3 Narcissist Apology Types With Examples

3 Narcissist Apology Types With Examples


In my last article, “Seven Things Narcissists Say to Excuse Their Bad Behavior,” one of those things was actually a form of a fake apology. A lot of you reached out in the comments to let me know that you could relate, that you have heard that fake apology many, many times before. That got me thinking because that is actually just one of three types of fake apologies that you might hear from the narcissist. In today’s topic, we’re going to cover each of those fake apologies with examples, and then we’re going to put each of them to the test as we explore the four components of a sincere apology. You can definitely use this information to help you spot a fake apology in the future. So, if you’re ready, let’s get to it.

#1: The faux-pology.

The first and probably most common apology that you’ll get from a narcissist or another emotionally abusive person is the faux-pology. I am sure you’ve gotten at least one of these in the past. The faux-apology is, “I’m sorry you’re feeling bad,” “I’m sorry you’re hurt,” “I’m sorry my words hurt your feelings.” Make no mistake about it, this is not an actual apology. They’re apologizing for something that they don’t own, which is your feelings. Essentially, those words mean nothing.

#2: “I’m sorry, but…”

The second type of fake apology that you might get from a narcissist or another emotionally abusive person is the “I’m sorry, but…” “I’m sorry, but it’s all your fault,” “I’m sorry I yelled; but if you didn’t press me, I wouldn’t have done it,” “I’m sorry I lied, but I knew you were gonna overreact anyway,” “I’m sorry I cheated, but you weren’t giving me enough attention.” “I’m sorry, but…”

#3: The bold-faced lie.

The third type of fake apology you might get is the bold-faced lie. This one is not super common with narcissists; it’s more common with the covert type than the overt type. It does happen, especially when the narcissist is desperate, but it is also common with other emotionally abusive people. You may have been in a situation like this before. The bold-faced lie looks almost identical to a real apology, and this is why it is so, so dangerous and damaging. It looks like an apology; it probably feels like an apology. Especially if you’re in a trauma bond, even if you know this person is full of it, on some level, because of the trauma bond, you may have difficulty making a rational decision when it comes to this person. You’re going to have this internal struggle as this person is lying to you and as you’re wanting to believe all the things that they’re saying.

This version of a narcissist’s apology is really damaging because it makes you think, one, that they’re actually sorry; two, that they’re acknowledging that they did something wrong; three, they know they’ve hurt your feelings and they care about it; and four, that because they’ve apologized, you can put this behind you and have a healthy, functioning relationship. But, of course, we know that none of these things are true.

There’s one thing you should know: when a narcissist does offer one of these fake apologies, what they’re really saying is, “I’m sorry I’m not getting what I want, and I’m going to say these words because I know if I do, there’s a better chance I’m going to get what I want.” Really, all these fake apologies are just a form of manipulation.

Okay, so now we’re going to put each of these apologies to the test with the four components of a genuine, sincere apology. A genuine, sincere apology will always have these four components, even if they aren’t verbalized. They’ll always be there. The four components are recognition, responsibility, remorse, and repair. Let’s get into each one of them and put those apologies to the test.

1. Recognition.

The first one is recognition—that is, recognizing that they’ve done something wrong. As you might have guessed, that first apology really falls short. The narcissist or the other emotionally abusive person is not taking responsibility for anything, really. They’re trying to make it seem like they are, but they’re really not, and it’s very clear that they’re not. The faux-pology is when they’re saying, “I’m sorry you’re hurt,” “I’m sorry my words hurt you,” things of that nature. Now, there’s something I want to say about that faux-pology because I don’t want anyone getting confused and thinking that something sincere is actually a faux-pology. We may say things that sound like the faux-pology; we may actually even use the same words, “I’m sorry you’re hurting.” We may say that in an instance where, say, for example, somebody lost a loved one. “I’m sorry you’re hurting,” and it’s sincere, “I’m really sorry.”

Recommended Book: How To Kill A Narcissist: Debunking The Myth Of Narcissism And Recovering From Narcissistic Abuse (A Guide To Narcissistic Abuse Recovery And Healing From A Narcissistic Relationship)

But the difference between the two is that you’ve done nothing wrong when you’re saying, “I’m sorry for your hurt feelings,” “I’m sorry you’re feeling really bad,” and really, you’re not taking responsibility for anything because you don’t have anything to take responsibility for. In the case of the faux-pology, it’s different. There is something very clear to take responsibility for, and the person is not taking responsibility for it. They are boldly not taking responsibility for it.

2. Responsibility.

The next component of a sincere apology is responsibility—taking responsibility for the action. First, you recognize it, then you take responsibility for it. “I’m sorry I did this, I shouldn’t have done it,” or “Now I see how that was hurtful or why that was hurtful.” Taking responsibility for the action, owning it. This is where that “I’m sorry, but…” apology falls short. That person is recognizing the bad behavior in the “I’m sorry, but…” apology, but they’re not taking responsibility for it. So, they recognize they did something wrong: “I’m sorry I yelled at you,” “I’m sorry I cheated, but it was all your fault,” or “but it was somebody else’s fault,” or “but it was alcohol,” or whatever. It’s anyone else’s fault but the narcissist’s or the other emotionally abusive person’s. So, that is responsibility. When you are truly sorry, you take responsibility for what happened, for your actions, and for your role.

Recommended: Healing from Hidden Abuse: A Journey Through the Stages of Recovery from Psychological Abuse.

3. Remorse.

Number three is a little bit hard to pin down, but number three is remorse. Does this person actually seem sorry? Do their words seem genuine, or is there an emptiness to it?

4. Repair.

The fourth component of a sincere apology is repair. When my daughter was a little bit younger, she used to watch Daniel Tiger, and they had an episode on apology that was actually really good. There was a song in it that went, “Saying I’m sorry is the first step, then how can I help?” So, “I’m sorry I did this, how can I fix it, how can I make it better?” If there’s anything that you can do, if you’re truly sorry for something, if you make somebody feel bad, you might try to make them feel better. You might ask them how you could make them feel better, or you might do something to make them feel better in the moment. But as part of this, it’s not just making them feel better in the moment, it’s also following through and avoiding that behavior in the future. Someone who is not really sorry can say, “I’m sorry,” and then send flowers or do something nice to make you feel good in the moment.

A Book: Why Does He Do That?: Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men.

But if they continue the bad behavior, then they were never really sorry in the first place, and that is very clear. I think that’s one of the most important lessons that I’ve learned through this experience: if somebody hurts you continually and you tell them, “This thing you’re doing hurts me,” and they do it again, whether they apologize or not, and they do it again, and they do it again, they’re doing it on purpose. They may not be out to get you; their motivation is probably very selfish—they just want what they want, and they don’t care if it hurts you. But they’re still doing it intentionally. They’re doing it knowing that it hurts you and not caring that it hurts you, which means that they were never sorry in the first place.

So, those are the components of a real and genuine apology. I hope you find them helpful in differentiating a real apology from a fake one because, especially after an emotionally abusive relationship, it can be very difficult to know what’s what, and it can be even more difficult to trust anyone ever again. If you found this article helpful, please share it wherever you can.

Read More: How Narcissistic Abuse Hurts Your Mental Health.

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