Sorry Not Sorry

Recently, I noticed that I find myself apologizing all the time for things that don’t really need an apology. After this realization, I noticed how many unnecessary apologies I actually give.

I’m sorry you bumped into me on the street.

I’m sorry I was trying to walk through the door that you happened to also be trying to walk through.

I’m sorry I didn’t wear any makeup or dress up today.

I’m sorry, but that’s just my opinion.

I’m sorry I didn’t call you back; I was driving.

I’m sorry I didn’t answer your text while I was taking an hour for myself.

I’m sorry that I told you how I felt.

I’m sorry for crying.

I don’t know why I apologize for all of these things that don’t require an “I’m sorry.”  But ever since I’ve become aware of it, I’ve realized how hard of a habit it is to break. I think that we should all ask ourselves how many things we apologize for that we don’t need to. This tendency is prominent for many people, not just me, which makes me wonder why.

In a Prevention article, Madeleine Burry writes that “A study published in Psychological Science had men and women journal all their offenses, and whether or not they offered an apology. Women reported committing more offenses than men and offering more apologies, too.” Another article in the New York Times offers that “one commonly posited theory, which informs everything from shampoo commercials to doctoral dissertations, is that being perceived as rude is so abhorrent to women that [they] need to make [themselves] less obtrusive before [they] speak up.”

There are many different theories as to why people excessively apologize. The New York Times article suggests that the “sorry” is just a substitute for a rude remark. A study published in Psychological Science suggests that, “women apologize more than men because [their] threshold for what [they] think is offensive is generally lower.”  Harriet Learner, PhD, wrote an article in Psychology Today where she said: “[I]t’s clear that over-apologizing can be about many things. It may be a reflection of low self-esteem, a diminished sense of entitlement, an unconscious wish to avoid any possibility of criticism or disapproval before it even occurs, an excessive wish to placate and please, some underlying river of shame, or a desire to show off what a well-mannered Brownie Scout one is.”

Regardless of why you think people are overly apologetic, it is something we should be aware of. This isn’t an article about me saying I’m sorry for excessively apologizing. This isn’t me saying that you shouldn’t apologize for certain things. The purpose of this article is to help you realize that you shouldn’t have to apologize for your existence.



Alyssa Harmon