“If he really loved me…”
“Stop right there. Hold on. You ripped him a new halo, you verbally abused him and you expect him to stay and talk it through? You expect someone you just abused/hurt to reach out to you compassionately? You expect him to show you how much he loves you after you just injured him and rubbed salt in his wounds? That is not going to happen.”
That is like saying, “Guys are such cowards,” in response to seeing a war movie in which someone is ducking for cover when being ambushed. Really?
It is similar to saying “Do not protect yourself, I will not hurt you” as the man verbally punches her.
I really do not think we have a sense of how we affect one another. Feedback is the tool to say how someone affects you. An I statement is the least offensive way of confronting someone who has affected you. “I feel ______ when you _____” The expectation is that the person hears how it impacted the speaker and they attempt to repair the relationship.
Let’s go to the absurd, “When you ran over me with your car, it really hurt. I had to go to the hospital. I get that you did not mean to back over me, it does not lessen the pain.”
Imagine the response being, “I do not have to take you to the hospital because I did not mean to hurt you. (As if the lack of negative intention takes away the pain) I also do not need to apologize because it was a mistake. (When you hurt someone inadvertently, you do not recognize or acknowledge that you were the one doing the hurting? If you did apologize, would that mean that you have to change something or lose something? You cannot admit that you were wrong when you ran over someone?)”
OR imagine the response being a recall of how he had hurt her in the past. “You called me a bad name, so we are even.” That takes away the responsibility for running over him, because of that time he called her a name? No, the two are not related and quite frankly, I think being run over by a car trumps bad words. Not that bad words are okay, just that it belongs to a different conversation.
OR imagine the response being, “I am sorry that happened to you.” Sounds like a politician apology, “I am sorry you feel hurt” instead of saying “I hurt you. I am sorry I hurt you, I really regret it. I will do what it takes to not do that again.” That is taking ownership and is an apology that usually cuts through the pain. “This is the third time you have told me that I hurt you this way. I recognize that you are important to me and I need to change what I am doing so that I stop hurting you.”
The non-apology apology makes the situation worse.
Other improper apologies:
“You shouldn't feel that way,” in response to someone being upset or hurt. Not only did you not take ownership of your role, you dismissed how they feel, in essence telling them they are wrong for their opinion or point of view.
“It wasn't that bad,” as a response minimizes someone’s pain. We do this to kids all the time, make it seem like their pain is inconsequential. Let’s take it to its ridiculous logical conclusion, “You broke your leg? I know someone who broke both their legs, so what are you complaining about?” No one in their right mind would say that.
“You're way too critical,” in response to feedback. That is discrediting the complainant. It may also be a true statement and yet the timing is vital. You are telling them that their complaint/perspective is not valid, that they should not be complaining, that they may be a bit over sensitive. Do you like it when people say this to you? Is there truth in what the person said before you labeled them as critical? Does them being critical make their complaint less true or valid?
“How come I always have to be wrong?” in response to feedback is a highly defensive response, it makes it about you instead of about the issue at hand. You just took the conversation in a different direction. You might be right, and yet the timing is suspect. I could see someone answering that with, “It is all about you, now?”
“I wouldn't have done it if you want to such a jerk before hand,” is a response that takes no ownership of your role in it. It is telling the other person, “You are responsible for my bad behavior.” The onus for change is on them instead of taking personal responsibility. This does not go over well. You are responsible for your pain, your feelings, your behavior. The other person may have some influence, but you are ultimately responsible for what you do with it.
“I didn't do anything wrong,” completely misses the point. The person is in emotional pain and wants you to be there with them, not fix anything and definitely not define their reality as wrong. Be with them in their pain, even if they think you caused it. This works even better than an apology. Look, we are going to hurt one another. It is normal and natural and people are very forgiving, if, if, if you take responsibility for your part. When you do not, it destroys relationships.
Each one of these non apologies sends a different message and none of those messages are going to be good for the relationship.
If you worked up to confront a problem in your relationship and you were met with one of the above apologies what would you do next?
My suggestion would be to follow it up keep the topic on the topic at hand and not distract or deviate from that topic. Schedule another time to meet and talk about the second and third issue. The first issue, the issue at hand, is hard enough to get through. Do not make it harder.
Let me know what you think