13 Ways How Narcissists Apologize When They Are Not Sorry

It is already rare that Narcissists apologize as they don’t do anything wrong, and it is all your fault, but if they DO apologize, it is not because they are sorry.

An apology from a Narcissist is always fake. Sometimes, it is pretty obvious, and sometimes, they subtly shift the blame back to you. In the end it is always your fault.

Here are 13 ways ( and 39 examples) of what narcissits say when apologizing. How many have you heard from your Narcissist?

#1 The Minimizing Apology

“I’m sorry if I upset you

When a narcissist says, ‘I’m sorry if I upset you,’ they’re often minimizing the impact of their actions, subtly suggesting that your feelings are the issue, not their behavior. They’re deflecting responsibility, making it about your reaction, not their actions.

“I apologize if you found that disturbing”

Essentially, they’re dodging responsibility while making you question your own perceptions.

“Sorry, but you’re too sensitive”

Often, a narcissist’s apology might come with a caveat, where they say, ‘I’m sorry, but you’re too sensitive,’ effectively minimizing the impact of their actions and shifting the blame onto your perceived sensitivity.

#2 The Deflective Apology

This is when the narcissist apologizes in a way that shifts the blame onto you.

They’re not really apologizing for their actions but rather for your response to their actions.

“I’m sorry you feel that way”

When a narcissist says, ‘I’m sorry you feel that way,’ it’s a classic example of a deflective apology. They’re not expressing regret for their actions. Instead, they’re subtly blaming you for your feelings.

“I’m sorry that you misunderstood me”

Here, they’re not regretting their actions but implying that it’s your fault for not understanding them correctly.

“I’m sorry you’re upset over this”

Instead of admitting fault, they say it’s your issue for being upset. They sidestep personal responsibility, placing the onus on you to deal with the emotional fallout of their behavior.

#3 The Burden-Shifting Apology

You’ve likely encountered this when someone regrets your reaction rather than their actions.

It’s a clever way of sidestepping responsibility while appearing to apologize.

“I regret that you took offense.”

Instead of admitting fault, they blame you, making it your problem for being offended.

It’s a clever way to avoid responsibility, maintain control, and leave you questioning your own feelings and reactions.

“I’m sorry that you can’t take a joke”

Here, they’re not sorry for their actions. Instead, they’re blaming you for not understanding their ‘humor.’

“I feel bad that you couldn’t see my point of view.”

They spin the situation, making it seem like you’re at fault for not agreeing with them.

#4 The 50-50 Apology

This strategy tries to equally distribute the blame, even when it’s inappropriate.

“You have to admit, you were…”

A narcissist may say, ‘You have to admit, you were…’ followed by an accusation. They’re not apologizing but shifting responsibility onto you.

It’s a tactic to deflect guilt, maintain control, and avoid genuine remorse.

“We both made mistakes, I apologize for my part.”

‘We both made mistakes, I apologize for my part’ are used by narcissists to maintain a semblance of taking responsibility.

This cleverly crafted, seemingly fair apology allows them to dodge full blame while appearing remorseful.

“I’m sorry, but you also have to apologize.”

In the 50-50 apology, a narcissist might say ‘I’m sorry, but you also have to apologize,’ effectively throwing the ball of responsibility back into your court.

#5 The Stalled Apology

In this scenario, they’ll attempt to shift blame onto you with phrases like ‘If you hadn’t done that, I wouldn’t have…’ or ‘You triggered that response in me, so I’m sorry.’

It’s their way of saying, ‘If it weren’t for your actions, I wouldn’t have reacted that way.’

“If you hadn’t done that, I wouldn’t have …”

This apology tactic shifts the blame onto you. It’s a disguised way of saying they’re not guilty or sorry.

“You triggered that response in me, so I’m sorry.”

It’s their way of deflecting responsibility. They’re hinting that you’re actually to blame for their inappropriate reaction.

Instead of expressing genuine remorse, they subtly blame you for provoking them.

“If it weren’t for your actions, I wouldn’t have reacted that way.”

They’re essentially claiming they’re ‘sorry,’ but their ‘apology’ is another disguised method of manipulation and control.

#6 The Blaming Apology

It’s a common tactic used by narcissists where they twist the situation, making you feel like it’s your fault they’d to apologize.

Sounds familiar?

“I thought you knew that …”

Shifting the blame subtly onto you, narcissists often employ the ‘I thought you knew that…’ approach when apologizing. They’ll use this tactic to make it seem like the misunderstanding was your fault.

“I’m sorry, but I assumed you were aware.”

This apology isn’t genuine; it’s a manipulative strategy to make you second-guess your perspective and feel guilty. It shifts the focus from their actions to your supposed lack of awareness or understanding.

“I thought you were fine with it, sorry.”

Apparently, it’s not their mistake, but your fault for not clarifying your feelings or preferences. It’s a way of avoiding accountability while appearing to express regret.

#7 The Denying Apology

This is when a narcissist declares they can’t apologize for something they believe they didn’t do, or even if they did, there’s nothing to apologize for.

Despite the accusations, they may still offer a hollow apology.

“I can’t say I’m sorry for something I didn’t do.”

Instead of expressing remorse, they essentially say, ‘I’m innocent.’ It’s a manipulative technique to maintain control and escape guilt.

“I didn’t do what you’re accusing me of, but I apologize anyway.”

