Apologies can be very powerful and strengthen relationships when they are heartfelt and genuine. However, saying “sorry” requires you to admit your mistakes and be vulnerable and remorseful. It’s no wonder, many people use a manipulative apology to find their way out of a difficult or awkward situation.
This is why you need to identify the signs of a manipulative apology and protect your emotions from exploitation.
What is a manipulative apology?
Did someone ever apologize to you and you instantly knew that it was not sincere? An emotionally manipulative apology is where a person says “sorry” only to de-escalate the situation, and not because they feel sorry for their behavior or actions.
It is when a person uses an apology to manipulate your emotions and not to express regret. They know exactly what you want to hear and they use the apology to control your thoughts and feelings towards them.
They will twist and turn their words to manipulate you with an insincere apology. In essence, manipulative apology meaning can be surmised as a lack of genuineness, regret, accountability and actual change in future behavior.
According to researchers, a manipulative apology is also known as an insincere apology or an instrumental apology, which is often made with an objective or purpose like escaping punishment or avoiding social rejection.
“An instrumental apology is made to achieve a goal. It does not involve recognizing guilt or accepting responsibility. Moreover, an apology is one of the interpersonal emotion regulations that reduce the negative emotions of others,” explain the researchers.
Related reading: What is an apology?
Manipulators and fake apologies
Genuine apologies can promote forgiveness, but a fake apology without any visible effort to correct damaging behavior is made to control you. Abusive, narcissistic and manipulative people often apologize with a condition.
“I am sorry you got offended, but….”
Their apologies always end in a way that shifts the blame back at you. According to their version of the story, they might have overreacted or misbehaved, but only because you did something that triggered them. This is one of the classic signs of a manipulative apology.
Their primary focus is on giving explanations to clear their name and to blame you for everything. Moreover, they do not have any intention of changing or correcting their toxic behavior.
A manipulator may give you a fake sorry just to calm you down. They may say things like –
“Okay! I am sorry! That’s what you wanted to hear? I apologize. I am sorry.”
“Don’t you think you’re overreacting? Fine, I am sorry. Now let’s get over this.”
“Of course, it’s always my fault. I apologize. Are you happy now? Can we stop arguing please?
“Okay, I am sorry. Alright? But you are the one who started it.”
A manipulative apology is just one of the many strategies used by toxic people and narcissists to make you feel bad and to control your emotions. Not only they will gaslight you, they will never hesitate to manipulate the heck out of you to get what they want. Even if that means that they have to apologize to you, they will.
This is why you need to learn the signs of a manipulative apology to spot a genuine apology from a fake one.
Related reading: 9 Traits of Manipulative People To Watch Out For
Signs of a manipulative apology
So how to spot an emotionally manipulative apology? Here are few manipulative apology signs that you should be aware of in order to identify a fake sorry from a manipulative person –
1. They apologize with a condition
“I am sorry I shouted at you, but you were getting annoying.”
“Yes, I’m sorry for what happened, but I wasn’t thinking straight.”
“I am really sorry it turned out that way, but sometimes you can be overly sensitive.”
Genuine apologies don’t come with a “but” or any other conditions. Only a manipulative apology is colored that way. When we apologize to someone we love and care for, we don’t put any value to what led to the situation, we simply focus on making the other person feel better.
But a manipulator will apologize only when it comes with certain conditions, such as the end of the topic for good. Apologies with conditions are just excuses.