversation – don’t want to deal.
It  is a typical remark that your loved one might make just to avoid hearing about your experience and their part in it.

Result:  a message to shut up because you are showing them ugly parts of themselves.

2. Fake. It says I’ll take the blame – I’ll make you feel better so I don’t feel like a monster for hurting you.

These words are also an attempt to preempt an angry assault from you. It’s easier for your partner to beat themselves up than to be flogged by you. Taking the blame means your partner can feel redeemed by owning up to it, even if they don’t believe they are solely responsible.

Result: a message to you to feel good quickly so your partner can take off the monster costume.


delphinium - Why 9 out of 10 Apologies Fail to Improve Relationships

photograph copyright, Jeanette Raymond, Ph.D.

3. Fake.  It says I have to save the relationship – take the responsibility, take the hit.

Your partner is panicked  that they may have damaged the relationship. In desperation they are willing to take the hit to cajole you back into communication with them.

Result: a message to you that staying in your good books is important. Your partner is basically putting their head on the chopping block to make you feel special so that you will want to stay invested in the relationship.

4. Fake. It says I can’t handle the guilt for triggering pain/anger in you.

These words are begging you to stop showing feelings of sadness or anger which your loved one isn’t keen to witness.

Result: the message to you is to shut down your reaction because any negative feelings that you have make your partner feel responsible and they don’t want to be faced with that burden.

5. Fake.
It says I regret  not thinking before acting or speaking. This goes some way to acknowledging feelings on both sides, but falls short of genuine concern for the other. The aim is to get off the hook and undo the thoughtless act.

Result: the message to you is to just get over it already so your partner doesn’t have to be on the hook for one second longer than necessary. You have to move on so they can erase their thoughtlessness and pretend it never happened.

two20tone20cyclamen2 - Why 9 out of 10 Apologies Fail to Improve Relationships

photograph copyright, Jeanette Raymond, Ph.D.

6. Fake. It says I need to punish myself. 

If your partner beats themselves up, you will feel sorry for them and take the attention away from the act that needed an apology.

Result: the message is designed to distract you from your hurt by focusing on the torture and pain your loved one is going through by punishing themselves. You are being asked to take care of your partner’s wounds instead of attending to your own, or getting your loved one to do so.


orange20poppies1 - Why 9 out of 10 Apologies Fail to Improve Relationships

photograph copyright, Jeanette Raymond, Ph.D.

7. Genuine and true apology. It comes from a place of empathy. It allows for the possibility that loved ones can make mistakes and appreciate the extent of the impact. These words bring two people together in way that connect actions and feelings on both sides. In this true apology the one taking responsibility for hurt is able to see and understand both sides simultaneously. There is no frantic attempt to escape, deny the wrong doing or take the blame just to appease the other.

Result:   the message to you is that your partner cares about what you feel, wants to understand and take responsibility for the consequences and is interested in your experience. You are being given the right to your feelings, and asked for possible ways of avoiding this negative experience in the future. You both feel invested in the relationship and intimacy grows when both parties share feelings, are open to hearing about the impact they have on one another and growing together that a genuine and true apology facilitates.

8. Fake. These words are a desperate attempt to get instant forgiveness. Your partner can’t bear you to hold a grudge or remember something bad about them. So they try to get you to over look things by pointing out their good side, and how unlike them this act really was. It is a way for your partner to avoid feeling guilty and living in fear of retaliation.

Result: the message to you is to forget the whole thing as quickly as possible so that there is no chance of you harboring ill will and taking it out on them at some later unpredictable date when they are least prepared.  The two of you become distant and much is left unsaid. It is anything but a genuine and heartfelt understanding of the influence you have on each other.

9. Fake. These words are a simple attempt to relieve tension. Your partner is anxious and tense because they don’t know when this negative interaction is going to end. They want to be in control of the future and try to make you feel like you are over reacting.

Result: the message to you is that you are taking things too seriously, you don’t have a right to feel strongly, you should get over it, and return to the status quo. Once again these words disrupt the connection between the two of you rather than bring you closer through a mutual understanding of each others standpoints and experiences.

10. Fake.
These words are a way for your partner to expiate guilt. Your partner is so wracked with guilt and shame that they want to find a quick fix so that they can be relieved of the awful feelings. They offer to make sacrifices so that the guilt can be washed away.

Result: the message to you is that your feelings and reactions are of minor significance. The most important thing at that moment is for your partner to be rid of shame and guilt. Whatever fine you make them pay is worth it, and the bigger the better so that the guilt and shame will really be cleansed.


The secret to being empathic and boosting your relationship

The secret ingredients for empathy in relationships- part 3

Copyright, Jeanette Raymond, Ph.D.

Disclaimer: receipt of this information does not constitute a therapeutic relationship with Dr. Jeanette Raymond. All information is for educational purposes only. There is no liability on the part of Dr. Raymond for any reactions you may have when implementing any of all of the strategies outlined.