10 things to do when someone won’t apologize (practical tips)

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To err is to be human but to not apologize is not.

It can be frustrating, painful, and infuriating when people that are important to you do not own up to their mistakes.

A simple apology is often all it takes to make you feel better when someone has wronged you.

Hearing them take ownership and accountability, will at the very least set the ball rolling towards healing.

After all, how can you heal something that is broken if one person does not even address the issue?

So what can you do when someone won’t apologize for hurting you?

It is important to understand that if they do not regret the way they made you feel and are reluctant to say that they are sorry, then you need to show them why an apology is important for the relationship.

Here are 10 things you can do when they are not offering you the apology you deserve:

1. Set and Maintain Your Boundaries

It is healthy to set and clearly mark your boundaries in any relationship.

It is equally important to maintain and enforce those boundaries when they don’t apologize for their actions.

It is easy to fall into an anger cycle when they have clearly wronged you and are not apologetic about it.

However, simply barking about the pain they caused you will not solve the issue on the table.

The best way to deal with such situations is to take the time to process your feelings by stepping out of the equation.

Never try to rationalize with them when you are not clear about how you feel or why they acted the way they did.

Rather, step away from them for some time to cool off.

Allow them to carry on with their lives as you cope with your rage, hurt, and emotions.

2) Have a Conversation and Ask for an Explanation

Once you have given both of you the time to process the situation and they still haven’t offered you an apology, then it is high time to have an honest conversation.

They may not have intended to hurt you or cause you pain, but you are entitled to an explanation for their actions nonetheless.

It is unfair on their part to expect you to always give them the benefit of the doubt and deal with their actions without any explanation.

It is equally unfair to presume their intentions without talking it out with them.

It is possible that they may have valid reasons for their behavior.

It does not make sense to burn bridges over one incident.

Go out of your way to have a sit-down with them and ask for an explanation for why they made you feel that way.

3) Make Sure You Own Up to Your Faults by Apologizing for Your Actions

When problems arise in a relationship, often there are mistakes from both the parties that are involved.

If you are feeling reluctant to apologize for your side of things, then you must first ensure that you take ownership of your shortcomings as well.

No one is perfect and by taking the first step of taking responsibility for the hurt you caused, the other person will also open up to apologize for their actions.

4) Talk Freely About the Issue

Be direct and talk freely when addressing the issue between the two of you.

Don’t make the mistake of avoiding genuine issues in the relationship.

Focus on what you don’t like about the circumstance if you want an apology.

There’s nothing wrong with bringing up a topic from your past, especially if it still bothers you.

Remember, an issue is only history if both parties have agreed to resolve it.

Otherwise, it is still considered the present.

Tell them you’d want to talk about something that’s been bothering you and see if they’ll listen.

You stand to gain even if they do not understand the impact of their actions or do not repent their behavior.

This is because you get to have a heart-to-heart conversation and communicate each side’s perspective without having to tear each other down.

It can also prove to be insightful to get a neutral party’s opinion of the situation.

Asking someone else to listen and grasp your point of view can help both of you understand things more clearly.

When we’re trying to explain something, having someone else listen and understand it can assist.

5) Avoid Creating a Scene Around the Argument

No one likes to be told they are wrong, especially when other people are watching.

When you are talking about the issue, ensure that there are no onlookers or an audience observing the both of you.

It would make them feel extremely defensive and uncomfortable if the argument you triggered by bringing up the topic is creating a scene in a public space.

Being aware of the time, place, surroundings and situation will help them feel safe in talking about it with you without being humiliated publicly.

6) Don’t Let Your Emotions Dictate the Conversation

Emotions are the antithesis of rationality when it comes to arguments.

While it is not entirely possible to stay composed when you are deeply hurt by their actions and lack of remorse, blowing your head off in the conversation will not get you anywhere.

Ultimately, an insincere apology will not give you what you really need, which is a mutual understanding and empathy for the way you felt.

That is something that can only be achieved by calmly explaining why you feel it was wrong and how it made you feel without making accusations or being confrontational.

When someone is angry, it’s possible that they’re more disturbed about the situation than you think.

For example, perhaps your friend wants to get something off their chest and tell you how horrible they feel about what transpired in the relationship due to their actions.

When your friend appears to want to apologize but is too wounded or angry to do so, it may be in your best interests for both of you to wait until the emotion passes.

When someone is furious with another person, especially when they are disturbed by an apology request, they frequently ask them to stop apologizing since it feels like a burden.

7) Look Past the Mistake and Understand Why They Did It

It is incredibly easy to get on a moral high horse and criticize them for their actions.

However, it is important to be empathetic and try to put yourself in their shoes as well.

Try looking past their mistakes and use your intuition to ascertain why they may have acted that way.

This is not to be confused with making excuses for the person, but rather a way to treat them fairly if they did not have any malice when they made the mistake.

When you’re constantly focusing on someone else’s mistake, you can start to lose yourself in their mistake.

You forget about your own life and what you need to do to be happy yourself.

So how can you overcome this insecurity of focusing on the outer expectations of others? 

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8) Set Realistic Expectations for Both You and the Person

Never expect the other person to apologize all of the time.

Instead, set realistic expectations for when you will receive it and how much effort it will take for them to obtain it.

You should also be aware that your friend may have difficulty apologizing.

Someone with a lot of pride might not believe they owe you anything, especially if they believe they’ve already apologized enough, or perhaps too much.

Setting realistic expectations will help you avoid the toxic martyr mentality, which is the belief that you will always be wrong and must apologize for everything.

Remember that even if they owe you an apology, you must not use their remorse to make them feel perpetually guilty.

Setting realistic expectations will ensure putting unnecessary pressure on the other person or being frustrated when they don’t deliver what you want.

9) Do Not Bruise Their Ego by Demeaning Them

When you’re attempting to persuade someone to apologize, it’s critical not to put them down.

Always keep in mind that when you put someone else down, you’re putting yourself down as well.

Everyone wants to believe that they are a decent person whose activities are helping them in achieving their goals in life.

It does not help anyone by bruising their ego or belittling them.

Even if it wasn’t your aim, it’s easy for your critique to come off as an insult.

By keeping your tongue in line and checking yourself from becoming condescending or demeaning, you give them the chance to understand that actions have consequences.

10) Focus on the Future of the Relationship

An apology is frequently used as a carrot in relationships to keep people together.

It’s only normal that we want to feel appreciated and do the right things in our relationships with friends, family, and lovers.

As a result, when someone refuses to apologize to us, they may be unaware of how their actions are harming our relationship.

It’s often more necessary and beneficial to build a strong friendship than it is to wait for an apology.

Apologies are important in some instances, and they’re even better if they’re delivered with emotion and sincerity.

If they don’t, it’s preferable to concentrate on the positive aspects of your relationship rather than being enraged about a single incident

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Lachlan Brown

I’m Lachlan Brown, the founder, and editor of Hack Spirit. I love writing practical articles that help others live a mindful and better life. I have a graduate degree in Psychology and I’ve spent the last 15 years reading and studying all I can about human psychology and practical ways to hack our mindsets. Check out my latest book on the Hidden Secrets of Buddhism and How it Saved My Life. If you want to get in touch with me, hit me up on Facebook or Twitter.

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