They’ll insist they didn’t do what you accuse them of but apologize anyway.

It’s a strategic move to dodge responsibility, create confusion, and maintain control. Don’t be fooled. This isn’t remorse, it’s manipulation disguised as conciliation.

“There’s nothing for me to apologize for.”

They’ll outright dismiss your feelings, making you question your perception.

#8 The Reassigned Apology

This is when the narcissist shifts blame onto you, yet still makes it sound like they’re apologizing.

It’s a tactic that may leave you questioning your own actions and feeling guilty, even when you’re not at fault.

“You should have told me that …”

They aren’t expressing genuine remorse, but rather manipulating you into feeling guilty for not preventing their behavior.

“You should have expressed your feelings back then. I’m sorry anyways.”

Here, the narcissist shifts blame to you for not voicing your emotions earlier. While the ‘I’m sorry’ sounds like an apology, it’s merely a vehicle for them to evade responsibility.

This deflective tactic shields them from genuine remorse.

“If you had been clearer, this wouldn’t have happened. Sorry, though.”

It’s a cunning way to shift responsibility onto you, implying your lack of clarity caused the issue.

It’s a half-hearted apology, devoid of sincerity and filled with subtle blame shifting.

#9 The Detour Apology

It starts with ‘I’m sorry, but…’ or ‘I apologize, however…’.

This is when the narcissist seems to be apologizing but quickly shifts focus to your perceived faults or misunderstandings.

“I’m sorry, but …”

This apology is a manipulation technique where they acknowledge their mistake but immediately deflect blame.

The ‘but’ serves to invalidate their apology, essentially saying they’re sorry, yet it’s not their fault. They avoid responsibility, keeping you in a state of confusion and self-doubt.

“I apologize, however…”

Another common phrase narcissists use to evade accountability is ‘I apologize, however… They’re not truly sorry.

“I’m sorry, but you must see where I am coming from.”

It’s a cunning tactic, steering the conversation away from their actions, making you question your perspective, and subtly shifting the blame to you.

#10 The Lecture Apology

You’ve probably heard phrases like, ‘I’m sorry that you…’ or ‘I apologize that you can’t see things clearly.’

These are classic examples of a narcissist’s way of ‘apologizing’ without taking any real accountability.

“I’m sorry that you …”

The narcissist isn’t genuinely remorseful. Instead, they’re implying you’re too sensitive or misunderstood their actions.

“I’m sorry you can’t understand my position.”

When a narcissist says this, they’re not apologizing; they’re lecturing you, subtly suggesting that the problem lies with you, not them.

“I apologize that you can’t see things clearly.”

It’s their way of deflecting blame, making you feel like you’re the problem, not their actions or words.

#11 The Disguised Criticism Apology

 This is when the narcissist’s apology is camouflaged with subtle criticism.

“I’m sorry. I wouldn’t have done it if you weren’t so …”

This apology isn’t genuine. Rather, it’s a veiled attack on your character or actions, shifting the fault from them to you.

“I apologize, but if you weren’t so naive…”

Shifting the focus to another facet of insincere apologies. This is another prime example of the disguised criticism apology.

Here, the narcissist seems to apologize, but they’re actually criticizing you for being naive. It’s their way of blaming you, subtly suggesting that your naivety caused the issue, not their behavior.

“I’m sorry, but this wouldn’t have happened if you weren’t so defensive.”

Here, the narcissist appears to apologize but shrewdly shifts the blame to you, suggesting your defensiveness caused the issue.

#12 The Ridicule Apology

This type of apology is typically laced with blame, subtly shifting the fault onto you.

“If you didn’t always …, I wouldn’t have to …”

Here, narcissists play the victim, saying, ‘If you didn’t always…, I wouldn’t have to…’.

This is a crafty way to dodge responsibility, making you appear as the cause of their actions, thus leaving them blameless.

“If you weren’t so uptight, I wouldn’t have had to apologize.”

Often, a narcissist may resort to the Ridicule Apology, effectively manipulating the situation to make it seem as if your behavior triggered their need for an apology.

“I’m sorry, but if you weren’t so picky, this wouldn’t be an issue.”

This ‘Ridicule Apology’ isn’t genuine remorse; it’s a sly attempt to belittle your standards.

#13 The Forced Apology

You’ve likely experienced the forced apology, where words of regret are uttered more as a means to an end rather than expressing genuine remorse.

“I’m sorry. There, are you happy now?”

In a forced apology, the narcissist’s insincere words can leave you feeling dismissed and invalidated. They’re not remorseful or acknowledging any wrongdoing. Instead, they’re trying to placate you, pushing the issue aside.

“I apologize, can we move on now?”

This forced apology isn’t about remorse, it’s a quick escape route.

“Alright! I’m sorry. Can we stop talking about this now?”

They’re not truly contrite. They intend to silence you, not to acknowledge their behavior.

They say, ‘I’ll apologize so we can stop discussing my actions’. Don’t let this manipulation tactic deter you from discussing the issue.

Final Words

So, there you have it. Thirteen ways narcissists apologize without feeling truly sorry. Recognizing these tactics is important to avoid falling for their manipulative games.

Always remember that a genuine apology involves accountability, understanding, and action to change. Don’t settle for less. Keep your self-respect high and demand the apology you deserve.

Your worth isn’t defined by anyone’s inability to recognize their wrongdoings.

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