Many people who apologize are truly sincere. They realize whatever they did was bad, & they want to make it up to those they have hurt. These people aren’t always the same ones who say the words, “I’m sorry” though. Sometimes people who apologize are insincere or have motives that are less than genuine. I plan to explain how to spot the differences in this discussion.
Someone who is genuinely sorry for their actions addresses the person they hurt humbly, asking for forgiveness. Even if they don’t say the words, “please forgive me”, their meek & remorseful behavior says it. Someone who isn’t truly sorry won’t ask for forgiveness & will be irritated when expected to show some sort of remorse for their actions.
Genuine apologies don’t come with words like, “but” or, “if.” Those words are followed by excuses & denial. Those are called non-apologies. Some examples are, “I’m sorry if you think I did something that hurt you.” “I’m sorry I did that, but I wouldn’t have done it if you wouldn’t have done what you did first.” Non-apologies are said usually to pacify the person offended while the offender takes no responsibility for their behavior, & are nothing like a sincere apology.
A person who is genuinely interested in apologizing also admits their behavior & that it was wrong. They don’t gloss over it with phrases like, “I messed up,” or, “we both know what I did. I shouldn’t have to say it again.” Admitting bad behavior is embarrassing, possibly even humiliating, but it shows the willingness to do whatever it takes to make it up to the person who was wronged. Someone who isn’t truly sorry for what they did won’t do whatever it takes to make it up to the victim, & that includes humbling themselves in this way.
Acknowledging the hurt caused is another hallmark of a genuine apology. A sincere person will recognize the pain & suffering their behavior has caused another person. The person who has done wrong won’t try to minimize or invalidate the pain. They will say, “I know I hurt you when I did what I did, & I am so sorry for that.” A person who offers a non-apology downplays their behavior & the effect it has on the person they have wronged.
Wronging someone has consequences, & someone who is genuinely remorseful for their behavior is willing to accept them as a natural course of events no matter how uncomfortable it is for them. They understand that Galatians 6:7 is true, & people reap what they sow, good or bad. Those who are insincere to avoid them. They may demand their spouse trust them again immediately after they were caught being unfaithful, for example.
A person offering a sincere apology will be willing to do whatever it takes to make things right with the person they have hurt. If that means apologizing every day for the rest of their life, they will do it. The insincere have no interest in this. They may try briefly & half heartedly to make things right, but it doesn’t last long.
And lastly, the sincere person knows that some things take time. They don’t try to force the person they wronged to forgive them quickly. They give the person the time & space they need to work through things, while staying close enough that they are able to do whatever is required of them at a moment’s notice. An insincere person is nothing like this. They want the person they wronged to forgive & forget quickly, & if that person doesn’t, they can be downright shaming. They often accuse the wronged person of being unforgiving, heartless, petty, overreacting, over sensitive, & even ungodly.
I hope this insight helps you to identify easily when someone is being sincere or insincere in their apology to you.