I’m Sorry You Feel That Way….

Sorry, Not Sorry….

We’ve all heard the phrase “I’m sorry you feel that way”. Is it a genuine apology or a way for the person saying it to place blame on the one they’re saying it to?

Webster’s dictionary defines an apology as a regretful acknowledgement of an offense or failure.

Most people don’t feel it’s a true apology. I am of the opinion that it depends on the situation and how it’s delivered. I’ve never used it as a way to apologize because I don’t feel that I would be accepting responsibility for my behavior, actions, or words.

I’ve had someone say to me recently…”I’m sorry you feel that way. It was never my intention”. Was it truly an apology since the person said the offense was never their intention? At the time, I accepted it as an apology. However, having had time to think about it and putting my emotions in check, I’m not so sure anymore. I do believe there was remorse on their part and they never meant to hurt me intentionally, but I couldn’t  shake the feeling that I was being blamed for the way I felt.

A friend was talking about fake apologies today and it got me thinking…what is the meaning behind “I’m sorry you feel that way”?

The definition of a fake apology is not meaning what you say, and not saying what you mean. It’s not caring that you’ve upset someone and thinking their feelings aren’t valid or legitimate. It’s caring more about yourself and how you feel….saving your own ass.

It could mean they’re sorry for the way you feel, but they don’t feel the same way. Maybe they don’t care how you feel and can’t be bothered to. Perhaps it’s a way to say, it’s too bad you feel that way, but it’s not my responsibility for the way you feel. It can be an excuse that denies any responsibility and invalidates the other person, in which case it’s insulting and hurtful. When used the wrong way, this expression is very disrespectful.

Wouldn’t it be better to just be brutally honest with the person and tell them exactly how you feel? You don’t have to say, “you’re an emotional wreck and I’m only saying this to get rid of you and shut you up”. That would be brutal, but still better than a lie I suppose. Sugar coat the truth a little if it makes you feel better about it, but be honest.

Don’t make someone feel guilty for the way they feel if your actions or words made them feel that way. Maybe they misinterpreted some things, but accept some of the responsibility. They were your words and actions. What you may have said or done flippantly, the other person may have taken to heart. It takes two and things can get misunderstood easily.

I think a better way to say “I’m sorry you feel that way” would be to say, “I’m sorry I made you feel that way”. The other person’s feelings are validated and you accept responsibility for the way you made them feel, even if you didn’t mean to. We have to look at ourselves and any part we may have played in the situation.

You owe the person you upset the decency of being honest with them, even if it hurts. Own your part if you’ve done something to hurt them, even if if wasn’t your intent. They’re owning their feelings when they share them with you and for some people, that’s a hard thing to do. Acknowledge it. Let them know you heard them and that you understand. Or maybe you don’t understand. If that’s how it is, then say so. You don’t have to get it or understand it to let them know you heard them. Sometimes that alone is enough.

If you’re not sorry then it’s better to say you don’t care how they feel and that it’s their problem, not yours. Sometimes the truth hurts and if that’s how you really feel, they’re better off knowing.

No one is fooled by a fake apology. Ever. They may not call you out on it, but you know what it is and they do, too. You know what you’re doing when you weasel your way out of having to take some responsibility. You aren’t fooling yourself or anyone else.

A lot of people believe “I’m sorry you feel that way” is just another way to say, “I’m an ass and I don’t care how you feel. None of this is my fault”. Sorry, not sorry! If that’s the case, you could just say “I’m sorry you feel that way”, give them the one finger salute as you walk away, toss the match, and burn that bridge. OR, you could just walk across it with class and let them think you don’t know the difference. Either way, you don’t need them or their fake apology.


5 thoughts on “I’m Sorry You Feel That Way….

  1. I think it’s impossible to make anybody feel a certain way. It’s their responsibility to own their feelings. The phrase “I’m sorry you feel that way” is not an uncaring or dismissive phrase.


  2. I have had a chance to read through the story and the previous commenter’s view on it and I have to say, I agree with you in that context matters. It’s easy to accuse others of being emotional and absorbing ourselves of guilt caused by recklessly uttered statements but words do hurt- they cause psychological damage and I think it’s important to consider that our words can have a role to play in how someone feels. I apologize a lot and try to be sincere which is what I got your article was trying to get across. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

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